Probably the most commonly requested requirement for a website is the ability for the client to add and edit pages. It sounds such a simple requirement, but in reality it’s really tricky to get the balance right between functionality, flexibility and the level of technical skills required.

There are literally hundreds, probably thousands of CMS platforms out there. Some are very generic such as Drupal and Joomla, and can be molded into practically any kind of site.

Both Drupal and Joomla are open source applications, built by an army of mostly unpaid contributors who continuously update the codebase, adding new features and extra functionality. These applications are great in many ways, but personally, from a coding point of view I find them far too generic and bloated for most situations. While they do provide pretty much everything under the sun in terms of functionality, they include this at the sacrifice of usability. In some ways they are almost too clever for their own good and can be taken straight out of the box and setup by anyone with enough patience to learn how everything works.

There are other content management systems out there which are more job specific, and in some ways I think this approach makes them actually more usable. We’ve created several websites based around the WordPress blogging platform. I love WordPress, it’s a highly supported package and you can have a new blog up in a matter of minutes. This blog you are reading right now is powered by WordPress. Plugins are freely available and themes applied quickly and easily giving you a brand new website in no time at all. I actually prefer using WordPress as a platform for certain types of websites as it just about gets the balance right between functionality and usability, but even then I don’t think it’s perfect.

As a web developer who builds websites for a living it’s very difficult to put myself in the place of the average small business owner. Unlike us they live and work in the ‘real world’. Logging into and updating a website is something that needs to be so simple, quick and intuitive that forgetting how to do it just isn’t a question, because it’s so obvious.

My hunt for the perfect CMS has led me down many paths over the years, but perhaps inevitably it’s my love of coding and building applications that has resulted in the development of our own solution, SimpleCMS.

SimpleCMS Unique Selling Points (USPs)

  • Admin can view the website they want to update rather than having to use a separate admin interface.
  • Updating pages is as easy as clicking an ‘edit’ button whilst viewing the page in question.
  • Add pages is as easy as selecting ‘add page’, selecting if it’s a top level or sub page, giving it a title and entering the content.
  • No restriction on the page type or content. Your page can be anything you like, it’s up to you. You aren’t restricted by any particular format or content type. Although all default styles are controlled by the globally defined style sheet.
  • Pages instantly appear in the menu for the rest of the world to see. There’s nothing complicated or confusing to worry about.

SimpleCMS Is Ideal for

  • Small business brochure or content websites that follow a basic page/sub page format, and need to be quick and easy to update.

SimpleCMS Isn’t

  • In any way confusing or complicated to use
  • Going to be the perfect solution for more complicated websites, ecommerce stores or social networking websites.

I think if you try to make a piece of software all things to all people it will inevitably end up being overly complicated and confusing and there’s just no need. If you keep it simple, quick and easy you can take the pain out of updating a website.

If you’re interested in having a play with SimpleCMS take a look at the demo website and have a play. I’m sure you’ll find it really quick and easy to update the pages. Don’t worry if you mess up the site by editing and deleting pages. It will reset itself every hour on the hour, so go for it, just don’t write anything rude please! Anyone found spamming will be hunted down, so play nice please.

If you have any suggestions send them this way.