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Choosing A Web Site Content Management System

As the saying goes on the web "Content is King." There is no argument that if you are going to have an effective Internet presence you must have current, dynamic content that gives your visitors reasons to come back time and again. While content may be king there seems to be little discussion about the optimal way to manage this content for small to medium sized businesses. Have you ever noticed that when your building the web site you have plenty of helping hands but once the site is launched and the daily grind of support kicks in it becomes harder and harder to find that help. This is why it is so important to evaluate your Content Management System (CMS) for you web site in the development stages. Every web site has some form of content management system in place, except for those that never change. The CMS can be as informal as an email to the web developer or a multi-million dollar computer program that warehouses data from several different databases. In focusing on small to medium sized businesses I have decided to eliminate the big dollar systems and concentrate on the three major types of CMS's available.

The first type of CMS is the default traditional and most widely used method I call the manual update system. This usually requires sending the information to the web developer. The web developer then utilizes their FTP program and HTML coding skills to make the requested changes. The changes are then reviewed and approved by the requester. The problem with this model is that the web developer is usually a high priced contractor and not an in-house resource. This means that you end paying a hefty price for web site changes. The cost of web site changes becomes a budget issue so you end up reducing the number of changes you make to your site in turn reducing its overall value.
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The second type of CMS is the WYSIWYG system. This model allows the web site owner to use one of the graphical web development tools on the market today such as FrontPage or Net Objects Fusion. These are great programs that allow you to make changes to the web site in a graphical look. The changes are simple and if you configure the software correctly you can update your web site with a few clicks of the mouse. The problem with this model is that you become dependent on the WYSIWYG tool. If you can't get to FrontPage then you can't make your change unless you resort back to our first model. But now it gets a little trickier. These WYSIWYG tools create very convoluted HTML code so manual changes can become very time consuming. Another draw-back of the model is that if your company utilizes a tool like this to create their site they are limited to the graphical templates that come with the software. You end up getting a site that looks pretty much like everybody else's. Furthermore, I think it is important for any company planning on building or revamping their web site to meet with a web development company to at least review the best practices for web development.

The final type of CMS is what I like to refer to as an integrated CMS. This type of Content Management Systems is built directly into the site during development. In order to make changes the web owner simply enters in a secure URL, logins and makes changes to the site without having to know any HTML or FTP commands. Changes are instant and all the user needs is a web browser and access to the Internet. This has been a very successful model for our company because it allows us to build web sites that empower the web owners. Web owners can make changes to their sites as often as they like without the need for a high priced web developer. Of course the cost of a site with an integrated CMS will be a little higher but the overall cost of ownership of the site will be dramatically reduced over time.

Regardless of the model you choose web site owners must acknowledge that their web site does come with a Content Management System installed. An educated web site owner will ensure that their site has a CMS that allows them to get the most out their web site.

About the Writer of this Article

Michael Park, MBA MCP CEO/President DelOtto Systems Inc. Internet Development Solutions http://www.delottoinc.com mpark@delottoinc.com (607) 733-9966 Makers of WebHeadlines http://www.webheadlines.com FAX:(607) 271-9655

Don't Let Clunky Web Site Content Sabotage Your Home Business!!

The road to a successful home business is full of blind curves, potholes and hazards. Of these many pitfalls, creating your own web site is one of the most dangerous. Setting up a good web site is a complicated and intricate process, and if you don't pay attention to detail you can end up with a mess.

The web site is the first impression a customer has of your business, so it had better be good. Now of course you want your site to be attractive and professional looking, but that's just the start. Quite often a fantastic looking web site can sink itself with bad copy. The clarity of your information is crucial. It is imperative that your web site follows a logical structure and has clear and complete product information, a clearly stated offer, and easy to follow ordering instructions, all written with impeccable spelling, grammar and punctuation.

Using a professional web designer is great if you can afford it, and it's not even too expensive these days. In the last few years, competition among web designers has become fierce, and hence driven prices down. You can get a pretty good job done for very little money if you just comparison shop a bit. You might even find a web design student who needs portfolio material and is willing to set up your site for free. Just remember, a web designer is just that, a designer. They set up all the links, graphics and fonts, but the copy is up to you. Most designers just plug in what you give them without even a cursory once-over. The clarity and correctness of your writing is your own responsibility.

One of the main flaws I find in poorly written web sites is the confusion created when I can't find what the actual offer is. The home page maybe has all sorts of slick sales copy and even a testimonial or two, but where is the offer? A good web site should introduce the product or service and clearly state the offer right at the beginning. You can follow up with a second paragraph of sales copy describing the benefits of your product, but make sure that your offer is stated first.

Another web site sinker is confusing links. Links are necessary because people get frustrated with having to scroll down through pages and pages of information. A good web site should be divided into separate sections connected by links. To avoid confusion, keep each section of your web site shorter than 300 words, the shorter the better, and have an easy to read column of links to the left side of each page and also at the bottom of each page. It is crucial that each link makes sense. Use logical titles like "product information," and "ordering information," and make sure the content fits the title. Don't have ordering information on the products page, and vice versa.

