The primary purpose of a CMS (Content Management System) is to give a user an easy way to create and manage content without the need to know a programming language. However, modern platforms are much more than tools making your work more convenient. The right choice of software can help your business in every area: from increasing customer engagement and brand awareness to marketing and sales. In this article, we will talk about what you should consider when making this choice.
If you are reading this article, you probably want to see some categorical advice in the vein of “the best CMS is…”. Unfortunately, it is impossible – if there were one clear winner, there wouldn’t be so many CMSs, to begin with. Your choice should depend on context, as each of them has its own strengths and weaknesses. So ask yourself these questions:
1. What are your plans and expectations?
What is your growth forecast for your business? What will your requirements to the CMS in one year’s time be? While it is normal for quickly growing businesses to change the design of their website several times in a short period, jumping from one CMS to another is much more painful and should be avoided. It may be a good idea to pay a little extra to get a CMS to grow into if it frees you from the hassle.
To evaluate the scalability of a CMS, find out the following:
- Can it host the necessary number of pages without the drop in performance?
- Do huge websites (over 100,000 pages) use this CMS?
2. What impact will it have on my business?
CMSs can be roughly divided into two categories: development platforms and solution platforms. The former are basically just this – platforms on which you can build whatever you want. With the latter, all the development is already done, and what’s left to you is to customize them to fit your requirements. Depending on what kind of platform you choose, the impact on your business may be very different.
Development platforms give you greater freedom in the implementation of your goals, but require either internal staff or hiring external specialists to do so. Websites developed on these platforms are more customizable but creating them is much more time-consuming.
Solution platforms are less customizable but much easier to adopt, as most development is already done. For example, new BigCommerce WordPress plugin is very easy to implement for entrepreneurs who already use WordPress while giving them new ways to integrate their content experiences with their sales funnel.
3. What software should your CMS be integrated with?
If you already use some software (e.g., inventory management system or POS) and don’t intend to replace it, it already limits your freedom of choice, as some platforms may not support it. Check the compatibility issues. If in doubt, contact your provider’s account manager and ask him directly.
4. Is the CMS in question easy to install and use?
It may sound strange, but the actual UI of the CMS is often overlooked when one chooses it, which may lead to problems. Ideally, you should strive for a CMS that is intuitive enough to use to be handled by the least technologically advanced member of your team. It is even better if the UI is similar to the tools you already use.
However, before you are able to use anything you will have to install and set up the CMS. Hence a number of additional things to check:
- Does installation call for technical knowledge?
- Does the provider accompany the tool with enough documentation to go through with it on your own?
- Can the CMS run on your current infrastructure (i.e., your servers)?
- How are system upgrades introduced and what is your role in it?
5. How much traffic do you expect?
It may be somewhat difficult to predict, but making the right estimate is instrumental in the right choice of a CMS. Selling yourself short can lead to suddenly realizing that you are stuck with a platform that just can’t handle your needs and has to be urgently replaced. Overestimating yourself will have you pay more than you need. Be realistic.
6. How good are documentation and support?
Documentation and support are indispensable for any software, and CMS is not an exception. Before you make a decision, consider these questions:
- How thorough, organized and detailed the documentation is (if you cannot judge on your own, ask your IT department to evaluate it for you)?
- What formats does the documentation use? In addition to text, are there other media like presentations or video to make their contents easier to understand for non-professionals?
- How is support organized? Does it have a forum where issues can be discussed? How do you contact the support to ask questions? How quickly does it react to them?
7. How flexible and adaptable is the CMS?
Times are changing, and the demands to CMSs change with them. What is perfectly passable for business in general and your business, in particular, today will be hopelessly outdated in a couple of years’ time. You need a CMS that will evolve together with your business. This means that you have to check the following:
- Can the vendor show you the roadmap of new features it intends to add to the CMS over an extended period of time in the future?
- How often does the vendor update the CMS? Does it have a history of keeping up with market trends in its updates?
- Is it possible to customize the CMS on your own if you need to do so?
- How does the vendor treat feature requests from its clients? How quickly are they implemented, if at all?
As you can see, choosing a CMS is a much more complicated task than just taking something that vaguely suits you right now. We, however, hope that this article will give you some indication of what you should pay special attention to.
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