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  1. #1
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    Content Management Systems & Your Future

    Dear Sitepoint Forum Members

    I have a question about Content Management Systems (CMS) and the future of website development companies. I've seen more and more emphasis on website design companies selling their clients content management systems, but if every business has one, where does that leave the website design company? There will be no need for "re-designs" and no avenue for "page maintenance" fees when clients require new pages, new content or new images.

    Does this mean companies will have to survive on the "yearly fee" they charge for CMS services? With prices heading lower and lower for such services, it's difficult for me to envisage companies in the industry right now surviving on $350 yearly fees from each client.

    The way things are heading in my opinion, all businesses will be able to edit their own website using a CMS so easily, there will be no use for the website development company after setting up the CMS.

    Can I get some more opinions on this issue please, what does everyone else think about this? Is there really a profitable future for website design or are we kidding ourselves?

    Kind regards

    RichardN

  2. #2
    SitePoint Member esoomllub's Avatar
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    I agree that there are a large number of businesses moving to CMS systems. But I see it more as a move to have more control over both content and the processes of creating content (e.g., standardizing business process across disparate business units). They will still look to design/development firms for design and graphics work (they typically don't retain those skills internally). My business is largely based on CMS implementations, and repeat work and ongoing maintenance are common across nearly all of our clients. Clients are always looking for new templates (data capture and presentation), new "cooler" designs, and new functionality that does not fit standard CMS implementations.

  3. #3
    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    This interview sums up a lot of my opinions about the CMS craze. Note that most CMS installations fail within a year of implementation, and someone's gotta be there to help pick up the pieces. Stay out of the CMS game if you don't like where it's headed and find some other aspect of Web development that you do enjoy and find more profitable.

  4. #4
    SitePoint Member esoomllub's Avatar
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    Interesting interview. I'd say his thought about most CMS implementations failing may be from personal experience. I can't think of any CMS implementations we've put in place failing (many change appearance -- scope creep is inevitable with any IT project). With strong PM skills, well defined business requirements (the work is really for the business not the techies), and experienced technical staff, a CMS implementation does not have to be any different than any other IT project.

    Regardless, a CMS in and of itself does not eliminate the need for ongoing web designer work. If the CMS is done right, the content is separated from the presentation. And web designers are best at presentation, not content editors.
    Last edited by esoomllub; Sep 30, 2004 at 12:37.

  5. #5
    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    esoomllub, you're right about needing to identify the proper goals and processes before undertaking a CMS project. However, way too many companies go into it without that definition of what needs to be done and what needs to change, thinking that this CMS will magically cure all of their online problems. Those that cry about automation taking their jobs fail to see all of the other aspects in online publishing/content creation/design/etc. that they could get involved in and build good careers on.

  6. #6
    SitePoint Wizard johntabita's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by esoomllub
    Interesting interview. I'd say his thought about most CMS implementations failing may be from personal experience. I can't think of any CMS implementations we've put in place failing (many change appearance -- scope creep is inevitable with any IT project). With strong PM skills, well defined business requirements (the work is really for the business not the techies), and experienced technical staff, a CMS implementation does not have to be any different than any other IT project.

    Regardless, a CMS in and of itself does not eliminate the need for ongoing web designer work. If the CMS is done right, the content is separated from the presentation. And web designers are best at presentation, not content editors.
    I'm not an expert on CMS solutions, so maybe I'm missing something. We purchased a 3rd-party CMS, installed it on a dedicated server and began selling content-managed websites. One client is a membership organization with 4,000 chapters and nearly 50,000 members worldwide. We also implemented it on several of the chapter websites. We've never experienced any of the problems Veen reports. I don't agree with a number of his conclusions (for instance "Most Web designers still have roots back in the world of print." My experience has been just the opposite.) I have to agree with esoomllub by wondering if his conclusions are based on actual, hard data or merely his experiences.

    He says that it's really hard to install a CMS. Ours requires about 6 hours of backend programming. We can easily take an existing site and, without redesigning it, implement it in a 30-day period. Since we generally also do redesign the site, we average a 60 to 90-day turnaround. I can train a non-technical person in it's use in less than half-hour. So in all, it's an effective and easy-to-implement solution. If it's both cost effective and easy to use, so what if the package has more features than they'll use? Our has some extra features that requires additional programming. If the client doesn't want the extras, we charge only for implementing the basics.

