Yes, you need a Content Management System
Let’s get one thing straight: you need a content management system. Your website is not an ad in the yellow pages, and the internet isn’t a directory. Your website is a marketing tool designed to make you more money, or it should be.
Fifteen years ago you could put up a brochure site and get found in your local market, but those days are over. Search engines have become not only smart but picky. If you aren’t providing regularly updated content in your area of expertise, your search engine results will fall. Of course, there is more to search engine optimization than regular updates, including keyword optimization, mobile friendliness, site speed, and now accelerated mobile pages, but good, relevant content is the deciding factor.
If you are going to be posting content (and you are, right?), then you are going to need a CMS. A content management system is just a web application which manages, well, content. All of your pages, your blog posts, your videos, images, testimonials, case studies, and what-have-you are managed by your CMS.
There are a ton of options out there, and the big players you have probably already heard of: WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Squarespace, Wix… And all will help you do the job of creating a site and managing updates. Some are paid services, some are more user-friendly, some have a learning curve, and some are walled gardens, but all can provide you with a presence on the web.
We get a certain pain in our chest when we see cookie-cutter websites. Commonly used templates with minimal modifications do nothing to help your business stand out from the crowd, and certain platforms lend themselves to an “off the shelf” look. Your brand should be distinct and your website should be consistent with your brand. So whichever CMS you choose, avoid the temptation to build with a popular template.
Other considerations when choosing a CMS include ownership, ease of use, the maturity of the platform, and the community. There are plenty of articles on the web comparing the popular platforms, and we won’t go into a feature-by-feature comparison here.
Historically, we have chosen WordPress at Resolution because of its maturity, security, ease of use, extensibility, and developer community. We’ve developed many entirely custom themes starting from underscores.me and have generally enjoyed the experience. There is a reason that WordPress is the most popular platform on the internet.
We recently became aware of Craft CMS and we were intrigued by its architecture and approach, so we decided to build a quick site for Penthouse Number Nine (disclaimer: it’s quick and dirty) on the Craft CMS platform to get more familiar with it. We were pleased.
WordPress vs Craft CMS
The primary difference between WordPress and Craft out of the box is that Craft makes no assumptions about the kind of content you want for your site.
WordPress installs are ready immediately after installation to begin creating pages and blog posts complete with comments. Craft, on the other hand, is completely content agnostic and requires the developer to set up an architecture of sections, fields, categories and assets from scratch based on the type of content which will live on the site. But the time spent customizing this architecture pays off in flexibility and ultimately ease of use for the content creator.
We loved the clean control panel in Craft. We loved the flexibility of creating our own content blocks. We loved the craft matrix block. We liked Twig templating. We liked the custom image transforms. We loved the management of images and other media through Craft’s assets panel. And we really loved the live preview functionality.
A lot of what we loved about Craft is possible in WordPress through plugins like Advanced Custom Fields, which we feel is a must-have for WordPress sites. But even then, WordPress development generally means working around its API for anything that doesn’t fit it’s blogging platform philosophy.
Both WordPress and Craft are excellent content management systems, but we’re looking forward to digging deeper into Craft and tracking the improvements as they release version three.
If you’re looking for a new site or a redesign, get in touch with us via our contact form and talk to us about your goals for the site. We’ll help you make the right decision.