The Only CMS You’ll Ever Need

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Content Management SystemA CMS is a content management system. In the instance of content marketing, “CMS” really applies to the system you use to add, delete, edit and organize (in short, manage) your content.

A couple of weeks ago I had a discussion with a recruiter who reached out to me about a content strategist role for a large web development company.

I have to say the interview didn’t go as planned. And that was because the “curse of knowledge” took a stranglehold over me.

They were looking for someone to implement the technical aspects of content strategy (ie. taxonomies). I proclaimed that I really like to focus on the strategic part – planning out content to achieve certain results.

After the conversation ended, I realized that had I just messed up big time. Not only did I not explain that I have plenty of experience with the technical aspects of strategy, but I also missed out on a good teaching opportunity :) .

Why “Technical” Didn’t Cross My Mind

The reason I didn’t even think twice about the technical side of content strategy during the interview is because I use WordPress as a content management system.

WordPress takes care of the technical so easily, that you don’t even realize you’re doing it.

Yes, I’ve designed taxonomies. Yes I’ve re-arranged menu items, forms and widgets to try and optimize how the user uses the site.

But WordPress makes this so easy to do, that you don’t even realize how technical these steps really are (I’ve had websites before WordPress…and it was a huge pain in the ass to move items around).

There will be people that nitpick and tell you that it isn’t a true CMS. But in my mind, you can spend your time nitpicking…or you can find the easiest way to achieve results.

Plus, there are a few plugins you can use to make the critics happy.

And for me, not using WordPress as a content management system is leaning towards foolish.

Benefits of WordPress as a CMS

Here are a few highlights of why I love WordPress as a content management system and why I think businesses need a really good reason not to be using it:

Taxonomies. Taxonomy is a fancy word for classification. A site taxonomy is really just an ordered list of pages and sub-pages.

Well guess what, if you want a quick visual representation of what your site taxonomy looks like…there’s plugins for that.

With a few clicks of a button, you can install CMS Tree Page View which will not only create a taxonomy for you, but also give you drag-and-drop capabilities to move things around. How cool is that?

Design. I like to use Headway Theme on my sites which makes designing a site extremely easy. Everything from picking colors to moving items around can be done without any coding.

Just as important for user experience, you can pick fonts, colors and sizes for your content.

Multi-User Support. One of the main benefits to having a good CMS, especially for larger companies, is being able to support multiple users at once. Of course, security issues arise. And a situation may arise where different people should have different access levels.

Here’s a quick fix: The Web Editor’s CMS plugin.

This is a pretty robust solution to turning WordPress into a full-fledged content management system.

And it gives you the ability to brand the back end! Bonus points!

Multi-Media Support. Using different media formats can really ramp up your content marketing efforts. Luckily, WordPress supports anything you can think of.

Video? Sure!

Audio? Why not! There’s people that post their entire Podcasts onto their sites with WordPress (and yes, there’s plugins for that).

Expandable. As you can see from my previous points there are a lot of plugins.

There is a huge community of users who also create a ton of tools. Some are paid. Some are free.

You can expand WordPress’ basic capabilities to perform basically any function you can think of. And you can’t  beat free.

The Single Downfall

The single downfall I have found with WordPress as a content management system is there is no quick solution to keeping a content inventory.

There are a few plugins that allow you to make notes next to your content, but I like to go a little more in depth.

Of course, I created my own content inventory that I think is pretty good (click the link to pick up a copy for yourself).

So What I Should Have Said Is…

So in the end I missed a really good teaching opportunity.

Instead of saying I don’t focus much on the technical aspects, I should have said “I can make the technical aspects so easy for you that they become second nature.”

And when you don’t focus on the technical…you can focus on doing things that actually drive results.

Of course, that’s going to make a lot of IT people very unhappy.

Do you or your company use WordPress? If not, why not? What do you use in its place? What other CMS-focused plugins have you discovered? Do you think its foolish to focus your efforts on the technical side if you can focus it on creating results? 

10 Responses to The Only CMS You’ll Ever Need
  1. Michelle Church

    Love this post…I so love WordPress and all the simple ways to do whatever it is one wants to do with websites/content. If I wasn’t a believer, you would have made me one. I was just talking about this very thing today with a client that I would love see switch her sites to WordPress…she would be so jazzed in the end…She’s ready I think!

