Creating and Maintaining a WebSite
Background and History
In the early days of the web, when websites were first being developed, there was only one way to create a website and that was hand-coding HTML. Fairly quickly companies began to develop software that would abstract the development of web sites using WSYWIG (What You See Is What You Get) applications. This helped greatly in allowing relatively non-technical people to create web pages. As the web grew and developed the web became a foundation for highly sophisticated sites with innovative design, lots of interactivity, web applications and other functions. Today, almost everything lives on the web.
For many web sites this “hand-coded” methodology has persisted. Because of the complexity of the web, the applications to create web pages and leverage the power of the web have grown beyond the ability of non-technical people to use effectively.
There are two main solutions being employed today. First, reliance on technical people to maintain the web sites and second moving to the most current level of technology – the CMS (Content Management System)
Why Use a CMS
There are numerous reasons to choose a CMS for developing a contemporary web site
- A CMS Separates Content from Design – A major development in web sites is the separation of content from design. Under the hood, this means that a site consists of the content written in XHTML and the design created with CSS (cascading style sheets). A CMS takes this concept and stores the HTML in a structured database and renders the look and feel of the site using a template. This means that a site can be redesigned from scratch providing a completely new look and feel to a site by applying a different template!
- A CMS Allows Anyone to Edit Web Content – A CMS provides as part of its architecture, a variety of editors. A non-technical person can write and edit content using simple WYSIWYG editors built into the application. Because the content is separate from the design, a writer/editor can’t trash the look and feel of the site.
- A CMS Allows Workflow – Because CMSs have categories of writer, editor and publisher, workflows can be established where a piece of content cannot get published until it has been appropriately vetted.
- A CMS is Extensible – Major CMS like Joomla have wide ranging extensions that add functionality. Many extensions are free or very cost effective. Joomla has over 4000 extensions in its library.
- Most CMS are Free – Using the tenets of FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) most CMS are free
- CMS have Major Support – Forums provided by the developer as well as third party support is extensive and cost effective - in most cases free.
- CMS have Professional Designs – An almost countless array of themes and designs are available that can be used as-is, or provide a foundation for modification
- Hosting Companies Support CMS – Most hosting companies provide “one-click” installs of some of the major CMS allowing a site to be up and running in literally seconds.
- CMS are used by most of the major web sites – While static sites (brochureware) continue to be developed, the vast majority of sites are now run within a CMS environment
- CMS make Design Changes a Snap - Changing a design on a CMS site is as easy as changing the template and possibly readjusting some of the module content.
- CMS can automate content – Content that is past its useful date can be automatically archived. Content can be created in advance and scheduled to automatically appear.
- CMS organizes content – Using a hierarchical structure content can automatically be organized and presented on the site
- CMS require no additional software – Virtually everything on the site can be created and maintained within the site (Images and video are the obvious exceptions)
Why Use Joomla
One of the major principles that can be applied to measure the success of a particular technology is the following
Industry Standard, Open Architecture, Scalable
If we look at the various CMS available (and there are hundreds) two jump out as the dominant platforms (Joomla and Drupal) These two environments meet the specifications above. In addition there is one additional platform that is becoming widely used and that is Wordpress. As the dominant blogging platform, it has been in the process of adding features that now make it a viable CMS-like platform for small sites. Joomla is the only 5-star rated CMS on the opensourcecms.com website.
Joomla has the edge in ease of use, active following of third party developers and momentum. It is definitely the industry standard CMS at the present time. There are at least twice as many Joomla sites as Drupal sites, and several times more developers and designers providing products for the CMS.
The roadmap for Joomla is clear and the active developer community are creating a platform that is clearly focused on the future of the web and creating the kinds of features and capability that are in demand by the community.
Another measure of the success and utility of a product is the number of books that are available, and the amount of training that is available. Joomla wins hands down.
In our opinion, Joomla is the platform of choice for most small to medium sized businesses and organizations that have a sizable web presence and content that changes on a regular basis.
When Not to Use a CMS
Knowing when not to use a CMS is as important as knowing when to use it. Generalizing, a CMS like Joomla can be used for almost any web site except the following
- A Flash Site - Many artistic sites use Flash to give it a highly stylized and interactive look and feel. While Flash can be used within a CMS to provide specific effects and functionality, a highly animated site should be done in Flash.
- A Very Large Dynamic Site - Sites with dozens of editors and writers should either be custom developed or use commercial grade massively scalable web applications.
- A Site Involving a Custom Web Application - In many cases where custom programming is involved in creating a web application it makes more sense to just do the entire site as a custom application.
Quorirm can help you assess your situation and be able to choose the perfect platform for your business or professional web site.