Si­mon Billing­ton cov­ers what you need to con­sider when choos­ing the right CMS

Si­mon Billing­ton takes a look at what you need to con­sider when choos­ing the right CMS for your site

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When it comes to a CMS, we live in com­pli­cated times. Which sys­tem do you choose and what do you want to achieve? If your goal is sim­ply to build an ‘ed­itable web­site’ you need to re­think your goals. You should be aim­ing to cre­ate the beat­ing heart of your dig­i­tal ecosys­tem.

So what ex­actly needs to be con­sid­ered when mak­ing the tough­est choice in dig­i­tal? Here are a few point­ers to get started.

What is your aim?

A CMS should be de­signed to sup­port all of the crit­i­cal in­ter­ac­tions and func­tions your busi­ness needs. I hear now more than I have ever done: ‘We have in­vested all this money in a web­site but it’s not de­liv­er­ing what we ex­pected.’ Es­tab­lish­ing real KPIs for the site will help you make the right de­ci­sion.

How it will be mea­sured

If you cre­ate KPIs for a site’s suc­cess, match them with the right level of in­sight. In my view, you can never have enough data around web­site us­age. The great­est amount of time should be given to this as­pect of the CMS strat­egy. If you can’t in­te­grate an ad­e­quate level of an­a­lyt­ics into the con­sid­ered CMS, walk away. Also con­sider the rest of the ecosys­tem: en­sure you have mea­sure­ment in place to track the im­pact of changes across your dig­i­tal real es­tate.

How it will be man­aged

A web­site is a liv­ing, breath­ing thing: it needs to be fed. Up front, think about your or­gan­i­sa­tion’s abil­ity to man­age it mov­ing for­ward. If you are a team of one or two and are tar­get­ing a con­tent-hun­gry web­site, you will be bat­tling com­pet­ing de­mands so en­sure you con­sider how you will feed it. Sites that have been de­signed with high con­tent de­mands will suf­fer far worse in the hands of small teams than those with more mod­est con­tent needs.

How it will be main­tained

Be­fore you get in bed with one par­tic­u­lar CMS, con­sider what hap­pens fur­ther down the line. Dig­i­tal changes con­stantly. Things will break. Code will need up­dat­ing. This is where care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion should be given to choos­ing be­tween a be­spoke, an open­source or a pro­pri­etary CMS.

With a be­spoke CMS you get the func­tion­al­ity you need. Your bud­get has paid for what you are go­ing to use and not for things you won’t use. How­ever, its big­gest as­set is its great­est lim­i­ta­tion. In most cases, a be­spoke CMS is de­vel­oped by a sin­gle de­vel­oper or a team. Their ap­proach to de­vel­op­ment can some­times make it very hard for an­other de­vel­oper to take over. A be­spoke CMS will need con­stant up­dates, so con­sider the real cost of a re­la­tion­ship with those de­vel­op­ers break­ing down.

Open source is free to use. This can be all some­one needs to hear to make it the weapon of choice. But, as with all open source, no­body re­ally owns it. Yes, there are more de­vel­op­ers out there who can de­velop for that plat­form, mak­ing it eas­ier and cheaper to re­cruit. But, with­out the de­fined de­vel­op­ment roadmap of the pro­pri­etary CMS, you are some­what at the mercy of the masses. The sub­scrip­tion fee that comes with the pro­pri­etary CMS guar­an­tees not only a de­fined roadmap but also ac­count­abil­ity and a sup­port net­work mov­ing for­ward.

Don’t over- per­son­alise

Be­ware the lure of per­son­al­i­sa­tion. This is some ad­vice based on ex­pe­ri­ence. True per­son­al­i­sa­tion is very hard to achieve: it will re­quire a great deal of in­vest­ment. Man­ag­ing and cre­at­ing spe­cific jour­neys for in­di­vid­ual per­sonas re­quires time. As with all de­ci­sions when choos­ing a CMS, con­sider the re­al­ity of liv­ing day-to-day with your cho­sen plat­form. Con­sider us­ing as many au­to­mated ap­proaches to con­tent per­son­al­i­sa­tion as pos­si­ble. The flex­i­bil­ity of a CMS is re­flected in the ex­pe­ri­ence a user has. If you can’t put in, vis­i­tors will get out.

These are just some of the con­sid­er­a­tions when choos­ing a CMS and ev­ery op­tion will come with its pos­i­tives and neg­a­tives. As long as you are clear with what you need it to do up front, you will al­ways re­duce the risk of mak­ing the wrong choice.

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