Web sites development on Umbraco CMS
Umbraco CMS is one of the most popular open-source free content management systems based on .NET framework in the UK. It is one of the fastest and most flexible CMS on the market, however that does come at a price: out of the box the CMS is not so rich in functionality and modules/plugins like other well-known systems. This does not mean Umbraco can't be used as is, however for the best results you may need the services of decent contractor or freelancer (or a development firm if the project is that big).
Why would you prefer Umbraco over other CMS?
One of the first reasons that come to mind is that because Umbraco is a free CMS. There are a bunch of other respected commercial CMS on the market, like SiteCore, EpiServer or SiteFinity, but the license cost can be considerable.
Second big reason is that Umbraco is a general purpose CMS that is built with a flexibility in mind. Yes, most if not all CMS claim that on their web-sites, however when it comes to reality one can easily see what CMS is built for. For example WordPress is built mostly for blogs and Drupal is primarily for building online portals/communities. Think about Umbraco as of CMS that can turn into pretty much anything. With some effort of course.
Third place is occupied by a number of reasons. Umbraco is a Microsoft .Net based CMS, which can be an advantage if your infrastructure is based on Microsoft technologies. This CMS is generally considered more intuitive for editors, than other CMS due to its page-based approach. I would say it's far more down to earth, than many other CMS, which is better when you just need the job to be done. Last but not least: it's very fast and allows designers/developers to use 100% standards compliant code.
What can you use Umbraco for?
Anything really! From a simple corporate site to a full blown line of business web application. What Umbraco provides is the content management features, base framework and clean intuitive user interface. From my experience, even if it starts with just a web-site, soon we have more and more related feature requests, like integrated analytics and social media, integration with third-party systems and internal business applications. All this can be done with programming of umbraco modules and plugins, just find a developer to do that.
Who else uses Umbraco?
Quite a lot of big names use Umbraco. Just to name a few - Wired, Microsoft and Vouge, but feel free to browse the relevant section on official web-site.
What does the typical Umbraco project look like?
The process is not particularly different from any other software development process. First, find a freelance umbraco developer (well, you already found at least one!) and describe in details what you want to get as a final result. Umbraco allows construction of any content type, so this needs a proper investigation. In it's simplest form the content type can be an article with such properties like author and date of publication. But why stop there? You could have such type as Video and properties like the location where this video has been recorded.
If your programmer follows agile methodologies (I follow Scrum by the way), then the project is divided into small user stories and tasks assigned to a particular release. This way we ensure that you get incremental functionality very frequently.
How much does it cost?
This is like asking how much does the car cost without saying what kind of car you want. It could start with low hundreds and go to infinity, but I would say that most of the projects fall into mid-hundreds to mid-thousdands region.
Does it require maintenance after the project is done?
As everything in this world, digital asset like web-site or software needs a maintenance from time to time. Even if the site is static, updates to the new version of CMS and/or operating system is something that is highly recommended. Fortunately this represents only a fraction of what is paid for the whole project and usually is not a problem.