A content management system allows you to update your site yourself. You can go in through a dashboard and make some changes, though perhaps not everything you want to do, without having to contact your IT department or your webmaster.
There are advantages and disadvantages to a CMS. Still, let’s say that you have a content management system of one kind or another. You can be stupid with it, and here are five top ways to accomplish that:
- Don’t learn how to use your CMS. If you have a CMS at your website because all the cool kids have them and aren’t willing to learn how to use it, you will end up with a messed-up website. You may not need a CMS, or you may have one only to make it faster and cheaper for your web pros to make your changes. In that case, you don’t have to learn it. Otherwise, not knowing how to use the CMS defeats the purpose.
- Don’t give anyone access to the CMS. Who should have access to your website is a thorny question. However, when you have only one person who can access your site, you’re back to the same problem people have with no CMS: you have to wait for someone to make changes. It might feel a little better to you when you’re the one making the changes. However, assuming that you ever go home, go on vacation, or otherwise occupy your time, it makes sense to have at least one other person who can access the website. If a client notices a typo, a price changes, or there’s a recall on a product you sell, someone needs to be able to get into the site quickly. Do you really want it always to be you?
- Ignore the structure of the site. Go ahead and use Pages to make blog posts. Put your products into the gallery instead of the store. Stick pictures in any way you want. It won’t matter, right? Well, actually, it will. Computer languages often have multiple ways of doing things which look as though they do the same thing — except that if you do it wrong they don’t work on mobile devices, slow down your page load, or make it impossible to do a quick update.
- Change things constantly. Change is good, and certainly it’s good at websites. However, changing things on a whim every day makes it impossible to tell what’s working for you and what isn’t. Often, it also makes your site less usable for your returning visitors and plays havoc with branding. A new blog post every day is good; a new theme every day is not. New products every day are fine; new navigation every day is not. Even if you’re not sure that something is working for you, give it time to amass some data so you can decide on a sound basis, not on a whim.
- Decide it doesn’t matter what you do, since it’s easy to change. If you think of your CMS as an easy way to change things, you may think of your content as temporary. The poorly written information, the pirated images, the inaccurate information can be here today and gone tomorrow. Once they’re up, though, they may be seen by a lot of people, cached, copied, and discussed. We also see pages that go up temporarily with the intention of fixing them — and stay up for years.
Now that WordPress has become a practical CMS for all kinds of sites, there’s no longer an automatic higher cost for a site with a CMS, but it still makes sense to make the best use possible of your CMS.