CMS stands for content management system; these are systems where you are able to create and modify web pages on the fly since they are database driven applications, most of the best known CMS solutions are open source meaning that they are free. By using a CMS you are able to create and edit the content on your website with easy from any internet connected location; with most CMS applications, add-ons are available allowing you to extend your system to cover many different functions. All systems come with a default design, but theming a CMS to suit the design you want can be done easily through the use of templates. You should only use a CMS if the content on your site needs regular updates, or if your site is a rather large one with alot of content; if you have a small website then a CMS will be of no benefit to you in anyway, it could become an annoyance in certain situations, for example if you’re not going to update your content regularly then you could end up forgetting the administrator password.
Choosing a CMS
Choosing CMS can be either an easy task, or a hard one; the decision of where it is easy or hard is based upon your requirements. If you have fairly simple requirements, for example what operating systems it can run on and whether it is XHTML compliant then you could be in for an easy search since there are CMS solutions available which will run on any operating system, and if the chosen system’s default template isn’t XHTML compliant then you can easily code yourself a custom template which you can make XHTML compliant if you wish. However, if your requirements are much more strict then you could end up having to pay for a premium CMS, or face a hard search for an open source CMS that fits your requirements.
There are universal factors which you should also take into consideration, such as whether the systems you are looking at are SEO friendly and how secure they are. SEO friendly CMS systems will convert your pages to friendly URLs such as ‘http://www.my-cms-site.com/new-article/cat-falls-down-drain-after-slipping-off-tree-branch’, in that case the CMS has taken the article title o ‘Cat Falls Down Drain After Slipping Off Tree Branch’ and converted it into a URL which search engines will consider friendly – these types of URLs can end up with a search engine such as Google giving you a higher rank. Security is also a big factor concerning CMS systems; open source systems are remarkebly insecure since they are available to anyone meaning that a hacker can easily get a copy and find the exploits within, once they have found the exploits they can then go on to targeting websites based on the system concerned; SQL injections are also easily executed on open source systems.
The following is a list of open source CMS systems which you should consider trying out:
- Joomla – http://www.joomla.org
- PHPNuke – http://www.phpnuke.org
- Drupal – http://www.drupal.org
You will find that all of the ones listed above are powered by PHP and MySQL; these two systems are used in most open source CMS, and both are available on most operating systems.
Installing a CMS
Installing a CMS can be a very easy task; all you have to do is download the system, upload it to your web space via FTP, setup a blank database and then set permissions on some files to ‘777’ – thats the technical part done. Most systems have specially built setup wizards ready made to make the installation as easy as possible. There is also a range of open source CMS available for instant installation from the CMS category within Fantastico, if you are on cPanel based website hosting. The following is a list of free guides which you can use to help you install some of the most popular open souce CMS:
- How to Install Joomla – http://www.joomlatribune.com/joomla-tutorials/how-to-install-joomla-cms.html
- How to Install Drupal 5 (Videocast) – http://www.lullabot.com/videocast/installing_drupal_5
- How to Install PHPNuke – http://www.trap17.com/index.php/how-install-php-nuke_t22493.html
- How to Install Mambo – http://www.siteground.com/tutorials/mambo/mambo_installation.htm