What is CMS?

What is CMS?

CMS aka Content Management System. You hear that word, but what does it mean? What is a CMS?

A content management system is something you definitely want. Why? Because a content management system, or a CMS, helps you manage your website’s content without having to touch the code. That’s a good thing. It means you can make updates to your site without having to touch your code.

Content management systems make life easier for businesses by allowing them to control the content on their website without having to know how to mess with code. When you see the process that would have to go into making changes to the content of a website without a CMS, it begins to make a lot more sense why we have them, and the really important role that they play.

Before there was such a thing as a CMS, businesses would have to call their webmasters, tell them the changes to make, and the webmaster would then have to make those changes directly to the code. In the video, I showed you what that would look like. In order to get under the hood of a web site, you needed to open a text editor, do a lot of messing around with HTML and CSS files, and then push to the server.

Why was this a really bad way to do things?

There’s two reasons, if they’re not obvious. First, a webmaster having to get on the phone with the business owner, or read PDFs, or emails, and make these updates is a huge waste of time and opens the whole process to a lot of potential errors.

Second, making direct changes to the code leaves a lot of room open for damaging the whole web site. Imagine I’m making ten, twenty, thirty of these updates in one day. Imagine also that I’m having a really crazy day and I had a really crazy Thursday night and I just misplace something in the code’s syntax. That’s really bad. So keeping your code and your content so close together is not a great idea.

Learn Programming for Non-Programmers →

Which brings us to content management systems. What does a content management system do? It allow us to remove the content from the code. So instead of using the old system, what happens is I can make my updates in this back-end system that immediately updates our content.

The content management system shows you the visual of what you’re changing–it does this nice kind of Word document thing–but the code stays the same. If you want, you can still play with it (and I guess break it if you want). But the CMS makes it so I don’t need to know how to code, and neither does my writing team.

So that’s the importance of a CMS. Now we’re in this world. Now we’re no longer– as you can see– no longer having to go into the code. Everything’s clean. So in the next video I’m going to show you popular CMS solutions for your product. So check that out. Let’s go.

Takeaways

  • A Content Management System or CMS is a sevice that allows you to make content changes to your web sit without having to make changes to its code.
  • Using a CMS is a very smart idea for a business
  • It will save time and money and is safer than editing code

Popular CMS

There are many popular content management systems. Here are a few.

Build your first website in just one month  →

How I Learned To Understand Silicon Valley

If, like me, you are new to the world of tech startups, and are also a fan of the HBO show Silicon Valley, odds are pretty good you spend a part of your Sunday nights very confused.

If you haven’t been watching Silicon Valley, it’s a hilarious parody of life in the tech startup world, which follows the trials and tribulations of an incubator team turned startup (Pied Piper) as they navigate the highs and lows of the business.

Sometimes this show is so accurate, it isn’t even parody; it’s just real life.

The problem with Silicon Valley (and seriously, if you haven’t been watching it, just go now and watch it; I’ll wait) is that it’s so chock full of inside knowledge about the way tech startups work that from the outsider’s perspective, it can be a bit confusing. As one friend put it, sometimes this show is so accurate, it isn’t even parody; it’s just real life.

So for a long time I watched the show in the dark (the metaphorical dark; the one where no knowledge goes) and wondered what the heck half the dialogue even meant. Weirdly (or luckily), it was while writing for One Month’s Learning Library (and researching Valuations, Exits, Seed Fundraising, and why on earth people keep flocking to Delaware to incorporate their companies) that I was turned on to the subtle hilarity and tension at work in the show. So with that in mind, assuming you are watching (do it! There’s a reason creative procrastination is healthy!), let’s answer a few questions about the show using the learning library.

Luckily, it was while writing for One Month’s Learning Library that I was turned on to the subtle hilarity and tension at work in the show.

Why Does Anyone Fund Pied Piper When They Don’t Have a Company Yet? (Ep 1.1)

A lot of season one is devoted to Richard Hendricks, Pied Piper’s CEO, trying to figure out what exactly their company does. Pied Piper starts out as a music app for creatives, effectively a way to find out if you’re accidentally ripping off another artist (or “sampling” as Vanilla Ice would have it), but in the first episode Richard suddenly finds himself at the end of a bidding war with one person offering him seed money and another offering him money money.

