Content management 4 beginners

Discussion in 'Web Design and Development' started by lurcher, Feb 28, 2006.

  1. lurcher macrumors regular


    Mar 4, 2004
    Hi there. I have a few clients who I build websites for but I only really do the basic stuff. I use DW and a little JS mixed in. Some of them would like to be able to update their site themselves. Mainly it's just text updates, such as course dates or news pages.

    Where do I start if I want to offer this as a part of their sites? Is there software which can help or is it some kind of hectic coding I would need to learn?

    Basically, is there an easy way! Thanks.
  2. zarathustra macrumors 6502a


    Jul 16, 2002
    Philadelphia, PA
    Wow, what a can of worms.

    There are a LOT of CMSs out there and you could use those for free.

    Such as Joomla (Mambo), phpNuke, TYPO3, Drupal, Xoops, phpWCMS, and the list goes on. Some people even write their own CMS (for fun, gasp).

    You'd have to install these on a server and then design templates to display the customer's data.

    You could also keep using Dreamweaver and let your customers purchase Contribute. It wouldn't be too much of a learning curve for you - it might be for them.

    Essentially, you would set up your pages and assign areas as "editable" for content by contribute. Your customers would log in to the server probably via FTP in Contribute and as in a word document, they could change the content of the pages. The cool thing is that you can have various levels of access, and you (or someone in your customer's group) can review the changes before they become permanent.

    The negative is that they would have to purchase a new piece of software and they have to learn it.

    Anyway, I can give more info if you'd like, and *ask me about Mambo/Joomla templates*.
  3. Josh macrumors 68000


    Mar 4, 2004
    State College, PA
    I've used just about all them, for all sorts of things, and I'm hardpressed to recommend anything other than Drupal.

    It *is* a little tricky to understand right at very first, but with just a short amount of time, you will get it, and it will make absolutely perfect sense.

    It's very powerful, and a large number of high-caliber sites and corporations use it (Yahoo! for instance uses Drupal internally).

    Sure - it may not have a 1-click install - but trust me, it is DEFINITELY with the (short) time it takes to learn.

    They've got one of the most active and thriving communities for support, and a very in-depth handbook as well.
  4. kgarner macrumors 68000


    Jan 28, 2004
    Like the others have said there are a lot of different CMSs that you can choose. The improtant thing will be to use one that uses a templating system that you will be familiar with or at least learn quickly.

    I am on the WebTeam for my college (its a group of student developers) and we are developing the new website for our department. We are using a system called Bricolage ( for our CMS. It is very powerful and allows all types of control, which is why we chose it. A lot of big sites use it like, just to name a few.

    The down side is that it uses Mason to create it's templates so we have to learn that as well. Not a big deal as it could look good on a resume. Amazon uses Mason for its templates for example.
  5. desenso macrumors 6502a


    May 25, 2005
    I'm going to address your post in two parts. The first part will discuss the CMS options out there. The second part will be a suggestion for you to consider in terms of easy installation and hosting.

    Part 1: CMS
    I've used a ton of CMS' and designed custom templates for each of them. Here are my top 3:

    1) WordPress. What's what? WordPress is a blog, not a CMS? Afraid not, chum - WordPress is so much more than a blog. Although it's not the most powerful content management system out there, it's my favorite for simple sites that you describe. The admin interface is intuitive - perhaps the most intuitive I've ever seen. The documentation is second to none. The user community is strong and PACKED with useful addons. At the moment, despite some serious problems with TinyMCE, WordPress is my favorite development platform. The templating system is one of my favorite because it's so easy to manipulate on a custom level. It's probably not the most elegant, but who cares if it works well? Definitely check this out.

    2) Drupal. Like Josh mentions, Drupal is a great piece of software. I spent about 5 straight days developing an entire website on Drupal, and although I was impressed with it, I was also constantly frustrated by minor issues. The biggest problem I had was that I didn't know PHP, which made it pretty difficult to extend / manipulate extensions the way I wanted. Personally, WordPress was more simple in this way, and with a better set of extension resources. I also prefer WordPress' theming system. In my opinion, for simple content management, WordPress is better than Drupal. Josh probably feels differently :)

    3) Plone. Plone is serious stuff. It's written in Python and based on Zope, which means it'll cost you about $4 billion dollars / week to host it, since it's so processor intensive. The purists love it and would scoff at the idea of using anything else. If you're up for a challenge and know Python or are familiar with Zope, go for it. Otherwise, stay away. Stay far, far away.

    There are many, many other options. The most important thing for you is to choose one and learn it inside out. That will allow you to train your customers to use it quickly and effectively, and allow for rapid deployment. I've chosen WordPress and I'm sticking with it - find what works for you. See part 2 of my post for a good way to experiment with these.

    Part 2: A good way to play with all of these, and to deploy these systems to your clients.

    Some hosts out there offer Cpanel and Fantastico. The combination allows you to install all of these applications with the click of a mouse, which I love because I'm lazy and hate terminals. Some hosts offer reselling, which allows you to setup multiple, independent cpanel accounts for all of your clients, on different databases. The only host that I would ever go with that offers both of these is a small orange. I believe Dreamhost offers reselling, but i don't think they offer cpanel. I could be wrong about both of those. [PS if you do sign up with asmallorange, I'd love a referral (desenso)]. What does all of this mean? With a host that has fantastico you can try out 10 CMS' in a day and see which one you like. Then, you can deploy installations to your clients' websites, build them a custom theme, and give them a basic lesson on how to use the software to do the things they want to do. In my opinion, this would be the most professional solution to your problem, and be a great way to expand your skill set.
  6. lurcher thread starter macrumors regular


    Mar 4, 2004
    Thanks everyone, lots to think about there. My reseller account includes mambo, which I think I'll try first. Hope its fairly easy to use!

    Cheers all :)
  7. jeremy.king macrumors 603


    Jul 23, 2002
    Fuquay Varina, NC

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