Technically speaking, Content Management System provides a safe, secure and user-friendly interface to manage the content of the database.
There are plenty of content management systems available today and they can be divided into two groups:
- Open source CMS with WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla as the most popular ones
- Proprietaries such as Advantage CSP or Sitefinity
However, choosing the right CMS depends on the purpose of your website, your needs, budget, and business goals.
So, once you get the basic idea behind a CMS, you can dig deep into details and see what else you need to know when you are scoping various platforms.
If you are new to business or you want to migrate to a new CMS, picking the right one can be challenging. However, the following checklist could help you make that decision easier and faster.
#1 Choose CMS according to your capability
If the CMS you are already using meets your needs, staying with the same system for the next project may provide you with a more sophisticated web app.
Being already familiar with its basic features, you are in a position to explore other features.
Some content management systems are developed to be easily scalable, like Drupal.
So, if you’ve been using it, exploring other Drupal tools and modules to enrich your new project would be much easier for you.
Also, as you know its basics, any upgrade to the newest CMS version would be a routine.
However, if you want to explore the possibilities of the entirely new CMS, keep in mind the significant amount of time that such ‘adventure’ requires.
#2 Choose your CMS according to the technology you use
When you are looking for a new CMS, a database and scripting languages you plan to use are equally important.
For example, if you are entirely in PHP and MySQL, choosing a Java-based CMS will not do you good, unless you have time to invest in exploring new features.
In other words, if you want to use Symfony as a technology for building web apps, a Drupal CMS is its compatible content management pal.
#3 Determine how much a CMS will cost you
Even though the price is not the main factor you need to look at, it could overrule your decision.
However, there are many options you can consider comparing your needs, budget and business goals.
If you’re looking at budget-friendly options, there are many powerful open source CMS platforms available for any type of business, like WordPress or Drupal.
Open source platforms have many benefits. They are license free and regularly updated, have a vast community that continually and successfully contributes to the quality of the CMS.
At the moment, there are countless free modules for Drupal and plugins for WordPress that you can choose from.
Many open-source platforms do not offer direct support. They develop security patches and upgrades that you must download and install to keep your site up to date and secure.
If you have a bigger budget, one of your options is the proprietary CMS that provides direct technical support. This type of CMS is developed, modified and controlled by one company.
Moreover, proprietary CMS is often customized to meet the specific needs of the business, and typically includes customer service and system setup.
But, if you want to enhance or customize any part of your website, you are limited as you can only use available modules and functionalities. Consider also that licenses tend to be costly.
#4 Choose the CMS that looks into the future
Even if your website is currently covering all devices, it’s important to consider other possibilities that you haven’t yet looked into, but could benefit from it in the future.
Why? Artificial intelligence and virtual reality are emerging as the content of/for the future. Such content in the form of AR/VR is already taking a significant position in the content industry, and users are more and more drawn to it.
Soon you’ll have to cover this content form as well. Your business website will have to be optimized to share and distribute AV/VR content.
The easiest way to be sure you are choosing the right CMS solution is to look at its content capabilities. The CMS that is built for the future is the one capable of supporting new channels whenever is needed.
#5 Look for CMS that supports integrations with other apps and micro-services
Let’s say you want to build a charity web app. You’ll need a CMS able to integrate different billing tools and other systems.
Or, you would want to have a deep look at your marketing insights. Marketing demands a solution that can easily integrate other apps and services.
Moreover, many industries, including healthcare, logistics, and retail have specific software that they may need to integrate into a new CMS.
This might sound like a no-brainer but you would be surprised to hear that there are still some CMSs that don’t have this functionality integrated in the best way.
Another consideration is migrating your existing content to your new platform. You want to make this process as easy as possible, and you want to do it without losing any of your content.
Therefore, check how each CMS platform resolves content migration.
#6 Design per choice
Customized design has a more significant impact on users and makes them stay longer on the website.
