Edinburgh Web Development

Liven up your business with Content Management

by Iain Wilson

31 May 2006

Keeping your web site up to date with a Content Management system can make a huge difference to your web business. It makes your business look good to clients and helps you with search engines. The problem is that many web site owners just don't keep their site content current.

For a lot of small businesses, web design is about getting their designer to craft a page design, then (painfully) writing some web copy that gives an outline of the business, some customer benefits, who/how to contact, putting it live on the web and then, NOTHING!!

They think the job is done!

Nothing could be further from the truth, and let me tell you why. Your web site is a reflection of your business. If it is dull, out of date, stagnate and never changing then the connotation could be that your business is dull, stagnate and well, you get the picture... What message does this send out to a visitor?

  • Laziness?
  • Incompetence?
  • Disorganisation?
  • Inefficiency?

For most companies, these are not feelings they wish to evoke in potential customers. If, on the other hand, your site is regularly updated, think of the messages you are sending :

  • Efficient!
  • Dynamic!
  • Pro-active!
  • Interesting!

Search engine benefit There's an added benefit to keeping the site up to date with changing and growing content. Search engines love it. Their software algorithms reckon that if a site is changing on a regular basis, it has more importance than a static one, and the site gets a boost in their ratings. Outside of building incoming links to your site and optimisation, keeping your web content fresh is one of the best ways of ensuring that the search engines view your site as important. They will visit more often, update their view of your site more often and increase their rating of your site.

What's the problem? So why don't people keep their web sites up to date? Most of the time it is because, they don't have the control themselves and have to get others to do it for them. Not doing it themselves means the changes have to be written down, explained, checked, errors fixed and checked again. It all takes time and it costs money.

Content Management types What if you could update your site yourself? That's what a Content Management system is for. You make the updates and publish - the web site is updated and everyone is happy. But of course there are always choices and approaches to anything and Content Management is no different. Let's look at some of the types of approach you might find:

WYSIWYG These types of solutions typically retrieve your pages from the web server and show them to you in a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) display, similar to a word processing program. You can then change the content to what you would like it to be and publish. This can work quite well in circumstances where the design is simple, but we have seen situations where these systems break down because the WYSIWYG cant represent the underlying architecture of the page properly, and changes actually break the page design.

CMS as the design engine These solutions use a web package that actually generates most of your site based on the parameters you feed into the package. These can work very well but the drawbacks can be that you can't have your own personal design and the operation of the package is extremely complicated.

Personalised Content Management This is our approach. The Blot Content Management system is build around a core package that is then personalised to fit the management requirements of each client. Most clients have no need to update every part of every page. We identify the areas that need to be updated regularly and build these into our content management modules.

For each area, the client is presented with a form that they fill in with content they require on that area. For instance, if there is a daily news page that needs to be kept fresh, the client will simply login each day, fill in the news form and publish.

The client will not normally do any formatting, because the presentation is handled by the web page. Keeping content and presentation separate means that it is virtually impossible for the client to harm any page.

All the content is stored in a database from where it is retrieved to populate the web pages. Besides textual content, the database can also contain data files for information such as properties, events, bookings and products. Adding a new property to a real estate site or perhaps a holiday location would be a simple case of filling in a form and publishing. This also means that if the site was to be re-designed, the investment in the site information held in the database is preserved and is simply added to the pages of the new site.

Summary The business reasons for keeping your site content fresh and up to date are irrefutable. If you're not a HTML expert and/or a graphic designer, you might want to think about using a Content Management system to help you with this, and we believe our personalised approach is the most effective, safe and productive way to manage your content.

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