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Does CMS makes sense if you have a large number of very small sites?
DiscoStu




msg:3883541
 10:59 pm on Apr 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

Building a large number of small sites (just a handful of pages each) that won't need to be updated often. Does it make sense to put them all on a CMS like cms made simple or wordpress? My impression is that CMS are mainly useful when dealing with very large sites...does anyone have any input on this? Are there any tools that facilitate creating and managing a large number of small sites?

[edited by: DiscoStu at 11:03 pm (utc) on April 1, 2009]

 

ergophobe




msg:3883666
 5:01 am on Apr 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

Drupal and WordpressMU are designed to do this, but if each site is just a few pages and doesn't need dynamic content, I'm not sure what advantage you get.

In your case, it seems like learning how to use the Dreamweaver site management tools might be enough. I myself do NOT know how to use them, so I don't know what the capabilities are, so that may be bad advice.

Swanny007




msg:3883675
 5:47 am on Apr 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

If I was you, I'd stick with static pages. A CMS would be overkill, think of the security issues of patching that many installations each time there's a new version out.

To me, a CMS is most useful when you have more than one person updating the site, and/or making frequent updates to the site. I prefer to create static pages and update them as required since there are virtually no security / software concerns.

OK, by large number of sites, are you talking 100, 1000? I use Dreamweaver for multiple sites (less than 25).

justa




msg:3883780
 9:54 am on Apr 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

I agree & disagree with ergophobe and Swanny.

Yes, Dreamweaver would be able to maintain a number of small sites (again, how many are you actually talking about?), however it does not provide a scalable solution.

For instance, if you have 30 sites each with 5 pages each and are each updated once a month..... that's fine.

But what happens when you reach 35, 50, 100, 500 sites?

Let's say you reach 100 sites.

Lets also say that of those 100, 20 sites want to increase their page numbers from 5 to 30 pages, and another 15 sites want to have start adding events to the site, and another 20 want to begin to add daily news items to the site.

Slowly you will find that what was a suitable fit to begin with becomes an absolute nightmare to maintain.

Plus you're now faced with thousand of pages of content and designs that need to be imported into a CMS... eeek.

My advice is to go for a CMS to allow your sites, and I assume your company/business, to grow without having a headache further down the line.

The other bonus is that with the CMS you can put the content changes back in the hands of the site owners, which will foster more frequent updates, better websites and ultimately better client satisfaction.

Swanny007




msg:3884041
 3:06 pm on Apr 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

justa, he didn't say anything about adding daily news, events, etc. His words: "just a handful of pages each". A CMS is overkill for "just a handful of pages each", IMHO. Yes, if you want to add a thousand pages a CMS is likely the way to go (but not always).

As for switching to a CMS, it's not always necessary to switch to a CMS if the site grows to thousands of pages. In some cases it's easier to maintain, but not always. On my sites I use a header & footer include file so the site design is separate from the actual content "page" anyway. If I want to update the design I tweak the header.php, head.php, and/or footer.php include files and it's done in a matter of minutes.

justa




msg:3884068
 3:26 pm on Apr 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

justa, he didn't say anything about adding daily news, events, etc. His words: "just a handful of pages each". A CMS is overkill for "just a handful of pages each", IMHO. Yes, if you want to add a thousand pages a CMS is likely the way to go (but not always).

Good point, spot on! Sometimes, however, it's worth pointing out the possible growth areas of the site/s so a well thought out and informed decision can be made.

simonuk




msg:3884095
 3:39 pm on Apr 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

I have sites going back ten years. Each has a handful of pages and they get updated rarely. I'm glad I never went the CMS route because of patches etc. That would have been a ton of extra work neither me or the client would have wanted.

I only have 2 sites out of all of them that now use a CMS but because the sites were only 6 pages it was imported over in a matter of minutes.

I do a fair bit of charity work and I am forever seeing charities asking for a CMS system for a handful of pages that will rarely be updated. When I enquire as to why they need one they never know the answer. They just think they need one because other charities have one.

ergophobe




msg:3884136
 4:08 pm on Apr 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

What Swanny said... except for one thing.

Agreeing with Swanny - I would be with you justa if he hadn't specifically said that the sites would be rarely updated.

Personally, I might use a very simple shared PHP include that would do things like update the copyright notice to the current year and some small tasks like that. Possibly, handle very simple templating if I didn't mind all pages looking alike.

>>security issues of patching that many installations each time there's a new version out

No no and no! The reason I suggested WordpressMU and drupal is because you have only *one* installation, and thus one codebase to upgrade, no matter how many sites you have.

Having 100 installations of a CMS to handle 100 small sites is just plain foolhardy. You'll spend so much time on updates that you'll never actually be able to add any content. I would not in a million years recommend that.

