Apartment Hunting and Choosing a CMS Are Alike

May 1, 2012
Current small apartment

First posted on March 10, 2009

But, Still Very Applicable to Now in Choosing a Website Foundation

I’m currently looking for a new apartment in the south Taipei suburbs. It’s gotten to the point that the current place is too small, too noisy, not enough value for the money spent and frankly not what’s desired or needed for my business and personal lifestyle.

Simply put, my current apartment can’t grow or adapt to my needs or wants because it’s static and unchangeable.

For very similar reasons a website can feel outgrown or stuck.

Have A Solid Infrastructure or Wither Away

My current apartment is like a cobbled together website. A little bit of everything thrown together with a little magic glue to barely meet, or not, everyday needs. At some point, it just can’t grow or change with you anymore.

In a content management system or CMS, infrastructure is quite important. It’s important to look at and understand how the underlying systems built up to support your needs for size, scalability, value and ever growing and changing needs.

If your CMS can’t adapt to tomorrow’s needs, how can it grow and help your business grow as well?

Location, Location, Location – Pick One Thoughtfully

In looking for a new place to live, location is playing a very important part.

At present, Peichi and I have either a 10-minute shuttle bus ride or a 15-minute walk to a subway station that then takes another 20 to 25 minutes to Taipei Main Station, 台北車站. Even if not traveling into Taipei itself, we still have to walk 15-minutes for decent sit-down meal options, 25-minutes to shop at a grocery store and 35-minutes to a Carrefour. With these distances, we’re spending valuable time and hard-earned money taking care of basic life necessities several times a week.

In moving to Linkou, 林口, it’s a planned city, we’re drastically reducing our everyday commuting times by being centrally located to restuarants, shops and being just above a Carrefour. Our commute into Taipei Main Station will be a simple and single 25 to 35 minute bus ride with only a 10 Taiwanese dollar increase, about $ 0.25.

Locality in a CMS?

A website content management system has similar location issues to deal with, I consider it the user interface and its usability.

Generally, a website that’s been cobbled together or even a content management system that’s not meant to handle what you’re using it for, will actually force you to spend extra time and effort to accomplish simple tasks.

Do you really need to call a development company every time you want to update a paragraph or to add a page to the main or left navigation?

You Want Me To Add A New Page To The Website?

For well built content management systems, these operations are a no-brainer: login, click a icon where you want to add the page, name the page, add content, review and it’s live.

Time needed depends upon whether you copied and pasted from a Word document or typed in the content fresh, a couple of minutes to twenty minutes.

No matter what, the CMS user interface should support how you work and not force you to do things it’s way.

Just like when I want some fried boneless chicken niblets, I don’t want to trek to the other side of the district for something that’s considered street food.

Got Value?

Our current apartment is 10 ping, about 350 hundred square feet. It’s small by American standards and barely acceptably priced at 18,000 Taiwanese dollars, about $ 517 US. By changing to an apartment that’s a better fit for us, we’re quadrupling our space to 44 ping and paying barely $ 60 US more for monthly rent.

Website Value

For your website, is it really delivering value for the money spent on it? Ways to tell.

  • Is the monthly hosting fee really reasonable for the web space and bandwidth?
  • Are you spending more on the web developer every month than your advertising?
  • When was the last time your website was directly responsible for a sales lead?
  • Is the annual license or service contract more than your monthly salary?
  • Can you quickly edit content and add new pages without a computer science degree?

Only you can really answer if your website is valuable to you, but to get started, I suggest using metrics like asking clients and employees what they think of using your website.

Be prepared for some ugly responses though. We sometimes need to ask these questions to clear up our rose colored glasses.

Looking Deeper

In looking at Peichi’s and my housing needs, we determined that what was thought to be important regarding having an apartment in Taipei was false. Furthermore, we found ourselves to be unhappy with our apartment because we didn’t have the space to have more than 1 or 2 small children over or to handle our daily responsibilities without interrupting each other.

We’ve found that we needed more privacy than current, a balcony to get our garden growing again and a place for guests to visit and stay over without feeling like they’re intruding upon us.

For a website, is it really providing a solution for your needs like the following?

  • We need to educate our audience
  • We need to provide value to our clients
  • We need to obtain information from our visitors
  • We need to engage our community

If not, check out the various content management systems out there, like TYPO3 and Drupal and pick one or a few that meets your needs and give them a try.

Just please don’t pick one and go all in without a little reality check demonstration. Ask for help from your staff and even clients.

Every content management system has quirks and best fits. It’s just like renting a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom apartment; sure they’re all 3 bedrooms and 2 baths, but how big, how small, how stinky and why is there storage cabinet in the shower.

Let’s Go Shopping

Before stepping outside or onto the Internet, do try to determine at least your top needs before you begin looking around for an apartment and content management system and modify your list as you go.

Getting all of your needs down will come along as you do research. For now, just get started seeing what the content management system world has to offer.

In shopping around you’ll see things you didn’t think of and even find out sometimes what you thought was important isn’t.

Points to Remember

  • Does the CMS have a flexible infrastructure?
  • Is the CMS usable by employees, clients and site visitors?
  • Can content editors feel comfortable editing the website with less than an hours training?
  • Are you website maintenance costs reasonable?
  • Think about what your real needs are, revise them as you learn more.

Read more on what we consider highlights of a quality content management system.

PS: We’ve got two last strong apartment possibilities lined up. Boy it’s tough to choose. 15th floor and already to go or a 4th floor bare bones that we can build out and buy in a couple of years. Only 2,000 TWD monthly price difference. What’s the questions we should be asking to make that final choice?

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