When Is A Content Management System Needed?

by Jonathan Longnecker

Wait, what’s a Content Management System (CMS)? Well, according to Wikipedia, it’s a computer application used to create, edit, manage, and publish content in a consistently organized fashion. We, for example, use ExpressionEngine as our CMS of choice. And no, I’m not going to get into why it’s so awesome right now. Go check it out for yourself.

So back to the point; when is it time to use a CMS? We’ve worked on several small websites lately and our customers decided they didn’t want the upfront cost of integrating the site into a CMS. But the more we make changes to these static sites we’ve built, the more of a pain it becomes. They decide to change “Services we offer” to “What we do” throughout the site and all of a sudden you’ve got a bunch of manual editing to do! Sometimes a search and replace function in your HTML editor will help, but not always.

Now, we have looked into creating a simple CMS of sorts with PHP HTML Templates, but just haven’t gotten around to actually implementing it in our workflow. Honestly, it looks like a bit of work to get up and running. We definitely ain’t programmers!

Either way, editing static sites is no fun and I think we’re slowly moving towards requiring a CMS of some sort. It’ll just be part of the package, so to speak. We just end up spending too much time making small updates like this that should be easier.

So how about you guys? What do you think? What do you use? Found anything better than the examples I’ve listed? Think I’m crazy? Let me know in the comments.

September 16, 2008

Business, ExpressionEngine


  1. We’ve just started using Expression Engine - and after two websites, we love it.

    Very functional and easy for the client to use.

  2. Yeah we’ve tried others and just keep coming back to it. So much better.

  3. Getting those templates working isn’t too much work - but then I would say that.

    For really small sites - a CMS can be overkill but you always need a basic template in place to be as speedy as possible. You need to get sites up and running quickly from the offset and making those minor text changes need to be as brief as possible.

  4. Hey Phil! Hah yeah you would say that smile. I think my problem is just getting my head wrapped around what you’re doing since I’m not familiar with PHP syntax at all. Next small site I’m definitely going to try it out, though! Thanks again.

  5. I would go with Wordpress or Drupal. It all depends on what the scope is and what the client expects.

    Sometimes CMS requires more than just putting in some text- so its nice to have a scalable system in place.

  6. @kevin -  Wordpress isn’t really a true CMS.  It’s a blogging platform and I’d say it excels at that.  Beyond blogging, Wordpress simply stinks.  And Drupal, just aint’ as flexible as EE.

    Good stuff Jonathan.  Checking out your digs and you guys do some quality stuff.  Glad I finally caught up with you guys at your home base.

    aka. grantmx   wink

  7. @grantmx - I agree, but I’m a bit biased in that area wink. Thanks for the kind words, sir; I’m digging your stuff as well. Keep it up!

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