September 15, 2015

Content Management Has Come a Long Way

Jay Buys • Chief Executive Officer

A few weeks back I did an interview with Entrepreneur on Fire and was asked what I’m currently most excited about.  My response? Content Management.

Content Management Systems (CMS) have become an absolute necessity for any web project and at Visceral, we’re always looking for new ways to improve the overall usability of managing the sites that we build for our clients. After all, what good is your website if you can’t figure out how to update it? Here’s an updated look at how we ensure that you’ll be able to easily maintain your new website.

WordPress

We’ve always considered ourselves somewhat CMS agnostic, believing that the best platform for the job was simply the one that the client preferred to use. Today, while we continue to work with many clients who use various systems for their own reasons, our recommendation to clients is almost entirely WordPress.

At the time of this writing, WordPress is used by 58.7% of websites powered by a CMS and 24.3% of the entire web. There is no doubt that WordPress reigns supreme for web content management. It is a powerful, flexible, easy-to-use system that also happens to be open source and free, an important factor for many of Visceral’s clients in the nonprofit space.

So WordPress is reigning champ, but what can we do to extend it and create a better content management experience for our clients?

Visual Composer

Out of the box, WordPress is a “form-based” CMS. Generally speaking, you click “Add New” and you get a text box to enter your content. This works great for simple blog posts but what about pages that have two (or more) columns? What about pages with even more complex layouts, embedded videos or photo galleries, accordion style FAQ pages, etc.? Traditionally these types of pages required knowledge of either HTML code or some complicated WordPress commands called “shortcodes”.

Visual Composer is a page building plugin that Visceral uses to extend the main WordPress interface. With it, our clients can create and manage complex layouts using simple drag and drop controls. This allows us to design visually rich page templates while still ensuring that pages are easy and intuitive for our clients to manage. Best of all, the Visual Composer layouts and content elements are already coded to be responsive, meaning that our clients can just focus on creating great content and the CMS will take care of making sure that the site works across mobile devices and tablets automatically.

Custom Content Types

By default, WordPress allows us to create “posts” which are generally used for your blog or news section and “pages” which are the basic content areas of your site. This may be all that a basic site needs but what about sites that have more specific types of content; perhaps staff bios, job openings or downloadable resources? WordPress allows us to create these via custom content types so that all of your content can be managed in a way that is streamlined, organized and intuitive. We use these post types to generate individual pages (that can have their own design/layout) as well as lists and archive pages. No more shoehorning all of your content into a single place and trying to manually control layout and organization. Custom content types let us automatically control layout as well as search and filter via properties such as the date the content was published, alphabetical order, or via…

Taxonomies

While custom post types are a way to organize content into specific top-level areas, taxonomies (often called categories and tags) allow us to further segment and categorize content items. You can think of taxonomies as a way to describe your content and thus keep it further organized.

Perhaps you want your staff directory organized by department. “Staff Members” would be a custom content type and “Department” would be a taxonomy to organize it.

Perhaps you have a resources section that you’d like sorted by type (white paper, video, infographic) or by topic (solar energy, wind energy, biofuels). We can easily create multiple taxonomies that will allow you to organize your content in a variety of ways. Taking this one step further, wouldn’t it be nice to pull a list of solar energy white papers into the sidebar of your solar energy page? Taxonomies make this simple.

Check out this great post for more information on defining a taxonomy for your blog content.

If this all seems a bit overwhelming, there’s no need to worry. Our team of content and information architecture specialists work closely with you during the beginning stages of the project to get a sense of your website goals and content needs so that we can define the content types and taxonomies you’ll need.

Bottom Line

Creating a website today is not only about crafting something that will promote your business, it’s also about creating something that will grow with your business and empower you to update it with new content and success stories.

Contact us today for a free consultation on how we can improve your website.

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