Influential Web Publication Touts Database-Backed Web Sites
Steven Garrity writing in A List Apart makes a compelling argument for equiping businesses with content management systems. CTDATA has been building database-driven Web Sites, like the ones he describes, since 1998. Unfortunately, we are still having some difficulty getting all of our customers (particularly small and medium-sized businesses) to come to this conclusion themselves.
One of the reasons that content management has not become mass market is that the tools available are either extremely complex and expensive (like Vignette and Interwoven) or quite simple and free (like Blogger). There are very few content management tools that are good for general purpose Web Site design, inexpensive, and well known.
We feel that the value of content management systems is so great that clients ought to seek ways to adapt their Web Sites to user interfaces that are easily produced in low-end content management systems. In the case of tools like Blogger, Userland Manila, and Slashcode, that means producing a site that has the look and feel of a Weblog. This is possible, but it takes a mindset change from most people in small companies tasked with maintaining the corporate Web Site.
In reading the article from A List Apart and thinking it through, an idea articulated in Cluetrain Manifesto comes to mind: Markets are conversations. Instead of putting a picture of the latest widget on the corporate Web Site, most companies would be better off publishing a description of how that widget was used to solve a business problem. Then another, and another.