DNN (also known as DotNetNuke or Evoq) is the content management system (CMS) we use here at MA Design. It uses open-source software based on Microsoft.NET, and powers the websites of some of the biggest brands in the World, including BP, NASA, Kia and Bose!
I first started using DNN when I began working at MA Design last September. If I remember rightly, my thoughts after my first training session using the software were something to the effect of ‘that was easy’...
At the time I thought DNN probably just seemed easier to use in comparison to some of the more outdated, bespoke systems I had used previously. But now that I’ve seen so many of our clients pick it up just as easily, I’m starting to think maybe it’s not just me?
In my experience, DNN is at completely the other end of the spectrum to any of the other CMS’ I have used before, and what makes it different is it’s on-screen editability. Unlike DNN, the other systems I’ve used in the past require you to enter a behind-the-scenes type admin panel/parallel universe, which can be quite difficult to get your head around (the same goes for some of the more well-known website builders like WordPress). This means that you can’t physically see what you’re working on without saving your progress and flicking back over to the live version of the website each time you make an update. In contrast, DNN lets you work through your website the same way that you would do if you were an end user browsing the pages, and edit your content as you go along. The on-screen editor makes simple tasks such as rewording a sentence or inserting a hyperlink possible in seconds, and I think this is part of the reason DNN is so popular among our clients.
The newest version of the software uses a drag-and-drop type builder, which means each section of each webpage is separated into its own individual ‘module’. This is something that I think is quite important to our clients, because it enables them to edit only the pieces of content that they need to. That means you don’t need to worry about making a mistake and messing up the entire page, and even if you do slip up, each module has its own ‘rollback’ function which allows you to undo your last save.
I think one of the biggest advantages of using DNN for our clients though is that fact that it’s completely open-source. Many of the clients we consult with come to us with the idea that ‘bespoke is better’, which in some cases it can be; if you require lots of custom development and need your website to function in a way that’s completely unique to your business’ set up, you would probably benefit from utilising a bespoke CMS (have a read of our recent comparison of open source and proprietary CMS’). But in most cases, adopting an open-source CMS is preferred because it means if your web designer were to disappear, you could take your website to any DNN developer in the world, rather than being stuck with a bespoke CMS that only one designer knows how to use. Clients who need the bespoke functionality can then just have it built and plugged in to their open-source website.
Obviously we do still handle some of the techier tasks that require slightly more experience of the software, but overall, our clients find it very easy to make day-to-day amendments and the feedback that we get about DNN is generally very positive. Our clients love the fact that they can make their own updates without having to wait or pay for someone else to do them, and they are often surprised by just how easy it is to use.