    Maybe I'm just a skepkic. I know Veen is considered an expert, but I sometimes question an expert's motive and/or agenda in proclaiming such "problems". Like this:

    "Are you interested in learning more about installing a CMS? At User Interface 9, Jeffrey Veen and Peter Merholz will teach their full-day seminar Make Your CMS Work for You.*In this seminar, you'll learn a proven process for getting the most out of your CMS." (F.Y.I., it costs $2,590 to attend.)

    Since one of his observations is the difficulty in measuring a CMS's value in ROI, how do you justify adding another $2,590 to the cost? Our entire CMS can be implemented for less than the cost of the entire seminar.

    Quote Originally Posted by RichardN
    I have a question about Content Management Systems (CMS) and the future of website development companies. I've seen more and more emphasis on website design companies selling their clients content management systems, but if every business has one, where does that leave the website design company? There will be no need for "re-designs" and no avenue for "page maintenance" fees when clients require new pages, new content or new images.

    Does this mean companies will have to survive on the "yearly fee" they charge for CMS services? With prices heading lower and lower for such services, it's difficult for me to envisage companies in the industry right now surviving on $350 yearly fees from each client.

    The way things are heading in my opinion, all businesses will be able to edit their own website using a CMS so easily, there will be no use for the website development company after setting up the CMS.

    Can I get some more opinions on this issue please, what does everyone else think about this? Is there really a profitable future for website design or are we kidding ourselves?
    Since you're posting this in the Careers and Education forum, I'm assuming that your concern is that there won't be enough companies left for you to find a good job. That is a real risk you face, and not only from Content Management Systems. There's also off-shore developers who can afford to work for a fraction of what a US developer can live on, and online website builders that allow people to create and host their own site for $20 or less a month. Heck, even WalMart sells websites.

    If you are an employee, then you are someone who's paid to perform a designated task (e.g., build a website). When a faster, cheaper way to perform that task comes along, you be in danger of becoming obsolete.

    As someone that offers web design directly to others as a service, I wonder how long companies that offer only web design can survive. I think that most companies will have to diversify. For example, most organizations that want a website generally want one of two things: a technology solution to improve efficiency or productivity, or a sales/marketing solution to increase revenue or decrease cost of sales. The way I see it, web firms have the choice of either offering additional techology solutions or additional marketing solutions, beyond just the development of a website.

    Developing a website will become a part of a bigger overall objective. Companies that can step into consultive role (either as techology consultants or marketing consultants) will thrive. Those that don't will remain dime-a-dozen contractors.

  7. #7
    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    Automated services and outsourcing will be the death of most "web designers."

    The key to long term wealth is to not have your income tied to your labor, I don't care how much you make per hour. Thus the answer is ownership.

    A website you build for someone else pays you once. A website you build for yourself pays you every month.
    Chris Beasley - I publish content and ecommerce sites.
    Featured Article: Free Comprehensive SEO Guide
    My Guide to Building a Successful Website
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  8. #8
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    In my opinion, a CMS is good for quickly editting a text-based content. Not much good at other things. You'll still need professional services for things like programming, graphics, etc.

    Adding a CMS is a good way to promote your services though because you give your customer a facility to easily change the content if required.
    Nesway
    Free web hosting with new domain name, affordable and professional web hosting

  9. #9
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    Hi Neswayj

    You've got a good point, but how many small businesses will require thousands of dollars worth of graphics and programming work each year after a CMS implemention? If a website is able to send eNewsletters, provide forums, surveys, electronic commerce and ability to edit every single page, create new pages, upload graphics and the rest, what else is left to develop for all of the website development companies in the market right now? It will be like seagulls fighting over the 1 hamburger!

    To indicate whether businesses are interested in spending money on graphics and programming work, out of about 20 clients of ours, only two clients have been investing considerable resources in extra programming and graphic design work within the last year - but I admit it also depends on the industry you're working in.

    I believe only a few, technological minded businesses will require thousands of dollars worth of extra programming work beyond a CMS, although the future of SMS and mobile phone marketing looks fairly bright - Which agrees with johntabita's post.

