CMS web design with WordPress & Drupal (and Joomla)

Content Management: The cure for the common web site

If you're starting a new web site but haven't heard of CMS, or don't know how it applies to you, please think for a moment of its opposite, the brochure web site that conventional web designers provide:

  • After it is produced, the page layout is impossible to change without a complete redesign.
  • Pages often have paper-like features even when they serve no purpose (such as newspaper-like columns).
  • Adding text or images, and creating / moving / deleting pages, require the often costly intervention of a web designer.
  • The material on the web site can't adapt to the visitor (as with logins or "cookies").

Option 1: WordPress

The most popular choice for small business and personal publishing, WordPress is preferred when you need an easy method of promoting your descriptive & blog pages with stock software and often a pre-fabricated visual theme.  COSD also develops custom themes when you need something unique or matching your trade dress.  Search Engine Optimisation is built in with simple software tools.

Option 2: Drupal

Generally a requirement for businesses having pages with structured content: online data and databases, customer interaction, maps.  Designs take longer, at increased cost, but capabilities provided by the Drupal framework are limitless as opposed to WordPress which is limited to blogs and hand-written pages.  Online enterprises generally need the flexibility & scalability of Drupal.

Option 3: Joomla

Joomla, still a popular choice for historical reasons, has always been a quick way of building a "quick & dirty" but extensible system into what used to be a sheaf of brochure pages, perhaps modernising an old hand-edited or brochure site.  Joomla support is available for pre-existing web sites, though new designs should be undertaken either in WordPress or Drupal.

Choosing the right system for your business workflow

All three systems provide for different types of collaboration according to user privileges, so that:

  • users can be given control over groups of web pages or sections or your web site
  • users can have different publishing privileges: for instance, a publisher can release an article that is entered by an editor.

Most importantly: the key to a successful web site is for it to be controlled by the business owner rather than the web designer. COSD will provide you with the design, and the training when necessary, to develop your online material in the way that most suits your business.

Question: Why would we want to write our own pages? Isn't the web designer supposed to do that?

Not if you want to attract what marketing people call the ideal customer. A web designer cannot write from the level of familiarity that you have with your business or personal interest. When the writing comes from you, your targeted customer will recognise and respond to this familiarity.

You will also use a range of terms unique to your business subject, causing search engines like Google to classify your site as a pre-eminent source in your field. Such material on web sites benefits your Google ranking far more than any search engine optimisation "tricks."

For long-term success with customer attraction and search engine rankings, it is vital to think of a CMS web site as an investment, with your supplementary writing building up the equity. If you continue to create and update pages on your products, services, and subject matter of your industry, your site will pull far ahead of the static designs of your competitors.

New CMS designs from COSD will include a full stock of pages: from writing that you provide at the time, plus any material from your old web site. Your design plan may also include new material based on your outlines (see online copywriting).

What you get from COSD, as opposed to other CMS designers

No maintenance fees: Your CMS design is yours to keep, with no hosting charges or licensing costs. You are free to move it to another server if you like.

No proprietary software: Be extra wary of firms that charge annual fees, because it generally means your site will lose its content-managed features if you ever move away from that provider.

A unique, custom template or theme: graphic design to your specifications based on a survey of your industry, your favourite web sites, and a gallery of selections showing a range of available features.

High development standards: all COSD template / theme designs have:

  • Print friendliness: no useless navigational features on your printed page, no cut-off pages... every page prints as sharp as a news sheet just from the Print button on your browser.
  • Standards-compliant layouts: CSS, table-free, and source-ordered: for search engine performance and accessibility.

Business presence in Dublin, Ireland: to suit close collaboration or training requirements. Regardless of your location, COSD always provides close feedback with unlimited email contact, so you can review the developing site online as each stage of development meets your testing and approval.

  • Contact COSD for a preliminary choice of which CMS software to use, and a rough estimate of the time & cost for your project based on your sufficiently detailed email submission.
  • Read on to Responsive web design