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James
Posts:1757
Moderator
Member since: 2006-11-29
:: Quote ::
Subject: CMS thoughs
I must be bored at the moment - I am contemplating embarking on the learning curve of one of these. But having had a play with Joomla and a brief look at Drupal I'm not entirely sure they will do what I want, and I'm fairly sure they might cuase me problems with keeping my pages indexed.

I can see the advantages of a CMS. My site is old now, and a fair amount of pages that haven't been properly updated to whatever layout ideas I currently have at any point in time. Also, it's a bit like wandering round in the attic - not sure what you have, or what you will find. So a CMS would certainly help me tidy the attic, and integrate new ideas now and in the future easier.

Firsly, as far as I can see with Joomla is that it's rather wordpress-a-like in that what you end up with is a little like a blog. I'm not looking to have my site be a blog, but a straightforward index page with sections. I guess you can do that if you spend the time learning it. Drupal promised more flexibility, but wouldn't install on my localhost. But I guess if I persevered it would run somehow or other.

I don't like a lot of the themes available - especially the ones that have a fixed width and blanks at the sides. Currently, my site just expands and contracts to fit whatever shape or resolution the viewer has because it's very simple html. So my first question would be is it possible to easily design your own layouts for pages, and use the functionality of the chosen CMS to manage the content? I'm really looking to replecate the look and feel of the existing version of the site to a great extent. Obviously I want to make some changes, bring all pages in line with the standard layouts, and organise things a bit better, but the layout is critical to if I embark on the learnign curve or not.

The other concern I have is that as an old site, there are many bookmarks to it scattered around, plus the pages have good index positions in Google. I guess that all of the pages will go from /faq/about.htm to something daft like xxx.php?kl8555454sdn. So what happens here with existing bookmarks, and links within the site? Do you have to go and put 301 redirects on every single page? Also, would the links be permanent in that as you add content to the cms, does the cms change url's and mess up your links, or are they fixed?

I'd really like to get to grips with a cms, but at the moment I'm at the bottom of a steep precipice of a learning curve looking up at it. It's a bit daunting, but if it will do what I want (make a non-blog website) then it might be worth the investment in time. But if it meanst I lose all of my page rankins even if I get to grips with it, that is another concern.

I'd really welscome some input on this. Thanks
August 01, 2009 03:05PM
DamonHD
Posts:6158
Moderator
Member since: 2006-11-30
:: Quote ::
Subject: Re: CMS thoughs
I'm afraid that I've ducked learning about 3rd-party CMSes by writing my own comprehensive one for my main site, or very skeletal script-driven ones for my microsites.

In the latter case, I write my body text as the core of the HTML body and then have scripts wrap on headers and footers including nav links etc. It's very very simple but it saves a huge amount of effort. One script change can radically alter many things, and I can regenerate the pages at any time within a few seconds.
Now that you are in the wonderful world of Linux such an approach is open to you.

Not sure how much help that is to you though.

Rgds

Damon
August 01, 2009 03:49PM
GegaBit
Posts:3311
Senior member
Member since: 2006-11-30
:: Quote ::
Subject: Re: CMS thoughs
So far you have 2 main issues, the page naming and the custom template, I see no reason why maintaining current directory structure it is not doable, as for page naming I am also more than sure there are "seo frienly" page name plugins for both packages Jo. The concerns would be more related to how much those load the server as well as making sure your installation is secure and regularly updated. As for the custom template to match your current layout, probably it will be child play for you.
August 01, 2009 04:32PM
Joshua
Posts:2831
Administrator
Member since: 2007-03-16
:: Quote ::
Subject: Re: CMS thoughs
When choosing Drupal layout should be the last of your concerns. The BBC uses it as well as MTV, Sony, Obama and others. It can look the way you want to. Page naming also isn't an issue (but you have to put them in once).

As I'm specializing in Drupal installations I may be biased, but I also recognize it's not the easiest, but in the end the most flexible package.
August 01, 2009 10:45PM
Harold
Posts:2494
Senior member
Member since: 2006-11-30
:: Quote ::
Subject: Re: CMS thoughs
Very interesting. James, you have put into words exactly MY situation and my concerns! I've got a 300-page hand-built site and it's just not a good idea to continue as is, but how to transition to a CMS?

Thanks to Damon, GB, and Joshua for responses. For me, at least, scripts are not the road. I'm not a programmer, no matter how you define the term! Perhaps that would work for James....
August 02, 2009 12:11AM
Ian C. Purdie
Posts:2220
Senior member
Member since: 2008-12-12
:: Quote ::
Subject: Re: CMS thoughs
I'm superficially looking at Drupal but I can't immediately grasp what advantage, if any, it would give me.
August 02, 2009 12:31AM
James
Posts:1757
Moderator
Member since: 2006-11-29
:: Quote ::
Subject: Re: CMS thoughs
Well, I've been having a play with Joomla. Thanks to some excellent tutorials from YouTube I have managed to construct a basic template that mimicks my own front page. It's not that hard actually - use a few <div> tags and standard css to make the page layout and then plonk in a few commands so that the <div> holds a module, or image etc. The page wraps in different sizes of window as does my current page. I'm having a problem with standardising font colours and sizes, but no doubt that can be beaten into shape with some time spent on it. I can see that it would be possible to replecate the site as is, and make it easier to change in the future given time. I know you can get it to produce seo friendly url's and keep a structure like it currently is.