    Also, I don't think businesses are too concerned about your company whether you provide a CMS or not (depends what they pay for and expect) and if the installation of the CMS does not go well, or is difficult for the client to use, your business image will be take on negative impacts anyway - I've seen this happen before!

    I'd like to hear some follow ups, thank you for the posts so far.

    Kind regards

    RichardN

  10. #10
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    After everyone got typewriters, suddently all typists were out of the job.

  11. #11
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    Kotik, that's a different way of looking at it - the future of data entry operators is limited it seems if everyone can type up a letter. I wonder what type of impact this methodology could have on various industries and which industries will be affected first.

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    Hi RichardN,

    What about the other 18 of your customers? Did you supply them with a CMS?
    Nesway
    Free web hosting with new domain name, affordable and professional web hosting

  13. #13
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    Hi neswayj

    No, they were provided with an online ordering system (e-commerce) and did not have the time to learn or invest in a CMS as they work in the healthcare industry, so online initiatives are not a prioritised way to help people it seems (for the average healthcare business), besides allowing them to order products via the internet.

    Kind regards

    RichardN

  14. #14
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by RichardN
    where does that leave the website design company? There will be no need for "re-designs" and no avenue for "page maintenance" fees when clients require new pages, new content or new images.
    We've been professionaly building sites for our clients since 1998 and built some freebees for a few years before then just to figure out what this web thing was all about.

    In my estimation, our websites seem to be redesigned about once every 2 to 3 years. I look at this as yet another avenue to generate income. We implement our own CMS and haven't had a breakdown yet. Mind you, we keep it simple with the option to get complex should the need arise.

    I for one am pretty happy not to have to open a site, edit and upload, just to change some punctuation or other minor typo when the client calls at 5PM Friday evening or whenever. Put the power in the clients hands and they'll be back to get you to do something else.

    Like everything connected to the web, you have to learn, adapt, or get left behind. If your a web "design" company without developers, it's time to find some. Even if you don't have the know-how to build a CMS from scratch, there are literally hundreds to choose from at costs from $0+. Then the trick is to use your design and development skills so it doesn't look like another (insert-prefix)Nuke site.
    Andrew Wasson | www.lunadesign.org
    Principal / Internet Development

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    Hi Andrew

    Thank you for your input, I appreciate it.

    When you say "Put the power in the clients hands and they'll be back to get you to do something else", could you please specify the types of jobs you've received from clients with content management systems?

    Also, do you have a background in the printing industry?

    Kind regards

    RichardN

  16. #16
    SitePoint Wizard TheRedDevil's Avatar
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    If your only doing webdesign together with html, I can understand why a CMS might seem like a "problem".

    Im mainly making my living from php programming, and from time to time when a client request a full site I do some design too. And from my experience, clients still come back later and ask for addons both to the cms and to the site backend itself. Usally its a few things they have figured out they want, just to make the operation of the site easier.

  17. #17
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy
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    Hi Richard,

    Yes we do have a foundation in traditional print design. We work with many of our clients in all aspects of their marketing efforts (except radio & TV). So when I say put the power of CMS in their hands so that can get you working on other things I'm speaking of other projects.

    If they can manage their site in-house that frees up monies for Annual/Quarterly Reports, Invitations, brochures, print newsletters, e-newsletters, mailers, adverts, Tradeshow booths, product manuals, CDs and catalogues.

    That way we provide the ultimate in consistency for all of their marketing materials. Every client has different needs and often it's this diversity of offerings that makes or breaks a deal for us.

    Cheers - Andrew
    Andrew Wasson | www.lunadesign.org
    Principal / Internet Development

  18. #18
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    Hello TheRedDevil, what sort of PHP programming projects do you complete for your clients besides content management systems? That's true, some clients may need a membership tracking system later on which is a fairly hefty project, do you have any figures on how many clients require extra programming later on?

    Andrew, I see your point, it's a very good idea to offer more than 1 type of product or service, especially when you can combine print + web (at the least) marketing solutions.

    Thanks Guys, this is becoming quite interesting (for me anyway).