In that case, the CMS platform you seek has to allow modifications to the design and the layout.
Such options are of great advantage as you need to make your content stand out.
To put it differently, a platform you choose should not impose the templates on you. Rather it should be flexible enough to allow customization.
#7 Your CMS should support and underpin your content marketing strategy
Imagine you want to increase the number of your users with content. A CMS should be your ally for content creation, management, distribution, and manipulation.
The right CMS for your business is the one that helps you lay a good foundation for your content marketing strategy, supporting it along the way and adapting to the changing needs of the users in terms of content consumption.
From the SEO and content perspective, a good CMS can help you to format your content and optimize it to be easily found in the search engines. Also, you want a CMS that’s going to follow SEO trends and get your site well ranked.
Therefore, you can never have enough data around website usage. If you can’t integrate a satisfactory level of analytics into the considered CMS, continue your search.
Or, If you’re migrating to a new CMS, make sure it is compatible with your current analytics setup. Having that in order will save your valuable data.
Also, when deciding on a platform, look for those that offer social media widgets and online marketing tools.
#8 Take the scalability into account
Change is inevitable for any growing business, and changes can impact your website tremendously. Therefore, you need to make sure you choose a CMS solution that can quickly grow and scale along with your business.
In other words, you should consider a CMS able to turn a simple blog into an e-commerce site, or a forum into a full-blown web application.
Or, let’s say you decide you want to go for a basic open source CMS because you just want to launch a website quickly. But, will that platform support your goals in 6 to 12 months?
What you also need to consider is how many users will use the platform, and what level of technical expertise they will have. You need to make sure that they won’t have a difficult time using it.
#9 Always request a demo
Before the purchase, be sure to test and get a proof-of-concept first.
Ask for a chance to implement a part of the website first and get team members and end-users to test it.
The testing phase is crucial as you could detect many issues that may not have been visible in the first place.
#10 CMS should provide a positive user experience
How people react to your website tells a lot about the quality of user experience.
Do people like to use it or hate it?
A significant contribution to a good user experience comes from a good CMS.
For example, check out if the CMS you are considering does the following:
- Let you organize the site in a way that makes sense
- Is the CMS admin intuitive and easy to navigate?
In the name of good UX, make sure you get familiar with the potential of each CMS you choose, as well as its preview in different aspects. Drupal, for example, provides huge flexibility regarding UX.
#11 Look for support availability
Open source platforms often come with a community familiar with its environment, development and security issues.
Having a rich community of contributors include solving time-sensitive issues and regular CMS upgrades, offered by open source systems that provide plenty of features for you to choose.
On the other hand, with proprietary CMS you can count on direct technical support which also has its perks.
Direct support can help in solving most of the problems much faster and easier. You know that you’re getting a qualified support technician.
But, unlike the open source systems, a proprietary CMS doesn’t provide upgrades free of charge. Still, if you decide to purchase it, you can count on inspected and well-tested updates.
Think about what your CMS needs to do and what do you want from your website in the long run. Invest your time to explore each available option.
First of all, If you don’t have a technical background, as a non-developer person, a CMS has to be intuitive, easy to use and provide:
- Accessible content management – you want to be able to know how to edit your website without any HTML or any front end knowledge.
- Quick edits – you want to be able to dive into content over the web to make changes.
- User-friendly content formatting – you want to be able to upload and format attractive content without any obstacles.
- Independence in publishing – When you use a CMS, you want to be able to publish, edit or upload a new blog without the need for a designer or site admin.
- Familiar site management – You want to be able to easily manage multiple website pages from the one single CMS.
- Flexibility – you want to be able to expand your CMS with available plugins/modules any time.
Don’t forget – at the end of the day, your CMS ultimately has to have two functions:
- To allow you to update your digital platform.
- To be extremely easy for you to use it.
If you can’t think of where to start, say HI to our business development specialists. They might guide you in your quest for the right CMS.