CMS stands for Content Management System. It’s a web application designed to make it easy for non-technical users to add, edit and manage a website. Many corporate and marketing sites use CMSs. The hallmark of a good CMS is avoiding the need to hand code your content (although hand coding should be supported where needed). Most CMSs include publishing, format management, revision control (version control), indexing, search, and retrieval.
The goal of any good CMS should be to separate content from style from the underlying program code.
Don’t confuse a CMS with a web development platform like Wix or GoDaddy. Sometimes called website builders, these applications are geared more towards the technical user and less towards the neophyte web developer.
There are dozens of CMSs available, but we’ll look at a few of the more popular ones.
For those users not familiar with HTML or other markup language, WordPress provides a WYSIWYG editor straight out of the box. The backend layout is streamlined and intuitive, and a new user should be able to easily find their way around the administration section. WordPress also comes with built-in image and multimedia uploading support.
Thanks in no small part to its excellent documentation and easy installation wizard, WordPress is the most popular piece of software on the Internet.
One out of every five websites on the Internet is powered by WordPress, over 74 million in all, with more than 100,000 new ones popping up every single day. We’re not talking about just small sites, either. Companies like CNN, Time, Dow Jones and CBS all use WordPress. WordPress’s VIP clients, like CNN and Time, pay anywhere from $3,750 a month up to a reported $250,000 a month. Yep, I said a quarter of a million dollars. Every month. Clearly, they think WordPress is a good choice for a website foundation?
Drupal, like WordPress, is another CMS that has a very large, active community. While WordPress focuses on blogging, Drupal is more of a pure CMS. A plain installation comes with a ton of optional modules that can add lots of interesting features like forums, user blogs, OpenID, profiles and more.
Joomla is a more advanced CMS in terms of functionality. Even so, getting started with Joomla is fairly easy, thanks to Joomla’s installer. Joomla’s installer is meant to work on common shared hosting packages, and is pretty straightforward considering how configurable the software is.
Joomla is similar to Drupal in that it’s a complete CMS, and might be a bit much for a simple portfolio site. It comes with an attractive administration interface, complete with intuitive drop-down menus and other features.
Which CMS Should You Choose?
Any CMS is going to involve some degree of a learning curve. However, if you’re accustomed to using a word processor, like MS Word perhaps, you’ll get the hang of any CMS pretty quickly.
Which CMS you choose is ultimately less important than actually making the choice. You NEED a CMS, period. Even if you are technically inclined and feel completely comfortable poking around under the hood, a good CMS will encourage more frequent and more complete updates to your website.
My personal choice is WordPress.
Straight out of the box, WordPress does a good job, though it lacks many of the features I believe should be included in a magician’s website. However, all of those features are available as themes (determines the look and feel of your website) or plugins (adds functionality) if you’re willing to go looking for them. You just need to be a little bit careful when adding themes and plugins so as to avoid what developers often call “code bloat.” Add everything you need. And not a bit more.
Because selecting the right theme and plugins can sometimes be a bit daunting, I decided to build Slydini. It’s a custom theme with everything a magician needs built right in. Most entertainers will never have to add a single plugin to Slydini because all the functionality is part of the theme.
Am I a little biased? You bet.
Slydini is my baby and, honestly, I think it’s the best possible answer for any magician looking to improve their web presence. But you’ll make up your own mind about that, of course. You can check out Slydini at our sister website, Promote or Perish.