A website that is built using a Content Management System differs from a standard HTML website in that it is not coded directly by the designer. We use a special web application program, Joomla CMS, which we install on the server. We then design and build an original Joomla template so that you benefit from a custom designed website. We do not buy in ready made templates so your site is still 100% original in design. Joomla creates the web pages for your site on the fly, by bringing together the design elements in the stylesheet and merging them with data from a database.
The system comes with a comprehensive Admin interface which allows the user to easily make changes to their website and keep it updated. Even quite complex changes like adding new pages are simple for the novice to manage with a little instruction, and you will be supplied with detailed illustrated instructions. Each time the user saves a change, the new data is added to the database and the website is updated. The Admin is accessed by logging into a special section of your website, sometimes known as logging into the backend. More limited changes can also be made by a registered user of the site at the front end.
There are 2 main kinds of CMS web applications:
A proprietary CMS is sometimes offered by larger companies who have an in house team of web development programmers. They will have developed and programmed a CMS system of their own, which will usually only be available on their servers. One disadvantage of this solution is that you are tied into that company for the duration of the website's life as your site cannot be moved to another hosting company but would have to be rebuilt in a different CMS. Often these systems are also more expensive to host. The advantage is that you have direct access to the programmers who wrote the system and in theory this should make it more flexible, though in practice programming time is expensive and what seems like a small functional change may not be that simple to implement.
More and more companies, including some web hosting companies, also offer a cheap kind of CMS solution using a proprietary online web building application. The big difference here is that you would have to build the whole website yourself through the system, rather than having a design company build the initial site which you then maintain and edit. You may also come across 'web designers' who used these systems as a cheap way to build sites for customers because they do not have the necessary web design skills.
There are also a number of proprietary systems available for purchase and installation, but these offer no real advantage over Open Source CMS.
An Open Source CMS is one that has been built by a community of web developers and is available for free download under an Open Source licence. Under the terms of the licence the code that runs the system is openly available to be adapted and changed by anyone who has the skills to do so. The result of this is that if there's anything the CMS can't do as part of its default programming, someone will usually have written an add-on for the system to make it possible. These add-ons, also called extensions, may also be free to download or they may come at an additional cost. They make the basic CMS extremely powerful by adding features like image galleries and social networking integration, and even full blown shopping carts. This makes them the ideal choice for anyone who could be looking to expand their site to include more advanced features.
Joomla CMS is the most popular and professional Open Source CMS applications available and boasts an unbelievable number of extensions to adapt it to virtually any requirement. It was originally designed as a Content Management system, unlike its main rival, Wordpress, which was designed as a blogging tool.
While Content Management Systems greatly simplify the process of editing web pages, there is still a learning curve and the quirky nature of HTML makes it hard to gain really fine control over a web page without some coding knowledge. If you are not very computer literate, and you require a fairly straightforward brochure website, you may find it more cost effective to go for a custom designed site and pay your web designer to make any changes that you need.
For those who are ready to take on the challenge, we have written easy-to-follow illustrated documentation explaining how to use the system and we also prepare customer specific instructions on the use of any special extensions that have been added to your CMS site. If you are local, a one-to-one consultation and instruction is then possible, otherwise we can offer telephone support to give you additional guidance.
A basic CMS installation with a custom designed template, complete with support and instructions, costs £550. For a CMS equivalent of a brochure site this may be all that you need. Additional extensions are chargeable according to the complexity of their configuration and integration, and can cost between £50-£500 to set up. The most common extensions you are likely to need are contact forms and image galleries. The average standard sized contact form will cost £50, and a gallery can cost between £100-£150. Many additional features are possible, for example newletters, forums, calendars, foreign languages or multi-lingual content*, blogs, ecommerce, calculators, news, advanced search functions, and much much more.
Website amendments and updates are charged at an hourly rate of £25 per hour.