The difficulty (for me) is that at the end of the day, I'd end up with a copy of what I currently have now, but with page extensions of .php. I'd then have to 301 redirect all pages. It strikes me as hundreds of hours to replecate my existing site. I think the time would be better invested in tidying up the old attic, and clearing out the junk. That's an exercise I'd have to do in addition to rewriting the site. So I think I will not replecate my site on a cms as there are not enough benefits for the work involved. According to the website grader posted in this forum recently, I have 947 pages indexed on Google. I think some of those are no longer in use but still indexed, but either way, it's a lot of pages to transfer to cms and re-index. So although I do still like the idea of transferring the site, I'm going to try and tidy the attic instead.

What I probably will do is continue learning Joomla, and maybe transfer one of the minor sites associated as an experiment. If I was starting a new site, especially one I expected to grow over time then cms would be the way without a doubt.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/02/2009 09:07AM by James.
August 02, 2009 09:04AM
GegaBit
Posts:3311
Senior member
Member since: 2006-11-30
:: Quote ::
Subject: Re: CMS thoughs
Perhaps you could invest a month's worth of earnings in hiring a freelancer to do all the conversion work for you..
August 02, 2009 09:43AM
DamonHD
Posts:6158
Moderator
Member since: 2006-11-30
:: Quote ::
Subject: Re: CMS thoughs
Remember that J is probably for hire provided that your target is Drupal! B^>

Rgds

Damon
August 02, 2009 10:11AM
Joshua
Posts:2831
Administrator
Member since: 2007-03-16
:: Quote ::
Subject: Re: CMS thoughs
Don't forget when most of your pages are static it's probably easier to use a few scripts to throw the site structure around your content than it is to maintain a full blown cms.

Static pages are faster.

A CMS needs updates.

A CMS can get you into troubles when modifying the wrong (core) files.

Making back-ups is more work as all your data resides in a (on-line) database.

HTML is a standard. Each CMS comes with it's own set of rules / templating system.

With a lot of hosts I find that the database engine is more often off-line than the apache server.

BTW. I wouldn't change the file names. Just have the .htm parsed as PHP (when allowed by your host).
August 02, 2009 12:21PM
Joshua
Posts:2831
Administrator
Member since: 2007-03-16
:: Quote ::
Subject: Re: CMS thoughs
Quote:
I'm superficially looking at Drupal but I can't immediately grasp what advantage, if any, it would give me.

Maybe not for you. But take a look at the following list to get an idea of who uses Drupal.
[egressive.com]
August 02, 2009 12:33PM
James
Posts:1757
Moderator
Member since: 2006-11-29
:: Quote ::
Subject: Re: CMS thoughs
Quote:
Remember that J is probably for hire provided that your target is Drupal!

Nice idea!!!!

Trouble is, that although I do all the work on the site to earn the money, it's "Joint income", and as any married man knows that means only one thing - she spends it. My wife honestly moans about me paying for web hosting. She seems to think it would be sufficient to use a freebie host!!!! At the moment all the "Joint" income has been allocated to paying for our recent trip to the USA, but I do like the idea of hiring someone in to do what I am crap at. I honestly would like to spend a month or two of the income on hiring a proper web designer to make up some page templates and do me some graphics. But I can imagine that conversation:-

"I want to spend some money on getting a web designer to pretty-up my pages."

"How much will that cost?"

"Erm - a couple of months income maybe."

"WHAT!!!! You know we still have ***** to pay for, and you want to waste money on THAT??? How much extra will it earn us?"

"Erm - probably nothing, but the site WILL look VERY pretty!"

I think you can guess the rest of the conversation......
August 02, 2009 05:58PM
DamonHD
Posts:6158
Moderator
Member since: 2006-11-30
:: Quote ::
Subject: Re: CMS thoughs
Suggest the improved return on capital, ie speculate to accumulate.

Having spent my entire life freelance I do find it amazing that people cannot see that it you don't risk or invest anything significant then you can't expect anything other than mediocre returns at best...

Rgds

Damon
August 02, 2009 06:36PM
Joshua
Posts:2831
Administrator
Member since: 2007-03-16
:: Quote ::
Subject: Re: CMS thoughs
Quote:
Trouble is, that although I do all the work on the site to earn the money, it's "Joint income", and as any married man knows that means only one thing - she spends it. My wife honestly moans about me paying for web hosting. She seems to think it would be sufficient to use a freebie host!!!!

When my wife crashed her car a few weeks back she more or less asked if we could afford another. I told her she could take mine (as I'm at home most of the time). Now she's unhappy as my car is "too" big. I had a paid job last week and went home soaking wet because she had the car. Anyway Damon can do without a car. Most families can do with one, why should we need two? At least for most things she asks if we can afford it.

(luckily for me she doesn't have any insight in my business account)
August 02, 2009 06:56PM
Joshua
Posts:2831
Administrator
Member since: 2007-03-16
:: Quote ::
Subject: Re: CMS thoughs
Back to the topic of this thread. In my opinion when you have a site with up-to, let's say 1000 pages, Drupal might be a bit heavy, depending on your growth plans.

I see Drupal as a content management framework, not system. It's unlikely to get a complete site running with Drupal within a few days (more probably weeks) work.

If the needs are limited Wordpress and a-likes are probably more than likely enough to fulfill your needs.

(Drupal is also trying to get the package more user friendly to reach a bigger user base)

Problem with Drupal often is that it gives you ten different ways to achieve the same, but with a very consistent way of doing so. If you abuse this "freedom" you end up with a mess. But done correctly you can scale up to multiple server configurations and very large sites like in the list mentioned before.
August 02, 2009 07:16PM

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