The Parlor

Simplify Website Management with the Right CMS For You

Spend more time on your mission and less time on your website

Are you spending too much time updating your website?  

Do simple content updates turn into overly-complex, headache-inducing, afternoon-eating tasks? 

Do you wish you had more flexibility to make changes? 

Did you inherit a website that makes you feel like throwing your laptop out of the window?

These are far-too-common issues we hear from prospective clients.

But don’t fret, there’s good news. While managing a website takes skill and can be challenging, finding the right content management system (CMS) that suits your needs can simplify the process of creating, updating, and organizing your website’s content, allowing you to focus on what matters most—your mission. 

Before you risk seriously injuring an unsuspecting pedestrian passing beneath your office’s window, let’s explore what a CMS is and how to pick the right one for your needs.

What is a CMS?

A CMS, or content management system, is a software application that enables users to create, modify, and manage digital content on a website without the need for extensive coding knowledge. It provides a user-friendly interface that allows you to add and edit content, upload images and videos, and organize your website’s structure.

How do you pick the right CMS for you?

Choosing the right CMS depends on various factors, including your technical expertise, website requirements, scalability, and budget. Consider the following when making your decision:

  • Ease of use: Look for a CMS with an intuitive interface so you can navigate and update your website effortlessly.
  • Flexibility: The ability to customize templates, layouts, and design elements is crucial for brand consistency and a seamless user experience.
  • Scalability: Consider how your website will grow and choose a CMS that can scale along with your business and accommodate increased traffic and content volume.
  • Affordability: Keep an eye on pricing and find a solution that fits your budget. Each of the CMSs we discuss in this blog post have plans with tiered pricing that range from free, in some cases, to monthly payments that can vary from around $25/month to about $100/month or more. Partnering with a studio or agency to help you understand what plan will fit your needs best is recommended. 
  • Functionality: When you review the plans for your CMS, pay attention to the different features in each tier, including storage, content editors, bandwidth, analytics, ecommerce, and more.

How do I choose between WordPress, Squarespace, Webflow, and Shopify?

There are many CMS options available. Our four favorites are also the most common. 

  • WordPress is known for its versatility. It’s an open-source CMS that powers millions of websites worldwide. It includes an extensive library of plugins and themes, making it highly customizable. Its flexibility helps you grow and add features over time and dynamic editing cuts down on administration time. We recommend WordPress for professional websites and they generally require working with a studio or agency for the initial design and build. In most cases, we recommend clients use a WordPress website builder called Elementor, a free WordPress add-on. Its drag-and-drop functionality makes it easy to update content. 
  • Squarespace is a user-friendly, all-in-one website builder that integrates hosting, design, and content management. It’s one of the more affordable options and it has the ability to consolidate hosting, domain registration, analytics, email, and more all in one place. It provides beautifully designed templates, making it ideal for creative professionals and small businesses. We recommend Squarespace to clients who need fewer customizations and less versatility. It’s a powerful and easy-to-use CMS for simpler sites that don’t need to design beyond the templates. Squarespace’s proprietary CMS gives extra peace of mind with its built-in security and 24/7 support team. And they offer extensive support documentation & tutorials.
  • Webflow is a visual CMS that combines website design and development. It offers a comprehensive design interface, allowing users to create visually stunning websites without extensive coding knowledge. It’s designer-friendly and one of the more affordable options. 
  • Shopify is focused on ecommerce. It provides a CMS tailored for online stores, offering built-in payment processing, inventory management, and marketing tools—an excellent choice for businesses selling products online. They offer flexible plans to grow as your business grows and there is an extensive library on online support documents.

What are the benefits of finding the right CMS?

Implementing a good CMS offers many advantages for website management:

  • Easy content updates: With a user-friendly interface, you can effortlessly create, edit, and publish content, reducing reliance on technical experts or developers.
  • Time and cost savings: A CMS streamlines content management processes, enabling you to make updates efficiently. This saves time and eliminates the need for extensive coding, reducing development costs.
  • SEO optimization: Many CMSs offer built-in SEO features, such as customizable metadata and search-friendly URLs, which contribute to better search engine rankings and increased visibility.
  • Enhanced collaboration: A CMS allows multiple users to contribute to website content simultaneously, ensuring efficient collaboration across different teams or departments.
  • Consistent branding: With customizable templates and design elements, a good CMS enables you to maintain a consistent brand image and user experience throughout your website.

What is the difference between an open-source CMS and a proprietary CMS?

When choosing a CMS, you’ll encounter two primary options: open-source CMS and proprietary CMS.

  1. Open-source CMS: An open-source CMS, like WordPress, is freely available to users and supported by a community of developers. They are widely used as an industry standard and don’t tie you down to a specific development team when support or updates are needed. They provide wide-ranging customization options, flexibility, and a wide range of plugins and themes. Open-source CMSs are continuously updated and improved by the community, including security patches.
  2. Proprietary CMS: A proprietary CMS, like Squarespace or Shopify, is developed and owned by a specific company. They offer a more “out of the box” experience and hosting and support are often included. They are more limited in what you can customize, but for the right website needs, they provide a more streamlined solution for specific purposes like ecommerce.

What are the risks of not finding the right CMS?

Without a user-friendly CMS, updating your website becomes time-consuming and resource-intensive. Relying solely on technical experts or developers for content updates can result in delays and increased costs. 

Additionally, without an organized CMS, maintaining a consistent structure and content quality across your website becomes challenging, potentially damaging your brand image and user experience. 

Outdated or poorly managed CMSs can also pose security vulnerabilities, making your website more susceptible to hacking or data breaches. Moreover, a lack of scalability can hinder your website’s growth potential and limit your ability to adapt to changing business needs.

What if I’m on the right CMS for me but I’m still having trouble?

Since there are a million ways to set up a CMS, identifying the right CMS is only half the battle. You may find that your website is already on the CMS that makes the most sense for your needs but wasn’t set up in the most efficient way for you to reap the benefits. 

Rebuilding your site on the same CMS with an improved backend editing experience is another great option.

Do I need a web designer or developer to help me make the switch?

You might be able to make the switch on your own if you have the technical knowledge, experience, and time, but working with a web designer and developer during CMS setup brings invaluable benefits. These professionals possess in-depth knowledge of CMS platforms and can provide expert recommendations based on your specific requirements. 

They can create a visually appealing website that aligns with your branding and incorporates essential features tailored to your business. Additionally, they ensure seamless integration of your CMS with existing systems like CRM or ecommerce platforms, enabling smooth data flow and enhanced user experiences. Leveraging their expertise, web designers and developers expedite the CMS setup process, ensuring everything is set up and configured properly and more efficiently, saving you time, and preparing for a successful launch. 

If you were already frustrated with your website management experience, it’s probably time to get some extra support. Working with experienced professionals can also help with content migration or transferring your existing website’s content, such as text, images, videos, and metadata, to the new CMS. Effective content migration requires careful planning and execution to ensure a smooth transition. Working with experienced professionals can simplify the migration process, minimizing the risk of data loss or content inconsistencies.

Ready to make the switch to a CMS that’s right for you?

Having the right CMS for your website saves time, reduces costs, improves collaboration, and ensures a consistent user experience. Whether you choose an open-source CMS like WordPress or a proprietary CMS like Squarespace or Shopify, selecting the right platform depends on your specific needs, technical expertise, and future growth plans. 

Working with web designers and developers can streamline the CMS setup process and help you migrate your content seamlessly. 

If you’re struggling with an outdated or inefficient CMS, don’t hesitate to reach out. We can guide you through the process and empower you to make the switch to a CMS that works better for you and your business.

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