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Monitor changes: What's a Content Management System anyway?

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More changes here at the Monitor? You bet.

But not every change will be apparent to the average visitor (if there is such a thing).

Sure, we'll have more content (a.k.a., journalism), more timely updates, increased interactivity, and longer "open for business hours."

In order for us to provide all of the above (and more), we need the technology to get us there. It's coming. And getting from Point A to Point B is a bumpy ride.

Anyone logging onto the Monitor's website early this morning saw evidence of the bumps.

There was a gaping hole right in the middle of our home page. Nothing. Just white space. To use a radio analogy, dead air.

In radio, dead air is a bad thing. It makes you wonder if anyone's paying attention. Maybe the DJ took a break.

The same thing goes for a website. If there's a prominent error, it makes you wonder if anyone's home.

We weren't rolling out an encryption strategy or anything. What you saw, depending on what browser you use, was a problem that can be encountered when you hand code the home page -- in other words, manually placing content on that page.

Enter what's called a content management system (CMS). Ask anyone in the industry about their CMS and you'll hear horror stories, angst, and a lot of frustration.

And occasionally, you'll run into folks who love their CMS. They're easy to spot. They've got a crowd following them.

Basically, the CMS is the tool that organizes the content (articles, photos, etc.) and allows you to place it on different sections of the website.

A good content management system is worth its weight in gold.

Because the Internet is still young and evolving, there's not a perfect tool out there yet. You go with one and hope it stands the test of time. When you decide to update, not only is it very costly but the complexities are immense. You don't want to lose content. Or links to that content.

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