5.19 Content Management Systems

Content Management Systems allow impressive sites to be created and maintained by several staff members, even with little IT knowledge. Many will not share offices, or even reside in the same country.

More particularly, content management systems:

1. Keep all content together, usually through a database.
2. Automate the workflow.
3. Reduce the manual labor of updating.
4. Preserve the overall appearance of the site.

Package

eZpublish

Joomla

Drupal

Expression

Engine.

Mambo

b2

evolution.

Price (US $)

€3200+

free

free

$100/250

free

free

Minimum Server

Requirements

PHP

MySQL 4.0

PHP

MySQL 4.0

PHP


MySQL 4.0

PHP


MySQL

PHP


MySQL

PHP


MySQL

Applications

4

4

4

3.5

3.5

1

Security

4

3

3

3

3

1

Management

4

4

3

4

3.5

2.5

Performance

4

3

4

3

2

2

Commerce

4

3

3

1

4

0

Ease of Use

4

4

3

3.5

2

2

Support

4

4

4

4

4

2

Overall rating

4

3.5

3.5

3

3

1.5

An explanation of the assessments:

Applications

Free add-ons (also called plugins) for most systems. Chat, classifieds, contact management, data entry, database reports, forums, document management, events calendar, FAQ management, guest book, link management, mail form, dashboard, newsletter, search engine, site map, product management, syndicated content, wiki capabilities and front-end web services add greatly to their power.

Security

Security is essential if employees, customers and clients are to trust the system. Most of the following are built in, but some come as free add-ons: audit trail, captcha, content approval, email verification, several different types of authentication protocols, login history, sandbox, session management, SSL compatibility (logins and pages).

Management

Companies will want a CMS that is flexible and easy to use. Before purchasing, or developing open source software, they will investigate how the systems can organize, schedule and deploy the contained information. Also relevant may be the following: advertising management, asset management, clipboard, content scheduling, content staging, online administration, package deployment, sub sites/roots, themes/skins, trash, web stats, web-based template manager, web-based translation manager and workflow engine. Most are built into the CMS.

Performance

Much more difficult to assess is performance in such areas as advanced caching, database replication, load balancing, page caching and static content export capabilities. Companies generally experiment with the trial version.

Commerce

If the CMS is to offer courses to the general public, management will want to consider affiliate tracking, inventory management, plugins for payments, shipping and tax, for point of sale, shopping carts and subscription management.

Ease of Use

As important as CMS capabilities is ease of use, also to the developer if the IT department is to tweak the system to optimal requirements. Helpful features include drag-n-drop content, email to forum, friendly URLs, image resizing, macro language, mass upload, prototyping, server page language, spell check, style wizard, subscriptions, template language, permission levels, undo and WYSIWYG editor.

Support

For peace of mind, companies will want the system to continue to be supported and developed in the years to come. They will check that the core and component code is updated at frequent intervals, the user forums are active, and that the online documentation is sufficient. Commercial systems will have manuals, training, a developer community, online help, pluggable API, professional hosting, professional services, public forum, mailing list, smoke tests, third-party developers and users conferences.

Questions

1. How do content management systems differ from blogs and business intelligence systems?
2. Under what aspects would you evaluate a content management system?
3. Look at examples of clients' sites illustrated by content management systems. What would be attractive if you were
a. a local community center,
b. a commercial expatriate tax advice center, or
c. a publishing house?

Sources and Further Reading

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