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We're continuing to sharpen/solidify our practices behind the scenes, and look for ways to expedite the building of new sites. There's any number of content management systems out there - we've even built our own in ColdFusion for one publishing project, but I have several concerns about re-using it (including scalability, the long-term viability of CF compared to PHP or ASP, the server load it can handle on the higher ends, the expense of designing a user-friendly back-end with documentation, and so on).
What do you use, and why?
I'm very, very hesitant to suggest you use any prebuilt content management systems unless they only exist on the backend. While a very good site can have a cookie-cutter front end, a great site should have its own custom layout, feel, and operation.
a great site should have its own custom layout, feel, and operation.
Exactly! That's why we're looking for something to automate some of the grunt work, but allow us flexibility to change the design based on usability testing or other client requirements, maintenance, and the like.
Many of the CMS's I see out there (especially in the PHP field) are very locked-in, very difficult to design around. But I know that having the all the relevant data in a database, for example, would allow us maximum flexibility for designing. Yet it seems foolish to spend the time creating our own system to do so - there must be pre-build things that others are using?
Meanwhile I'm re-evaluating software like Dreamweaver/GoLive/Ektron to see if there's efficiencies to be found there...
your main concerns in CMS should be at two levels
CMS limited to admin
or CMS for end users with many admin levels
the first one is easy and many existing system
for instance the last 1.6 tiki does a great job
note I said 1.6 not 1.5
the second one calls for custom made