My CMSite

Content Management

admin1 | 25 November, 2014 21:19

A content management system is a tool or suite of tools for building, writing, and managing web pages and content.  A good content management system removes the need for HTML programming knowledge, and should be easy to use for even the least web savvy of us.  A content management system is also known as a CMS and most popular among those is the blog CMS platform known as Wordpress.

Wordpress is completely open source, which means that anybody with coding knowledge can effectively rip it apart and rebuild it, and the best part is that it’s completely free.  Most people however, find that this particular CMS is customizable enough not to need such drastic action.  Other content management systems such as Joomla, Drupal and Expression Engine lack the overall functionality and flexibility offered by Wordpress.

Good content management is interpreted differently by web professionals in different web based industries.  However there seems to be one unifying mantra, namely “the right content delivered to the right demographic”.  These days, webmasters are demanding more and more from their content management systems.  The ability to instantly publish content based on worldwide trends at any given moment, the ability to edit content on the fly, as well as the ability to offer many different kinds of media such as type, image, or video are all idiosyncrasies of Wordpress and indeed most other web publishing platforms.

Who makes the decision however, on what makes good, relevant content?  With search engine Google having a complete stranglehold over the search engine market, they currently make all the decisions about who gets to see what, and when.  Indeed, many embittered webmasters currently languishing in the bottom 5000 pages of Google often complain that the number one page in Google’s search engine rankings is often littered with content lifted from their own pages and indeed openly accuse these page owners of outright plagiarism.

The countering argument however is that these complainants should focus their energy on better SEO, while at the same time Google tries to deny everything it is accused of.  In all of this, what is the role of content management systems?  Sending content out to the world is a risky business, in that the wrong message can actually ruin a company.  Being able to vet and control content is essential and that’s where a CMS comes in.

Most content management systems are built with tools for organizing, reorganising, publishing and un-publishing content.  Such tools are essential when doing news releases, video updates, podcasts, and even picture releases.  Some blog platforms even come with membership capabilities, and without the usual implications such as access control levels, and admin rights.  This of course leads to the usual and now almost boring hacking attempts.  This should be seen however as a blessing in disguise, allowing programmers and web developers to harden platforms against such attacks.

The world of content management systems is a complex one, however as webmasters, we should perhaps be thankful that technically all the hard work has already been done, and all we have to do is click “publish”.

 

 

Content Management Problems

admin1 | 25 November, 2014 21:19

Is your content management system really everything that it’s cracked up to be?  In many ways, it probably is.  After some research however, certain things have been shown to remain constant.  This article addresses some of those problems and tries to provide solutions.

The first problem is a mistake that many new webmasters make in believing that their contributors are as committed as they, themselves are.  Many webmasters find that they have 5000 members and zero regular posters, which leads people to believe that the site is technically dead.  Generally, the only solution to this problem is a monetary one.  Paying people to contribute, be it with money, coupons or some other reward is becoming more and more commonplace, with webmasters setting aside entire budgets for this sole purpose.

The next issue faced by webmasters everywhere is the science of writing good copy.  If you have a content provider supplying content that is un-engaging, boring or otherwise undesirable you will lose readers.  The first solution is obviously to get rid of your content provider and find somebody new. Next, you should look at hiring an editor whose job it should be to vet and rewrite raw content for the web.  Finally, following the old mantra “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”, you should look to your structure and create a template for your providers to follow, with the aim of helping them to produce exactly what you are looking for.

Moving on, we come to the issue of quantity vs. quality.  It’s true that search engines love content, and most web professionals would agree that textual content is King.  However the most common mistake made by webmasters is to over publish, and end up with reams and reams of text that most average humans wouldn’t bother to read to the end.  The other problem here is that webmasters often have the belief that “somebody, somewhere will find this content useful”.  This approach rarely works, with bloated pages being de-indexed shortly after they are indexed.  The solution here is usually to focus on the user and provide content that is meaningful and useful.

Moving forward we come to the problem of branding, and identity.  A poorly branded site will give the impression that the owner simply could not be bothered.  This in turn will make the reader hit the back button as quickly as possible.  Professional design is much easier to achieve these days, with major content management systems coming with beautifully designed templates, leaving only the logo and favicon to implement.  The solution here is obviously to build professionally from the ground up and most importantly keep it consistent.

Finally we find ourselves faced with the problem of a lack of community. “Community” is a buzzword these days, and is consistently over used by major social network giants such as Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.  However, they didn’t become the giants they are by ignoring it.  Most big content management systems are built with community in mind and can plug straight into the aforementioned social networks by way of login scripts and “like” buttons.  Even if your contents does not go “viral”, new visitors to your site will be given a greater sense of community.

