Podcast 24: Selecting a content management system

With almost all clients wanting to have at least some control over their websites, the choice of content management system has become a key component in a successful website project plan.

Download this show.

This week Paul and Marcus are joined by fellow Headscape employees, Mark Crawley and Chris Scott in the new Headscape office!

Boagworld news

This week Paul rants about a new web design podcast while praising another that has been nice enough to massage his already over-inflated ego.

Talking of over inflated ego’s, Paul wants to remind everybody about the Geek Dinner being thrown in his honour (well that’s how he likes to think of it) this coming Thursday. Paul and Marcus can’t wait to meet all four of their regular listeners in person as well as making a load of new geek friends who have never heard of this podcast!

Techno buster: Server side and Client side

Why is it that all web developers like to speak their own special language? This week Paul and Mark unpack the differences between server side and client side by trying to explain the roles and limitations of both in plain English.

Main feature: Selecting a content management system

Paul kicks off by discussing the four types of content management systems:

  • Editing of static HTML websites using tools such as Dreamweaver and Contribute
  • Editing of specific site sections like news and events
  • Editing of entire site content including site architecture
  • Enterprise level content management with workflow and permissions

The discussion then expanded to look at the pros and cons of bespoke content management systems vs. off the shelf products. Finally we ended by looking at what factors should influence your decision when choosing a CMS.

Factors included:

  • The flexibility to control site design
  • The hosting requirements of the CMS
  • The functionality offered by the system
  • The expandability of the CMS
  • The learning curved required to implement and use the CMS
  • Your budget
  • The systems support for accessibility and web standards
  • The quality of the WYSIWYG editor

Related article: Designing for your CMS

Web resources: CMS related sites

Open Source CMS
This great site allows you to view demos of every open source CMS imaginable as well as providing user ratings and an extensive forum. As the name suggests this is a great place to start when looking for an open source CMS.

CMS Matrix
This site allows you to compare several content management systems based on a variety of criteria including security, flexibility and support. This is an excellent site if you are trying to narrow your field of options.

Xstandard is truly a top of the line WYSIWYG editor. It produces valid, accessible code as well as allowing designers to limit the control content editors have over the appearance of a site. We have covered this editor before but it’s so good it deserves a second mention!

Your thoughts

We have received loads of email relating to content management systems already and so we know this is a big area of interest for our listeners. Share your thoughts and experience of using content management systems by posting a comment here.

  • Ed

    Jackanory, for those who may not have seen it, was a story reading program on the BBC.
    Great podcast guys. Nice to hear a few more Headscapers. What sound recording setup did you use for this?

  • Lots of people ask us that so I am going to get Marcus to right something up on it.

  • My PHP CMS i suggest is drupal (drupal.org). It’s for people who know PHP, CSS, XHTML, and SQL. It’s a light install, but you can make it as large as you want. It’s completely open source, so you can do completely customize it to your liking.
    I heard the nice guys in the podcast talk about wysiwyg editors. Well there is an XHTML compatible module that can be added to drupal called tinyMCE. Works great!
    As far as customizable to your needs as a CMS, there are several different modules that can be added to the CMS that would make it useful for different applications. There is even a ecommerce module.
    That’s enough praise. Now for the downside. If you don’t know much about MySQL and PHP, installation can be a bit tedious. Documentation is there, but very basic. For anything that requires any sort of customization to a specific problem, scanning through the community forums is sometimes necessary. There is a book out about drupal, wordpress, and phpbb. If you search amazon for “drupal” it will pop up. Apparently its good for people who have never heard of it before. It doesn’t go much into detail about customization of drupal, but its a good start for anyone interested in wordpress or drupal.
    I like it because it is very flexible. You can write your own modules and themes for it. You learn drupal once and you can customize it for just about any website project you have in mind. But it is for those who have a good background in PHP, MySQL, XHTML, and CSS.

  • Have you already added your site to a css-gallery? This can boost trafic a bit and could result in some visitors sticking around and maybe even a 5th listener ;-) (sorry. couldn’t resist)

  • Richard Conyard

    Good stuff as normal :-) I’ve dropped the URL since this is a bit close to home and don’t want to sound like I’m spamming.
    Of points that you’ve mentioned, granted you can spend tens of thousands of pounds on a full CMS. In fact is you go for some of the larger CMS products on the market (I’d place Immediacy and Red Dot in the mid-range – that’s not being negative about them ), then you’re lucky to get any real change out of quarter of a million pounds. However you can get a full, off the shelf CMS with support etc. for a couple of thousand pounds.
    One of the other areas is the lack of flexibility with off the shelf packages. This isn’t always the case. For those design agencies that use our CMS ( Pile of code ;-) ), for their website although we’re an off the shelf package the level of flexibility built into the system is huge. They can change most of the record structures even right down to the core of the system by simple x-form updates, render is 99.99% XSL, they have full control over templates (something that you said that would have struck a cord with our designers), and all modules are loosely-coupled with open API’s which means anyone can develop them. I do agree it’s not always the case, and some off the shelf packages do not have this flexibility, but we shouldn’t all be tarred with the same brush.
    The last part is about accessibility, specifically that organisations that are going to roll out CMS projects that have multiple editors and authors should really question whether the CMS follows ATAG (Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines). These are both for the generation of good quality code and for the system to be 100% accessible in it’s use.

