CMS software has been around for decades, but way back when, you still needed to be a pretty solid tech whiz to make the most of it. For instance, most early CMS software didn’t have much in the way of a frontend user interface for non-developers to add, change, or remove website content without knowledge of various programming languages.
Fast-forward to today, where virtually anybody can take charge of their site – creating new pages, changing out images, refreshing content, and more. Now, 50% of all websites use a CMS – and if you’re building a website today, it’s likely you’re going to want one, too.
Although there are a lot of options, the most popular CMS is the well-known WordPress, which touts itself as super simple for “non-techy” people. And, with a little TLC, it is. When we create websites for our customers on any CMS, we build a custom user interface that makes it easy for marketers with basic computer skills to keep their website content up-to-date and professional-looking. We really mean “easy,” too – on one recent project, our client lead was working hard to add all the content needed to hit his deadlines for launch. In a moment of desperation genius, he enlisted his son to help input it all. His EIGHT-YEAR-OLD son. We loved hearing that we were able to build something that met the needs of a large multinational corporation, while providing easy day-to-day management of the site for their busy marketing team (or an enterprising eight-year-old).
But websites aren’t just about posting new content on the visible frontend; sites require regular attention and maintenance on the behind-the-scenes backend, too. And although we build sites that are easy to use and maintain, we wouldn’t recommend getting your eight-year-old onboard for this critical role. That’s why, when a client comes to WHM to build a website, we always recommend that they identify a person within their org who will act as the knowledge base about the technical side of their CMS and web architecture.
Why you need a frontend (content) expert
To Insource or Outsource?
As your business grows and evolves, you’ll need to make changes to your site that aren’t covered by the basic user interface. The question is, can your team make these updates, or do you need to invest in outside help? After all, there’s nothing worse than wasting time and resources trying to DIY something, THEN having to call in the pros anyway. This is where a little extra expertise can come in handy – the more you know about how your site is built, the sooner you can decide who should work on it, the faster and easier the updates get made.
A Site That Goes with the Flow
If you understand the capabilities of your website technology, you’ll be better equipped to see how it can be used to make the most of your other investments. Say you just added a new CRM to your marcomm stack – how could information gathered from your site be used to supplement it? Or imagine you just started a kickass new podcast – of course you’ll want that content embedded and promoted on your site! By gaining a deeper knowledge of what your CMS is capable of, you can start to imagine innovative ways your website can work hard for your business.
Why you need a backend (software) expert
Keeping in Control
No one cares about your website as much as you do – in the end, it should be in your hands, the way you want it. Giving full control of your website to a third party can be risky – what if you want to bring in a new partner? What if you want to bring the site in-house? When we work with clients that don’t have large internal marketing teams, we’re happy to help take on the long-term management of their site. But even then, we encourage a close partnership with a knowledgeable client-side contact. Understanding the basics of your site helps you maintain ownership and gives you the freedom to make the decisions that are best for your business.
Built for the Long Haul
Once you’ve launched your site, it’s time to kick back, sip your martini, and watch that bad boy go for years and years, right? Wrong! Your job isn’t done when the site is launched. All websites need long-term care – maintaining themes and plugins, updating PHP versions, installing security patches, etc. – which means you need someone who can keep up. There have been times we’ve handed off completed, CMS-powered sites to clients, only to check back in a few months and find them in a total state of neglect: broken images, forms that won’t submit, the dreaded 404 error. While evidence shows that a broken website is quite literally bad for business 1, we continue to see dysfunctional sites across the web. This isn’t to say you should be doing all of the site maintenance yourself, but you should at least be able to knowledgeably work with the people making those updates on your behalf. And you should definitely understand why it matters.