We are constantly blown away by the fact that hardly anyone shops around or even knows the right questions to ask when getting a new website - still! We are sold on the pretty front view (which, frankly, any web designer can replicate on any of the platforms we are going to cover off here!) but completely forget to look under the hood to ask:
- can I understand at a glance how to use this or will I need extensive training for me and my staff?
- can I add pages and grow the website myself or will I need to go back to the developer for simple extras?
- where is the SEO content placed and is this integrated within the page?
And these are just for starters!
Not all websites are created equal. Some are great for starting out if you only have a budget of $500. Others are far too complex and more hassle than they're worth. So you need to search for the perfect match!
WARNING: If you've only ever used WordPress and still think this is the best thing since sliced bread then maybe skip this post. A heads-up though, you're limiting yourself and your business, and it's time to move that 'HAS-BEEN' into the new millenium stat.
So let's take a proper look, behind the scenes, at a range of different website platforms still popular today - and we know because these are all our clients and we are using all these platforms on a daily basis. Some require a higher amount of caffeine pre-loading than others, we're just saying...
First up is our favourite platform and the one that is driving this website and many of our other clients' websites as well, simply because it's the easiest to use, has the most versatility and functionality, ticks all those essential boxes above and NEVER breaks!
Probably the best thing about Concrete5 websites (aside from the fact that they are all pretty much built the same by all the Concrete5 developers we've worked with over the years) is that the EDIT view is pretty much the same as what you see as PUBLISHED view.
So in EDIT mode, a edit toolbar sits at the top of the screen and that's all you need to understand from the outset. Click on any of the page content (images or text) and you can select to Edit/Delete/Replace... that content then Save to view your changes then click on the EDIT button again at the top of the screen to PUBLISH or Save Draft or Delete Edits.
From the Dashboard button you can view your site map to move pages around by dragging and dropping, add new pages, delete or view pages.
Also in the Dashboard we can view and manage our image galleries, some clients also have Product Manager and Calendar Manager systems which are also super easy to use.
Building, editing or creating a page is as easy as we are now doing here in this blog post by simply dragging and dropping the tools you want into the page.
You website developer will set all the page templates and fonts so that everything appears as it should, and you will need to go back to you developer to change anything hard-coded/hardwired into your site but otherwise you are free to pay as you want!
In this blog post we have:
- Created columns in our layout
- Added images and aligned content next to our images
- Ensure all the SEO content is complete and that the page is appearing in the right order
- Made the post a feature so that it appears on our Home Page
Some of the tools we especially love, which are plug-ins in other platforms or just not available, are the Video Player which you can place into a page for uploading your own video content without having to connect to a YouTube or Vimeo account - awesome!
Also the Testimonial tool is quite fun to use for inserting quotes from people relevant to the content - reference quotes or client quotes...
The COG button at the top right open up all the page Attributes, SEO and other options which you can edit right here in the page. No special plug-ins, tricks or skills required.
The only reason this platform is second on our list is because it remains the most popular (why???) and widely used platform in New Zealand, although its popularity is now in decline thanks to better platforms coming along attracting businesses looking to upgrade.
A note on cost here - it's all made up and based purely on the hourly rate of your developer and/or website designer. As a guide tho, most WordPress sites cost about the same to build as their Concrete5 counterparts with the same functionality and size.
The Dashboard to all WordPress sites is always the same which is incredibly deceptive as all WordPress sites are built completely differently - depending on the skills of the WP developer, the amount of design complexity in the site, the amount of plug-ins required to provide the functionality required and so the list goes on.
However, right from the get-go you can see that this system is highly technical and not for the faint hearted. Designers especially love WordPress because they can really go nuts in this platform and are not limited by grids or systemised functionality - the rest of us just pull our hair out.
The Pages manager is where you can manage the page content only but you can't really manage the order or organisation of your website, you need to go to another tab for that.
This section works the same as the blog Posts section, after all WordPress was originally built as a Blog platform and has just grown from there without much streamlining I'm afraid.
The page content editing in WordPress sites is where things really start to get interesting (and frightening) which is where you tell how differently these sites can be built.
To help show you what we're talking about we've inserted this nice little Image Slider into our page content (because we can) and set it with arrows so you can choose your slide plus a auto change timer set to 1000ms which seems to be a good speed for these things - cool hey? And we're just content managers, not developers or designers!
Here's a quick overview of what you're looking at:
- Basic Site - Standard page content editor where you type in the content, you can add photos and a flat gallery. You always need to Publish and check what your edits look like on the Live site as they are not always the same. This is a very unreliable editor but is relative simple and easy to use.
- Tabs Site - Maybe not the right name for it but this is where the designer uses a tab format to create layers of content and images. It's relatively easy to find and edit the content here but you definitely can't create your own pages or add more images or video aside from the tab fields that are already built into the existing page.
- Divi Site - If you designer suggests this then run for the hills! An absolute nightmare to understand as you can clearly see here. A fantastic system for designers who want to make things look pretty but so difficult for us everyday marketing and administrators to manage the content in let alone create new pages. Avoid at all costs.
We see less of these websites these days, thank goodness, as they are incredibly complex and really only worthwhile if you have a corporate events booking company where you need to manage multiple events across multiple facilitators and multiple locations all at the same time. This platform is highly technical and not that easy to make sense of, you really have to have your wits about you when working in Joomla!
As soon as you enter the CMS to a Joomla! website you know you're in a system that is not particularly user-friendly.
Looking in the left-hand menu first you can see Articles which is actually your website pages then Categories which is actually your blo pages and Media is your image library.
The top menu is a bit more confusing as you need to click around to find where each developer has put what - sometimes in Components but sometimes in Extensions.
Maybe if you use Joomla! all the time you would probably get used to it and find all of this normal and straight forward.