But why on earth would anyone offer him money for a product that doesn’t exist yet?

You don’t need a big, flashy product to launch your startup. In fact, it’s fine if you’re even a little embarrassed by your product at first. What you need is a minimum viable product.

Basically, it all comes down to the concept of the MVP: the minimum viable product. If you remember from the “How to Launch an MVP in One Minute” post, you don’t need a big, flashy product to launch your startup. In fact, it’s fine if you’re even a little embarrassed by your product at first. What you need is a minimum viable product: something tiny that people will want to invest in.

In Pied Piper’s case, the MVP is a baller compression algorithm with an excellent Weissman Score that he pushed to GitHub (yay, Github!). That’s enough to entice a VC into funding.

I’m Sorry, Did He Say SCRUM? (Ep 1.5)

As the team at Pied Piper start building the platform of their web app, they run into an early problem with workflow: there is none. The problem is that they still think like individual programmers, so each member of the team is waiting for every other member to finish their work before they feel like they can start it.

Their business manager, Jared suggests turning to a SCRUM system.

It’s really not important to understand the ins and outs of a SCRUM system (which is fortunate because I understand neither the ins nor the outs, and the acronym is vaguely vulgar), what’s important is to understand how an agile workflow system works.

What is SCRUM? It’s really not important to understand the ins and outs of a SCRUM system (which is fortunate because I understand neither the ins nor the outs, and the acronym is vaguely vulgar), what’s important is to understand how an agile workflow system works.

Agile Workflow effectively means that rather than having each member of the company complete a task and then pass it on to the next person and next person and so on, now all of the company is working on tiny, iterative bits of the process. One person can be conceiving of a framework for information architecture while another is testing a part of the process. It works incrementally and iteratively toward a polished product.

How Do They Make Money? What Drives This Company? Why Didn’t They Just Take the Darn Buyout? What the Heck?! (Ep 1.1, 2.1, 2.3, 2.7)

The second season starts out with the Pied Piper team searching for funding yet again, which confused me more than maybe any episode. Why would Pied Piper need to secure funding again when they had so much interest at the end of last season? Couldn’t they write their own check?

Well, no. It’s good to think of it like this: season one is all about getting seed money and creating a strong MVP. Season two is about getting series A funding and about growth hacking the company.

It’s good to think of it like this: season one is all about getting seed money and creating a strong MVP. Season two is about getting series A funding and about growth hacking the company.

What helped me understand this was watching the video on the stages of startup funding. It’s helpful to remember that startups don’t get funded all in one go. They have to go through stages of funding and growth before seeking an exit strategy. The first stage is really just a way of generating the company’s MVP with no revenue stream. But that’s not enough money to get through.

So at the start of season two, Richard needs to find his series A funding, and this is where things get both weird and interesting. VC firms enter into a bidding war for shares in Pied Piper, each valuing the company differently. In this process of valuation, they’re essentially saying, “We offer you X amount of money for Y percentage of your company.” So as the percentages being taken go down, the value of the company goes up based on its equity.

It would make sense for Richard to take the most money he can and then run with it, right? But he doesn’t, and that baffled me, until I understood the principle of growth. We have heard time and time again that the most important thing to a startup is consistent growth.

From that perspective, it would make sense for Richard to take the most money he can and then run with it, right? But he doesn’t, and that baffled me, until I understood the principle of growth.

We have heard time and time again that the most important thing to a startup is consistent growth. When a VC invests in your company, they count on getting upwards of ten times that back later. So from Pied Piper’s perspective as a young company too early on in its years to think about exiting, they need to think realistically about their prospects for growth. If they can’t grow past their series A valuation, they’ll never make it to a series B, and that’ll be that for them (they probably know that 90% of all businesses end in bankruptcy).

This raises the question of why they don’t just sell the company while they’re up. That’s certainly an option for them. Twice, they’re offered a buyout. Aside from the fact that we need them to exist or there’s no show, it also makes sense for them to keep control of their company as long as possible to make sure its valuation grows as much as possible.

