Maintaining your own web site can be easy with the right tools. By maintenance, I mean having the ability to update the content of your web site, including text and pictures. As a web site owner, there are a number of options available to you.
This incredible off-the-shelf software is so easy to use, you won’t believe it. If your web site is comprised of static HTML files as many small and medium sized sites are, this could be the perfect choice for your web site maintenance. Adobe Contribute allows you to edit text and add or delete images from your web site. It is so easy to use that within 10 minutes I was able to demonstrate it to my most computer-phobic client and he understood its basic functions.
Contribute also has advanced functions that provide rollback capability – if you edit a page and it doesn’t look right you can “rollback” to one of several previous versions of the page. Contribute can be used to create new pages on your web site by copying existing pages too. The software costs about $170 from Adobe, and in many cases we can set it up to work with existing web sites including those designed by other agencies.
Content Management Systems (CMS)
Building your web site around a Content Management System is another way for web site owners to update their own content. With a CMS, the content of your web site resides in a database rather than in static HTML files. The design and layout of your site will need to be coded specifically to work with the particular CMS chosen. When someone visits your web page, the content for that page is pulled out of the database and inserted into the layout.
When updating your site with a CMS, you’ll log into an administrative part of your web site that allows you to edit the contents of the database.
For large web sites this is just about the only way to go so that site-wide design and content changes can be managed efficiently. For small and medium sized web sites, a CMS can be effective. There are a number of tradeoffs to consider. Once your site is set up with a particular CMS, you are pretty much tied to it – moving your web site to a different Content Management System can be fairly involved. In some cases the content can be migrated, but in almost all cases the design will need to be recoded to work with the new CMS.
It is important to consider how easy the CMS interface is to use. They range from simple to complex. None are as easy to use as Adobe Contribute which doesn’t store information in a database at all, it lets you edit your web pages directly.
When a CMS is the chosen solution, we strongly recommend going with an open source CMS. There are many excellent systems available. WordPress (which is Blogging software but can be used to manage a web site as well), Joomla, Drupal, and Web Site Baker are popular and have varying capabilities.
Going with a widely used, open source CMS means that if you have a falling out with your web developer, another developer can jump right in. Also, open source Content Management Systems can be moved from one web site hosting company to another.
If your developer employs a custom CMS for you, you are almost certainly going to be tied to that developer and unable to have anyone else work on the site, or to move the site at all. If it ever needed to be moved you’ll probably be redesigning the whole thing from scratch.
Hiring out your updates
One other option to consider is having your web developer make the web site updates for you. This can be the best option if you are busy and have challenges finding the time to update your web site, or if your company is looking to outsource your website maintenance. The important factors here are finding a web development company that has good communication skills, can respond quickly to your requests, and has discounted rates for ongoing web site maintenance.
CodeGeek.net meets all three requirements, and we maintain web sites for a number of companies, both large and small. We are able to respond quickly because we have a number of team members whose dedicated job is just making web site updates. Our web site maintenance rates are also significantly discounted from our regular web site development rates. It’s our way of saying thank you to our many loyal customers.