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Web Content Management Basics

Content management systems

The concept of web content management covers everything from an airline's online booking system to a university's archives. But it's not just large companies and institutions that need good web content management. Small businesses need to employ good practice just as much, if not more. This page gives some tips for good web content management on a smaller scale.

Storage space

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You will need somewhere to host your web pages online. How much online storage space you need depends on how much information you need to include in your site. Think about why you are creating a website. Is it just to make sure that people can find information about your company when searching online? Or do you want customers to be able to actually purchase your products online? For a purely informational site, you will probably only need the minimum amount of web space (about 5MB). If you want secure (encrypted) online shopping, you will probably need at least 25MB.

Hosting

Many ISPs (Internet Service Providers) offer between 5MB and 15MB of web space free to their customers. However, most ISPs recoup their costs for the "free" service by placing banner advertisements on their customers' pages. This can be distracting for customers, so companies that want a professional, streamlined look for their sites usually end up paying for hosting. If you want less than 15MB web space, you may get it for as little as £5 a month. Many hosting providers offer discounts on domain names when you buy the hosting. Shop around and ask as many people as possible for hosting recommendations before making your decision.

Offline storage

However, web content management isn't just about where you keep your information online. Web pages need to have offline equivalents and back-ups. A complex, searchable site will be powered by a sturdy database, but even the simplest web page will be stored offline too. At the very least, you should keep copies of the HTML files for each web page. Then, if the worst happens and your hosting company loses all your files in a server crash, you will be able to reload them. See our page on web site content management for more about storing offline information.

Design

The golden rule for a small business is to keep it simple. If you're handling the whole thing yourself, don't try to run before you can walk. A simple, clutter-free site is

much better than an over-designed, fussy-looking one. Err on the side of plainness, and when in doubt, leave it out.

The above information is just a short introduction to web content management for small businesses. The rest of the site should help you with other aspects of content management, as well as giving tips for larger businesses.