CMS and SEO are two topics I find myself attempting to explain to clients more than any other. I hope the information below will be useful in assisting non-technical clients in understanding these two important aspects of web design and development.

Almost all our client websites are built on Content Management Systems (CMS). This has become optimal for our own workflow and productivity, as well as that of our clients. To help explain why we do this, here we outline the differences between what is now the de facto method of Web site design and development, and the old page-by-page designs of years gone by.

A CMS is a dynamic way of controlling a Web site, offering distinct separation of the content (copy) of a site from the style and code. Previously a web designer would craft each individual page of a site. When a change was needed, the web designer would be called upon to make the edits required. Thus, clients were at the mercy of a webmaster to a great extent.

On a site with just a few pages, this wouldn’t be such a big deal. However, this outdated method requiring site owners to pay a premium for simple revisions is no longer practical or necessary.

With the adoption of a CMS platform such as WordPress, this all changed. The site is setup using a layered system. Under the old static HTML page system, when a visitor came to a site and viewed the page in their browser the physical HTML page was accessed on the server and loaded in their browser. With a CMS the content is stored in a database, and there are no physical HTML pages to speak of. Instead, when the visitor accesses the URL of the page they’re looking for, the CMS generates the page dynamically — loading the code, applying the style and inserting the content in the appropriate areas of the page.

This difference does make a CMS a slightly more technically complicated initially configure — but the payoff is well worth it. As mentioned above, it allows a site owner to edit the content without having to touch code or open messy and confusing HTML files. And because a CMS-based site uses a template or theme, making layout and/or style adjustments no longer requires editing every page on the site.

Another benefit of a CMS-based system is expandability. There is a huge list of Content Management Systems to choose from, but here at EMG we specialize in one of the most popular, full-featured and well-established open-source projects: WordPress. WordPress has a large active community of developers and users working around the clock to improve the core CMS, as well as develop thousands of add-on components/modules/plugins.

What does this mean to our clients? Massive expandability of the site features offered at a fraction of the cost.

Ultimately, which CMS is right for your project largely depends on the scope and features it requires — but unless you are creating a single landing page Web site, there is no doubt that a site built on a content management system is the appropriate path to take. A CMS makes a site easier to edit and more flexible, feature-rich and expandable – without costing an arm and a leg.