When we as users visit a website on the Internet, the technology that is used to power that website is generally invisible to us – as it should be. So while users don’t need to know what type of technology, or “backend” is used to manage and maintain the website in order to use it, the people who own the website, however, must have some knowledge and understanding of the system that is used.
As a health care professional the intricacies of these backend systems, often also known as “CMS” or Content Management System(s), are not important. What is important to know, however, is what the advantages and disadvantages of are of the two broad types of CMSs available to build your website, and to be able to make an informed decision about which type of system you should use. And the details of installation, implementation and management of these system should in both cases, be left to your web developer (or you can do it if you are so inclined).
The two broad categories are Open Source systems such as Wordpress and Joomla!, and the Proprietary systems such as those that are used by some website development companies. Here in Part I of II of this article, I will discuss the advantages of using an Open Source CMS for your dental or medical website.
The term “open source” broadly refers to software that is free to use as long as you don’t try to rebrand it as your own and sell it commercially. One of the most popular CMSs for building websites is Wordpress, and in my opinion is the only choice to make when implementing a your dental or medical website. The reasons are as follows:
1. Open Source – Wordpress is open source software, which means that you do not have to pay for the software or for software upgrades. You will likely need to pay someone to set up and maintain Wordpress for you, but the software itself is free. There are no commercial restrictions in the sense that you are free to use Wordpress for personal sites as well as commercial sites such as your practice’s website.
2. Extremely popular and Well-Known – Wordpress is one of the most frequently used CMS software packages available, and it powers millions of websites across the Internet. Practically speaking, this fact means that there is a vast number of developers who are familiar with Wordpress, who you could hire to manage the website if you chose to change providers. Further, if you have a problem or question about Wordpress itself or about using Wordpress, there is a large variety of printed books and video tutorials available to help you find the information you are looking for.
3. Large Community – because of the large community of people working on Wordpress itself and on projects for Wordpress, Wordpress is constantly being improved and updated, and plugins (add-ons or extra features) are being developed daily. These plugins or “add-ons” are extra modules that can be installed (by you or your web developer) which can add functionality to your website such as adding a slideshow or picture gallery.
4. Ease of Use – one of most important things you can do for your practice’s website is to frequently add content. But if you are going to add content, you need to have a system in place that is easy to use. You don’t want to muster up the energy to write content, and then have to navigate through a maze to write a simple article.
Wordpress is great in this regard, as well, as Wordpress is designed so that if you are able to use a word processor, then you should be able to easily use Wordpress to add and edit pages, articles, and media such as pictures and videos.
Because of many of the features listed above, my company, uses Wordpress almost exclusively for every new website that we develop. I see very few disadvantages to running your website based on a Wordpress platform (if any), and I highly recommend it. But it’s also important to examine the other side of the coin, and in next weeks’ article I will talk about Proprietary CMSs, and how they are different from Open-Source systems such as Wordpress.