One of the biggest stumbling blocks that people come across when starting to work online is how to actually design/build their website. This is especially the case if you are planning a large content-based site with many, many pages. Creating each page can be a highly time-consuming process and if you want to make even a minor change to your page template, you could end up having to amend hundreds of individual pages.
There are different options out there that will make your task easier and in the past couple of weeks, I have been using some software scripts known as Content Management Systems. These scripts are installed on your web server (which is probably the hardest part of using them) and allow you to build and design your website via your Internet browser. The basic layout is set though you can choose different ‘themes’ to give your site a unique look.
Where these scripts really come into their own however, is the ease in which you can add new content. Let’s say you have written an article and you want to add it to your site. You simply copy and paste the article into the appropriate form in your browser-based admin panel and the script automatically adds your article to your website and places the appropriate link from your ‘Articles’ section (or home page or wherever) to the new content. Simple.
As well as articles, the scripts will handle download links, links to other websites, forums, polls etc. You can even use them to create a membership site complete with members login capability (which funnily enough is what I am doing – more about that soon…watch this space).
Of course, such a product would save any webmaster hours of time and effort, so you would expect to pay a reasonable sum for the software, right?
Wrong! There are numerous content management systems that are completely FREE OF CHARGE. The scripts are often released under a GNU/GPL license, which basically means you can use and adapt them at no cost whatsoever!
And don’t think that because the software is free that it is of poor quality or full of bugs. Quite the opposite – these scripts are used by thousands and thousands of sites and are very, very well tested.
As I say, there are many free content management systems scripts available and I have listed a few of the more popular ones below. Don’t be put off by the fact that you have to install the script on your website – this is not as hard as it sounds and it is a good learning experience.