Choosing the right content management system (CMS) represents one of the biggest challenges business leaders face. The right CMS plays a role both in the daily operations of a company and long-term business strategies.
No pressure, right?
The good news is there are more choices than ever. The better news is that by focusing on some core issues, picking the right CMS shouldn’t become the great white whale of your business.
Business Before Technology
With the deluge of technology innovation in the past few years, some business leaders tend to put getting the latest technology ahead of having a strategy on what to do with it. Before diving into the bells and whistles of each CMS available, first have a strong set of business goals and a strategy to achieve them. Innovative technology should support business goals, not become the goal itself.
Keep It (Relatively) Simple
Bayshore Solutions Vice President Eric Cadman took the “business goals first” idea and offered a smart approach to picking a CMS. He suggested listing business needs on a left-hand column, and then simply having a “yes” or “no” checkbox for each CMS considered. It’s a simple but effective method of ensuring a CMS supports and aligns with business goals.
Needs can include content and news management, workflow management, SEO features, social media widgets and email integration, among other features.
Make An Investment
It’s possible to get a free CMS, many are available. However, trying to make due with an off-the-shelf CMS can cause more headaches than it cures. A CMS is one of those things in life where you get what you pay for.
Luckily, there are many choices. Sitefinity by Progress, for example, provides the ability to manage multiple sites, create content personalization and make your site mobile-friendly, among many other features. Sitefinity also excels in having an easy user interface, meaning even non-technical people can learn to use the CMS quickly. Those are the type of features you want when looking to invest in a CMS.
A good method for determining what you need from a CMS is to talk to the people who will actually use it and get them to build “usage scenarios.” These are explanations of the inputs needed and the outputs expected during day-to-day work with a CMS. This, for example, could include the writing and editing of content or the posting of press releases. The emphasis should be on tasks that are performed often, not occasionally.
Do The Demo Right
Product demonstrations come in many varieties, but the point to remember is to take them seriously. Make sure to get a chance to use the CMS in the way you plan to use it day-to-day. Simply reading about the features or seeing a canned video demonstration is not enough.
Issues to keep in mind include determining how much customization will be required, the types of services the vendor offers and how well the system fits with your particular business needs.
As part of finding out what the vendor offers in terms of support, it’s important to know what type of security you have for the CMS. Hackers, unfortunately, aren’t going anywhere, so it’s important to consider the integrity of business data and information. Support is equally important – no one can afford to have their site go down for long. It’s critical to know who will work with you from the vendor once the system is installed.
There’s a host of issues to check to make sure a CMS fits your plans. You’ll want a system that is:
- Mobile friendly
- Flexible (able to work in different environments)
- Easy to use
- Customizable with applications
- Does not require a great deal (or any) third-party plugins
Choosing a CMS is important but taking a steady approach and always keeping the big picture in mind will help make the process that much easier.