  19. #19
    ::==:: Bonzo_CS's Avatar
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    I think you can look at it both ways. The development of CMS sites does tend to mean that maintenance fee's are gone. However The cost to implement the CMS can be much greater than the maintenance fee or upgrade charge for a standard site for a few years. So in that respect the income can be balanced as the same (maybe a little more or less) and you have the benefit of upfront payment. Also this will require more demand on hosting services as your server will need to run say PHP/MySQL for example. Minor costs I know, but can be a source of income.

    Like someone mentioned above, although CMS may take over the temporary service/upgrade charges that the industry once relied on, a CMS does not make a site timeless. As more features come about which in this industry is regular, these are features than can be offered in redesign. I therefore think as the initial amount of work to create a CMS site is more and thus generates more income, the redeisgn costs for such a system are also greater. The only difference is that the payment is larger and less frequent than smaller upgrade charges.

    I believe the greatest problem to the industry is the self design progs. Where the internal self designated "Webmaster" who has 1 hour of Dreamweaver/Frontpage experience has the confidence to implement the ever increasing programs that are now allowing persons with little to no or little web experience to design. These programs do allow someone to create a "website" but as we all know there are hidden flaws in such designs, that the person implementing may not be aware of. This "build a website in 2 hour" culture that is being promoted arguably can create work from their mistakes, but also belittles the complexity of larger complex websites that inexperieced users attempt using such progs. Also they will settle for lesser self designed systems, which would take the job away from the designer.

  20. #20
    SitePoint Evangelist mafunk's Avatar
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    Most business people are either too busy or do not have the knowledge to even use a CMS in my experience. Often they ask for one, but in reality they will still keep hiring you to revise their sites. CMS allows for editing. You as a professional offer far more than editing capabilities.
    MaFunk

  21. #21
    SitePoint Addict molder101's Avatar
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    Cms

    We have to look at this as a benefit to we web developers. It's easy to get down if you only thinking of a CMS as taking money away from you.

    Essentially a CMS is really giving back to you. Think about all of the time you spend fixing "frivilous" things for a client. Utilitizing a CMS allows them to control the *CRAP* you don't want to deal with.

    I know for myself, installations of CMSs have helped me enormously. I now can spend more time on providing clients other services and spend more time on images and things of that sort that truly count.

    While content is important it is much easier to give the client the "pen" and allow them to fill in the blanks.

    Also, consider what has already been posted. You have to realize that not only will there always be work, utilitizing a CMS will allow you to tackle that work and not have to consider whether or not you spelled their company name correctly on all the pages!

    Think about 'maintaining' clients (always keep in touch so you can get referrals) if you are truly "worried" about the work. Make sure you sign them up for your newsletter (even better: create a client login and post all the info there - with followup calls occasionally) that tells about new web technologies and features that they COULD implement on their site. Make sure you show them new sites that you are working on and have finished. The idea is to keep their attention so when the time comes around and they want a new, fresh look and feel - by YOU, their web designer! Always make them want more - that is what the USA is all about.

    BE CREATIVE, NOT JUST WITH YOUR DESIGNS BUT WITH YOUR BUSINESS STRATEGIES. YOU CAN BE A GREAT DESIGNER -- A POOR BUSINESS MAN -- AND GET NOWHERE.

    Mike

  22. #22
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy
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    What he said
    Andrew Wasson | www.lunadesign.org
    Principal / Internet Development

  23. #23
    SitePoint Wizard TheRedDevil's Avatar
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    RichardN:
    It all depends on the client needs, and what he wants to pay for it.
    Ive made everything from member tracking systems, shopping charts, traffic tracking system etc.

    However, Im usally never looking for design projects. Its mainly programming projects Im after as to my experience that is where Im making most money.

  24. #24
    ::==:: Bonzo_CS's Avatar
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    Well said molder 101

  25. #25
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    I implement CMS's for a living and it has saved an enormous amount of time. Customers still want to update their site, but most of the time submit to us the edits anyway. It just enables you to provide better, faster service.

    It also enables you to redesign the site layout and not have to redo all the content 3 years from now.

    Another benefit is it allows you to add functionality in a structured way that you can build on.

    One big plus is that if for some reason you need to move a page, or have duplicate content that forces you to change the menu, you can do it in 15 minutes instead of 2 hours.

    I use http://www.typo3.org Typo3 CMS.


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