In the 20th century, websites needed webmasters who could write in HTML to render the code into a visual framework. In fact, every time a site manager wanted a change to the content on a site, the HTML code needed to be changed on every page to reflect pagination as well as content changes.
If the desire was to change the appearance of the site, the changes were even more involved. Then things began to change. Server scripted languages allowed the technical people working on a site to insert programmatic changes which among other things eliminated the need to change each page to reflect the sequence on the site.
Static Versus Dynamic Sites
Content Management Systems (CMS) changed a lot of things. The CMS contains the HTML and adjusts it to reflect both content and presentation. This allows the site owner to concentrate on content that will appeal to the target audience and allows a web developer to adjust the CMS to fit the desired needs. In many cases, webmasters became web developers and learned about the various CMS systems out there. In other cases, the sites remained static, and the webmaster continued on the old path.
Is Newer Better?
From several perspectives, you can answer ‘Yes’ to the question. First, the search engines reward fresh and timely expert content with their rating algorithms. The basis for that is that the searcher can obtain the answers to her quest with more current information. Second, an increasing percentage of websites, both commercial and nonprofit are using CMS, and reporting better responses to those searching for them. Thirdly, the expense can be dramatically reduced.
What Else Does CMS Do?
Plugins are tools that allow the site owner and web developers to add functionality to the site without a huge technical effort. Plugins are usually purchased from the original developer and can be such things as event calendars, donate buttons, email marketing programs, and newsletter formats. The plugin is purchased, and the developer essentially does a copy and paste into the desired position on the site. The CMS then takes care of the majority of the HTML effort for the plugin to be found by the site users.
Selecting a CMS for your Organization
For NPTech Projects, this was a logical progression. We have a web developer so that choice was not a problem. We believe that we created a consistent flow of decisions. We wanted our site to be the focal point of our communications activities. Therefore we needed to be able to plugin email marketing, RSS feeds, an event calendar, a donor management system, and we knew we were headed toward podcasts and video feeds, both training, and events.
We then looked at the market. What has the largest market share? What appeared to be the place to which most plugin developers designed their work? Was it stable in the sense of could it be sold or go out of business? As you will see in our research below, by far the largest market share of those using a CMS, is WordPress. Our logic string was leading us rapidly toward WordPress, but we had one final issue.
What About Cost?
As a small startup, with no revenue stream, the cost was a significant question for us. The cost of a license, the availability of hosting services, and the amount of time it would take actually to begin posting content.
License, Hosting and Startup Time
Every CMS organization has its licensing system. There are proprietary systems such as Squarespace and Wix. The idea of free and open software struck us as a good thing. You may appreciate some things about its licensing. WordPress comes with a GNU GPL. GNU is an operating system that is free to the computer user, basically a Linux distribution and its name after the animal Gnu. GPL mean General Public License. WordPress software is released with a GPLv2 (or later) license from the Free Software Foundation.The full-text of the license is distributed with every copy of WordPress.
What makes it so compelling is that the license also says “derivative works, such as plugins or themes, that are based on WordPress core code, inherit the GPL license.” In other words, developers can not put additional restrictions on the use of their work under the GPL.
The license guarantees the free usage of WordPress. It is open to use, free to copy, open to change and open to distribute. You as a user of WordPress own the software and everything based on it, including plugins and themes.
Since part of what a hosting service can provide is the installation of updates, you need to ensure that the one you select is familiar with the product you plan to use.
Due to its market share, hosting is readily available, and the estimated startup time is excellent.
In fact, we were and are so confident that we began our WP4Good Club and negotiated rates with a hosting service for our members.
Here is what we learned by way of links to our research:
- A Look at Changes in Market Share in CMS
- What about the other major Content Management Systems?
We then backed it up with a podcast on CMS, check out our Episode #2
Our WP4Good Club, which is open to all nonprofit organizations.One final statement, NPTech Projects has no organizational or financial arrangements with WordPress.
I hope this posting is helpful to anyone, thoughts and opinions as well as follow up questions always welcome.