Managing your own website content with cms and oss

Managing Your Own Website Content Is Easier Than You Think with CMS and OSS

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In today’s world of ever-changing information, having a website that you can update yourself has become almost a necessity. Whether you sell products online, have a warehouse of inventory, are an artist, writer, realtor, or business owner, you can benefit from having a website with a Content Management System, or the ability to make content changes yourself.

Web Content Management for Any Budget

No matter what size your budget is, having a website you can manage is now within your reach. For most people, this can be as simple as logging in to an online administrator panel and choosing what changes you would like to make. Some larger businesses may require a web developer to design more complex databases to fit their needs, but for small businesses that sell products and/or offer services online, having a content management system is now simpler, and more affordable than ever.

Open Source Software, or OSS, is a development methodology that allows free, open access to the source code of a software program. This means that if you have the desire to learn the program, whatever it is, you can dig into the source code, make changes, and not only use it, but perhaps make the program do something its original designers didn't design it to do. It's similar to biological evolution because the pressure that drives changes in a species eventually leads to improved chances of survival in the natural world. In the computer world, the pressure comes from you, the end users, the people who want innovative and creative ways to share information and products online. With OSS, web developers or programmers, can share source code for software, and come up with the new, innovative technologies that improve our web experience.

Joomla & Mambo

Joomla and Mambo are two examples of open source software that can be used to create websites with content management systems. These two programs are free and available to anyone to create websites. You do, however, have to know what you're doing, so it's best to hire a web site designer to build your Joomla or Mambo web site for you. But, if you wish to learn how to build web sites with content management systems (CMS), you can do so using free, open source software.

Website Content Management Systems (CMS)

A content management system (CMS) keeps track of every piece of content on your website, and is database driven. Think of a database as a table that contains, in rows and columns, your entire website’s content. Content can be simple text, photos, music, video, documents, or just about anything you can think of. A major advantage of using a CMS is that it requires almost no technical skill or knowledge to manage – the software manages it for you. All you have to do is go to your online administrator interface, or online admin panel, log in using a username and password, and use the menu to navigate to sections of your website you would like to change. For you, the end user, it's a simple process and your web designer can help you learn to use the program.

Building a web site with a CMS is more complicated, which means the initial cost is a little higher, but the results are worth every extra dollar spent. You don’t have to rely on another person to make content changes, saving money in web site maintenance, and most likely ensuring you will make frequent changes or updates. For example, realtor web site services like Z57 or Pullan charge as much as $65 per month for website hosting, and realtors pay for the benefits of a content management system, as well as other website reporting and email response features. If you’re willing to personally email or call in response to online information requests, then you can save a tremendous amount of money by investing in an open source content management system website using Joomla or Mambo.

Blogging and CMS

Blogging is another feature of the OSS community. Your blog can be hosted on your own web site, or your existing blog can open either in a new window or an iframe. An iframe is a piece of web site code that will create a space on your existing web page, and within that space, can open an entirely different web page, from a entirely different web site. By using an iframe, it can appear as though the new page’s contents originate from your web site, and not from somewhere else.

Free blogging services, like WordPress and Blogger, offer the source code for a blog page, for free, to web developers, and this allows developers the ability to design your blog page to look exactly like your existing website. You can even create entire websites out of WordPress templates, if you don't want to have a traditional website. There are many blog templates to choose from, or you can hire a designer or developer to create your own unique template, making your blog pages uniform and appearing no different from your existing website. Blogging is a great way to keep your web site’s content fresh and changing, and this draws more web traffic, thus increasing your search engine rankings.

Other Ways to Manage Your Own Web site

A more traditional way to maintain your own website is to use a website editing software program like FrontPage or Adobe's Contribute. Unfortunately, Microsoft no longer makes FrontPage, but there are other web editing programs you can use. These are called WYSIWYG editors or "What You See Is What You Get" programs because what you see on the screen is what you see online. There are great programs for someone who doesn’t want to learn html, css (cascading style sheets), php, or any of the other website programming languages. More advanced programs, like Dreamweaver, are for those who do want to learn to code their own pages. Below is a list of popular WYSIWYG website editing programs:

Current Price
Microsoft FrontPage No longer produced
Microsoft Expression Web Expression Web
Adobe Contribute Adobe Contribute
Adobe Dreamweaver Adobe Dreamweaver

There are also free web site editing programs, such as SiteBuilder, that often come with your website hosting packages, so be sure to check with your website hosting company, or your web designer, to see what’s already available to you.

Please contact Purple Dragonfly Designs or call 713-376-1980 if you would like more information about a web site with a content management system, or the various software programs available for managing your existing web site.

- Kimber Malone
Purple Dragonfly Designs