Mar 25 2010
I recently upgraded a web site for a printing company from static HTML pages to a content management system (CMS) using Joomla. They originally built their web site with hand-coded HTML back in 1994, and eventually hired a web designer who redesigned the site in Dreamweaver. While hiring an outside designer allowed them to free up resources internally for managing the web site, it did create new problems.
A more serious issue that developed was that the designer was not readily available to make quick updates to the web site. Changes were submitted to them, and it typically took 1 or 2 weeks before they were implemented. Critical changes were done quickly but required a phone call to express the urgency in them. Most changes were minor which were not high on the list of priorities the designer had while working on other client’s jobs.
An outside designer also doesn’t really understand your business, and it can be difficult and time consuming defining requirements with them.
The main advantage to switching over to a CMS was that the printing company now had control over their web content. They no longer needed to submit changes to their web designer and wait before they get uploaded to their web site. New content and edited content are now made instantly by the employees and the quality of content is also improved because the employees can spot problems that an outside designer would miss.
Changing the Web Site Design
With Joomla, its very easy to change the appearance of the entire site or portions of it with a different template. In a static HTMl site, you would have to change every page when you made major changes to a web site. I remember spending 3 hours making changes to an old web site of mine even for minor editing. Document Web Templates (DWT) that major web development tools like Dreamweaver allow global changes to a web site, but if you change the template, you would either have to use the same name in the web page, or edit each page with the new template. This would still be a time consuming task that Joomla users wouldn’t have to deal with.
Buggy Web Sites
No matter how hard you try or how efficient your quality assurance is, there will almost always be bugs in your web site. When bugs were found, they weren’t always instantly fixed by the web developer. Using a CMS built by a large community, bugs are found fairly quickly and minor updates to software are released to make updates to web sites. Bugs in HTML sites may also never get fixed depending on the skill level of the web designer. A community driven application tends to be used more heavily so problems will be found and fixed.
Installing a widget on an HTML site means modifying every page, assuming that widget exists. If not, the web developer would be required to create or find it. There is a large library of extensions available for Joomla, and quite probably the largest of any CMS in use today. You should be able to find any extension that you need and even find things that you never thought of while browsing Joomla’s extension directory.
I installed a module to display local weather and a countdown clock for the 2010 Winter Olympics’ start date. Both were existing widgets that required minor work for use in Joomla, but implementing them here was much easier than doing it on their earlier HTML site.
Creating forms in Joomla take some effort, but I used its libraries to save form data to a database and perform other functions with it like sending notifications. All of this could be done in a static HTML site, but it would require writing all of this code yourself. I was able to use Joomla’s libraries in creating forms and other custom components.
SEO Friendly Web Pages
The URL a static HTML site can look like www.website.com/about.html. The same page in Joomla would look like www.website.com/about. While this is a simple example, a URL in an HTML site can become very long and have pages that don’t have meaningful names. In Joomla, you can control the name of the page that appears and can make it so that its relevant so that its optimized for search engines.
Metatags are also easier to edit in Joomla. Google ignored metatags, but other search engines may use them. This information can now be editing by the employees and adjusted during an SEO campaign.
The printing company is happier with the site now that its a CMS instead of static HTML pages. They have more control over the site and don’t have to rely on outside sources for changes. The site can grow with the company and new content can be created by people internally who actually understand the business they are in.