As a Digital Agency with over 20 years in the industry, we have the first-hand experience of how daunting the process of choosing the right Content Management System (CMS) can be and the litany of potential pitfalls involved. This article takes you through some of the main points we have faced ourselves when choosing for our own use, including advice we typically give to our clients of what to be aware of and consider when going through the selection process.
Your chosen CMS solution has to be right for what you want to achieve, as it will play an important role in your customer’s experience and journey through your website. A lot of factors should be taken into consideration, including both current and future needs, whether or not you need a lot of flexibility and technical capability, require a fast and easy-to-use website capable of handling all of your data, or simply want a quick way to push out content. Whatever your business, there will be a platform to suit your needs.
To find the right solution for your content management needs, perhaps the biggest challenge will be narrowing down your essential requirements. This will, in most cases, involve input from multiple internal departments and other stakeholders. If you are already using a CMS and looking to make a change or upgrade, you should build your list of priority features by analysing your current pain points and future business needs. There are plenty of CMS solutions to choose from, here are some good questions you should ask yourself during your selection process:
1. Software Type - Proprietary or Open Source?
In most cases, this is determined by budgetary constraints. However, you must also consider if your time is best spent configuring, installing, maintaining and administering a CMS, or if leaving it in the hands of experts is better for your business. Another factor to compare and contrast is the level and access to technical support available for each of the software types.
2. Features and Functionality - Is selling goods or services your website’s primary use?
Many different CMS solutions offer eCommerce capabilities for online stores via plugins or modules, while some are built primarily for eCommerce. During your research phase, you must consider and be clear about how robust your eCommerce functionality needs to be. You also have to think about its ease-of-use, accessibility, maintenance requirements, how many products and services you have, and what payment options to offer.
3. Integration – Are connections to your backend or third-party systems required?
The CMS’s ease of integration with other third-party systems (e.g. Payment gateways, CRM’s, ERP’s and Analytics tools) vital to your business’ day to day operations should also be assessed and verified. If such capabilities as Personalisation of users' journey are high on your list of requirements, then be sure to pick a CMS that either has these inbuilt or has robust APIs and supports integrations with other web apps and microservices.
4. Security – Do you collect or store sensitive data?
If so, at the top of your list must be a CMS that is capable of securing that data, and one that complies with GDPR or any other regulations specific to your industry. Top of your list should also be, a CMS solution that proactively updates their software to protect against online attacks and breaches, as these threats are ever-evolving and changing. The most popular CMS solutions have at one point or another had some serious security issues that need to be taken into account.
5. Usability – Does the CMS match with the skills of your team?
Although many offer similar basic features, all CMS solutions have different back-end user interfaces and therefore appeal differently to website administrators. This is an important point to note, especially if your business doesn’t have an internal technical admin team to work on the website. The best ways to determine the usability of any CMS is to request a demo and to have your team test out the interface and general functionality. Ensure to also factor in the levels of onboarding and training offered by each CMS solution provider.
6. Support – How business-critical is your website?
If you are for example an eCommerce business, any outage will tend to have an immediate effect and impact on the day to day operations. It is important to determine the length of time you are prepared to wait for any potential issues to be resolved. Most CMS solution providers typically offer tiered levels of technical support, with the highest level of support generally tending to be the most costly. Ensure to factor this into your budget planning.
The answers to these and more questions will help you narrow down or shortlist which CMS solution is right for you, and which one is best suited to your unique business needs.
Interested in learning more? Check out our insights on Validating your CMS decision with Gartner Magic Quadrant and Forrester.