  • You may find some new listeners by promoting the blog – css gallery is a good idea, also get the blog listed on some blog searches like technorati.com, bloglines.com, feedster.com, etc.
    I found you in iTunes very easily, and am so glad I did! Love the show.

  • I like Joomla, it’s open source and pretty easy to use, and has worked great for doing smaller sites like band websites and small ecommerce sites.

  • I am a big fan of Geeklog (www.geeklog.net) and I have tried most of the popular CMSs out there. WordPress (www.wordpress.org) is also a great blogging CMS for those who like to heavily customize but don’t need too many features.
    Now it’s time for me to plug myself. Pligg (www.pligg.com) is a CMS originally based on a lot of the digg.com design. It’s a very limited CMS at this time, but another developer and I have been rapidly working on developing it further. If you have ever wanted to start your own localized version of Digg it’s a fun CMS to play with.

  • Great episode guys!

  • Oh and I’m sure you’ve been hearing about http://mad4milk.net/entries/mooflex

  • Jonathan Davies

    re: boagworld.com promotion: Get a tub of weatherproof and paint a big advert on top of your new office block. Then sit back and wait until it becomes a fascinating blogging-point for Google Earth e-tourists the world over. A bit long-winded but it’s almost free.

  • Hey guys, coming from more of a development background than design it was nice to hear that you decided to talk about CMS systems and provide links to good resources. As always, great episode, keep up the good work.

  • Ed

    The Jackanory theme tune and video, for those still interested.

  • Ed

    For those who like their buzzwords, I’ve just seen on Digg a new CMS based in AJAX with a PHP/MySql backend, AJAXPress. However, due to so many people trying it out at the moment, the demo is quite slow!

  • Teaman

    Listened to your podcast for the first time… the one one CMS.
    I’m a ColdFusion coder and didn’t hear any mention of it on your show. Maybe you only deal with open source products but CF is a great web technology and I would like to hear CMS recommendations of others who use CF.
    As for your show, I find you waste a fair amount of time with meaningless drivel. If you cut out the nonsense and stayed on topic, you could cut the length of the show down by 1/3 to 1/2. That would make for a more nicely sized show. Just my thoughts.
    One more comment about your show… the mic dynamics are too excessive. With 4 people going… the mics need to be all set the same and you guys need to talk the same volume (more or less) The problem is that sometimes I’d have to strain to hear some of you mumbling practically and others would respond full strength volume. So I can’t turn up or down my volume or I lose half the show. I’ll try another show to see if it’s any different but if not, I’ll go elsewhere. Just my two-bits.

  • Hey Teaman, sounds like you werent overly impressed with the show. A lot of people listen to the show for the “mindless drivel” so I am sorry to say thats not going to change. Perhaps you would be better off with another podcast. You might want to check out: http://www.dustindiaz.com/

  • Richard Conyard

    Hmmm, mindless drivel is a bit harsh. Although I do generally tend to skip over the chattier parts of the podcast.
    Wouldn’t want to skip to another podcast because the content is so good.
    As for Cold Fusion mixing of presentation and business logic layers ewww…

  • Teaman

    Thanks for the suggestion Paul, regarding the other podcast at dustindiaz.com. I’ll give it a try.

  • Dave

    Um, I tried to download the show by clicking the link above, but got the “technical considerations” episode instead!

  • Hi Dave,
    sorry I have had a few problems with my site! Now fixed. You should be able to download the right version when you are ready.

  • I’d like to put out there LucidCMS.
    It gets the job done.
    Flexible front end
    Extendable, with easy to learn plugin interface
    Can generate real files
    and more
    It’s pretty neat to be such a small base. I use it on a lot of small projects.

  • I am listening toy our Web CMS podcast (which is by now relatively out-of date) and although there was a mention of opensourcecms.com, I think that a number fo the features that were talked about could have been better covered by discussing Drupal. A Scandnavian/Belgian/Dutch application that is standards compliant (if the installer is smart) and that can do anything from blog to corporate websites. Once I catch up with your podcast schedule, I will be able to comment to more current issues.
    I use Drupal and I recommend it to all my clients.
    Donny – http://www.cmsproducer.com

  • mark

    hello paul,
    just to let you know the link to podcast 24 is broken from your archive page

  • Collection of useful and interesting Articles about CMS.

  • First of all why people need content management system?
    They need to content manage a website.They must be able to change the contents of website where ever they need.
    Is it hard to find a content management system?
    NO . But the way you need to manage website differs. That makes a lot of differences. For example take joomla . Its one of the famous content management system . But a person without computer knowledge cannot be able to change the code or customize it. The admins can change the content from the admin side of the content management system.
    Different content management systems?
    So choosing content management system must be done carefully.
    Tryangled Solutions – selecting content management system

  • Take a look at http://www.toptoolsreview.com . In this site you can find a great collection of cms

  • Great episode. Thanks for the CMSMatrix.org link.
    Wish you guys were more tolerant , in fact encouraging, towards Open source software