Doing a bit of DIY at home can save you money in return for a bit of your free time. But in the workplace this approach can be a false economy if you can’t do the task well enough or it takes you away from your “proper job”.
One of the differences between Sunburst and other web design companies is we don’t leave our customers with a Content Management System (CMS) to update their website once we’ve built it for them.
A CMS is an online application that let’s you update the content of a website without having to delve into the background coding of the site or mess around with an FTP to upload new pages. All great in theory and I am all for self-empowerment, but the reality of the different CMS I have used in the past is less about freeing users from having to deal with techies and more of a time-sink.
There are a number of problems:
- They tend to be a bit “clunky” – they require quite a bit of learning to understand how they work and as they are not totally intuitive, need frequent use to stay familiar with them or be prepared to consult the manual for anything other than basic presentation. For many smaller businesses, their website isn’t updated often enough to maintain the levels of knowledge required, so when something does need to be added or modified the 5 minute job takes all morning.
- They limit what you can do on your site – how you can make your content look and change the structure of your website is limited by the CMS used and how your website was created in the first place.
- Speed – as a fairly complex, online application, a CMS is affected by your PC, your connection speed, the speed of the server it is hosted on and the number of other people trying to update their websites at the same time. At times the CMS can take and age to update or even crash (losing your half-updated work) – this has been especially true for school websites I have managed.
- They still require specialist knowledge – whilst you don’t need to do any coding, to get the most out of the CMS and keep your website working well you really need to understand how a web page goes together. This includes how to use the different headings semantically to make it accessible, or understanding how to use different elements to make the page easy to read and the website simple to navigate around.
Ok, none of these problems are insurmountable and there are obviously advantages to being able to update your website yourself. But do you have the spare capacity in your organisation to devote to maintaining your site? In schools I have known senior teachers or even the head being in charge of updating their websites; in a small business it is likely to be the owner who does it. In either case the website has to compete with other activities for attention and is a poor use of an expensive resource.