Please be gentle, as this is my first review of any description.
I was looking for a way to keep my customer's current site design and formatting, but give them more control over the content. I had trialed a Fully CMS site with Joomla and it was absolute overkill. All I needed was something to allow my customer the ability to edit the text in certain sections of each page on their site.
I thought that there must surely be something out there that would take a static HTML existing site and make it editable using a CMS.
Through these forums I was put onto Surreal CMS.
How it works - in a nut shell:
You sign up with the existing sites you own/manage & want to use in their system, by inputting ftp access data.
Their CMS through the ftp connection works out which pages are on the site and adds them to their system under your log in.
You go into each page and use class="editable" tags in the sections of code (e.g div or td) that you want your customer to have access to. To make this easier there are also tags to label these editable regions, using title or id attributes in the same sections.
You set up user accounts for your customer and customise how much editing ability they have.
When they log in they see a list of pages from their site, click on a page, then they see a heap of tabs for the content regions on their page which open up an editing field with WYSIWYG editing tools.
When they are done they click publish to web and it is done.
It gives control of any content you choose including text and images.
You can manage up to 3 sites for free, then it costs $30 a month which allows you to manage as many sites as you want. The money spinner is that you can charge your customers a monthly fee, say $10 a month, for the privilege of having a CMS. Once you get to 3 sites, its already paying for itself before you spend any money.
This system is great. It is so simple, and I love simple systems. The hardest part is putting in the editable and title or id tags, which is extremely easy.
There are a few region tags which you cannot make editable, such as a whole table or a tr, but I would rather not give my customers that much power to destroy the site anyway.
One thing to keep in mind if you use an editing tool such as Dreamweaver; make sure you ftp a current copy of the code from the host before you start working as opposed to using what Dreamweaver has stored locally on your machine. Designer usability gets 10 out of 10!
Usability for the content manager:
My customer has basically no computer skills beyond the basics of email, web browsing and office products. They did find it difficult to use at first, but found it easier to access and use than their Joomla site.
Once we worked out which editing tools they needed, things ran very smoothly.
The customer has now edited several regions of several pages without any major issues and the site formatting still looks great. CM Usability gets 9 out of 10.
I think this is a great lightweight CMS that will transform your current static HTML site into a great CMS site. Give the power back to your customer to edit their content freeing up your time and theirs, it saves them money while it makes money for you.
The system is so simple to set up that a web design newbie could do it.
The editing suite with WYSIWYG editor is up to the task and tabbed editing sections makes it more workable for the content manager. Overall I give it a 9 out of 10.
I hope this review helps someone.
[edited by: ergophobe at 7:45 pm (utc) on Mar 17, 2010]
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