As Julian noted in his entry, a web site is a vital communication tool for businesses, especially in these difficult economic times. In order to have effective communication, the content on a web site must stay relevant. That's where I come in. Much of my time at JLB is consumed with keeping our clients' web sites up to date with new content–text, images and files to download. There are a few different ways to update content on a site. In this post, I'll address content management systems as a way to keep content current. Look for posts in the coming months with all the little details about updating HTML web pages and editing images and other media for the web.
Updating a site using a CMS is usually fairly simple. It can be likened to composing an email in a web-based mail program. The user logs in to the system, selects the page to edit, changes the text in the text area and saves the changes. Most editors allow users to add simple formatting, such as heading tags, bold or italics. Images and links to other pages within the site or other sites can be added as well.
At JLB, we realize that there isn't a one size fits all solution when it comes to web sites. Therefore, we use a few different content management systems depending on the needs of the client and the design of the site.
Textpattern is a straight-forward, easy to use, free CMS that works well for publishing text. Many people use Textpattern for blogs and sites that have a set text block on each page with navigation on either the right or left side. Sites using Textpattern include: the JLB blog, Valkyrie Consulting Group, Gray PR's Blog and Creekstone's News.
Site Mason is a more complex system that takes a little time to learn. However, it has many features and allows more design flexibility and additional options for adding sections and pages to a site. Site Mason has allows form creation, file uploads and image editing through the content management system interface. Bolen Dodson and Associates and Southern Exposure Magazine both use Site Mason to keep content current.
Drupal is an open-source CMS that we began using this summer. It has the ability to handle content, users, polls and a myriad of other features. There are also modules that other developers have created that can be plugged into Drupal to make the options with this CMS seem endless. Roadmap to America: The Last Best Hope is an eLearning site running on Drupal.