CMS Simplicity: Does Your Content Management System = Good Times?

CMS Simplicity

I recently visited a company in Bromley to talk about a CMS website project and naturally got talking about their current Content Management System. Safe to say I was surprised by the relative complexity of their CMS.

When it comes to editing content, you want the end user to feel in control and at ease with the process. This particular firm felt completely the opposite and were a bit disillusioned at the thought of finding a new CMS that would make life easier for them.

This is when we discussed the open source Content Management System Drupal and how my clients have been happy with its' day-to-day operation.

CMS Simplicity

When it comes to managing a website you need a system that is not only intuitive but inspires confidence. Many of my clients are by no means technically minded so the CMS needs to provide them with the tools to create and edit content within a few clicks.

Editing a Page

When it comes to editing a page you don't want users to get lost clicking around trying to find the right page. With Drupal you get edit and view tabs directly on the page you are viewing.

edit cms page

Editing Text

Editing a page can come in two forms, plain text or by using a WYSIWYG editor that most applications have such as Word etc. A combination of modules brings together a powerful editor which allows everything from bold and italic, to adding imagery and flash.

edit cms page

Preview and Publish

Once you've created or edited a page, you want to be able to preview exactly what you've done so as not to publish an unfinished page or one that has mistakes. Again Drupal provides two simple buttons at the bottom of the page.

edit cms page

Stuck With Your Developer

Some developers provide their own in-house CMS which can be a blessing and a curse at the same time. It's in the interests of the developer to supply you with everything you need, whilst at the same time expanding the range of capabilities of their own system. This is all good until there comes a time when something happens to either the company or your relationship with them.

This is when an in-house CMS causes a problem. You need to have faith in a company in the long term otherwise you could have no alternative but to start again with a new developer and CMS.

When choosing a developer I would always plump for a firm that uses either an off the shelf system or an open source solution. This way if something happens to the company you can easily find another developer to take over where the last one left off.

Does your CMS = Good times

What is your experience with a CMS? Have you recently changed to Wordpress or Drupal from another system? Or are you stuck in a rut not sure where to turn?

If you liked this post then you'll like What is a Content Management System and Why I Chose Drupal.


Simplicity and Usability

Nice post.

Long gone are the days where the technical complexity was a fashionable factor in design and usability, the simpler the better.

The web was born and grown fueled by enthusiasm, a CMS that doesn't fuel enthusiasm on the client simply can't work.

Richard Dewick's picture

Usability the Key

Hi Gui, as you say complexity was fashionable but as with many fads times have changed. Client engagement with the CMS is important as they are potentially using it on a day-to-day basis. Any doubt can lead to a negative feeling towards the system and harm their relationship with the site, bad times!

Kikolani's picture

CMS Systems Should Be Simple

I'm not a huge fan of CMS for design, because I've tried several and found that I can always place things exactly where I want them easier in code than by dragging it with a mouse. But for text entry, definitely. It should be simple, and have a support system.

I worked with a custom made CMS at my last job, and it was a NIGHTMARE. The original developer had left the company, so there was 0 support. If you changed the font on one section of text, all of the page would shrink. You had to save pages, then publish them, then save them again. And then you'd have to check, because it sometimes still wouldn't publish it. And occasionally, if you added a new page to the system, the rest of the pages site wide would lose any recent changes and revert back to an older version.

Anyway, going back, if I had known about Drupal, I would have made my last company use it immediately. It would have saved lots of stress and time on the lot of us that had to use it, or be tortured by it more appropriately.

~ Kristi

Mepho's picture

CMS simplicty Theming

A lot of people worry about the complexity of theming in CMS systems such as Drupal. But in fact if you take the time to learn their templating system you will have problems looking back on how you would do it in a custom CMS or just custom coding. The template system and overwriting theme functions is very strong but there is a slight learning curve.

Great article keep up the posts!

Richard Dewick's picture

Help for Technophobes

@kristi It can prove tricky to place items exactly where you want them with a CMS, a static site will always have the edge there.

It sounds like you had a bit of a nightmare with the in-house CMS you were using, something that would worry me if I was relying on one person or company to provide support. Technophobes everywhere dread the thought of having to call support every five minutes which is why the CMS should be as simple as possible. Thanks Krisit.

@Mepho I'd have to agree, once you've themed a few sites the templating system becomes second nature. I certainly enjoy theming Drupal but like you say there is a slight learning curve which might not suit everyone. Cheers Mepho

Alda Silva's picture



I use DotNetNuke (DNN) at work and I find it not very suitable for me. As I can code websites myself, I'd rather use a database and connect it to the website as well as develop the whole layout.
DNN is very slow processing changes and it is common to lose data during that process. Furthermore, it is hard to accomplish the ideal compatibily among browsers.
I would advice you to use another CMS (Joomla! is a good choice here).

Best regards,
Alda Silva

Richard Dewick's picture

Lost data

Hi Alda, it sounds like DotNetNuke is a bit of a let down especially if it's losing data when making changes! Joomla is another popular CMS and is only second behind Wordpress in user numbers, great advice.

Michiel Van Kets's picture


you surely make drupal sound good. I have my own blogs and I love wordpress, yet never tried drupal. Anyway; I get lots of sites with crappy CMS systems; good thing we have a good developer to fix the sites, but it's always hard work; an extra investment for the client and this just to finish someone elses work to then finally be able to actually promote the site.

I guess i should finally have a good look at drupal and let my clients change if they have.

Graphic Design Seminar's picture


I love CMS it really makes life easy, it is a life saver for those without a lot of programming background.

Roxy's picture

Favourite CMS

I've used Joomla and Drupal for websites and Zen Cart and OSCommerce for ecommerce sites but by far my favoured system is Wordpress.
All have theri pros and cons and each has something of a learning curve to climb but I have found that my clients get to grips with the simple admininstration interface provided by Wordpress far more quickly than Drupal or Joomla.

john's picture

A Lot Of Bad CMS Out Their

I work for a digital consulting company and we build a lot of complex sites in Java and Microsoft .Net. I just surprises me how much crap is out there in terms of bad CMS software. By far the worse is microsoft CMS and Interwoven teamsite. Mind you these are supposedly enterprise CMS systems.

It's amazing but the best CMS systems I have used are open source like Drupal or Wordpress.

Harun's picture

very good system actually, i

very good system actually, i have seen it used before with great success

Mark, Ars Logo's picture

I worked for a sofware firm

I worked for a sofware firm in the late 90s. They had developed a cms without knowing what a cms was for internal use. I decided to market it and although market required content management solution for corporate portals / intranets, non technical users tended to find challenging to use it. CMSs must have a balance between simplicity and sophistication. WYSIWYG interfaces are not enough to cope with the hundreds of parameters that a system may need to support.

iSquare's picture

Best CMS

I have my own web development firm and we have worked on many CMS systems like Drupal, CMS, Kentico, Wordpress. Also worked on eCommerce systems like OsCommerce, X-cart, Zen cart but what I found from my experience is wordpress is the best CMS system. Joomla is also very good but it's admin panel is slightly difficult for the client who is not technical savvy. Wordpress will work great for all clients.

Victor's picture

Ease of use

Well, in terms of ease of use, I would have to go for Wordpress. It is much easier to install plug ins.

Kethy Wright's picture


Nice post,

In today's world of e-Businesses, content flow is almost as crucial as cash flow. If an enterprise cannot refresh the information about its product on a continuous basis then it will not be able to fulfill the today's Internet based expectations.