If you're a small business owner, then you know how important it is to have a presence on the internet. Web content management allows you to produce a dynamic website without having extensive knowledge of web design or development. This simple web application lets you create, edit and manage your website – no developers required. For the most part these services are all very easy to use. A quick tutorial is all you need to create a site and start adding content.
Web CMS is different from other content management systems because it does not require any downloads and nothing is saved on the local server. You can add text, images, video, audio and more to each web page and it's stored on the host's server. This makes the application available from anywhere that has an internet connection.
In this review site you'll find side-by-side content management system comparisons of some of the best web-based services available on the web. We've also created a detailed review of each service, as well as written articles relating to web content management to help you further understand what a web-based content management system can do for you.
Web Content Management: What to Look For
There are hundreds of web content management systems available. We narrowed the field down by finding services that were geared toward small businesses and were available for under $75 a month – so it will fit your budget as well as your needs. We rated each service based on the following criteria:
A web content management system needs to be easy to use. Drag and drop editing makes it simple to put content where you want it, WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editing lets you see what your site visitors will see as you create and page templates give you a great start on your site. Some services allow users to edit or add their own CSS properties and HTML elements for even more control over their site. We also checked each service to see what kind of modules they could add to your site. Each one of these elements will make it easier for the editor to add and manage content.
Search Engine Optimization
It does you no good to have a website if no one can find it. The best CMS systems shouldn't require a technical background and they shouldn't require extensive SEO training. Built-in search engine optimization features are preferred because they will help the editor tailor their site to those who might be looking for it.
A web content management system needs to give you plenty of room for you to add and manage content on your site. In this section we took note of how much bandwidth each service provided, how much file storage they give you and how many pages, sites, editors and email accounts they allow in the plan we selected.
Security is very important in the online world. If the CMS service is not secure, you could lose time, money and even your identity. Automated backups keep your work safe, even if your computer crashes. Some services allow you to set various user roles, so certain editors aren't given as much access as others. A staging mode or sandbox allows you to test your changes before you actually put them on the site, and the SSL certificate lets your site visitors feel safe and secure when they're entering information on your site.
Help & Support
Since these web content management systems are geared toward those people without a web programming background, it's important that the company hosting the site provide plenty of information and support. A readily available and informative customer support team can make or break any content management system. Tutorials are helpful to get things started, but being able to contact actual people within the company with specific questions while using the service is essential.
Using the aforementioned criteria, we found Weebly, Squarespace and Wix Premium to be the best web content management services available. Each one of these CMS services are easy to use, and they include a variety of useful tools to help you better create a site that's attractive and easy to navigate.
Web content management can be intimidating if you've never done it before. Squarespace makes managing content on a website easy. It has a simple interface that gives you almost complete control over the headlines, text, images, videos, links and anything else that appears on your site. It takes almost no training at all to create eye-catching layouts and a user-friendly site design when using Squarespace.
The design of the web content management system is fairly straightforward. On the top left there is a "Website Management" button that will open a drop-down menu with a variety of administrator page options. You can also click on the icons in the right corner and quickly edit content, structure and style. And you can click on the eye icon to preview what your site will look like before you save the changes. Plus, if all else fails, the help button is always available in the top right corner as well.
Drag-and-drop editing lets you pull content to whatever area of the page you wish. This web content management service also offers WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editing so you can see your site exactly how the visitors would see it as you make changes. This is a huge timesaver in web editing – you don't have to go back and forth between editing and previewing with every little change you make.
You can upload multiple files at one time to the image and document library. These files can be organized and added to any page on your site. This can help save you the time you would have spent finding and uploading each file individually. You can also import information directly from any website to yours by copying and pasting the URL.
Squarespace offers a variety of attractive templates to help you get started. You can alter every design element of these templates to make them your own. This web content management service also offers custom CSS for advanced users, so you can have even more control over the look of your site. In fact, you can edit your site by using the WYSIWYG editor or by working with the raw HTML.
Adding a form to a page on your website can help you collect data about your site. You can set up a simple contact form or you can even make the form into a job application. This data will be sent to you via email or it can be sent directly to Excel files in your storage area. This kind of feedback is essential to creating a site and a product that satisfy your customer.
Squarespace does not have a calendar feature yet, but they told us that it is in development. In the meantime, however, they suggest using a third-party service such as Google Calendar and embedding that code in your site. Being able to embed external HTML code into your Squarespace site is another positive feature of this web content management service.
This web content management service does not have a built-in shopping cart feature, but, once again, you can add third-party links by embedding HTML. However, you need to take note that Squarespace doesn’t provide SSL security for third-party merchant services. That kind of security needs to be arranged through the merchant service provider.
In case you're prone to spelling mistakes, Squarespace offers a built-in spell checker. This allows you to compose your text directly in the application without having to type it out and check it in another word processor beforehand.
Squarespace also has a variety of widget options. The RSS widget of this web content management service allows you to import almost any RSS feed into your site. You can also use the Widget Display Configuration section to determine how the feed will appear on your site.
