How to Choose the Right CMS for Your Business

Image courtesy of: Atlanta Computer

What is a CMS?

A Content Management System (CMS) is a web application that uses a database to create, edit, and store HTML in a manageable way. They have grown immensely in popularity over the years because they have made creating and editing content easier than ever before, allowing people with little coding knowledge to create and manage a website. How Do I Decide Which One to Use? The top CMS systems are more similar than they are different, but it is still a good idea to take some time to figure out what your business needs are and match them up with an appropriate CMS. Here are a few features to consider when comparing different CMS’s. Functionality: What are the essential functions you are looking to get out of your website? Will you need more in the future? If you are looking to quickly set up a small site or blog on a friendly interface, WordPress is probably the best option for you, while if you are looking to set up a large-scale ecommerce system with thousands of pages, Drupal may better suit your needs. Support: What kind of support does the CMS come with? Larger CMS’s tend to have more online support, such as blogs, forums, and videos, so it is definitely something to consider when choosing the right one for you. Here is a list of the most commonly used CMS’s.
  1. WordPress
  2. Joomla
  3. Drupal
Price: Do you have the budget to pay for software licensing? If not, that is ok, there are many free platforms out there, just be cautious of hidden implementation fees and ongoing maintenance costs that some lesser-known platforms may charge.

Drupal

Just like WordPress and Joomla, Drupal is open-sourced and based on PHP-MySQL and virtually limitless in its capabilities. Here are some pros and cons of Drupal.

Pros

Flexible: Whether you want a simple blog with a static front page or a complex, intricate website with thousands of pages handling millions of views a month, Drupal can handle it all.  Developer Friendly: Drupal favors developers because it is virtually limitless in what it can do, leaving design and customization up to imagination. Strong SEO Capabilities: Drupal was designed with SEO in mind so there are no boundaries on how well you can optimize your site. Enterprise: Drupal’s interface makes it easy to manage thousands of pages. Community: Drupal is a very popular CMS so there are plenty of forums, videos, and articles to help you with questions about improving your site. 

Cons 

User friendliness: Drupal is not known for being very user friendly so there can be a steep learning curve if you aren’t an experienced developer.  Finding Developers: There tend to be fewer developers for Drupal than WordPress. Recommended Use: For users who intend on building a large website where stability and scalability are valued over ease of use and appearance.

Joomla

On a spectrum with WordPress being the easy-to-use, simple platform and Drupal being a more complex, robust system; Joomla sits somewhere in the middle. Though Joomla seems to not have as well of a defined brand in the CMS space, they currently have 50 million users, making it the second largest CMS platform on the market, behind WordPress.

Pros

Ease of Use: Though not as easy to use as WordPress, it is still relatively easy to manage and does not require a developer to make each change. Support: One of the biggest advantages of choosing a popular CMS platform is the support community that surrounds it. When you are creating a site, you WILL get stuck and have many questions, so it is nice to be able to Google your questions and seek answers from others who have run into similar problems. Power: If you plan on have a vast amount of articles, think hundreds of posts a week, Joomla is better suited than WordPress because it was designed to serve as an enterprise-grade CMS, making it easier to manage large quantities of articles and pages.

Cons

Learning Curve: You cannot jump into making a Joomla site like you can with WordPress. Though not as complex as Drupal, you still may need to seek outside help if you are not well versed in HTML or the platform itself. SEO Compatibility: Joomla does not make it easy for users to make simple changes to a site’s metadata and unless you are very tech savvy, you may struggle to optimize your site properly. Recommended Use: If you plan on having a considerable amount of content that needs more structure than what WordPress provides, or you are a small to mid-size e-commerce company that does not want or need all the features of Drupal.

WordPress

Why use WordPress? Wordpress is far from the simple blogging platform in which it began. It is a secure, full-scale Content Management System armed with thousands of themes and plugins allowing you to design and build a beautiful, high-functioning website with minimal coding knowledge. It is now the largest self-hosted blogging tool in the world; powering one in six websites today and seen by tens of millions of people daily, WordPress is the platform of today and the future. If that sounded positively biased towards WordPress, you are right, I think for the large majority of small to mid-sized businesses, WordPress is the a clear winner. Here’s why. Wordpress is the best of both worlds because it does not only cater to newbie, non-technical users or expert developers; it meets both ends happily in the middle. WordPress has a friendly and straightforward user interface and is why it has grown a massive, welcoming community of developers, designers, and users alike. Still not convinced? Here are some companies that have used WordPress for their website.
  1. The New York Times
  2. CNN
  3. Forbes
  4. GM
  5. eBay 

Pros 

Ease of Use: Even people with no web building experience or HTML/CSS knowledge can set up a WordPress blog. Though sometimes I believe people make it out to sound easier than it is to create a WordPress site, it is definitely the easiest to use of the big three. Plugins: Since it is the most popular CMS on the market, it attracts more developers and thus has the biggest library of free plugins to choose from. For almost any feature you want to accomplish on your site, there is probably at least one plugin for it, if not more. SEO: Paired with an SEO plugin like Yoast SEO, making changes to your metadata is extremely easy and even gives recommendations for how to better optimize your pages.

Cons

Design Options: Though WordPress has thousands of themes to choose from, they all have that WordPress feel. This is not always a bad thing because they typically have similar layouts that users are familiar with and makes navigating them easier. However, if you are looking to get really unique with your design, you may struggle to create your dream site with the limitations of WordPress themes. Scalability: If you are trying to build a large e-commerce platform or publish considerable quantities of content, you may run into issues trying to keep it all organized with a WordPress platform. Recommended Use: Wordpress is perfect for beginner blogs all the way up to mid-sized businesses who want a clean looking website for their users and something that is also easy to manage.

