3 Qs To A Better CMS

Selecting the right Content Management System (CMS) is an absolutely critical decision that impacts how successful your site will be for you. Consider the following:

  • Any change, update, new product/feature/tool/whatever will have to be implemented in tandem with your CMS. The harder it is to use, the more you’ll want to pull your hair out – and the less your site will be updated.
  • Your CMS doesn’t just handle copy. Style sheets, capture forms, landing pages can all be created, updated, edited and launched through your CMS. You may not be using all these features today but as you evolve the usefulness of your site a good CMS makes that transition much easier.

So how do you pick a CMS that fits your site, digital business goals, and technical competence? We’re glad you asked, start by asking yourself these questions:

How much money am I willing to spend?

The first question you always have to ask yourself when beginning the CMS vetting process is budget – how much are you comfortable spending on a CMS? Now this is a loaded question because not paying for a full feature CMS can often mean paying additional dollars for development to customize a more bare bones CMS that didn’t have that functionality initially. So what at first seems like a straightforward question becomes the one you should ask yourself last. We’ll come back to this.

What functionality is important to me?

So now that we’ve placed budget on the shelf for the moment – the second and most important question falls to features and functionality of the site you’re building. If you haven’t put together a comprehensive list of the features and functionality, now would be a good time! Done? OK, great – now time to dig deep into the supported and out-of-the-box features you’ll get from your possible CMSs. Do you need to manage inventory? Planning on running a decent volume of ecommerce along with a 100+ page site? Security and best in class enterprise level CMS matter to you? Sitecore might work, or perhaps Adobe CQ. But do you only need to manage a blog and update a few pages worth of content? WordPress might be the best CMS. Is a content publishing flow important along with moderate CMS functionality? Drupal it is. Looking for open source, easy to manage, customize, and like to cowboy code? Try Umbraco or maybe Joomla.

What is my tolerance for maintenance?

Third and one of the most often overlooked components in selecting a CMS is ongoing maintenance. Are you choosing a CMS that runs on a LAMP (Linux, Apache, mySQL, PHP) stack and all you have in house are .NET developers? We’re always happy to work with client in ongoing maintenance agreements, but sometimes it makes sense to pick something that will have long term flexibility in your organization – or maybe you just want to update content and need security patches as they come.

And now is when we talk budget – ideally you’ve been open minded enough to start with the full field of CMS options in play, and worked to narrow them down based on your business requirements and organizational requirements. Now we visit price – if you’re not ready to spend over 100k then we’ll take Sitecore, Adobe CQ, and a few others off the table. Are you looking for the cheapest way to still manage content and have a functioning website – let’s drift toward WordPress or Joomla. Is security a major concern – maybe a CMS isn’t for you! You can’t hack a system that isn’t there – maintained static pages can always be a good option if you plan on having a maintenance agreement with your development shop (that’s us!) or if you have an in-house team that can handle updates.

The point here is that any number of CMS options can work for your specific site – you need to weigh your needs, your ability to scale and maintain the system, along with you budget considerations. Keep those things in mind and you won’t be disappointed!

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