Squarespace is prepared for search engines. This web application features clean XHTML, a customizable domain name and generated metatags. It doesn't allow you to manage these tags, however. Additionally, this web CMS doesn't really offer any type of SEO analysis, but it does have an extensive learning center article about increasing your site's visibility and optimizing your site. This article on search engine optimization will be very helpful for any business owners who want to improve their search engine ranking and get more traffic to their site.
We rated this service based on the Business Package and found it to be exceptional in the various capacities they offer their users. This plan offers unlimited bandwidth, unlimited file storage and an unlimited number of editors with an unlimited amount of email accounts. You can only upload 20MB at a time, but that should be more than enough for the majority of files you'll want on the site, and if you have files larger than 20MB, you can upload them in pieces.
While we mentioned that Squarespace web content management services don't offer SSL security for third-party merchant sites, you can enable SSL in the website manager. This gives extra security to administrators and is only available with the Business Package. You can also password protect certain areas of your site from unwanted visitors, and set-up user roles so that only authorized users can change certain content. However, if someone does make a change, they can always preview it in the staging mode before they actually publish it.
When you begin using Squarespace, there is an overview video to help you get started. The video itself is a little small to see all the details, but it's still helpful. There are also training videos on Content Mode, Structure Mode, Style Editing, Administration and more. These videos almost seem unnecessary, however, because the application is so user-friendly.
The customer support page for Squarespace is, in a word, amazing. We used their search feature on the FAQs page to look for answers to a variety of questions and were surprised with how accurately and thoroughly our questions were answered. Squarespace has done a good job in making sure their customers can find the information they need. If you need additional help, they don't have telephone support, but you can submit a support ticket and they will respond within 24 hours.
Putting content on a site and maintaining that site doesn't have to be a chore. When you use a web content management system like Squarespace, you can create a website that looks like it was created by a professional web designer without having to hire a professional web designer. The interface is easy to use and the customer support is very impressive. This is a high-quality web content management service that will get you results.
Not only is Wix Premium easy to use, but we might even go as far to say that it's fun to use. This web content management service makes creating a website for your business enjoyable. It offers a variety of helpful tools and an exceptional support system. It has some security issues that we would like adjusted, but we are happy to say that Wix Premium is our Top Ten Reviews Bronze Award winner.
Even if you have no background in website design, you'll catch on quickly when using this web content management system. They have a variety of eye-pleasing templates that you can choose and then make your own. You can adjust the size of the template, the colors, the number of columns or sections and you can add a variety of text boxes, pictures, video, music and other modules. After you have created a template that's to your liking, you can save it for future use on other pages.
You can upload your files to Wix Premium's site one at a time or in a group. These files are then stored in a cloud-based library that you can access at any time to add content to your site. You can also import files from another website. Then, once you get all the text and images on your page, you can use the WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editing to see the same thing the visitors to your site will see as you adjust the content and design.
If needed, you can add a form widget to your site that will help you gather valuable data about your visitors. You can also add a Google calendar to any page so that you can keep visitors updated about upcoming events and recurring events. If you plan on selling things on your site, you just have to add the "Wix eCommerce shipping cart" widget to a page. It's that easy. This web content management service doesn't have a built-in spell checker, though, so you'll have to either compose your documents in a separate word processor, or rely on the spell checker feature of your internet browser.
Wix Premium understands the importance of SEO. They have an entire support page devoted to search engine optimization. On this page they have tips on how to improve your site, goals you should try to attain and instructional videos on the SEO process. For example, it shows you how to change your site title, the description and the metadata to help your page get noticed by web crawlers. Another unique feature of this web content management service is that they warn you about illegitimate SEO techniques that could be harmful to your site.
There isn't really a built-in SEO analysis feature in Wix Premium, but you can use Google Analytics to track visitors, page views, keywords that visitors are using to find your site and more. These web content management tools will help your site rank better in search engines and will get your company noticed. As Wix Premium states, they "constantly develop Wix to remain on the cutting edge of SEO."
The Wix Premium Unlimited package offers unlimited bandwidth, an unlimited number of pages, an unlimited number of sites, but only 2.5GB of storage space. This should be enough for most businesses, but it seems odd to have a limit in an "Unlimited" plan. Wix does not offer email services and they don't host email accounts, but you can connect to Wix through other accounts such as Gmail and Yahoo.
This is the one area where we felt this web content management service needed some improvement. They do offer a sandbox where you can preview changes before you actually publish them, which is nice, but you have to manually back up your site periodically and SSL doesn't work with Wix. However, if you direct your visitors to a PayPal site to make purchases, that site will be secure.
The support page for Wix Premium is very impressive. This web content management service offers everything you need (except for a phone number) to answer your questions. They have an "Ask a Question" field that works as a search feature for the FAQs page of the site. This feature was very helpful in answering our questions, and almost every answer was accompanied by a tutorial video or expanded article. There's also a forum where you can ask questions and get answers from the community of people using Wix.
