What to Think about When Choosing a Content Management System
As a writer, I’ve used a number of content management systems (CMSes). Some of them are great, some of them are not great (or even downright terrible).
No company chooses a CMS with the intention that it’s going to be terrible. Yet, it happens (and probably frequently) for a number of reasons. In this article, I’m going to suggest some things you should think about when you’re looking for a CMS, so you can choose the best one for you.
What Is a Content Management System?
A CMS is a software application or a set of programs that are used to create and manage digital content. How does it work? There are two components of a CMS:
· A content management application
· A content delivery application
The content management application is the component that allows you to create content and upload it. For example, if you’ve got a blog post you want to write, you could use a CMS such as WordPress. You could write the post in WordPress itself, and then hit “publish.” The second component, the delivery application, is what uploads what you wrote to the Internet.
What Kinds of Content Management Systems Are Out There?
As it turns out, the CMS market is crowded. I’m not going to recommend one over the other in this post.
What I am going to do is recommend some of the things you should keep in mind when you’re looking for a CMS:
· Look at your organization’s needs (current and future)
· Think about your budget
· Consider user experience
Look at Your Organization’s Needs (Current and Future)
One of the pieces of advice you’ll read in every article about buying enterprise software is that you have to think about your organization’s needs. What do they (and I) mean when they talk about “needs”?
When it comes to software, “needs” are what the software has to do, based on the situation of the organization. Here’s a good list to start thinking about what your content management needs are:
· What features and functionalities are you looking for?
· How do you use the CMS — is it for blog posts? Do you upload videos?
· How many users do you have?
· How quickly do you need the CMS to be up and running?
· What do your workflows look like? Will the CMS fit into your workflows, or will you need to adapt your workflows to use the CMS?
· Do you need to integrate the CMS into other systems and solutions that you use?
· Do you need to customize the CMS because the out-of-the-box feature set doesn’t quite do what you need them to do?
Here’s the thing about needs: they change. Your situation as a start-up will be different than when you’ve grown. It’s crucial to think about what you’ll need from your CMS in the future as well as right now. Here are some examples of future needs:
· If your organization grows, what kind of functionalities will you need?
· How much flexibility will this CMS allow for — will it be able to integrate with new technologies that you may use in the future?
· How easy will it be to scale up?
· Are you going to be locked into a particular vendor?
Think about Your Budget
The sticker price of a CMS isn’t the final price. You also have to look at total cost of ownership (TCO). TCO measures not just how much a product will cost, but also:
· Management costs
· Support costs
None of these things is included in the price a vendor will give you upfront. You need to take all of these into account when considering which CMS to purchase.
Here’s another point to consider: are you going to be paying for features you’re not going to use until you scale up? While it’s critical to think about future needs, you don’t want to purchase a solution that’s going to cost you more now for functionalities you’re not using.
Consider User Experience
“User experience” is, as the name implies, the interactions a user has with a given product. A user can have a great experience with a product, or that person can have an awful experience.
Why does user experience matter in the context of choosing a CMS for your firm? The software employees use to get their work done has an impact on their overall experience with your company. If software provides a negative user experience, your employees could actually become disengaged. In early 2020, researchers from Forresters created an employee experience index; workers who scored in the top 20% of this index were likely to be satisfied with the technology they used at work. In contrast, workers in the bottom 50% of this index were least likely to be satisfied with their technology.
I know what it’s like to use a CMS that offers a poor user experience: it’s very frustrating. When I dealt with those kind of CMSes, I became irritated because I felt that I couldn’t finish my work efficiently. It was difficult to complete tasks quickly (such as uploading a blog post and adding images) because there were so many steps you had to go through, or the platform would crash (or a combination of the two).
In contrast, a CMS with a positive user experience is a dream come true. It’s so easy to do what you need to do. There’s little to no downtime. When I use a great CMS, I feel efficient, which improves my mood. I’m more motivated to get work done, which is a benefit for myself and my clients.
The crowded CMS space can be overwhelming. Adopting the best practices outlined in the article (looking at your needs, including future needs, thinking about your budget, and considering the user experience) help you navigate choppy waters.
What best practices would you add to this list?