I am a big proponent of using content management systems to build and update your website for several reasons. The biggest reason is the ease of updating your design every year without having to move all of your content every time. The smallest would be convenience in the general maintenance of the site without having to rely on a professional that may be very busy at your time of need.
The main CMS that I have become relatively comfortable with is WordPress. I use thematic to design my projects due to the child theme capabilities. This allows me to alter the theme without destroying the main theme code base, which may need to be upgraded at any time during the life of the website. WordPress has a huge developer and plugin base to choose from currently and can be customized to fit your needs from a small sites to large sites. One thing that you must keep in mind is that these developers are not all controlled by WordPress and do not always work together to create a seamless product. I have found that many of the plugins may or may not work with other plugins running or with new updated versions of WordPress. You have to be very careful when adding new functionality into your site as well as when you update to a new version. It is truly best to know a well versed PHP developer to help you sort out some of these issues. If you use WordPress, you need to also be aware of security issues and how to prevent someone from hacking yours or your client’s website. Malicious people are always looking for ways to promote their hacking abilities with your front page! Keeping up to date on all of WordPress’s updates is a must, but this also causing you to be aware and fully test the plugin functionality from version to version. Keep in mind that when you update a site for security reasons, that you must charge your client properly to allow for your time in securing their site and making sure that all of their pages work properly. Many times clients do not understand or see what goes into testing and insuring their safety in this regard.
I have witnessed one of my friend’s site being hacked and relentlessly bombarded with malware. I tried everything to get this site back to status quo with no success. I decided that it was best to move the site from the hosting company that housed it and start fresh. Looking back, I think that the issue was my fault in not keeping the site updated and secure, but also had something to do with the hosting company and their security. I ended up spending a lot of hours trying to fix something that could have been avoided if I had spent the time during development. Unfortunately many clients would like to keep the cost down and not opt for this service. This friend found out the hard way that this may have not been the best choice when all of his customers saw this message when they visited his site.
I have also worked with several other CMS systems including Expression Engine, Drupal, Joomla, Mambo and Simple CMS. I have found that they all have their pros and cons. For a designer, I find that most have their cons. Of course I am writing this while I am focused on WordPress and have not fully explored these other CMS systems lately. They have quite possibly improved since I have made my judgement.
CMS systems are great and are always changing for the better. If you would like to discuss this topic in more detail or would like to have your site built around a CMS system, please contact me here. I would be more that happy to discuss with you what I know and maybe lead you in the right direction to save you some time and money.