    • Eugene

      I think WordPress is an absolute miracle…and its free! That can’t be beat. Plus the huge community building on extensions is amazing. I think it would be a shame not to use it :)

  2. Irith

    Hi, I have had a few experiences trying to manage content on WordPress and I have to say I hate it. I should point out that I don’t have a background in html, so I understand that for people who can code WP is a dream. My main gripe with it is that it sells itself as a website CMS but its whole mental model is for blogging. I understand that this is entirely reasonable, but the assumptions made for a bloggers needs do NOT match the perspective for someone trying to build a website. Their whole interaction paradigm (labels, functions, instructions) assume one wants to publish a blog. I really struggled to decode this framework and make it fit in a website context. I even got my reasonably IT literate Gen Y nephew involved, who I thought would feel much more comfortable with the whole process, he didn’t. One project I was trying to wrangle content in (someone else’s) bespoke theme and I found it really buggy and totally not intuitive. My own project had a really tight deadline so my nephew and I ended up trying Muse beta, Adobe’s new WYSIWYG which is supposed to be ‘like InDesign for the web’ it’s still got a long way to go, but as for speed and an intuitive design experience, it made possible what seemed like a long learning curve in WP. If I ever want to publish a blog, I’ll definitely give WordPress a go, but until I learn html I’m stay right away from it for now….

    • Eugene

      Hi Irith, I think picking the right theme can go a long way in how user friendly your experience is. I use Headway (aff link). And you can do almost everything you need with it without doing any coding with its “visual editor.” I do use code to a bare minimum when its necessary, but I prefer not to.

      I actually just created a static sales page in WordPress the other day…so its not strictly for blogs (although that is what it started out as…it has greatly evolved). If you have the time I think you should play around iwth it or look at some tutorials (there’s plenty of free ones out there). You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can create projects with WordPress once you get the hang of it.

  3. Ruhani Rabin

    Eugene I am agreed with your points as WordPress as a great CMS. But having said that, it does require some neat technical skill to bring it up to that level. I’ve deployed many simple Corporate and Non corporate sites using WordPress as CMS. I do love it for the simplification of usage. Not to mention WordPress and Google SEO is such a wonderful bond.

    As for the previous comment on this topic: @Irith, latest WordPress does support all sort of CMS options with more plugins and that all doesn’t necessarily require HTML. WordPress always get things done. Which is very important. It doesn’t need a techie to make WordPress as a website. You just need to look for the right theme to start with. Yes it is designed for bloggers but it is very very expandable. However, if you do not like to use WordPress, most probably you will have hard time with Google SEO and lack of simplicity on managing content.

    • Eugene

      The WordPress/Google bond seems like a happy marriage for sure :) . I think for SEO purposes, if you’re not on WordPress you’re already putting yourself at a disadvantage.

      I think that for the vast majority of users, WordPress is more than sufficient as a CMS. Especially with all of the extensions and plugins you can add on to extend its usage. Of course, some big corporations may require a bit more…but even then I think you can deal with existing extensions for most cases. I actually had a plugin developed for myself once, and it was still exponentially cheaper than creating a whole CMS from scratch.

      I think you make a great point in response to Irith. The theme you start with makes a HUGE difference. I’ve tried out many themes in the past and some just aren’t good and very buggy. Others are superb however. I use Headway and I’m really excited for the release of Headway 3.0 (looked at some of the videos and looks amazing from a design perspective).

  4. Jens P. Berget

    Hi Eugene,

    I find your experience to be very interesting, because I have experienced the same things lately. I have some technical skills when it comes to CMS as well, and the University where I’m working are using a CMS and I’m doing all sorts of stuff with it… but WordPress is the best CMS I’ve ever tried. It’s so flexible and so much easier.

    And the funny thing is that a lot of companies in Norway (small and medium size companies) that used to pay a lot of money for their CMS are now using wordpress, and a lot more will in the years to come. WordPress is becoming very popular among small and medium size companies in Norway.

    • Eugene

      I think the power of WordPress is the community. There are so many users and developers that it’s like having a team of thousands (if not millions) of developers working on your CMS. And I know there are a few Fortune 500 companies that use WordPress. If it’s good enough for them…it’s good enough for me :) .

  5. Bojan

    I am using WordPress on all my websites. The fact it has great plugins for every need, makes it a verstile CMS that can handle the needs of 90% of webmasters.

    • Eugene

      Absolutely. I think people over-complicate things. I like to use tools that make things easier (especially if they’re free!).

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