Keep Your Site Agile with a Flexible CMS

The web is a publishing and marketing medium unlike any that has existed before. I would think this would go without saying, except for the attitudes and behaviors we see all the time, which reveal that many site owners don't really get it.

Gerry McGovern, a cogent, long-time proponent of making web sites more effective by making them customer-focused, recently published an article titled Content management equals continuous improvement, which sums up this issue nicely. (If you don't already subscribe to Gerry's excellent, free email newsletter, New Thinking, you can do so here.)

The web makes it possible to continually refine what you've created. It is unlike any other publishing process, in that there is no big "go to print" moment past which changes are incredibly painful and expensive. Yet all too often, we see site owners treating their web site in this way.

There's a second factor as well that makes the web so unique: the ability to instantly see how visitors are reacting to your changes. Web analytics and simple A/B testing tools make the web a marketing opportunity unlike any other (not to mention its incredible reach).

Site owners typically have a planning and budgeting approach that keeps them from realizing much of this value, however. The creation of a great web site is not an event, but a process, and that process just begins when the site first goes live. If you site is important to you, make sure you have the time and budget to continue to evolve the site after it is live. Watch the analytics so you know how people are engaging with your site. Experiment. The payoff can be great, but creating an effective web site is not a "set and forget" experience.

One reason we advocate building sites with database-driven content is that it makes this process considerably easier. Putting most of the content into a database means content editors can add and change content just by filling out forms. By getting the web designer out of the loop for these updates, they can happen much more frequently. And by having a well-constructed system that separates design from content, you can avoid the Frankenstein appearance that all too often results when lots of site updates are made without a designer's involvement.

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Agile Development

From: Tom Brooke, 11/29/10 05:52 AM

Just wanted to point out that not only is this approach useful after publishing but an Agile approach can be adopted very early in the process and with a CMS like Webvanta the customer can be given a working site very early prior to making it public and participate in the development allowing the customer and developer to work together as a team. Check out: