Selecting a content management system is one of the most daunting decision you'll ever face during any website or app revamp project. A content management system is something that you and your team will use pretty much on a daily basis to manage your website, your online shop, and most of the time, your entire digital marketing strategy. You really need to have the right tool for the job.
I've been advising clients for over 15 years on selecting and building digital solutions around content management systems. Here are the four things that you need to consider when making this decision. Let's do it.
The importance of selecting the right tool for the job
A CMS is there to help you publish and manage all your digital assets. But it has a wider impact on your entire team and many other departments in your company.
Over the years, I've seen nightmare projects where, for example, the information security team imposes SharePoint on the marketing team, just because it's company policy... It ends up hindering all the conversions or the social impact that the team is trying to implement.
I've seen the opposite too, where the marketing team makes decisions that are not compliant with the IT stack. It ends up wasting a lot of time and money and the projects never succeed.
Selecting a CMS is a collaborative decision
This is why it should always be a collaborative decision. You always need to consider those four things when making a decision about your next content management system.
- First of all, it's the editor's experience for the users who are going to use it on a daily basis. Most content management systems will have all the features that you're expecting around scheduling, publishing, workflows for governance... there's little differentiator. You have to make it easy to build pages with a strong templating engine, and finding the balance between having consistent branding, whilst still allowing you the flexibility to build specific layouts or adding forms for example.
- The second point is the InfoSec requirements around where is it going to be hosted? Or what type of personal data is it going to hold? Can you easily transfer or export the data? All of those questions will have an impact on the type of solution that you select, whether it's going to be open-source and self-hosted or a headless cloud-based solution.
- Third, you need to think about the extensibility. What is your roadmap looking like? Are you going to just be publishing content on the frontend or are you going to need more advanced integration with the CRM or custom back-office systems?
- Finally, it is the total cost of ownership. Some systems would have a license fee, but you also need to consider the ongoing maintenance with an agency team or your own internal resources. You need to plan that for the next three to five years.
As we've seen selecting a CMS is not an easy decision. This is why it's really important that you think about all those points. I recommend you prepare a list of all the must-haves, and you collaborate with your agency or the experts to test different systems before committing to a specific tool.
Open-source or cloud-hosted?
From experience, we usually recommend open-source frameworks, such as Drupal, because it allows for great customisation. It's the recommended platform for most UK or US government sites, as it does not lock you into a specific ecosystem. You can also better control the hosting and all the security settings, and even extend it with custom modules.
For a project with lower InfoSec requirements or fewer customisation needs, cloud-based options such as Contentful or ContentStack will usually be enough, as long as you integrate it properly with the frontend.
That's it for today. I hope you found this useful. If you were considering revamping your content management system or need to upgrade your current CMS, just get in touch. Don't forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel and follow me on Twitter to keep learning with me and grow your career in digital.
Until next time, stay safe and see you soon.