5 – Content Management Systems
Choose Your Content Management System or Website Editor
DIY Website recommends that you use WordPress as a Content Management System. There are many reasons why we think WordPress is the best way, which we list below, but there are many other different ways to make a website and we’ll look at both website editors and different Content Management Systems in this article.
So Why Do We Use & Recommend WordPress?
WordPress combines the advantages of blog software and static websites. With WordPress you can use your browser to make any changes to your website. WordPress is the most well supported CMS there is, loved and used by thousands of website owners. There is also real evidence that WordPress Sites get better search rankings and WordPress code will render well in browsers.
Here are 10 reasons why we use WordPress…
- You don’t have to learn or know php or html.
- WordPress automatically connects and configures with MySQL
- Being web standards compliant increases WordPress’s longevity as a CMS
- WordPress is built with CSS so it’s themes vary your website look & feel but are kept separate from the core, making them easy to modify.
- WordPress has drag and drop widgets that can be placed almost anywhere & hundreds of versatile navigation options.
- WordPress has both posts and pages & allows archiving for posts. It automatically imports images and media into these with your browser.
- WordPress allows customized page styling for easy printing & enables you to use comments, forms and polls and many other interactive elements.
- WordPress offers categories and tags for sorting & searching.
- WordPress has built in support for RSS syndication & also allows you to make customized RSS Feeds.
- WordPress makes the customization of metadata easy to do.
We honestly believe that whether you are a beginner or an advanced website maker, WordPress is the CMS to choose to use for building a website. But as it is not the only website building system there is, we’ll introduce you to a few others. There are two main ways to build a website. You can use a PC website editor or you can use a browser based content management system.
Using A Website Editor to Build a Website
Websites and web pages are “built” using a code called html or hypertext mark-up language. You can write web pages using html code or you can write them with the help of a website editor. A website editor has two or three viewing screens. A Visual screen and an HTML screen are most common.
In WordPress and other CMS, the website editor is in your admin area and you can click on the tab at the top, to toggle between the two views. The third possible screen is a preview screen which connects to the browser and allows you to preview what your article will really look like. In a CMS you will save the article and preview it by opening it.
These website editors are often called WYSIWYG editors which stands for “what you see is what you get.” Most of the free website editors are website page editors and it can be difficult to set up professional looking navigation links between pages. There are software choices that make navigation menus easy and I recommend XSitePro for this.
There are several popular choices of software for a website editor that you can install on your computer to make a website. The most common choices, that you’ll have to pay to purchase are…
You will need to pay for these website software programs
- Frontpage: part of the MS Office suite, you may have this already
- Dreamweaver: the Professional Website Designer’s editor
- XSitePro: a truly excellent website maker with multiple useful features
I started learning html by using the free website editor NVU and later purchased and used XSitePro to make websites. I upgraded to XSitePro2 when it came out and I still use XSitePro if I want to build a static website. That is, a website that is created once and only rarely updated. Using a website editor to create a html website builds you a fast loading website with a low file count, as you don’t need any extras to manage new content.
There are many free web page editors available – the best of which I list below. They each have something to offer and people have their favourites. For a short review and explanation about these free web page editor’s features see… Best 10 Free Website Editors
These web page editors are free to download
It is well worth downloading a free WYSIWYG editor to practice learning html. It does help to know the basics of html tags, although you do not need to know. However, sometimes you’ll find that your website editor may not change the font or colour for some reason. If you go into the html view you will see why and be able to change it there, by removing the code that is blocking the change.
As you grow more familiar with html you may even create some parts of an article in html mode as it will appear easier to do there, especially if using tables. Don’t be afraid to tab over to HTML view, look at the tags and experiment with some code. The more you know, the better you get at it.
Also as you are working on your own computer with this and not online, some web page creation may be easier using a WYSIWYG editor. You can then paste your code content into a CMS at a later time. If you have a slow connection or are experiencing downtime, this is a useful thing to know about and to have available to use.
