Among the many ways that the Web has served as an equalizer, one of the most obvious is that the size of a company has almost no bearing on the face that it presents on the Web. In fact, when it comes to Web sites and managing the content on them, the needs of small and midsize businesses often outstrip those of much bigger businesses.
To see how a companys size has very little impact on the robustness and richness of its Web site, compare the online presence of popular specialty electronics retailers or small community banks or your local independent newspaper to the sites of, say, a very large manufacturer. Its pretty much a guarantee that these smaller companies have more complex and highly capable sites.
Not that content management vendors have made it easy for these smaller companies. Until fairly recently, SMBs had to spend extravagantly on high-end Web content management options from Documentum (now owned by EMC Corp.) and Vignette Corp., make do with inexpensive but limiting low-end products, or use standard Web development tools and forgo content management capabilities altogether.
Luckily, SMBs with high-end Web content management needs now have a variety of well-tailored options from which to choose, both through greater capability in midtier commercial products and the continued maturity of some extremely capable open-source platforms.
In fact, one of the best options that eWEEK Labs has seen for SMBs with high-end content management needs—including powerful workflow, strong content controls and solid content recovery capabilities—is the open-source Bricolage (www.bricolage.cc), which rivals high-end products when it comes to richness of features and capabilities. Other excellent open-source options include Plone (plone.org) and Magnolia (www.magnolia.info).
There are also many choices for SMBs that prefer to go the commercial route. Midtier products that will meet the needs of businesses with busy, complex and content-rich Web sites include PaperThin Inc.s CommonSpot (www.paperthin.com), FatWire Corp.s FatWire Content Server (www.fatwire.com) and RedDot Solutions Corp.s RedDot CMS (www.reddot.com). Each of these products makes it possible to manage robust Web sites, often for much less than half the deployment cost of some higher-end products.
Companies worried about the infrastructure costs of managing a Web site can also look to hosted Web content management products, such as Crownpeak Technologys Crownpeak CMS (www. crownpeak.com) and Quantum Art Inc.s QP7.Framework (www.quantumart.com). Both of these platforms make it possible to get up and running quickly with a fully managed Web site.
The monthly fees of these services do add up over time, but they are often more than offset by the savings in in-house infrastructure and maintenance.
Finally, organizations that would rather stick with traditional Web authoring tools and avoid a monolithic Web content management platform altogether can look to solutions such as Macromedia Inc.s Dreamweaver Web development tool. Using Dreamweaver, organizations can gain many of the workflow and content check-in/check-out capabilities that content management systems provide.
Labs Director Jim Rapoza can be reached at email@example.com.