We were very impressed with this web content management system. It has a user-friendly interface that can make almost every user feel like a web designing pro. It would be better if this service had automated backups and could offer SSL security, but we still feel that most users would be satisfied with their services. Wix Premium is an enjoyable way to add, edit and manage content on your site.
Weebly Pro is a user-friendly web CMS service that will help you add, edit and manage content on your site. This web content management system offers a simple to use interface along with plenty of space to store your files. They're average when it comes to search engine optimization and they don't offer as much security as other services, but this is still one of the best web content management systems we reviewed.
As you begin to use the site, helpful text bubbles will pop up and guide you along the process. However, Weebly Pro is so easy to use that you may not even need these helps. Simply drag and drop the content you want where you want it. You can choose from a paragraph, a picture, a title, a video, audio, a contact form and more. After positioning the text box or image on the page, you can adjust it and resize it, depending on your needs.
You can also make changes to the navigation of your site by dragging and dropping. This makes it easy to organize pages and subpages in relation to one another. This web content management service can also password protect certain pages to prevent unauthorized users from viewing the content on that page.
We were unable to find a built-in spell checking feature, so you'll want to create your written content in an external word processor. We also were unable to find a way to add a calendar of events to your page. But Weebly Pro allows you to embed videos and documents on the page without any problems, so you could feasibly post your own calendar document or make a video about upcoming events.
This web content management service gives you website stats, which could function as a sort of SEO analysis, but no suggestions or real analysis is offered. There is, however, an option to manage metadata and adjust the header and footer code. You can customize your URL, but if you want to register a new domain, you can purchase them through the Weebly Pro site.
You get 10 sites per account when using Weebly Pro. This web content management service allows you to upload 100MB files, which is one of the highest upload limits we found in our review. Weebly Pro also allows your visitors to send images, documents or other files to you. Additionally, you get unlimited bandwidth, unlimited file storage and an unlimited amount of pages. However, currently it only allows for one editor.
As you make changes, you can preview them before you publish them. Your work is saved as you go, but there is no history of backups that you can revert to if something goes wrong. They don't offer an SSL certificate, but if you lead your visitors to an eCommerce site, such as PayPal or Google Checkout, then those sites will be secured anyway.
Weebly Pro is very fast at answering emails. We asked them a number of questions and were quite impressed with how fast they got back to us and how helpful they were. Their frequently asked question page could use a search feature, but if you can't find the question you're looking for, you can always submit a request for assistance.
This web content management service helps you along as you create your website and add content. The informative text bubbles will help you get the hang of site creation and management in no time. Weebly Pro will work for business professionals who want to promote their product or for casual users who want to create dynamic webpages for their own benefit.
GoDaddy Website Tonight Review
GoDaddy is known as the "world's largest domain name registrar," but it is only average when it comes to web content management systems. GoDaddy Website Tonight gives you an excellent start on creating a website and it has numerous tools to help manage content, but it doesn't offer much in the way of search engine optimization, which is essential when you're trying to get your website noticed.
Website Tonight offers a large gallery of over 8,000 images for you to use on your site. Having professional-quality photos at your fingertips is a great way to help your site look its best. You can also upload your own images one at a time or in large groups, using GoDaddy's multiple file uploader.
We were unable to find a built-in spell check; however, most internet browsers have an automatic spell check and you can always compose your text in a separate word processor before adding it to the page. This is a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor, so as you make changes to your text or images, you'll see how it will look to visitors.
The SEO capabilities of this web content management service were a little vague. They do offer customizable URLs and site statistics, but there didn't seem to be much in the way of SEO analysis or suggestions. Also, we were unable to manipulate the metadata or figure out how to incorporate Google Analytics into our site. We live in a time where search engine optimization is the key to success for any new site, so we were disappointed to see the lack of attention GoDaddy has given it.
While many other web CMS services offer unlimited plans, GoDaddy Website Tonight is, in fact, limited. They offer 1000GB bandwidth, 50GB disk space, a 999-page limit, 1000 email accounts and a maximum upload size of 10MB. In all honesty, this should be more than enough for most small business websites, but it pales in comparison to the unlimited amounts offered by some other web content management services.
Website Tonight allows you to manually backup your site periodically. You have a limited amount of space and once that limit is reached you'll have to delete some backup files. No automated backups are offered. They also don't seem to offer the ability to assign various user roles so that you can limit how many changes different users can make. But they do have a staging mode where you can test changes and they also offer an SSL certificate.
You can contact GoDaddy customer support 24/7 by email or by phone. They responded very quickly to our email inquiries, though instead of answering our questions directly they sent us a 17-page PDF file to review. Their FAQs page is searchable and you can view the "Product Tour" to learn how to use Website Tonight effectively. Overall we were pleased with the customer support that this web content management service offers.
A web content management system needs to allow users to easily add content to a site and then maintain that content. They also need to give the creators of those sites tools to help get their site noticed. GoDaddy Website Tonight does a good job of enabling people to create interesting sites, but they need to work on their search engine optimization tips and techniques.