Building A Website With A Content Management System or CMS
Content Management Systems or CMS for short, are software programs or scripts that are installed on the server, to build and manage your website content through the browser. With a PC website editor you create your content on your computer and then use ftp to upload it to your host. With a CMS you are always working online, inside the browser, to add your website content.
If you click the link above you’ll see just how many content management systems there are available to use. I have not personally used more than maybe 8 or 9 of them. Many of these CMS are extremely well supported and have active communities using them and developing for them. Some are new, some are old and some use different programming languages.
Very few of them are for people who really don’t want to know how to program using code. They often require a lot of time to learn how to use them and the plugins or add ons for them may require hours of scrolling through forums looking for the answer to a small but essential tick in a box or configuration option to make something work the way you want it to.
If you do want to try a different content management system then I suggest you start with one of the CMS I list below. Be prepared to go looking for tutorials and to stretch your knowledge. Join the CMS forum and community sites and give back information in the forums when you find fixes for your own problems. It’s a great way to learn more about making websites, but it will sometimes cause hours of frustration, so be warned!
Joomla: This CMS is my favourite after WordPress. Many shopping website owners prefer Joomla (with the VirtueMart component) for the easy display and sale of products. Many web designers use this open source software and charge a small fortune to configure it while indirectly claiming it as their own work. Joomla has an excellent social network component available called Community Builder and a huge list of other Joomla extensions available for multiple purposes such as classifieds, events, e-commerce, images and many more uses. Like WordPress there are also free or premium themes available to make your Joomla site look very professional and unique with just a new header.
Mambo is similar to Joomla with some components even being interchangeable. I haven’t used Mambo but the Mambo community is almost as large as Joomla and it is very well supported.
Drupal is likewise a great choice and was the runner up for best content management system after WordPress, only coming second after a tie breaker.
DotNetNuke is the leading open source web content management system (CMS) and application development framework for Microsoft.NET.
CMS Made Simple won the Open Source CMS category in the 2010 Open Source Awards. I have not used CMS made simple, but a prestigious award like this shows that it’s well worth checking out.
Pimcore won the Most Promising New Open Source Project category in the 2010 Open Source Awards. This category was for projects whose first release date was less than two years from before 9 August, 2010.
PrestaShop won the Open Source E-Commerce Applications category in the 2010 Open Source Awards. This category is for web software that simplifies the buying and selling of products on the Internet.
Here you can check the 2010 Awards for Best CMS & Open Source Software.
Alternate Blog Platforms
Movable Type: Movable Type is a Perl based open source software for weblog management and is a powerful web site and content management system.
B2Evolution: B2Evolution is an open source PHP & MySQL weblog management software derived from the same code that later became WordPress. It still has a very strong European community.
Preferred Forum Software
There are several types of forum software available, most popular perhaps is PhpBB. After trying several, I prefer the Simple Machines Forum (SMF) the best.
Forums are much harder to manage than websites. You must install captcha and spam software and monitor your users entries vigorously and ruthlessly. A popular forum can be a full time job, to weed out bad content such as explicit porn pictures and ban the users that upload it. As forums are most often used for support requests, it may take a lot of your time just keeping up with answering questions and support requests.
Simple Machines Forum: A community forum software package with good choice of themes, fast message database, secure file-attaching system, and mod installation manager.
Fantastico or Simple Scripts
When you have a Website Host or Server with Cpanel you also have the use of Fantastico or sometimes Simple Scripts. This server software makes it simple to install a range of scripts or CMS programs by filling in a form, saying which domain to install on and what you want your username and password to be. The software installs the script and automatically creates a MySQL database for it. It then monitors for updates (and creates backups) for these scripts.
There are also other similar alternatives to Fantastico offered by different hosts, such as Simple Scripts, so if these are not offered look for something similar, most hosts with Cpanel offer something.
This makes it simple to install new CMS systems without the time consuming process of downloading the software and setting up it’s database. WordPress is also installed this way. You can try several CMS out. Login and look around, and see if the CMS is something you want to use. If you don’t want to use it, with a few more clicks, you can delete the software and the database without a trace. So take a look at some and see what you think.