Recap

Drupal: The most robust and scalable of the three. The sky is the limit. Joomla: More powerful than WordPress, but easier to manage than Drupal. WordPress: Cost-affordable, easy to set up, user friendly, and still allows for a great deal of customization if you have access to knowledgeable developers.

The Breakdown of #Mobilegeddon in 5 Minutes

Image courtesy of krheesy. Photo was altered for this piece.
    Mobilegeddon is here. Well, as of Tuesday (April 21, 2015). Commence heavy breathing. Here are five things you need to know about Google’s algorithm change and what it means for you, all in less than five minutes.

1. What is Mobilegeddon?

Simply put, Google tweaked its search algorithm, giving mobile-friendly websites a boost on smart phones. Meaning that the search engine now favors websites that adjust for smaller screens. Sites that are deemed not friendly –– texts that’s too small, sites with slow page speeds, and are graphic heavy and hard to navigate, will appear lower in the search results. Search results on desktops and tablets will be unaffected by the new algorithm. But it’s still a significant impact, as mobile makes up half of Google searches.  

2. What does it mean for me and/or my business?

According to Forrester Research, 86% of all U.S. smartphone users search via Google, but only 38% of business websites are currently optimized for mobile. If your business decides not to take steps towards mobile, then you risk being buried among 177 million websites in Google search.

 

3. When will I see an impact?

Google says it will take about a week(s) for the change to take place. So, be ready.  

4. How do I know if my site is “Mobile Friendly”?

It’s actually a lot simpler than many would think. Head over to this link: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/ and plug your site in. It’s easy as that.  

5. WHAT DO I DO????

There’s really only one option. Update your website, either with your web consultant, your website host or get in touch with a web design service who can. We happen to have one in mind…

Landing Page Mistakes That Are Stopping Your Conversions Dead

You’ve done the market research, looked at endless columns of numbers and data, mapped out the right strategy to market to your target audience, and managed to get your audience to your site. Now the real work starts. Landing pages. (dun dun dun) Nothing can be more rewarding and vexing than creating a landing page for your site that converts well. A good landing page has every element of design, copy, and social working together to tell a narrative that guides the visitor toward your conversion goal. Weaving together that web of magic can be difficult but ultimately rewarding. As much as I’d like to offer you magic to solve your landing page problems, my time at Hogwarts won’t allow me to, but if you manage to avoid these 6 problems that plague most landing pages, you’ll be one step ahead of the herd.

1. A Disconnect Between the Ad and the Landing Page Copy

When you first grab your visitor’s attention, you’re teasing them with the promise of more information. When they click on the ad, they expect to see similar messaging on the landing page. You want to lay a trail of clues for your visitors to follow until they find what they’re looking for. The last thing a visitor wants is to click on your ad, which is promising them something, only to find themselves on a page that doesn’t have the same messaging as the initial ad. Keep things consistent.

2. Wrong Call to Action Color

Each landing page should have one specific objective—one thing that your story is leading them to. The placement and wording of your call to action is important, but we won’t get into that today. We’re going to focus on the coloring. There are many theories out there regarding which color is best for your call to action button, but without testing your market audience, it would be difficult to tell which one works best. There have been many studies showing that there is no “one size fits all” color for calls to action. How the button color fits into the visual hierarchy or structure of the page is critical. The best color for call to action buttons is the one that works for you and converts highest on your site. The key is to test and test often. With that in mind, certain colors do incite certain emotional responses from people.
  • Blue denotes professionalism. Blue is used by financial institutions for the trust it radiates and also by tech firms like Dell to show professionalism.
  • Green is the easiest color for the eye to process. It works well for budget-conscious shoppers. Green is also associated with the word “go.”
  • Orange brings to mind feelings of excitement, enthusiasm, and warmth. Sites like Amazon use orange in their calls to action.

3. Not Explaining Your Purpose Clearly

How much time does it take to figure out what you are offering? If the answer is anything more than “no time at all,” you need to change the messaging of the landing page. If you are offering a service, explain what is included. What makes your service unique? Why are you qualified to offer it? Confusing your visitors with unclear messaging is the easiest way to lose a lead.

4. Top Navigation is Not Removed

There has been some conflicting feelings about having top navigation on all landing pages, but recent studies are helping shed some light on why removing your site’s navigation is so important. Your landing page has one purpose: to drive leads. You want to keep the visitor focused on that purpose, which means that the visitor should only be in one place: that landing page. Nowhere else. A landing page is part of an external sales funnel. It’s intended to generate leads or score conversions, so keep the visitor on your landing page and don’t try to drive them anywhere else.

5. Use of Stock Photos

If you search Google right now, you’ll find dozens of landing pages that use stock photos (and in most cases, the same pictures). Stock photos are cheap and easy to get a hold of. Stock photos also look phony and can reduce your credibility. When a visitor gets to your landing page and sees a smiling young woman with a black headset on, what do you think her first impression will be? The simple solution to this is use images of people directly related to the company. By putting a “real face” on your landing page, you’re communicating value to your visitors and inspiring them to trust you more. Generalized stock photos won’t cut it for you anymore.

6. Your Opt-In Form Requires Too Much Thought

In many things, simple wins over complex. Your contact form should be simple. Hubspot researched 40,000 customers and found that conversion rate improves by almost half when the number of form fields are reduced from four to three. The less information you ask for, the easier it is to take action. In most cases, you don’t need more than an email address, maybe first name and phone number. You can always ask for the rest once you get their contact info. The fewer layers you put between your visitor and you, the better. The great thing about these issues is that, with some elbow grease and moderate amount of work, they can all be solved and potentially lead to better conversions rates.