When considering the best way to build and launch your business website you want to make a choose that’s best for your company. You should look for a solution that is flexible, cost effective, allows for growth and easy change, and most of all attracts customers and gives them the information they are looking for. Many fortune 500 companies and news outlets use CMS systems to power their website because using a CMS is S.M.A.R.T. not your usual goal setting smart (Scalable, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely) but choosing a CMS has its own S.M.A.R.T benefits. CMSs are Scalable, Manageable, Affordable, Retrievable and Timely (ok they have one thing in common).

CMS_is_SMartLet’s talk about what CMS is and why it’s such an S.M.A.R.T. choice for small businesses

A content management system (CMS)  is:  is a computer program that allows publishing, editing and modifying content on a web site as well as maintenance from a central page. It provides procedures to manage workflow in a collaborative environment. These procedures can be manual steps or automated cascade.

-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Content_management_system

There are many popular CMS systems some of them are completely free to use like Joomla, Drupal, and my personal favorite WordPress.

Now that we know what a CMS system is let’s talk about what makes it so S.M.A.R.T.
1. Scalable: Most CMS systems allow for easy growth, making it easier to do things like add a blog or eCommerce portal without the need for a costly redesign. CMS systems also make it easier to add pages and sections to your site as your business and content grows Using a CMS platform like WordPress lets you update one page at a time, and doesn’t require bringing down pages or reloading the whole site to add make additions.

2. Manageable: Having a CMS provides for better website management, with most CMSs  after the initial set up its very easy to train either you or your staff to make routine updates on your own (i.e. add text, pictures, ect.) . You can give staff, contributors, or even an assistant’s limited access to just make site to make updates to the site’s content, without giving them access to the full site structure.  This frees up you designer and developer resources for adding creating new functionality and reduces the need to have someone doing this full time.

3. Affordable: Many CMS platforms are free and open source. You biggest expenses is the design, set up, and add-ons. You can either pay this expense with time (learning the CMS and building yourself) or funding (paying a designer), many small businesses invest the time to learn their preferred CMS and create a starter site themselves. But the preferred method is to bring a designer to do the initial set up and load, and reap the long term savings with less maintenance cost.  Many designer firms including AKZMe Designs offer affordable CMS packages where they design a custom site, set everything up, and train you and your staff on the day to day updates. Design companies also offer special CMS maintenance where they handle, backups, updates and major issue for a small fee and you control the rest.  Although it doesn’t sound as good as free its saves you in the long run with time, custom design work, costly set issues, and themes and plug in cost. Free isn’t completely free but it’s still very affordable.

4. Retrievable: One of the major benefits of all CMS platforms is their search engine capabilities, because of the database structure and metadata used in many CMS platforms they are automatically search engine friendly and have built in SEO functionality. It is easy for any search engine to scan and index your data and retrieve the best results for any search engine search. Also the easy user interface in most CMS like WordPress make it really easy for any user to add tags and meta data to post, pictures, and any elements within the site.  This is tagging that takes designers and developers hours to code into a site.

5. Timely: Working with a CMS save you and your designer time both in the initial build of a site the site and regular updates. Because a CMS site is built on a specific platform there is already a base for development even for a fully customized site. In addition adding functionality such as shopping care or share buttons requires less hand coding and can often be achieved using various plug-ins.  In addition to the time saved during development updates are also much faster instead of opening a page and updating code many day to day changes can be made in a text editor type environment. Even more extensive site wide changes are made to the theme or template, hence reducing the need to update every page and reload it your site.

Well there it is if you weight the needs of your small business compared to the benefits of a CMS, you’ll clearly see a CMS is the S.M.A.R.T. choice.

Do you still have questions about reasons you should or should not use a CMS? Do you have other S.M.A.R.T. reason to share (I have at least 2 more but I’ll save that for the next post)? Or have you already made the S.M.A.R.T. choice and started using a CMS? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.