July 16, 2011

Are You Really Saving Time With Your Content Management System?

Should I manage my own website?
Working for a leading website design company I see several requests every week for quotes on websites with integrated content management systems (CMS for short). There is some really cool stuff out there for do-it-yourselfers. Programs like WordPress and Joomla and even Drupal make it fairly easy to update content, add articles, and integrate social networking capabilities. WordPress alone has enabled many people with little web experience to create some pretty dynamic websites. For many business owners it has also fueled the misguided belief that managing their own content and designing their own site instead of hiring a professional will ultimately save time and money.

For the savvy independent blogger this may be true. For the majority of business owners this can be a costly pitfall. You're probably thinking that I say this because I work for a web design company, and that is true. It is because I work for a web design agency that I have seen frustrated business owners who tried to manage their own websites unsuccessfully. They assume it will be a simple task, but when trying to manage a website with no web experience while simultaneously running a profitable business, reality proves otherwise. Is it possible to design and manage your own website? Sure it is, but quite honestly, unless you are in the business of website design learning to build or manage a website is going to be a serious undertaking.

But having a CMS makes everything easy, right?
As a business owner, is managing your own website really where your time should be spent? I've implemented several effective content management systems and I think they are all pretty easy to use. The majority of clients who take them over often feel quite differently. Even with a content management system there can be a pretty sharp learning curve, especially for a novice. Using the same logic as many who wish to do it themselves, I could probably prepare our corporate taxes and eliminate the need for our CPA. The question would then be; is it worth the time and the risk? In my opinion, it is not. Tax preparation is definitely not my strength and if I were to tackle it myself, there would almost certainly be costly ramifications. This is exactly why businesses need to delegate certain responsibilities to the people qualified to handle them.

It's just a website, what could go wrong?
An ecommerce website could very well be the driving force behind your business. If your business is done entirely online, it goes without saying that your website is the most important part of your sales team. As handy as they can be, many CMS systems like WordPress give you the opportunity and ability to really screw up your site. A little click here and a little click there and the next thing you know, you're on the phone with a local website design company trying to figure out what went wrong. Many business owners that I have spoken to, feel that web maintenance agreements are too costly. If you are doing business online how costly is it when your site is not functioning properly or down completely? If something goes wrong and you don't have a web maintenance agreement, you're likely going to pay out of pocket for a web designer to diagnose and fix your website.

A great example of this is a woman I recently met with who bought a WordPress template for her online business. She met with us because she wanted to have an easy website that she could set up and maintain for little to no cost, but she needed help getting started. She purchased the template for $25, but didn't have the necessary tools to edit her site, nor was she able to install the WordPress site on her hosting account. If you haven't worked with web files, or installed WordPress and databases before, you're probably going to struggle. I am sympathetic to the start up business owner, however, to have a successful online business it is necessary to establish a website design budget as well as a website marketing budget. As a business owner it is not a realistic expectation to design, develop, maintain, market, and manage every aspect of your business yourself.

Don't misunderstand what I'm saying here; content management is great, but having a website that both you and your visitors can use is even better. It's all about understanding what a system can do for you and matching a system to fit what you need to do. After all, your main goal should be running a successful business, not shaving a few dollars by doing everything yourself.

Chris London is the art director for a highly rated Web Design Company, and website marketing company. Chris believes that one of the greatest assets a company can have is a well designed website with effective website marketing.

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