Eventually, they’ll need to sell their company or go public. Hopefully, that’s not for a few seasons.

9 Tips to Own Your Next Video Interview

You’re at a conference and suddenly asked to be interviewed on video: what do you do?

How do you make sure to look great on camera, and also give them great sound bites that won’t end up on the editing room floor?

I was recently interviewed by AWEBER at WistiaFest and my training as a filmmaker and a voice over actor paid off. Here are some of the practices that work really well, and will make you look great on camera.

1. Always repeat the question.

Adding that context will make it clear to the viewer what you’re talking about, which will make you the video editor’s best friend.

In any interview, they’ll ask you a question. Repeat the question in your answer, but don’t add inflection.

“What do you think is the best part of using video content?”

YES: “The best part of video content is …”

NO: “It’s a great tool!”

Adding that context will make it clear to the viewer what you’re talking about, which will make you the video editor’s best friend. Most people don’t know to do this, which means you’ll be more likely to be the first person featured in any interview montage.<

2. Use your company as an example, not a lead.

When you reference your company, slide it into one of your answers as an example, not as a lead.

“Hi, I’m Zach and I work at One Month,” will be edited straight out of my answer to get to the good stuff. Instead, I put it inside of my answer:

“The biggest takeaway that I’m excited to use for my work at One Month is…”

3. Pause a lot more than you would in real life.

Take pregnant pauses in between statements. As a video editor, I’ve worked with all sorts of people, and the ones who make my life the easiest are the ones who smile and breathe in between sentences. It might feel awkward to speak slower than you’re used to, but it will look a million times better.

It might feel awkward to speak slower than you’re used to, but it will look a million times better.

If it’s an interview at a live event, odds are good they’ll have and want to use B-Roll, or supplemental footage of the event, which can be played over interviews to hide cuts. If you ramble on and on, it’s much more difficult to get a clean take, and I’ll spend hours cleaning up the section of video to make you look good.

4. Watch your eyeline (aka: look where they tell you)

Your eyeline is where you’re looking while you’re on camera. It’s distracting to watch someone talk while they’re looking all over the place. There are two main approaches to eyelines in interviews:

1. Off-screen: You’re looking just off-screen, implicitly at the interviewer. 2. Direct address: You’re looking right down the barrel of the camera lens, making ‘eye-contact’ with the viewer.

You don’t want to be the only goof looking into the lens in a collection of 10 subjects.

Whichever it is, you want to keep it consistent, both in your personal interview and with the other people they already shot. You don’t want to be the only goof looking into the lens in a collection of 10 subjects. If you’re not directed by the production team, make sure to ask them. If they say it doesn’t matter, you probably don’t want to be in their video.

5. Stick ’em up! Your hands, that is.

It can feel awkward to use your hands while being interviewed, but if done right, it can make you look like a boss. First, check with the camera person to get a sense of what is in or outside of the frame. If it’s a close up, nobody will ever see your hands. That doesn’t mean don’t use them, though. Open, confident body language will translate regardless.

If you feel like a complete alien waving your hands around, strike a power pose with your hands on your waist, but only if you’re standing.

Keep your hands at about your beltline, palms open, and use slight gestures to emphasize what you’re saying. Some good rules of thumb: Avoid touching yourself, don’t block your face, and if there’s studio lighting, try not to cast hard shadows on your body. If you feel like a complete alien waving your hands around, strike a power pose with your hands on your waist, but only if you’re standing. Wistia has a great video about this.

6. Turn off your phone

Unlike being at the movies, turning off your phone during a shoot is more than a courtesy. Aside from incoming texts and Tweets throwing you off your game, the wireless frequency from your mobile phone can interfere with wireless microphone signals and produce unwanted distortion and static in the recording. This a great way to guarantee you won’t be featured at all.

7. Get your selfie on

The only way to get good at being on camera is by being on camera, so whip out your smart-phone or laptop and get in front of that lens. It’s the best way to get an upperhand on how you’ll look in your next close-up. If you don’t have access to a camera, or are still feeling shy, you can warm up to it by practicing in front of the mirror. At the end of the day, if you can’t be present with yourself, it’s hard to be present with other people.

