A CMS gives a website designer the ability to design a site and then just show the customer (or department head or whomever) how to do the content updates himself. With a site built on a CMS, the less tech-savvy can more easily manage the content themselves. Hence the name “content management system.”
What if you could find one of those free website templates on the Internet and easily and quickly set up the content to be edited just like a CMS? Now, believe it or not, it is possible.
In this article I will walk you through how to set up a website template to be edited like a CMS using a tool called Pulse CMS.
please note: this article is geared towards those who have prior knowledge about setting websites up. The idea is to be able to set up the site so you can hand it off to someone who doesn’t possess web design skills so they can handle the content management aspects of the site themselves.
For the purposes of this tutorial, I will be downloading any old free website template I can find on the Internet. Obviously if you are a designer and have designed a site already, you are a step ahead.
Step One: Downloading & Installing The Website Template
I googled for free website templates and choose this one for no particular reason.
If you are familiar with setting up websites then this step should be fairly easy. All I did was unzip the website files, changed the index.html file to a PHP file and uploaded everything to the web server via FileZilla.
I changed the file to a PHP file because the embed code we will be using later will be PHP. This way we shouldn’t have any issues.
Step Two: Decide The Pages To Be Controlled Via CMS & Create Them
Not being much of a coder or web designer myself, I cheated and grabbed the text from the index file instead of starting from scratch. You may want to decide what you will be calling each of the page files so you can set up the navigation links before grabbing the text from the index.php file.
Notice that I only set up the aboutus.php file for this test but you will want to set up all of your pages in the same way.
OK, so now I have both an index.php file and an aboutus.php file. I scrolled down and found the boxes of information that I either wanted to be controlled by the CMS or I wanted to delete all together. If you know enough about code, this shouldn’t be much of an issue. The box I want to be controlled, I just deleted the default information and made space for the embed code. You will soon see what we will be doing so hang on.
Step Three: Download The Software & Upload It To Your Server
The cool part about this step is that there is no installation needed and no tables are created. Mad cool, huh?
Head over to the Pulse CMS website and download the zip file.
Unzip the folder. Before uploading the folder to your server, you’ll want to edit the “includes/config.php” file and change the default password.
Once finished with that, upload the folder to the directory containing the website files. Now you should be able to log in by going to that directory (anysite.com/pulse).
Step Four: Set Up Blocks, Grab Embed Codes & Insert Them In Pages
A block is what they call an editable region on your website. Since I am setting up an About Us page to be modified via the CMS, that is the block I will be working on. In fact, when you first log into your pulse directory, you’ll notice that there is already a block set up called “About.html” which is why I chose the About Us page for this tutorial.
For the sake of ease, I will be leaving the block the way it is:
And just grabbing the embed code:
Then, since the files we created are PHP files now, you should have no problem with the code being read once you paste it in place.
Now, any block you have set up should contain content that can be modified simply by logging into the /pulse directory and making the appropriate changes.
Pulse CMS has an interface that, similar to WordPress, is about as easy as using a word processor. As a web designer, you should be able to hand over the login details to the pulse directory to a less tech- or design-savvy person and quickly show them how to make updates themselves.
Do you know of any other, perhaps easier ways to set up a site for easy content management? Please share!