Where I think a CMS is great
- sites with user-generated content
- sites with large teams
- sites with complex features that come off the shelf with CMS ____
- sites with lots and lots of content
- sites that get updated frequently and for which maintaining the navigation would be a hassle.

Note that the last point doesn't simply say "sites that get updated frequently". In many cases, it's easier to just open a page and edit it in a WYSIWYG editor, and then save it. If the frequent updates aren't impacting the navigation and infrastructure in general, then you don't need a CMS to manage the menus and other navigation.

A CONFESSION

I actually used Drupal or Wordpress for almost everything. Why? Once I have drupal installed for one domain, all I need to do to create a new site is register a domain, point it at the server (so same as if I were building a static site), create a database (30 seconds) and one directory named domain.tld (another minute) and voila! I'm live, themed and ready to start writing. Five minutes to personalize the site in the admin backend, and it looks like a whole new site.

DiscoStu




msg:3884138
 4:13 pm on Apr 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thanks for all the great input. Let me clarify a bit:
Currently we're talking about 50-60 sites, but that number is expected to grow. The sites do not need frequent updates, but I need to have the possibility to grow select sites down the road (adding 100 articles to a site for instance). Currently we're looking in to a custom CMS that's looking fairly promising though somewhat pricey.

So the patching thing sounds troublesome. Would an idea be to use dreamweaver to manage the sites (say 100 static 5 page sites that do not need to be updated on a regular basis), and then if I want to expand the content on one or a few of the site significantly, just move those particular sites to a CMS? Thanks

justa




msg:3884158
 4:31 pm on Apr 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

You shouldn't need a custom CMS to get that done, there are plenty of opensource CMS options out there without having to pay anything upfront.

Ergophobe has already mentioned drupal and wordpress but there are a lot more on offer as well.

Get a list of the functionality requirements you have and head over to one of the cms comparison sites to find the best fit.

Keep in mind that a good CMS choice will have documentation and a good user base to help you with any issues along the way.

Added CONFESSION

Me too! Except I use mysource matrix instead of drupal and wordpress for no other reasons then that's what I know. Get domain, add it to the system urls, create the site and BAM! Website!

Swanny007




msg:3884174
 4:58 pm on Apr 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

I didn't realize you could use one drupal installation and run it on multiple domains. I like that idea :-) That certainly changes my view slightly (but not in DiscoStu's case).

My vote is still - keep it simple.... for now. 100 sites each with 5 pages that aren't updated often, it's simple to just publish the html pages. Down the road if you want to add 100 articles, then by all means look at more complicated systems like CMSs, but for now it's overkill IMHO. Ultimately it's your choice though :-)

DiscoStu




msg:3884243
 6:09 pm on Apr 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thanks, think I know how to move forward then...does anyone know if there are any features of dreamweaver specifically for managing many sites?

ergophobe




msg:3884245
 6:10 pm on Apr 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

>>I didn't realize you could use one drupal installation and run it on multiple domains

Since at least version 4.5 (when I first started using it).

The one thing I would say, is for each site, make sure every page is built on a very standard template. If that's the case, it's quite easy using regular expressions to process the pages, grab the title, the body, other elements and inject them into a CMS database down the line. If each page has variation, you'll have to do this by hand.

>> keep it simple

A CMS can be simple. Honestly, if *I* knew *my* project (so this is not advice about *you* and *your* project) was going to grow as large as the one you're talking about, I would probably use some multi-site CMS, but that's just me. I can write custom modules for Drupal for example, but I can't get Dreamweaver to do anything that makes sense. So it's frustrating for me to manage a site like that.

What I typically do is mirror all sites on my local computer. For a site that's only going to have a couple of pages and relatively fixed content, I just build a couple of page, maybe use some simple PHP includes to make it easier to update the template, the navigation and such sitewide, and call it good.

If I have any intention of building more than placeholder content to get the site crawled, I put it on a CMS. Again, that's just me.

If you have *anything* that works for you now, I'd stick with that.

BradleyT




msg:3885349
 7:34 am on Apr 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

If you're going to have a different design for each of the sites then it's probably more work to put them all on a CMS because you have to do extra work to get a design to work in a CMS compared to if you just coded it in dreamweaver.

ergophobe




msg:3885920
 5:27 pm on Apr 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

True again. It only really works if you have a template/theme that you can use over and over with minor changes to the CSS. Otherwise, creating a new theme for each site will be a drag.

dailypress




msg:3888571
 12:39 am on Apr 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

For a few small sites I would use dreamweaver. For your main website which you plan to update more often use a CMS. You can then send traffic from your main website to the smaller ones with much higher CTR and CPC [if thats why you are running smaller websites! ;) ]

Unfortunately I learned the hard way. I had websites over 500 pages that I would update and upload from scratch every once in a while with dreamweaver for the past 3-4 years!

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