What is a Content Management System website?
A CMS website, or Content Management System website, is a platform that allows the user to manage content from a “dashboard”. For example, you can write blogs, upload photos, events, and other content depending on what theme you are using.
How do I choose a platform?
First decide if you need a self-hosted website. The monthly fee is about the same for both.
A self-hosted website means you can choose your host. This will allow you to also choose your platform (like WordPress), and expand your websites features through code and/or plugins.
A hosted website (like Wix or wordpress.com) means the website provider hosts your website for you. You will still be able to choose your theme and do some customizations. However, you won’t have access to the FTP files, or be able to expand with plugins. For personal websites and users with less computer experience, this may be an good option.
What is a plug-in?
Self-hosted websites will allow you to install any number of the vast amount of plugins available. Adding a plugin is an easy way to customize your theme without any knowledge of code. Plugins can be installed easily from the dashboard to improve and expand the function and design of your website.
How do I choose a theme?
CMS websites are built on using pre-designed themes. This allows the user to build a beautiful site, without writing editing code. When looking for a theme, choose your price range. Then look for features you will need and ratings from the designer. One of my most recommended (and most used) theme providers is Elegant Themes [affiliate link]. You can visit my article about getting started on your first website for more tips on what to look for.
How do I choose a host?
If you decide to build a self-hosted CMS website, you’ll need to host it somewhere. There are a few common hosts you’ll find online. To be honest, I use a local host. I like having my “web-guy”. Bluehsot offers an affiliate program so you’ll see many recommendations on the internet. I’ve done some extensive searching and the main question you’ll want to ask yourself is, “how important is speed”? At any host, you’ll need to buy a premium rate for faster page load time.
Why hire a graphic designer if I can customize it myself?
There are many reasons to hire a graphic design to help you build your website, even if you are using a pre-designed theme on a CMS platform. Customizations can include, but are not limited to, adding brand identity elements (such as your logo), a custom header, optimizing your website for search engines, and building more complex page features.
Graphic designers have a working knowledge of structure, function, and design choices that will help your audience to access your information with ease. This will keep your target audience engaged on your website and help you stand out from the crowd with a polished, professional website.