Web Designers are often approached with a request for a design which the site owner can keep updated without need to employ or contract a designer. Content Management Systems address this need.
There are several CMS systems available, many of them free. WordPress is probably the most popular. Joomla and Drupal are among the scores of others. All are quite advanced and there is a host of resources available on the internet to assist you in getting them installed and running and then bending them to your needs. The problem though is that they can be very complex and when you want to do something that is out of the ordinary, they don't adapt well unless you have advanced skills or support available. In short, they come with a steep learning curve and are very rigid in their implementation.
Often we have been asked to work with a CMS site to fix issues or modify it to handle a particular request. Sometimes it is simple enough but in many cases we found that it was just not possible and required starting over.
At NTech, CMS has made up a significant portion of many of our web design projects over the years. Shopping carts are the classic example. It's great to get selling online, but if your costs for adding and maintaining product exceeds your sales, your project is doomed. We've created a shopping cart application that allows the end user to maintain it online with only a web browser.
Product pages are optimized for search and image uploading can be customized to create thumbnails as well as larger images. Checkout is typically via the PayPal Standard Payment Gateway and includes email receipts to the client as well as the site owner. The cart has been adapted to everything from skin care creams to online learning.
For many clients, this is the extent of their needs for Content Management. The balance of most sites tends to be static content that does not need to change often and when weighed against the initial cost of building a CMS and the skills required to effectively manage the content it tends to be cheaper to pay for changes when needed. This is especially true when it comes to special features like Flash applets, forms, subscriptions, affiliate programs etc. It is simply easier to do on a static page than trying to make a single template do everything in all cases.
Over time however, we have come across more and more clients who need that little bit more. They needed an events page, or a news page or even just a links page where they can make simple changes on a recurring basis. Gradually many of these sites moved closer and closer to fully client managed solutions.
Through the ongoing development of all of these sites (and many more!) we have been able to create a simple, one size fits all CMS Template for small businesses. It is flexible and easy to use. In fact, if you can use Word or any other processor, you can use this CMS.
The entire system is driven by 2 pages and 3 tables. It uses PHP and a MySQL database, which will work on nearly any hosting package.
It is available with a bare bones template or fully customized to your look and feel with a common site banner on each page or custom banners for each page.
All current and future NTech design projects are fully responsive designs that will display equally well regardless of the viewing platform. Read more on Responsive Web Design and why it is no longer an option.