Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A guide to choosing the right website CMS.

The right content management system (CMS, the back-end programming/software that allows you to virtually change anything on your website by yourself) can turn even the most mundane people into master webmasters. From simple text editing to full-on digital asset management, we can truly have full control right on our mouse pad.

But select the wrong CMS, and you’ll find yourself mired in a sea of painful programming limitations. Perhaps cmswire.com said it best: “Businesses must have the ability to flow their content in a liquid manner across every manner of digital channel.”

But how do you find your best fit in the sea of content management systems out there? With a few simple dos and don’ts.

Look for flexibility and control, combined with ease of use and a short learning curve. (So you don’t need a computer science degree to make it work.) Ideally, the toolbars and windows would look and function similar to Microsoft Word, giving you familiarity and comfort.

But what else? Start by documenting your requirements.

howto.gov recommends asking questions like these before deciding: “Which digital services do you need to offer to support your organization’s mission and goals? How will you need to communicate with customers? How will you offer services via mobile and other devices?”

Dos & Don’ts 
of Selecting the Right CMS

Don’t buy just because of the cool features.

Don’t buy just because it’s a big name in the industry.

Don’t buy just because it fits into your existing IT systems.

Don’t buy solely based on price.

DO buy because it does what you want it to do (PS—you need to figure that out first)

DO buy because it aligns with the skills and abilities of the people who use it

DO buy because it fits into your budget and expectations.

DO buy because it makes it easy for you.
Focus on things like:
  • Ease of use
  • Functionality
  • Support for open content and SEO
  • Integration into your current IT environment

Even more, “The technology should be capable of optimizing, personalizing and adapting to any number of contextual demands,” says cmswire.com.

In general, content management systems can:
  • Let you add, update and delete sections
    and pages
  • Upload, resize and edit photos
  • Add or delete files like PDFs, Word documents and Excel spreadsheets
  • Change fonts, colors and spacing
  • Create forms and surveys
  • Add and delete user accounts and
    manage security
  • And more

As inc.com says, “Today, there are hundreds of [web cms] options. One size does not fit all.” A huge range of content management systems exists, from the simplest text editors and pre-packaged systems to more robust custom setups that let you build out advanced options like banner ads, coupons, event calendars, photo galleries and ecommerce capability like shopping carts, bill pay or online donations.
Content management systems can even be customized with modules for specific industries, like healthcare, tourism, retail. And you can even have them customized to your specific business or organization.
Whether you’re a small business, start-up, a non-profit, a mid-size enterprise or a major corporation, be careful to align the system to your online marketing plan. The fact is, with the right content management system, you could potentially manage nearly 100% of your website—by yourself, without special technical training or software. Who said websites aren’t easy?
Want to learn more about content management systems from out-of-the-box to custom? Contact Cheryl Neumann, [email protected] or 309.346.2512.