Entering the world of CMS

Gah! It’s hard to believe that it’s already January 28th – I fully intended to post a few times between my last post and the date I attended the “Managing Your Website Using CMS” seminar put on by Small Biz BC – oops! But c’est la vie. I’m here now, and that’s what counts. And now, the much awaited for Report Back (duh nuh, duh nuh, duh nuh).

So yes, yesterday found me taking part in a Small Biz BC video seminar – Chet Woodside, an ebusiness consultant with eBC presented from Gastown in Vancouver, and there were small clusters of people hooked in via video conference all over the province. I sat alone in 16/37 Community Future’s beautiful boardroom, and wondered why I was the only person there. Don’t small business owners in Terrace know what a terrific resource these conferences are!?

Anyway, I’ve been interested in CMS (Custom Management Systems) for some time now. No techie, I won’t give all the ins and outs of CMS, but if the phrase is unfamiliar to you, it’s basically just a way (a system ;)) to let people do their own website updates and changes (provided, of course, they have a CMS website). The benefits of this style of website are huge, chief ones being: You have the ability to update instantly, from any computer, so long as it has an Internet connection (and you’re using Open Source CMS), so your site is always current and dynamic – things that visitors and google spiders love. You can have a very professional site with lotsa bling 😉 (but not _too_ much bling – key word: professional) that costs next to nothing to get up and running. And after your site’s up, you’ll continue to save terrific amounts of time, money, and mental energy in not having to run to your designer every time you want something added or deleted.

The class was just what I was hoping it would be – a good basic introduction covering what CMS is and what it can do for you, whether a CMS website is the best choice for your personal website or business site (yes, and yes – always yes. CMS is where all websites are – or should be – going), and things to consider when choosing a CMS.

Chet also went over some of the “big name” CMS guys out there, giving their pros and cons, as well as promoting some new, apparently great, up and comers. Last time I video conferenced, I commented that it would be nice if the presenter greeted all the different regions, etc, and this time around, the inclusion was great. I actually felt bad, because I think the presenter would’ve liked even more in-class feedback than he got, but it’s hard to talk to a screen in a near empty room (or in my case, a totally empty room!). We were warming up by the end though, and if he’d had us another hour, I’m sure it would’ve been a question/comment fest.

If there were any “negatives” at all, they were small. Technical difficulties in getting people around the province plugged in (Terrace had no trouble :)) made us ten minutes late starting (and I had a 4:30 meeting, so I was a bit anxious about being done in time). This was Chet’s first time presenting on this particular topic, and although he knew his stuff very well, he was working from a PowerPoint that he hadn’t created, so some of his transitions weren’t as fluid as they could have been (that’s a good blog post for another day actually – if you do any presenting at all, always make sure you create your presentation yourself – even if you’re working from someone else’s material, organize it and lay it out in a way that makes sense to your sense of logic and order!). However, Chet’s easygoing, unflustered approach more than made up for any minor fiddling or backtracking, and he fully disclosed that they weren’t his notes and that’s why it wasn’t always smooth going – a great dealing technique.

So yes, two Small Biz BC video conferences down, two raving endorsements from Ev. Now I’m frantically wracking my brain, because they’re open to suggestions for classes – what else do I want to learn about, what, what?! I really enjoy getting out of my home office and doing a bit of PD, and I will definitely take another seminar with them.

You are probably tired of my going on and on about CMS, but if you’re a junkie and still want more, check out these fantastic sites:

Play around before you commit (a good philosophy ONLY for computer software!) – check out www.opensourceCMS.com to get product descriptions, user reviews, and hands-on demos for practically every CMS provider under the sun.

Browse or buy templates at www.woothemes.com or www.ithemes.com (there are tonnes of other template providers; I just like these ones because they offer lots of WordPress templates, and I’m biased. ;-)).

Want to go a step further and design your own CMS websites? Visit www.artisteer.com Right now you can upload finished sites into WordPress (or HTML), but upload capabilities into Joomla and Blogger are coming soon.

Okay, you’re sick of me. I get it. I’ll go…. All the same, I hope you found even part of what I said helpful. Let me know if you enter the grand world of CMS too.


Managing Your Website Using CMS

If you’re anything like me (for your sake, I kinda hope you’re not), you love computers and know just enough about them to be dangerous.

I’ve had a website since 2005, and over the years, it’s had many incarnations. I’m usually happy-ish with it, but that’s it. ISH. I always want more bells and whistles than I have the savvy for, yet I derive too much enjoyment from building it myself to hand it over to someone else to design and maintain (or perhaps it’s just that I’m a control freak, and cheap to boot ;)).

Enter CMS (Content Management Systems). From what I’ve been able to glean, I’m going to be able to build a pretty fabulous site that won’t demand re-inventing the wheel every time I want to update it. I’m even taking a course! (You know how much I love to take courses!) It’s another offering from Small Business BC (the seminar goes by the catchy title of this entry), running on January 27th. It’s only two-hours, but I’m optimistic. A good teacher can cover a lot of ground quickly, and with a solid enough introduction, I should be able to give it a go.

I’m excited!