Managing your own website content can help save you time and money. But is it always a good idea? Should everyone invest in content management and retain creative and content control over their websites? The answer, of course, is no.
There are good reasons to avoid managing your own site. The more difficult question to answer is how do you know when you should leave the job to the pros?
Here are a couple of reasons that can help you make the decision to steer clear.
Custom Systems Can Be Expensive
There’s no doubt that the benefits of custom content management are long-term. The value lies in the ability to update your site, product inventory or other important details on a constant and timely basis. But that ability comes with a price tag and it’s usually an up-front cost. Not everyone has that kind of money lying around.
Sometimes it makes more sense – especially if the number of updates you plan to make are limited – to hire someone else to do it. You’re better off spending a little bit of money over a longer period of time than a lot of money all at once.
Even if you think you really want to be able to update your site whenever the urge strikes, you may want to rethink it when you see the cost. Sometimes creative control is a luxury your business can’t afford.
Besides, if you’ve chosen your developer well, he (or she) will work with you as a creative and business consultant who will not only be able to execute your changes, but help you decide if whatever you do with your site is in the best interests of your business.
Off-The-Shelf Systems Have Limited Functionality
There are plenty of inexpensive systems that you can use not only to manage your website, but to build it in the first place. This is an attractive option for small businesses without a lot of money to invest in a custom system, but who still want control over their sites.
If your business fits into a cute little box, then this is a good option. But if your business is unique, then you’ll probably find that a pre-fab system isn’t for you.
The problem with these types of systems is that they are necessarily built in a one-size-fits-all paradigm. They are designed to appeal to a large swath of customers, which means they have a basic set of tools and a limited amount of functionality.
Preconfigured systems are intended for the least common denominator. Some are more customizable than others, but most business owners find that even if a system like this works for a while, they eventually outgrow its capabilities. And if you’re trying to run a successful site with growth potential and customer appeal, the last thing you want to do it force it into someone else’s paradigm and compromise the way it looks or works.
You Could End Up With Invalid Code Or Broken Pages
Whether you’ve invested in a custom system or picked out a preconfigured one, there are hazards inherent in managing your own site. Unless you’re a designer, coder or programmer, you can inadvertently damage the integrity of your site.
Some of this damage is unseen on the surface. You may enter data that causes coding errors, which you may not notice, but which can manifest as problems loading pages or getting your site crawled by search engines.
Some of the damage is more apparent in broken images, links that don’t work or a total failure of the site or some pages in certain browsers.
A good system can accommodate for some of these errors and force you to enter correct data, but there are still breakable parts no matter how “smart” your system is.
Unless there’s a really compelling reason to manage your site content – if you’re an ecommerce retailer for instance – then you should consider leaving the updating to someone who will ensure that any changes to you site result in clean code, proper functionality and inherent search friendliness.
Your Could Be Sabotaging Your SEO Efforts
If you’re concerned about your site’s search engine listings and still want (or need) content management capabilities, you need to carefully plan the execution of a search-friendly system, and you should be prepared to work with your developer or SEO expert anyway to ensure that you’re maintaining the integrity of the site as you go along.
As we mentioned above, code corruption, broken links or pages that fail all lead to a loss in search effectiveness.
Some systems generate URLs that aren’t friendly to search crawlers and could prevent your site from being listed well – or at all – in search results. Some systems don’t allow you to customize page titles or don’t give you the flexibility you’d want in order to craft an effective title. Since page titles are an important piece of the SEO puzzle, this can have a negative effect on your listings.
Understanding these limitations and the negative consequences they can have might lead you to decide that you’re better off leaving the maintenance – and SEO – of your site to someone who knows how to keep your site in good standing with search engines.
The System Itself Will Require Maintenance, Management And Even Upgrades
You may be managing your site, but who’s managing your content management system? Technologies change and software is buggy. Even the most brilliantly written system will need to be maintained and upgraded to ensure that it’s working, both functionally for your site, and effectively for evolving search and web standards.
Whether it’s a custom system or a preconfigured one, somewhere along the line there’s bound to be an upgrade, and it could cost you money to do it, or time to learn it. Software is no different than your site. Someone has to be on top of it, updating it, keeping it working and even adding new features to improve its usefulness.
Unless there’s a good reason for managing your own site, you might want to skip the self-managed route and take the path well-traveled: leave the maintenance to someone who does it for a living, and get back to the business you know… yours.
If you’ve opted out of content management, what was your main reason for doing so?