4 Quick Tips and Must Have Tools For New CMS Users

My job here at FirstTracks Marketing presents me with the opportunity to build WordPress and Joomla CMS websites for many diverse clients in industries such as Education, Assisted Living, Health Care, High Tech, and many more. But want to know the one thing that is the same with almost all of these websites and clients? The lack of resource planning and understanding of what it will take to work with their new, easy to use Content Management System (CMS). Based on my experience developing, designing and training so many different users in Joomla and WordPress there are a few things that a new user will need to know in order to make the CMS experience successful and fun.

1. You will need to make time for creating content

This seems like an obvious point to bring up first, but I am continually amazed at the common misconceptions we encounter when we deliver the final site to our clients. You know you need a website, you know you need to be active and have the ability to publish information in timely and agile fashion. But when push comes to shove and because the website has never been a regular part of your company’s marketing flow it can be easy to simply continue to let it just sit there unattended. With the addition of any good content management system to your website your marketing activities need to change. Work process flows need to be updated so that all of your marketing programs are working together. For example,  when that new information from your catalog or brochure goes to print, you need to be ready to publish all of that information on your website as well. A simple way to stay ahead of this is to plan ahead and create a content schedule for the first 6 – 12 months for your website. This includes content, completion dates and who is responsible for publishing. It’s amazing how much more efficient you can be when you bring accountability into the equation. Make a plan and stick to it!

2. You will need a program to edit images

Nobody likes to read a bunch of boring text without something fun to look. Any decent content management system will provide the ability to upload and place images into your website. But without any previous website editing or publishing experience how are you supposed to know what to do? Here are a few simple tips and tools to help you out. Put your graphic designer hat on and get started adding some graphics to your content:

  • You will need a program to edit your images. Something that will allow you to crop and re-size your images properly for website viewing.
  • Inexpensive programs you can use: Photoshop Elements ($99) or GIMP (FREE)
  • ALWAYS make sure the images you upload to your site are not more than 72dpi (resolution)
  • ALWAYS make sure the images you upload to your site are not larger than 50K (file size)

You can make these edits easily using one of the two tools I have mentioned above. The key is that you are keeping the images modest in size and their download sizes as small as possible because that will make the browsing experience fast and enjoyable.

3. You need to be ready and willing to learn some basic search engine optimization techniques (SEO)

Page titles, Meta Descriptions, Meta Keywords, Link Text, Alt-Tags and Headings are the basic building blocks for solid search engine optimization on any website. Now that you have or are planning to have a content management system for your website, you need to manage this aspect of your website content as well! The basic idea to keep in your head when dealing with all these moving parts is: “What is the one keyword or phrase that I want people to be able to find in this piece of content and how does that relate back to my overall website” If you remain focused on that simple thought when writing your content, then the optimizing of your content should come naturally simply because you are writing and publishing your information under a focused content direction and goal. Keep your focus, don’t over stuff your posts in a spammy fashion and just write what you think would be logical and you will be just fine.

One of the most important tools you will have at your disposal when working with your new content management system is the ability to link your content together. Sounds like another obvious thing to point out, but I see it all the time. There’s lots of new information on a site and none of it connected. Dead ends everywhere! The objective of your site is to share your products, service and expertise and keep your reader’s attention as long as possible. The more you are able to link all of your new content, the more options you will be providing your visitors to experience your information. You will also be building lots of great search engine optimization for your pages by providing search crawlers more ways to connect your online real estate together in a relevant fashion.

Don’s sweat the small stuff, practice makes perfect!

I realize that working on website content can be a very challenging and sometimes scary prospect for new content developers. Many of you who are using these new CMS platforms have had almost no formal online writing or design training, and that is OK. Working with a CMS like WordPress or Joomla is like learning any new piece of software, it takes time, repetition and patience. Stick with it, have fun and you will be posting and linking content like a pro in no time! If you would like some personal tutorial time give us a call at 603-924-1978 or fill out our quick request form we are here to help!

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