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Posted by on in Client Tips & Tricks

CMS Systems Review

Arguably the top three open-source CMS systems, popular with developers these days are Wordpress, Drupal and Joomla.

Each of these software packages has different feature sets and specific limitations. In order to make the right decision for your project, we have reviewed each of them below:

 

Wordpress

Wordpress is one of the most popular CMS systems among young and novice developers, due mainly to its ease of setup and user-friendly, intuitive back-end interface. Many non-technical people are able to develop websites quickly and easily using Wordpress, as well as manage the sites themselves after development.

The Good

Wordpress was originally designed as a blogging tool and this is where it really shines as the perfect tool for a blog-style website. The posts feature is great for SEO and organic search results. Meta data can also be controlled easily from each of the posts or pages.

There are a lot of beautiful themes available (free and fee-based) for Wordpress so the developer or end-user can put together a very professional, polished-looking website in just a few minutes. Many of the themes include built-in animations and widgets to achieve rather sleek and sophisticated style and functionality.

There are also thousands of feature-rich plugins offering everything from e-commerce, slideshows, photo galleries, SEO boosting, event management and everything in between.

The Bad

Wordpress is extremely vulnerable to hacking and a lot of plugins expose insecurities in the code, making it dangerous to use for a professional or business website

In many areas of the database, Wordpress data is stored in a non-relational manner making customization or data interface very complex and sometimes impossible.

The organization of files is rudimentary and inefficient especially for the media library where developers and users upload content.

For high-end developers, Wordpress is less intuitive and more restrictive to achieve the unique features and results that their clients require.

Some missing basic functionality such as the ability to copy or clone a page or post requires a plugin.

Widgets are limited and you do not have the ability to assign pieces of content to any specific areas in the theme, unless the theme has it built to support that feature. For developers this is huge and can cost a lot of extra development time coding in identical content on every page, much like the pre-CMS classic coding days.

Wordpress requires frequent updates and often an update to a theme or plugin will completely unhinge the website, requiring troubleshooting and repair by a seasoned programmer.

For simple websites and blogs, Wordpress is a solid choice especially if you are a young developer just starting out. However, if your client wants complexity and customization, Wordpress is probably going to be more trouble than help.

 

Drupal

Drupal is often called the developer’s CMS system. It has the most complex back-end of the three, and uses terms (like node) to describe content elements, not often understood by the layman.

The Good

Drupal is considered one of the most secure CMS systems in the development world. It has a lot of great security features on the back-end and can easily be configured to control access to content and administration.

It includes a lot of flexibility with tags, categorization and arrangement of content so that your pages are well indexed for good SEO. This is also very helpful in searches for large amounts of data being stored on the website.

It is highly and easily (for a developer) customizable to produce very complex websites with specific functionality or unusual features.

The Drupal core allows custom fields and custom content types which is amazingly powerful in developing different types of front-end content areas for a large corporate website.

There is a strong library of plugins available and a very active support community if you need help.

The Bad

Out of the box, it is quite bare-bones and before development can begin, you have to install dozens of plugins to arrive at the same starting point you would have with either Wordpress or Joomla.

The data is stored in arrays in the database and so any customization requires extra coding to break those arrays down and parse them into normalized data before use.

There is a strong learning curve to the back-end interface and developing even a simple website takes full development understanding and programming knowledge.

Drupal is an excellent choice is you have a highly complex, unusual project requiring a lot of customization and front-end features. However, if you are just starting out with programming, Drupal is not the CMS system for you.

 

Joomla

Joomla is somewhere in the middle between Wordpress and Drupal, combining a lot of the same features and limitations.

The Good

Joomla comes packed with a lot of features which the other CMS systems require plugins for, such as the built-in ability to copy content elements, menu items and plugin instances with the click of one button.

The plugin feature, called modules allows you to easily turn on or off content per page and assign content items to specific areas on chosen pages. This is a feature lacking in both Wordpress and Drupal and is a highly efficient way to manage content, customize pages and minimize development time.

There are thousands of great templates available for Joomla, most template companies offer a license fee for all their templates for a specific time-frame.

The Joomla development community is very strong so support is just a few clicks away and there are hundreds of thousands of add-ons, some are very well coded and others are junk; you have to be discerning when choosing plugins for Joomla.

