To CMS or not to CMS
A CMS (Content Management System) is an application, mostly web based, to create, edit, delete and manage content from a central interface. CMSs are often used for running small and large web sites, blogs, forums and news pages up to complete E commerce shopping platforms and can include user targeted marketing.
CMS platforms have come a long way, presented in many shapes and sizes. They are still evolving through new technologies and new ideas. With an abundant selection on the market, thorough investigation and consideration is needed before making the right choice.
Why would you?
- Increased efficiency: There is no need to think about basic layout, design, fonts and coherent looks. The focus is on content, easily create new content and update instantly, no need to draft in another application or text editor.
- Content control: The integrated workflow will give you control over the content from creation to publishing, no matter how basic the workflow might be. Content can be broken into sections or categories. This enables the you to share responsibilities among multiple users (maintainers). In many cases the workflow will allow you to preview and approve before publishing. Using a web based application will make it accessible from almost anywhere.
- Content control – structure: Easily arrange newly created pages into logical page hierarchy followed by automatic or easy to update navigation and scheduled publishing.
- Functionality – Extensibility: Most systems will have a wide range of default functionality and extendable functionality implementing existing plugins. Additional plugins provide additional features and will improve the user experience.
- Out of the box theme: It makes it very efficient when an existing themes suits the business. There are many options to customise the style of an existing theme or purchase commercial developed themes. The site will always have a consistent look and still, selected elements can be customised and styled through WYSIWYG editors.
- Site Searches: Many CMSs include auto indexing of content and provide site-wide search facilities. Some offer options for the user (web user) to customise their search experience using sorting, categorisation or the ability to save custom searches.
- Increase Search Engine Ranking: By keeping the content up to date it is more likely to attracted user contributions and by using comment forms or forums you can further improve the site ranking.
- User behaviour: Some CMSs are able to learn browsing behaviour and return or insert targeted marketing which will improve conversion rates.
- Security: Security measures are implemented in most systems and inform of updates to new releases as a constant safeguard to new security breaches.
- Optimisation for Mobile: Sophisticated CMSs will provide adjustment for mobile devices on content and presentation.
Why wouldn't you?
- User training: Training will be required in any case. An easy to use system requires less training, additional functionality will increase the training time and costs. New staff will need to be retrained.
- Training documentation: Some open source CMSs have a large amount of online help for developers however documentation for using additional features or plugins can be difficult to find or hard to understand for a non-technical people. Custom documentation or tutorials will need to be created for user training and could incur additional costs.
- Additional Functionality: Implementing additional functionality or plugins will increase the developing costs.
- Periodic updates: When updates to the core systems and plugins are issued they need to be installed and tested no matter if they are open source or enterprise. Especially if they include security updates.
- Content control: Some CMSs are not easy to use and require, apart the initial training, some knowledge of HTML and image editing.
- Custom theme: Some customistion to the theme might be required to reflect the perfect business image and this can be costly.
- How will it help my business?
- How often will I make changes?
- How fast will my site grow organically?
- Who will be maintaining the content?
- What are my web users requirements – what will they be looking for?
- How much functionality will I need – How much expandability?
- What is my budget – Open source vs enterprise?
You may need a CMS:
- Large public corporations with or without legal and sensitive content and the need for version control
- Large editorial teams and the need of a workflow for approval
- Regular post content updates and editions like blogs, news and forums
- If you need search specific functionality
- If you require multi language support
- Marketing needs – evolving and active user experience
You might not need a CMS:
- Quick launch or short lived sites or micro sites
- Sites with a small amount of content
- Infrequent content updates
- Existing, comprehensive custom design in looks and functionality
- If the site does not contain any serialised content
Think about your budget and ongoing time investment. What functionality do I need? Keep expandability in mind, if you are doing a good job in your business your site will grow as well. Make sure to choose and build on a core experience that easily adapts to new functionality and content types. Ask questions about future plans and goals. Should the main costs go to paying staff maintaining the content or will it be more economical to have developers doing the job in a, maybe, more efficient, knowledgeable way.
Now you can see there are many factors involved in making a decision which is right for you. Just answer some simple questions from above and you will soon find out to “CMS or not CMS”.