 

Content Creation

admin1 | 25 November, 2014 21:18

Everybody has days where the ideas just won’t come.  It’s almost like somebody has put a gigantic, impenetrable brick wall between you and your muse.  It really does happen to everyone, and yet somehow words, however seemingly nonsensical, make their way onto the paper or in this case, the screen. Top authors who put food on the table using their God-given talent seem to be able to draw upon a never ending supply of fresh, unique and above all interesting content.  Is there a secret that only the top percentile of content creators, writers and publishers know about?  Indeed not.  A good writer as a whole tool box dedicated to content generation for when the little voice in their head goes on holiday.

In this tool box can be found at plethora of ideas on content generation and of creation.  The first idea actually seems like theft or plagiarism in that in order to generate new ideas we must sometimes “borrow” existing ideas from our fellow writers.  It’s not theft.  If you are creating useful content that other people can use, consider drafting a document composed of ideas from around the web.  From this document you are trying to gain new inspiration and generate content of your own.  Should this fail however, and you find yourself bashing your head against a wall after 12 hours of staring at the screen, consider publishing it as is, with links to the websites where the content was found.  This is called curating content.  And while it seems like a handy label to give to content theft, the original authors may end up thanking you for the link.

There are hundreds of ways to generate content, however one of the most popular is to simply write a review of a product that you have used.  Be completely honest about it and consider writing three good points and three bad points and explain the reasons for each.  You don’t go overboard and you could perhaps throw in a link to the company is into positive review.  You can even ask companies to send samples of their products for you to review.  After all what’s the worst they could say?

The next way to generate content is one of pure gold and one that a whole lot of writers often overlook.  Generally its staring them in the face and they don’t even realise.  Here it is.  Write about the fact that you can’t find anything to write about!  Even when you can only generate two lines from this idea, you have now got some words on to the screen.

Now we come to the King of content generation, the Holy Grail, an untapped well spring of inspiration.  Every day a multitude of people use the Internet for one thing, and one thing only - to solve problems.  Indeed there are hundreds of websites with the sole purpose of discussing and finding solutions to real life problems.  Simply browse around one of these sites to find millions of ideas, more than you can shake a stick at.  The most famous of these sites is Yahoo Answers, and you can even subscribe to their RSS feeds to have fresh ideas squirted into your inbox every day.

Common CMS Selection Mistakes

admin1 | 25 November, 2014 21:05

In this article we examine common mistakes made when selecting a CMS or content management system.

Perhaps the most common mistake made when buying a CMS is assuming that a specific feature will be available at no additional cost.  Sometimes it isn’t even an assumption that causes the problem.  Indeed, sometimes the vendor neglects to mention the extra cost, leading to confusion on the part of the buyer, especially after post-purchase discovery all of a nonexistent feature.  The way to combat this problem is to always make sure that the vendor can satisfy all of your requirements, either by supplying a comprehensive list of features that you are paying for, or indeed by giving a live demonstration of all the features included in your plan.  If a vendor cannot supply either of these things, perhaps it’s time to reassess your choice of vendors.

The next most common mistake is making a purchasing decision without consulting the relevant people.  A lot of the time, top executives who are not tech-savvy will assume that because the purchase is a technical one, it should fall within the remit of the IT or technical department.  What they fail to remember, is that publishing and editing of content is not always dealt with by tech-savvy users therefore these people should also have a say in the purchasing process.  The watchword here is “relevance”.  The right people should always be involved in the purchasing process.  Research has shown that more successful decisions have been made by asking the right people, the right questions.  Just because the company is buying billing SOFTWARE, does not mean that the finance people shouldn’t be involved in the decision.

Another mistake is failing to take into account the level of product support available for a given product.  Paid content management systems often have different levels of support depending upon the feature package purchased.  The blame for failing to understand the support available for a given package can lie at the door of either the vendor or the buyer.  If the documentation outlining the support package is in any way confusing, this will usually leads to a breakdown in communication.  The buyer should take point here and ask for full clarification of the support package purchased.

Next we look at security, and tackle the issue of a failure to understand access permissions for system assets.  Many content management systems will have users with different levels of technical proficiency, and should therefore have safeguards built in, to protect core areas of the system and to prevent non-technical or untrustworthy users from damaging mission critical components.  Another factor of security has its roots in departmental remits and once again we find ourselves murmuring the word “relevance”.  There is absolutely no conceivable need for the admin department to have access to material or resources used by HR.  The best way to handle this is to plan, plan, plan.

Remember that a good CMS is not just a publishing platform.  A good CMS should also support and or strengthen your business or company and provide the best platform to manage and support content, security, and operations business-wide.

 
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