Introduction to Website CMS

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facilitated by Thomas Gelder and JC Sanchez from GIIP

About the facilitators

Thomas and JC teach WordPress at UC Santa Cruz.

Content Management System


  • A CMS is something that takes care of most of the technical access of a website so you can focus on publishing content.
  • The real value of a website is in data; content is your data on a website; a CMS makes it easier for you to get your awesome message out.
  • Sometimes we associate a CMS with being super techie; in reality, CMS are made for people to put out your voice more easily rather than worry about design something. Wordpress does it for you, you don't have to worry about that.
  • Question: can you take a Flash website and turn it into a Wordpress website?
    • Content is what's important: look at the structure of how your website is made, take your content, move it to Wordpress.
  • CMS shouldn't need a techie to add/organize content, BUT you may need a techie/developer to build or design the site in the first place.
  • What do you want out of a website?
    • Our organization has an outdated, haphazardly created website, we need a new one; we want to figure out how to economically set up a structure from the very beginning that will allow us to fill the content and do the operation and maintenance without a tremendous amount of ongoing website. There are fairly sophisticated things that we hope to do (e.g. password-protected content on the site for statewide coalition members.) Are there ways for one of the more simple WordPress sites to do that?
  • Different kinds of websites:
    • Basic informational page
    • People sign up for the site, go into password protected website--that's something to talk about with a developer
  • We won't be able to pay for the entirety of what we want all at once; how do we set that up intelligently, in phases, so you don't have to undo what's done. Suspect that means having an overarching plan with the vision.
  • How can you allow grassroots, rural members to contribute?

Domains and hosting

    • Wordpress and Drupal are free open source software.
    • When you buy a domain name, some companies also give you very basic web hosting and website software
    • There are other web hosts that let you install your own software, e.g. Drupal and Wordpress--you download the software, install it, and change it the way you want.
    • You don't need to go with or; you can host those things elsewhere.
  • Important to keep a maintenance schedule to keep up with software updates; good practice to check the updates regularly, have a schedule for that.
  • Updates to basic WordPress or Drupal software ("core software") are easy for end users to do; with more custom built sites and complicated sites, updates can break the site more easily.

What are the costs for maintenance?

    • Some developers will leave you set up to do updates yourse;f; be careful of folks who don't give you that information!
    • Sometimes you can get folks to donate time to maintain your site!
    • One shop's example: maintenance is usually 30 minutes a month

Case study

  • One organization wants an e-learning system for clients; some folks can't come to a lab to do stuff; they're using Joomla, want to add this feature to the site; have something centralized.
    • There are LMS --learning management systems--and course management systems; one is Moodle (open source)
    • You can have a website, have a page be a lesson, embed your videos.

Breaking down websites

    • Domain name: or yournamehere.organization
    • Hosting: space that you rent on servers where you keep your website files, databases, etc. Can really range in price: from $5/mo to thousands/mo
    • Choosing hosting: figure out the website you need, then make sure your host can accommodate that.
  • Interested in more resources? Are there online assessments to figure out what you need?
    • Aspiration has lots of resources on their website; also offer free consulting.