Updates are handled with one-click and never distort or disrupt in any way, the live website.

The data is stored relationally so interfacing and customizing code is very straightforward and easy for a developer with database knowledge.

The Bad

There is no support yet for custom content types, although you can add that functionality through plugins.

Joomla is a fairly strong and secure platform however, it can be hacked and vulnerabilities do exist so in order to be safe, extra precautions need to be taken at the server level.

It can be difficult to customize template features and also plugins. You should be well versed in PHP coding before undertaking development of a Joomla website.

Joomla is lacking in any built-in support for animations and css customization so hand-coding might be necessary in order to produce specific results for client requirements.

Overall, Joomla is a sound choice for CMS system for professional and business website projects. The interface is fairly intuitive and easy for clients to use to manage their own websites after development. However, it may require some basic html, css and php knowledge to effectively develop within.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Back in the “old days,” before high-speed Internet and WIFI, everyone used dial-up services to go online. Remember AOL?

Because these services provided slow speeds and pages took a long time to load, the browser developers built something into your web browser called a cache. What this cache does is store local copies of pages you have browsed to, in a folder on your computer so the next time you go to that same page; it can load it quickly for you. That is the good.

The bad is that if that page has changed, your browser will not necessarily load the new version, what you are probably seeing is a cached/old version.

Quite often, we will make changes to a client’s website and when they go to review it, they don’t see the changes, assuming we didn't make them. We then have to remind them to fully clear their browser cache and then refresh the page a couple of times in order to see the new changes.

This is a BIG issue for web developers. Technology experts, like Wireframe Media know to do this, but our clients do not, in fact most people are not even aware their browsed content is being cached especially on mobile devices.

We make it a practice to clear our cache(s) at least once a day, and sometimes up to 25 times, if we are developing a website and need to make sure we are seeing all the actual changes.

Here is a reference guide on how to clear your cache on all of the main browsers and even your mobile devices.

It might be a good idea to make it a regular practice to clear your cache daily or weekly, especially if you have a website and want to be sure you are seeing the updated pages.

If you have any questions about browser cache and how it works, please contact us anytime.

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We have been developing websites and custom software for over 20 years and have seen it all in terms of client requests.

One of the biggest mistakes clients make is not listening to the experts.  Why hire a web development company and then dictate how, when, why and what for your new web presence.  You won’t be getting your money’s worth and you certainly won’t be getting the results you want.  You would not take your car in for service and then tell the expert how to fix it, why do it here?  But it happens and often.  Before you make this vital mistake, read on and consider how your website decisions will affect your long-term business goals.

Often clients want their site design to reflect their own style and image and this completely opposite of what we suggest.  When thinking about your website, it should be designed around your audience and your business goals, not you or your style.  I had one client who loved hunting and so he wanted hunting motifs all over his website for a business which had nothing to do with hunting.  This misstep will drive traffic away from your site.  Your website is like your receptionist, the first impression people get of your business and if you are sending the wrong signals and a confusing image, then you are doing something wrong and will lose business because of it.  Clients expect your website to reflect your business and your expertise, not your personal likes and dislikes.  They need to trust you know what you are doing and if your website doesn’t match their expectations, they will go elsewhere.

Our designers spend hours and hours matching just the right colors, fonts and artwork to present a cohesive, well thought out design, which accurately reflects your business and your brand.  If you then step in and change the color to pink and all the fonts to something whimsical, then you have missed the point and we have failed at our job.

When thinking about your new website think about your audience, take you out of the equation and think only of what a potential buyer/client would expect and want to see.

If you want the best results, then trust the experts to do our job and get the results you are paying for and deserve.

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One of the services Wireframe Media offers is SEO and SEM.  So what are they?

SEO is search engine optimization of your website.  These are specific changes we make to your website, making it search-engine friendly for Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines.  Without these structured changes, your website may not be found at all in searches.

SEM is search engine marketing.  This is marketing your website using a variety of mediums and methods to get you the highest ranking with search engines and help people find your website during searches.

Both are very time consuming and it is difficult to achieve good results without a lot of effort, which is why it is a paid service and something most clients don't want to do themselves and don't have time for.

Here is a great article which tells more about what SEO is and how you can use it to help promote your website.

http://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo/how-search-engines-operate

 

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