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Business Website Content Updating Choices

To make content changes to your business website cost-effectively, you need a method of making changes that don’t require knowing HTML or paying your web designer every time you need to make a small change.

Updates are critical to your customers’ perceptions of your company, as well as to search engine ranking. Decide how you will update your site before you start developing it. You have several choices, none of which require technical knowledge beyond word processing:

  • Have your developer handle the updates. On a small, HTML-only site, updates are fairly easy. Ask your developer to quote a price for development and/or hosting that includes an hour of support per month.

  • Do the updates yourself. Template- or blog-based sites allow you to update content at any time, without any special knowledge.

  • Use content update software. Adobe Contribute and Easy WebContent are two of many affordable software solutions. Contribute can be purchased for $199; Easy WebContent has a $23 monthly fee. Both solutions allow you and/or other content experts to update an HTML site without knowing any HTML. Let your developer know in advance if you plan to use software like this so the site is designed to be compatible.

  • Use your developer’s CMS. Many developers have written their own password-protected, in-house content management systems (CMSs). They might call this capability their admin pages or backroom. Some customize CMS software that they purchase to offer all their clients.

    The complexity and flexibility of a proprietary CMS depends totally on the developer, but it rarely requires technical knowledge. However, a proprietary CMS is generally tied to a particular developer or host. If the company goes out of business or you switch to another provider or host, you might lose this access.

  • Use an open-source CMS. Open source refers to source code that is available to developers to use, modify, and redistribute without charge. Open-source CMS software such as Drupal, Joomla, and Mambo have many customizable options. They're generally designed for fairly large sites with many pages, a product database, or a structured approval process.

    Of the dozens of alternatives, your developer will select one based on the type of website you have, the language it’s written in, the features you need, the skills of your staff, and what your developer is familiar with. Most online store packages already incorporate the ability for ordinary staff members to manage the product catalog and store; you need a separate CMS for nonstore pages.

  • Buy a commercial CMS. CMS solutions are available at all prices and levels of sophistication. They're often built into high-end, enterprise-level, web development systems. In large, corporate environments, many content experts need different levels of access to specific pages. Some such web development packages are designed for certain environments, such as colleges or publications.

The following illustration shows an editing page from an in-house content management system from the 1uffakind that supports easy changes for Google maps, as well as for text blocks.

[Credit: Courtesy of 1uffakind Design]
Credit: Courtesy of 1uffakind Design

The results appear in the following illustration. As you can imagine, CMS was a powerful tool for the New Mexico Humanities Council, which created the Atlas of Historic New Mexico.

[Credit: Courtesy of the New Mexico Humanities Council]
Credit: Courtesy of the New Mexico Humanities Council
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