At the end of the day, if you can’t be present with yourself, it’s hard to be present with other people.

Practice, focus on being right there, on point with eye contact, speaking in complete sentences, giving good pauses. Next, experiment which side of your face is your “better side”. Record yourself on your phone, and play it back so you can hear the tone in your voice and get an idea for what your body language and posture looks like. Feel free to experiment and try new things, too! This exercise will help you direct a camera crew looking to interview you if they want to look at the interviewer and not into the lens. You’ll learn whether you need a trim or to be packing some oil blotting sheets.

You won’t get better just by reading this; you’ll actually have to practice it.

Try a few of these tips once a week, or give yourself rehearsal time a day or two before a conference. Here at One Month, Mattan practices giving short motivational speeches on Monday Mornings, because he wants to learn how to be a better public speaker. Tell your colleagues your goals and find a space where you can practice your skills.

What are you going to take on? Do you already have a practice you love? Any questions about how to interview like a pro? Leave a comment and we’ll get back at you!

The Best Text Editors for Beginners

What text editor should I use?

What is a text editor, and why does it matter which one I use?

Text editors are programs that type simple text without the sort of formatting a word processor will so rudely slip in. No comic sans, no forced margins, no line breaks (I just tested this with a line of Python, and yep, I can make a line of code that will wrap around the planet if I want). A text editor is just you and your ASCII, absent bells, whistles, or beauty.

As you start out programming, you’ll quickly find your text editor is your best friend. Or your frenemy, depending on how coding is going that day. It’s essential to start figuring out which text editor works best for you. Like most tools, the basics of every text editor are the same. They all have a place to interface text (because, of course), most feature syntax-based color coding, virtually all feature hot keys and intuitive text features to lighten the load of a long coding project.

As you start out programming, you’ll quickly find your text editor is your best friend. Or your frenemy, depending on how coding is going that day. It’s essential to start figuring out which text editor works best for you.

There are already plenty of blog posts on what kinds of text editors to use, but I happen to be retaking One Month’s Python course at the moment, and felt like this would be a good opportunity to test out a few different ones (despite the fact that Eric expressly tells us to work with Sublime Text; we students are rebels).

I’ll mostly be looking at Mac-based editors (or cross-platform editors that work on Mac), because that’s the type of machine I’m working on. When you’re starting out coding, it’s also best to give yourself a little flexibility in terms of the tools you use; you don’t want to limit yourself to working on one platform because you never know where you’ll be working.

I’m also going to try to focus on editors that will be good for beginners, since that’s where I am with coding (and that’s where we all need to start out).

(A brief aside before we start: I am ethically obligated by the higher order or people who write about text editors to point out at this point that text editors aren’t the same as IDEs or Integrated Development Environments. IDEs are more like Swiss Army Knives, whereas text editors are like screwdrivers. Word screwdrivers. A couple of the text editors we look at will tread the boundary between these.)

Sublime Text: $70

This is the first editor I wrote code in, and there’s a soft spot in my heart for it. It passes what I think is the most essential test for any text editor, which is that it’s intuitive to start using. You just open up a file as you would with any interface, and can begin coding.

The extra features with it are pretty bog standard things like code folding (What’s code folding, I wondered, can I make code origami? Imagine my disappointment when I found out it just hides lines of code when I’m not actively working on them. Useful, but no cranes for me.). I like the dive in and begin aspects of Sublime Text. If you’re used to typing in a word processor, Sublime Text is a pretty solid introductory text editor.

If you’re used to typing in a word processor, Sublime Text is a pretty solid introductory text editor.

There’s also an open secret with Sublime Text: While the program isn’t free, it comes with an unlimited trial period. You should absolutely buy a copy if you love using it, but I like that there’s no deadline bearing down on me to make that decision.

VIM: Free

I’ll be honest: Vim scares the crap out of me. If Sublime Text is the cozy programming home I feel comfortable putting my feet up in, Vim is an enormous mansion set high atop a hill with a heavy iron gate between it and me. even downloading and installing Vim is fairly difficult, which makes it a tough text editor to touch if you’re new to programming.

