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How to Choose the Right CMS for you

Malenka Warner

March 1, 2013

So your company has decided to redesign their web site. Or you work for a company that has identified a very specific business channel or special product that you want to “market” via the web. If your company or organization is looking to also implement a content management system (a CMS) to make it easier for the non-programmers on staff to keep the site up to date, you may be tempted to start with searching, “How to Choose a CMS?”

But before you go too far down that road, remember the line in the Matrix: “Perhaps we are asking the wrong questions.”

Well that is exactly where this post is heading. You see, that’s not where the process starts.

Let’s start at the beginning:

What is the primary business goal that your site (or microsite) should meet to be judged a successful part of your business plan?

These questions may have complex answers. Sure you probably want site visitors – but don’t you want more of the right kind of site visitors? Are you specifically trying to drive sales? Do you have a need for e-commerce? Do you need to have a content management system? Do you know how to choose a CMS? How about customer service – does your site need play a large support role to your customer base?

Once you’ve defined that, then draw up the list of requirements that you will need on your site. This will help to give you insight on how to choose a CMS that’s right for your business needs. Make a list of features like:

  • Special features
  • Display needs
  • Do you need mobile – are you doing responsive design?
  • Anticipated site load – how many visitors are you likely to get. (And just for the sake of realism, you should consider a 3-year horizon.)
  • The idea here is to remember, you don’t need to build a Google, or an Amazon – unless you are going to build the next Google or Amazon. And if that is your business goal, and you have lots of time and money to invest, then by all means go for it.
  • Make a list of all the other systems that your site will need to tie into (legacy systems, company back-office systems, your knowledge-base, customer service tools, email systems)

Once you have defined all of the wants and needs for your businesses’ website, you can begin to understand how to choose a CMS when comparing platforms..

And for this, we urge you to consider the trope that you see on so many car commercials: “(Note) This is done under the guidance of masters. It’s dangerous. Do not attempt to do this yourself.”

So to answer the question, “How to choose a CMS,” first and foremost, I say you need to find a group of talented developers who can implement the requirements that meets and exceeds your business need. By involving experts, you can rest assured that you will receive knowledgeable advice and recommendations when deciding which content management system will aid you the most in accomplishing your business goals.

Warning: Avoid specialty firms who want to pigeon-hole you into a software first solution. This is about your business goal first – and choice of tools second.

I’ve found this is the right order to ensure a highly successful end product.

cms / content management system / how to choose a cms