When it comes to development and selecting the right content management system (CMS) for building a website, there are quite a few choices, ranging from free to paid options. WordPress and Squarespace are probably the most well known website builders. Both are very easy to set up - the latter even made Keanu tear up. They might suit websites with standard content requirements, such as blogs or smaller businesses, they don’t require much knowledge about web development and they enable users of any level to create a basic website with ease.
There are also quite a few advanced content management systems like Joomla! and Sitecore that are used by the likes of Virgin, Ryanair and IKEA. They cater to websites with complex content requirements, such as e-Commerce, financial or governmental sites and require experienced developers to build them. However, some systems, such as Sitecore, come with a hefty licence fee.
We like a CMS that sits somewhere in between that allows us to easily manage it, as well as providing effective development options for all our content requirements. Our preferred CMS is Umbraco and let us explain why.
First of all, Umbraco is free. It’s easy to install and start using it in no time. You don’t need to pay a yearly licence fee and it’s very easy to update too.
Umbraco is based on .NET technology. While it does require some web development experience, it’s very easy to maintain and develop with. Its open source platform gives you complete control over what you can create. It offers high flexibility in terms of design and development, so you can make sure that whatever you build also provides a great user experience.
Unlike website builders with preset text editors, Umbraco is a blank canvas that provides developers tools that help them to create whatever they want. This really works for our clients and we can advise on best options to suit their needs.
Great UX = great website
A good CMS needs to support the design and development needs without compromising the user experience of your customers. It also needs to be simple enough for anyone to manage the content in the backend, especially, if they don’t have a developer’s background.
With Umbraco, you can create high-end, modern websites that support the latest design and UX trends. Thanks to the flexibility of the platform and no set templates for frontend development, programmers are able to implement any designs and user journeys you like. Umbraco supports responsive functionalities and your website can be easily accessed from mobile and tablet devices.
For website owners and content managers, Umbraco is very easy to maintain and update too. It has an intuitive interface which requires little to no coding. Umbraco has many content management controls, including WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get, similar to MS Word) editors and media/content pickers. There’s also a media library that content managers can easily upload images or other files to. Any elements on the page can be moved or deleted while pages can be published and unpublished with a click of a button.
We’ve helped Flint Group with their extensive product library by optimising their site in Umbraco to help users easily navigate it and search for products that they need. We’ve even implemented a functionality to display content based on the user’s location to make sure they see which products are available to them.
Space to grow
One of the best things about Umbraco is that it allows for scalability with its flexible load balancing built right into its codebase. It means you can start out small (with lower costs) and allow for your site to grow with you as a business.
Umbraco is easily customisable, so if you ever want to expand your website, you can add new features as soon as you’re ready. For example, advanced features, such as membership, database, eCommerce and anything else you may require at a later stage of running a website can be built on demand. We’ve worked with Sofology to expand their customer services and account system by implementing Umbraco.
A lot of clients we work with use content from third-parties, such as data feeds or games, so secure and robust integrations are a big challenge for them. Some website builders offer their own plugins or need additional development to implement specific third-party content, which can be a lot of work. However, Umbraco enables developers to integrate providers with its system without any hassle. Again, this is thanks to its open-source platform. For example, we’ve worked with HollywoodCasino.com and Jackpot Races on integrating third-party content with their websites built in Umbraco.
In comparison, Wordpress is great for smaller websites that simply rely on frequent content updates, like blogs. Great and inexpensive to manage, you can add certain plugins which are great for complete beginners. But its layout and internal functionality is limited and doesn’t scale well. It’s also not suitable for complex websites or anything that requires specific security features.
Simple controls and tight security
Websites can be a huge project for larger businesses and may need to be managed by multiple people with different levels of web development experience. If you have different types of website admins, you can easily set up controls for each level to make sure they can access the tools they need from the Umbraco CMS. For example, you can have separate access rights for developers and content managers respectively to make it simpler and more secure.
Because Umbraco is built on Microsoft .NET technology, it contains a range of security features by default. Umbraco have regular security checks on their end to update their system whenever required. They also work together with third-parties on improving their safety and making sure any critical bugs are fixed as soon as possible.
Some website builders require you to stay on top of third-party plugin security, which is an added risk, as well as being a complex task to manage. Umbraco takes care of this for you. This is one of the reasons why we suggest Umbraco to our clients who want to ensure their websites are secure, requiring minimal maintenance.
SEO and marketing tools
We know how important SEO and marketing are for a website. When building a website, it’s important to factor in these functionalities that help your site to be easily found by search engines and provide different marketing features if required.
As part of our standard website build, we implement an Umbraco template, which includes a complete set of SEO features, such as creating and editing title tags, meta data and descriptions, canonical tags, index and follow robots tags, sitemaps, redirects and more.
For marketing, Umbraco allows developers to add tracking pixels, integrate analytics and make any changes according to your needs. Common customisations include promotions, games and banners. But they can also be as complex as continuously running sports competitions used by thousands of users. For example, we’ve worked with The Sportsman to design a game to engage players and grow retention, made possible by the extensibility of Umbraco.
When it comes to web development and content management, using a reliable CMS that comes with the freedom to design anything you need really pays off. Whether you’re looking to create a brand new website or migrate to a new CMS, we strongly advise you consider Umbraco.
It’s great for websites with a large content database, marketing and promo features, e-Commerce, user generated content, corporate and governmental content, as well as those with lots of transactions and activities, such as gaming sites. Its extensible open-source platform enables developers to implement a variety of functionalities, including third-party plugins and different user journeys to provide the best user experience to your customers.
We advise you to partner with experienced developers that are familiar with Umbraco to help you create a robust website to your requirements. But the good thing is that once the website is built, Umbraco CMS requires minimum development to manage it.
Get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss your web development needs in more detail.