A Content Management System (CMS) is a “back-door” tool that enables non-technical administrators (or staff) to maintain, add, and update information on their web site. The systems vary, but they ultimately give clients control to make web updates without the assistance of a web master. A common drawback of a CMS is keeping the web site’s message and site architecture strong.

TBH Creative’s online writer, Barb Ruess, offers the following guidelines/considerations for keeping your online message effective with a CMS.

Key Considerations

Define your audience and goals. As you update your site, keep your audience and communication goals top of mind. It is too easy to add information that internal staff find important, without considering why it’s important to your audience. All content needs to be consistent with your communication goals and consistent with the tone of your current site content. Content management tools are wonderful, but too often their use can cause a site to grow in the wrong direction. When looking to add new content ask yourself:

  1. Does the new content add value for my audience? Does it clearly communicate that value?
  2. Is the new content consistent in style & voice with current content?
  3. Is the new content in the appropriate section?
  4. If creating a new page, are you linking to the page from the appropriate menus so it is easy to find?

Home Page
There is a fine line on a home page between providing enough information to draw the reader into the site and providing so much information that you drive people away because they don’t know where to click. Be careful when adding or changing content on this page because it is your first impression and most important gateway to other pages. With that said, your site needs to be kept current and fresh. Consult with your web designer on which areas are best to update and refer back to the original concepts. Simplicity and “teaser” information is usually best.

Internal Pages
Pay attention to page length.
Once readers have clicked into your site, it is okay to have longer pages. They’ve already shown an interest and you don’t want to make your information hard to find. At the same time, pay attention to the length and topics on your pages. If you find yourself adding to a page regularly you may need to create some sub-pages to keep your content well-organized and easy to read.

Be careful when changing your structure.
When adding a new page to the site keep your audience in mind. Where will they be looking for this information? Where does it fit on the menu structure: Top level? 2nd level? 3rd level? Refer back to your site map (usually created as the initial stage of a web project) and determine where the new page fits best. If you don’t have a site map, create one now.

Not every new page needs to be added to the main menu.
If you are adding supporting information – linking to it from the body of a page is fine and keeps your menus easy to use.

Define who can use the Content Management System
With the launch of your new site it is time to come up with a policy for who can add content to the site. In some organizations this will need to be a formal written statement with rules. In others, it can be informal but in all organizations it should be thought of beforehand. A few questions to consider for your content management policy:

  1. Who has permission to add to the site?
  2. Can/should you give staff permission to add to certain sections but not others?
  3. Does new content need to go through an approval process before it is added?

If you hire new staff that will use the CMS, ask your web developer to conduct proper training on how to use the software. Most web companies are happy to offer training, even “refresher” sessions if needed.

TBH Creative has worked with many Content Management Systems over the years and developed their own system which includes the best features. Understanding that usability is key to any useful software, our CMS was developed to make updates easy and intuitive. Contact us today to discuss your web site project and Content Management System needs.