That’s not to say that Vim is bad — far from it. Vim is a great text editor; it’s free, heavily customizable, has a huge community of users and a long history of use. You can make Vim work the way you want it to. It is so useful, in fact, that it’s occasionally compared to an IDE, because it has tools aplenty. Vim just won’t hold your hand. In fact, it sort of slaps your hand away while shouting at you “Get up! Learn to walk on your own!”

If Sublime Text is the cozy programming home I feel comfortable putting my feet up in, Vim is an enormous mansion set high atop a hill with a heavy iron gate between it and me.

All those tools, all that customization means there’s a pretty steep learning curve, which makes it kind of a nonstarter for a beginning programmer. In fairness, Vim’s designers are up front about its difficulty; personally, I’ll save real play on this for when I’m writing more advanced code.

Coda: $99; One Week Trial

I really liked playing around with Coda. This is another tool that feels more like it’s leaning toward an IDE than a text editor; in fact, despite what they say on their website, I’d go so far as to call it an IDE. It’s heavy on features like a built in Terminal interface, SSH connectivity, controls for pushing code automatically to a hub. It’s not exactly bells and whistles-free, but a lot of the features are easy enough to figure out and are essential tools for developing a web app.

I’d go so far as to call Coda an IDE. It’s not exactly bells and whistles-free, but a lot of the features are easy enough to figure out and are essential tools for developing a web app.

My favorite aspect of Coda, which you won’t find in almost any text editor, is a preview button that lets you see what the code you’re writing will look like live. This is a major time saver compared to pushing code, running it on a server, failing, pushing again, etc.

There’s definitely a bit of a learning curve for using Coda, so if you’re just looking for a tool that lets you dive in and start writing some code, this is probably not the way to go, but with a little experimenting, it has some pretty powerful features you’ll want anyway. Worth the investment if you’re an intermediate coder who’s going to be sticking with it for a while.

Atom: Free

Basically, it’s like getting a knife that you can later turn into a scalpel and then into a LASIK tool.

Atom is a groovy text editor to work with. Its interface has a similar feel to Sublime Text’s, but the iconography of their file structure is ever so slightly more intuitive. It also has a convenient hotkey to list all available command functions. What makes Atom so cool to use, though, is that it’s open source, completely (and easily) hackable, and entirely user friendly. There isn’t any learning curve with it — you can dive right in and start entering code — but as you become more advanced as a programmer, you can make Atom a more complex text editor for your needs. Basically, it’s like getting a knife that you can later turn into a scalpel and then into a LASIK tool.

So which of these is the best?

From my perspective, which is to say the perspective of a novice, a good text editor is one that allows me to dive in and start coding, while also giving me room to grow and get more experience as part of a broader community. It’s what I like to call the bike shop problem: when you walk into a bike shop for the first time, odds are pretty good it’ll be a bit intimidating with all the experts walking around talking the talk. Odds are good you just want to get on a bike and go. The rest of the stuff you can learn later as you become more of an expert, but if you need all that expertise just to get on the bike, you’ll never get started.

It’s what I like to call the bike shop problem: when you walk into a bike shop for the first time, it’ll be intimidating with all the experts walking around talking the talk. If you need all that expertise just to get on the bike, you’ll never get started.

With this criteria, Atom is the best program on this list for letting you get started and also giving you room to grow. Atom has a large community of users, just like a more intimidating program like Vim, but it also gives me room to start working with it right away. It’s intuitive and easy-to-use, but also expansive and flexible to the needs of its programmer.

To me, this is a great feature of any program, but especially one that I know I need to use as a long-term tool. Part of the frustration of working with a tool is the FOMO of it all. Am I really getting the maximum functionality out of my text editor? Is this the best possible tool I could be using? Atom clears that up by letting me build from a simple text editor to a more complex one.

Takeaway recommendation: if you’re a beginner, start with Atom as your text editor. It’s free, it’s easy to learn, and you can use it across multiple operating systems.