It is also crucial that your ordering information is clear. Wouldn't it be a tragedy if someone got all the way through your web site, but then didn't buy your product because they were confused by your ordering page? Believe me, this happens all the time. Make sure that everything is easy to understand. Your quantity and price sections, mailing information section and credit card information section should all be simple and logical. It's also a good idea to have an order recap function so people are sure their order was understood before they send off their credit card number. Finish off with an order confirmation, and people will be much more at ease with their purchase.

And finally we come to spelling, grammar and punctuation. I could write pages and pages on this subject, but then you'd probably stop reading. Grammar is a tricky subject. No one likes to think that they use bad grammar, but even the most educated people can slip up. Pay very close attention when writing your web copy. You can't rely on spell check and grammar check to do it for you.

When you've finished writing your site, set your copy aside for an hour or two, then read it again. You'll be surprised at the errors you missed the first time. After you've proofread your document, have someone else look it over, preferably someone with a good eye for such things. If you don't have anyone you can go to, contact a professional editor, or if you can't afford an editor, ask an English teacher. You might find one willing to read your work for a few bucks, and you might even make a friend in the process.

A well written web site is crucial to making sales. If people can't understand your site, they won't buy your product. It's as simple as that. So put in a little extra effort, and watch your returns multiply. There's money to be made out there if you just know how to do it.

About the Writer of this Article

Alvin Apple helps everyday people start businesses they will enjoy. Then he teaches them how to succeed. Read all his helpful strategies, including his latest article "A Great Press Release Can Really Get Your Business Noticed," at http://AlvinApple.com Reach Alvin at 801-328-9006 or alvin@drnunley.com.

Content is king: Enhancing web site success with original content

As a webmaster providing information content to an ever-growing Internet audience, you should become familiar with the expression, "Content is king!" The reason is because once you've spent time and money building your audience and clicking off major hit counts each month, content is the one thing that will keep your visitors loyal to your site.

When I first heard that expression I disagreed: In the new media realm of the Internet, I believed content was secondary to web site design, ease of navigation, loading time, and a half-dozen other technical aspects.

That's not completely true. I have learned that what you present on your site is at least as important as how you present it (and how often), if you expect to give your visitors a reason to come back time and time again.

The good thing is that in today's Internet world, content is readily available. Online syndication firms like iSyndicate.com [http://www.isyndicate.com] and Moreover.com [http://www.moreover.com] allow you to download JAVA script or similar HTML code for free that automatically places fresh, daily updated content on your site.

But as the Internet matures, carrying somebody else's content and having your visitors redirected to other web sites to read that content may not be enough to sustain loyalty to your brand any longer. For instance, one thing web advertisers are looking for these days besides a mega-hit count is the amount of time surfers spend on your site. You may get 120,000 visitors a day but if they're only staying 2 or 3 minutes, that's not as valuable to an advertiser as a site getting 76,000 hits per day with surfers staying as long as 8 or ten minutes.

What you should think about, then, if you're serious about providing information content, is to consider a way to keep visitors coming to your site more often - then staying there to read the content you provide.

You can do that by either developing your own content in-house or by incorporating syndicated content onto your site. The former is best but the latter will do as well.

If you're not journalistically inclined yourself, you can usually find experienced (or even aspiring) reporters and journalists who would jump at the chance to hone their craft at your site. This method would cost you little, depending upon the level of experience you were seeking to hire, and it would help keep you busy providing your visitors with that fresh content you're after. An average payment fee for online reporters and writers is around 5 cents per word, with articles averaging about 500 to 750 words each.

If you want to pay a little more and don't want the task of hiring/finding your own writers and editing and posting their submissions yourself, you should know that there are a growing variety of quality licensed syndication companies designed specifically for Internet delivery might be your best solution.

Screaming Media [http://www.screamingmedia.com], iSyndicate, and 7am.com [http://www.7am.com] are all experienced and outstanding content delivery syndication firms who can help you, for a varying fee, incorporate (automatically) their daily content into your site. You have to first decide what you can afford to spend or, in the case of repeat traffic, what you can afford to lose if you don't stand out from the crowd.

One word of caution, however: Try to be original. Lots of content providers already carry some of the "traditional" services like Reuters, the Associated Press, and UPI. If you can, try to find a syndicated content feed offered by a different provider - a news service or a sports feed that is just as good as "the big boys" but different enough to provide your site with a unique feel.

Not all content is alike, even if the subject or focus of the content is the same. For example, there isn't much difference in the way Reuters or the AP handle a similar subject; but USAJournal.com [http://www.usajournal.com] or WorldNetDaily.com [http://www.worldnetdaily.com] may have a totally different point of view on the same subject.

That is what is means to be unique - just don't be the "same" as everyone else! Give them a reason to come to your site instead of some other site.

In short, if you've spent all this time creating traffic for your site, now it's time to build brand recognition and most of all, loyalty. That kind of loyalty keeps your site numbers high and your advertising/marketing potential high as well.

But if your content is just like the content on 100,000 other sites on the Internet, you have to, at some point, take on the role of one or your site's visitors and ask yourself: "What makes me want to keep coming back here?"

If you can be honest with yourself, the direction you take with your content and the delivery of information on your site will become obvious. Just remember always: "Content is king!"

Jon E. Dougherty is the CEO of USA Features Media Co. [http://www.usafeatures.com] and editorial director for USDefense.com [http://www.usdefense.com] and USAJournal.com [http://www.usajournal.com].

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