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I'd also like to ask experienced web developers if CMS is the best and only way to go?!
CMS comes with constraints because it is fulfilling a general need, not your specific need. The amount of work that is needed to tailor it to your needs will depends on how active the community is and whether there are prebuilt plugins or themes etc or if commercial, what support and updates are provided.
You build it yourself, you have the perfect solution for you. What drives people to CMS? A need to focus on content, a lack of time or skill in coding, visitor authored content, multiple editors/writers (people not software), rapidly updated content e.g. news and plenty more.
The need for customization drives some people to create or hire someone to create a custom built CMS.
What is it that is bothering you about your CMS? If you were more specific perhaps we can give you a more specific answer.
The CMS system used and the customization is such that only a handful of people is available to assist if needed (plus they are not always available "when" needed or wanted). I did not fully understand the extent of this limitation when making the decison to go into a CMS (Coranto).
When I used a web authoring program, there was a huge pool of web designers that could be hired to work on the back end of the site if need be. Or all I had to do is hop over to this or that forum for some assistance.
I did basic web design for several years; small sites for small businesses. When I went out of the web design business, the sites I designed were quickly and easily transferred to another web designer who could work on them with hardly a second thought. Not so with the current set up.
I alone am responsible for the decision to move to a CMS. It is not the web developers fault that I ended up disliking it. But the fact of the matter is that almost on a weekly basis I'm reminded of how independently and efficiently I used to be able to work with a web authoring program. The quirks constantly drive me up the wall.
I have two choices: either stick with it and hope that support becomes more readily available in the future, though I doubt it. Or spend another *several* thousand dollars to have the site redone using a program that a family member can more easily learn.
I currently make in the five figures, so I don't just want to let the site die when I do.
The advantage of joomla or drupal would be if you want to pass the site along to a family member who doesnt have the skills you have, they are much easier to update if the basic structure remains the same and they would have the benefit of the relationship you have built up with contractors in that area.
Going back to a plain site is possible. I haven't done it but there are posts on extracting the pages from the database if you search the archives. It certainly sounds like it would make it easier for you. I am not sure if it will make it easy to pass along to a family member unless they have the skills and you spend time working with them.
>> It sounds like you are doing a lot of backend work whereas a CMS is meant to allow you to focus on content.
You hit the nail on the head. I'm used to doing backend stuff for myself; I can no longer do so.
But even previously simple things like positioning an image flush right now entails manually inserting code in html mode. Changing a navigation link, so easy in FrontPage, is now ellusive. Delete a page in the CMS interface. Nope, it's not really gone...you have to FTP to remove it...it you don't, it may still show up in a site search or rotator. If it has one of those cryptic file names, you may have to open 20 files via FTP before you find it.
A few weeks ago I needed to change an ad. Well it wasn't where the rest of the ads reside (in a news style). Surprise: after 3 1/2 hours I discovered via ftp that it was in an include. If you paid me $1000 today, I couldn't easily find it again.
>> re: plain site - I am not sure if it will make it easy to pass along to a family member unless they have the skills and you spend time working with them.
Yes, my son-in-law, who does web design for a mid-sized governmental agency, uses a web authoring program. If I go back to a "plain" site, it would take little time for him to get up to snuff.
List what WP wouldnt do for you and then look for the closest solution. If you cant live with that, then it may be time for a custom CMS
I was using a web authoring program before having my site put into a CMS. My site contained several hundreds of pages before the change. I managed the entire myself.
Now I can't even make minor changes to my site because I didn't understand any of the backend stuff. That wasn't even a concern when I used a widely used web authoring program. When I got stuck, I could simply go to an online webmaster forum and get immediate help.
If you want more control to the back end of your site, and are willing to learn what it takes to do so, go for it.
If you're happy with WP and don't want to fuss with backend stuff, stick with it. Fortunately, you can get plenty of support if and when you need it.
Just do not, I repeat, do not, get yourself into a situation where less than a handful of people can work on your site.
In my case, I needed specific web 2.0 social networking features, and when I evaluated a few "off the shelf" "CMS-like" packages, they were too general for my needs. Now I'm kind of screwed even before site launch. Does anybody know of easy-to-use PHP authoring software? What an interesting thread. In general where does one go to learn more about these issues?
The good news, though, is that if your data is structured nicely, you're not locked into any system too much. If you can pull the data from your DB and write a script to process it and slide it into a DB that drives another CMS, all is not lost. I don't think you're screwed, though perhaps majorly inconvenienced. That might not be much consolation, but I think the difference is that you can keep using your system until you find a replacement versus feeling like anything you do on your system is time down the drain.
Without knowing your system, I can't say that is the case, but just that with any CMS, it's going to be a lot easier (albeit not necessarily easy) to take the relevant data and change systems than it would be with a bunch of static pages.