Published 08/11/16 04:02:pm

How to keep your website updated for free

A brief guide to Content Management Systems

You’ve just been told by your web designer that your nice shiny new website has been published! Hurrah! He did tell you some weeks back to check over all copy on the development test site but of course you were too busy to take a real good look. You skimmed over most of the pages and agreed for it to go live.

But hang on…there are some bits of copy with incorrect information? And another page is already showing out of date news. It’s not the web designer’s fault of course. He’s just used the content that was given to him by the client when he was building the site. How was he to know some of their suppliers have just launched new products? You quickly contact the designer to get him to update it but he’s currently busy on his next project – won’t be able to update it till next week he tells you. That will be too late for your important product launch. Oh…and one other thing, these updates will be charged by the hour from now on.

Surely it should be possible to update these things ourselves you ask yourself? Well, a Content Management System wasn’t specified at the start of the project and in the quote so will need to be built into the site at additional cost.

Content Management Systems (or CMS for short) are tricky things. Sure, you want to have control over your website without paying any additional costs, that’s a no-brainer. But there are now a huge amount of systems on the market, all with varying degrees of complexity and it’s not always as straight forward as you think.

Before agreeing with the designer on the system they are supplying, get them to demo the CMS to you first so you get an idea of its capabilities. Have a think about what content you will actually want to update regularly. It’s no good just saying that you want to be able to change everything, however you want and whenever you want. You’re not a web designer after all. Creating a user friendly CMS takes time to configure and allowing someone unskilled to easily make changes, doubles the time it takes the web designer to build it. Sure, giving someone access to simply change text is fine but when more complex information and layouts are used, a designer’s eye and graphical design skills come into play. This is not something that anyone can do.

You also need to look at who will be responsible for updating the site. Will it be someone from IT or the middle aged admin lady who works in the office or even yourself? We all have varying degrees of technical competency. If you find that using Facebook is completely baffling or you struggle with checking your email and basic computer tasks, then you’re probably not the best person to be in charge of updates.