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Benefits and Drawbacks of Content Management Systems
Today there are many websites out there on the internet. Many of these websites are created using a wide variety of tools. Some are created using Microsoft Frontpage. Some are created using Adobe's Dreamweaver software. There are also content management software, called CMS, that you can use to create and enhance websites. Two such programs are Joomla and Word Press.

Both of these programs allow you the user to create additional pages on your website. It makes things easier to manager and makes your content easier to manage. Joomla and Word Press are programmed using PHP. So it is kind of a programming language on top of a programming language. Its purpose is to allow someone who is not a programmer to add components, content and information to their website without programming or web hosting experience. Once setup by the web developer, you the business owner, can easily manage your website without web development knowledge!

The nice thing about Joomla and Word Press is that it allows you to create pages on the fly so it allows someone who isn't extremely savvy the ability to create their own content without calling up and paying the webmaster to do this. This is very useful when creating articles and information in order to help promote your website within the search engine. Once Joomla is installed, configured, and running, it is simple for even non-technical users to add or edit content, update images, and to manage the critical data that makes your company or organization go.

An advantage Joomla and/or Word Press is that it allows you to customize your website with a specific design and allows you to change that to another design on the fly but within the same scheme. However this can cause one main problem. The website has a certain basic structure. Once you have a specific look and feel, then changing that look to something totally different outside of Joomla's structure will be extremely challenging as not using Joomla. For example, if you website has buttons along the top and now you want to have a totally different style and put the buttons on the left side, it will require changes to the structure, look and feel of the website. Also, if your website that has a format that requires a lot of customizations to Joomla in order to do something where it would be easier to do without Joomla. An example would be have a specific articles page formatted a certain way. It may not be as easy to do this with Joomla or Word Press as it would to program it on your own.

One drawback is the amount of additional files that are created in the back end. This can be a maintenance drawback if your website is only a few 100 pages worth of content. I have had situations where the web master left the project to someone else and the owner has no clue how to change his or her content? Or some specific code broke and now the web master is no longer with the firm. It is up to the new webmaster to figure out what the old webmaster did. So the webmaster has to go in and figure all the additional customizations that were done to the website and find it within the Joomla or Word Press interface which has a lot of files and sub-directories. These files and sub-directories may have not existed if the website was done in a neat and concise programmed format. Joomla also creates a lot of cache files. These files will continue to grow when changes are made. This can add a lot of overhead to the web server where it is hosted.

These content management systems aren't the end all be all. The possibilities are not endless. It doesn't do absolutely everything that is available on the internet. It may allow you to add articles but if you want to allow comments to the articles you will still need to call your webmaster and pay him to add that feature if you do not fully understand how to do this yourself using Joomla. From my experience with these content management tools, it will take just as much to add features with CMS then it does without it. If you are a company owner and not a web designer or programmer than chances you do not know how to do this yourself. So for an example like this, what benefit does Joomla or Word Press have? It doesn't do anything and everything and you will still need to pull different programs off the internet or pay to have specific programs developed to tailor your specific needs. For example an online calendar scheduler may require specific coding to incorporate into these content management systems and requires solid programming knowledge. Content management systems are also having a slower loading time.

Now this isn't a bad thing against Joomla or Word Press but in the end, the customer will be paying someone to do these features. A lot of sites are custom built and even though they are using Joomla or Word Press, there are still lots of custom code involved. When you combine custom code with Joomla/Word Press things can get messy and like I mentioned above, if there is a change in webmasters, for example webmaster leaves part time project and gets full time job, it may be difficult and actually take longer for the new webmaster to figure things out where as if the website was not using these content management systems (CMS) it would be easier to decipher. Sometimes simpler is better… in my opinion all the time simpler is better. I have worked on sites that were originally built the old fashion way, the customer loved it, then it was changed to use a CMS like Joomla and now for some reason everything is a mess. Now I have to come in there, find out what went wrong, fix the mess so the customer is once again happy.

I've always believe that there is a place for everything, content management software, custom programming and/or off the web specific modules. There are many ways to skin a cat or a website in this case and it has to be well thought out beforehand. It depends on what your needs are and how easy you can make it happen for the customer and the webmaster. Just remember regardless of what you decide to do for your website, make sure you keep it very organized!
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