Choosing a CMS: Steps to Follow for a Sure-Proof Content Management System Selection

Content management systems (CMS) are growing in popularity: it is estimated that 64% of all websites are powered by one of the CMS platforms. Comparatively, in 2011 only 24% of websites used CMS.

The CMS market is going through a significant proliferation, with more and more vendors popping up by the day. While generally favorable, this expansion makes it difficult to decide on one CMS your business should use.

In this article, we will go over the essentials of choosing a CMS – from early considerations to taking steps to make an informed decision.

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5 Things to Consider When Choosing a CMS

When deciding on one of the numerous CMS platforms out there, there are five crucial aspects to consider:

1. Usability

Usability/ease of use of a CMS is critical to consider when opting for one because it significantly impacts the adoption rate and workflow of your employees. A good CMS platform is simple to use for all team members.

Assume that your team, from content marketers to developers, will work in the CMS's backend. You'll want CMS features that make it simple for each team member to complete their daily duties. Look for a platform with an intuitive WYSIWYG (“what you see is what you get”) editor that allows editorial members to easily create and edit the content that also has add-ons that will enable developers to integrate custom code swiftly.

2. Customers Want Personalized Experiences

Users are used to rapid, personalized service due to digital technology’s growth. Consumers increasingly expect more than just a product. They want a brand experience and you to know who they are, their history with your company, and what they require.

Your CMS should be able to unify all of these user experiences, whether through your website, mobile apps, contact center or in person, so you can anticipate their needs and provide them with a tailored brand experience on your website.

3. Scalability Capacities

A CMS platform that has sufficient customization capabilities and versatility will be able to scale as your business grows. When assessing a CMS option, consider how much flexibility is incorporated into the dashboard, how many extensions are available and whether you can edit the source code.

Most CMS platforms come with a choice of pre-designed theme(s) that you can tweak to fit your branding if you need to establish a website with limited development capabilities. Many CMS platforms provide coding possibilities, allowing you to add more complex features to your website.

4. Available Addons and Extensions

It is not likely that every default CMS platform will include all of the functions that your business requires. Extensions and add-ons solve this issue. You can simply install these pieces of software on your CMS platform to extend and add new capabilities as needed.

5. Your Budget

The prices and packages for most website management system platforms are stated on their websites, but there may be additional charges to consider.

Some CMS impose licensing costs, such as a one-time price for acquiring a software license. Others charge money to update, upgrade, or install extensions and plugins.

When shopping for a CMS, ask the vendor about all the hidden fees and consider that when budgeting for a CMS platform.

How to Choose a CMS in 3 Steps

Once you get these early considerations out of the way, it is time to decide on the CMS platform using this simple three-step method.

Step #1: Know Your Future Requirements

The first thing you should do is establish how you will use your new CMS as a company. Some questions to ask yourself are:

  • Will I try to increase website traffic down the line significantly?
  • Will my current technological dependencies endure the transition to a new CMS?
  • How many channels will I need for my content, and how many languages?
  • Will the CMS successfully integrate with my company's existing tech stack?
  • What website features will we need in the future?
  • Will the CMS be valid for at least the next five years?

Your answers to these questions will help you develop a list of requirements that you can use to compare specific solutions.

Step #2: Write and Send an RFP

It is not always easy to understand the CMS capabilities or how they will function in your website and business context. Sending a request for proposal (RFP) to CMS vendors can help in this instance. An RFP allows prospective suppliers to demonstrate that they understand your goals and that they can deliver results with their products.

In this RFP, communicate your specific requirements so that the vendor can elaborate on why they're suited for you and what steps they’ll take to help you reach your objectives. For example, you can tap into a use case narrative that explains a specific difficulty you must address and then ask the vendor how their CMS platform can deliver.

Step #3: Evaluate Vendor Responses

Before making your final pick, consider your top vendors and how well they fulfill your CMS's technical, functional, and business needs. Consider how much support and training each manufacturer provides and whether this platform has a thriving developer community to ensure the solution is adaptable to your needs.

Request demos from the providers on your shortlist, and be prepared to ask tough questions to demonstrate the capabilities of each product. Determine how the CMS interacts with other tools and systems and if it is scalable.

3 Most Popular CMS to Choose From

There are numerous CMS platforms, but these three excel in popularity and the level of support and capabilities they provide.

WordPress

WordPress is the most used CMS software in the world, powering around 33% of all websites on the internet.

WordPress is a free, open-source CMS created for blogging but is now used by many websites and online retailers.

WordPress websites require you to locate an appropriate WordPress hosting service.

Advantages:

  • The flexibility and freedom to build a diverse set of websites, from online stores to membership sites
  • Thousands of WordPress themes and plugins are available for adding extra features like contact forms and photo galleries
  • No technical skills or coding knowledge requirements to get it up and running
  • Well-designed for SEO
  • A massive community of users
  • It lets you download all your content in XML format, making it easy to migrate to a different system or platform

Disadvantages:

  • You need to set up your hosting and domain name and manage cybersecurity and backups

Drupal

Another popular open-source CMS platform is Drupal. It supports many large websites, such as news portals and many university websites in the US.

Drupal is an excellent choice for developers or users that can afford to employ one. It's instrumental if you want to create a fully customized site that handles a large amount of data.

Advantages:

  • Adding content is accessible through flexible and diverse custom content types
  • Plenty of different modules and plugins are available
  • A large community of users that can provide expert support
  • Simple user management with a built-in system to create new roles and establish permissions

Disadvantages:

  • Figuring out how to change the website's appearance can require advanced coding knowledge
  • Heavily customized and expensive themes

Wix

Wix is a popular CMS platform that is user-friendly and may be worth exploring as an alternative to WordPress. It also has a free plan for users who want to give it a test spin first.

Advantages:

  • Simple to use drag-and-drop interface
  • Plenty of pre-made templates that are also fully responsive
  • A choice of apps and plugins

Disadvantages:

  • Once you choose a template for your Wix website, you cannot switch to another, so pick your template wisely
  • The free plan comes with a Wix-branded domain name and ads on your website
  • eCommerce websites can only run on a paid plan and only accept payments from PayPal
  • Downloading and exporting your data is not simple

Takeaways on Choosing a Content Management System

To reiterate, when choosing a CMS for your business, it all boils down to these aspects:

  • Ease of use: how intuitive and usable is the CMS platform
  • Personalization: what it offers in terms of addressing the needs of a diverse audience
  • Scalability: can the CMS platform grow as your business grows
  • Available extensions: plugins that can provide more features in future
  • Budget: the price of the solution
  • Tech stack: how well does the CMS integrate my existing technology
  • Business impact: how will it affect your business?
  • Security: can a CMS platform keep my content and customer data secure against threats?
  • Skillset required: how easy is it to deploy this CMS?
  • Content creation: is blogging, editing and promoting blog content simple?
  • SEO: will my website rank well and index properly on search engines?
  • WYSIWYG editor: can my team easily edit the look and feel of the content?
  • Social media and email marketing: does the CMS make it easy to share content to all the major social networks?
  • Technical support: does the CMS come with the training and sufficient support by vendor’s experts or community of users?
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