When considering a new website solution, you will most likely run across the very common term: Content Management System (CMS). But what is a CMS and why is it important to you? Basically, a CMS is an online platform for managing and publishing content and images. It enables non-technical users to update and maintain their website with little training, and ideally, little effort.
Google “content management systems” and you’ll see millions of results from companies explaining why their solution is better than the rest. Although each online solution for managing a website has its place, there are big differences between an option and a solution.
When looking for an online CMS platform, consider these 5 important aspects:
As in everything, there is a learning curve to becoming a power user of any CMS. However, the learning curve should not be based on the length of the user manual, but on how a CMS can help you make small and large changes with little effort. A system should be so intuitive that you don’t require frequent visits to the help file or multiple days of training. The benefit of having a CMS is it empowers non-technical personnel to operate and update your website without having to know HTML or spend extensive time learning the system. Look for a solution which has an intuitive interface so your employees can make fast updates to your website and spend their time on other money making activities.
- Shelf Life/Agility
Technology is always changing and you can find yourself “stuck in the mud” without a progressive solution. Browsers are constantly changing and your business is always evolving; you need to find a solution that is specifically built to improve and adjust to the times.Consider choosing a solution which offers a progressive maintenance plan, such as Software as a Service (SaaS), to avoid becoming out dated and forcing you to redesign your website every few years. Using a SaaS-based plan gives you more than just hosting services. It typically gives you frequent updates, new features, and code that keeps current with browsers without having to pay custom costs. In the end, your online platform should continue to improve usability and will help you maintain and grow a valued return on your investment.
Your CMS should become a working part of your organization, not a standalone tool. When choosing a CMS, be sure the company supporting it and their system are able to integrate with the third-party software you already use (CRM, Marketing Automation, Accounting, etc.) or will need in the future. Not having the ability to integrate with necessary programs will cause your new website to become a cumbersome task and easily become an ineffective tool for your organization.
The level of support often differs depending on your company and the resources you have readily available. Keep in mind your CMS will be part of your company’s business plan and a vital resource for your organization, so be sure your CMS and the CMS provider have the appropriate resources to meet your current and future needs. This means having 24/7 support with near 100% uptime, ability to make future updates and customizations, a resource for industry best practices and the flexibility to meet your seasonal needs. When doing reference checks, be sure to ask about the people supporting the system, not just the system itself.
- Price vs Purpose
There are many different price points for CMS platforms and they range from free to 100K+. Choose a solution which not only meets your online business objectives, but offers functionality into which you can grow. A free or low-priced CMS may work well for the appropriate small or non-internet focused company, but you need to consider your business objectives. If it doesn’t meet your needs, it may mean higher costs later, both marginal and opportunity. If the internet is an integral part of your business plan (or your competitors’ business plans) you need to consider the investment as a long term solution and the CMS should be budgeted accordingly to meet your 5 year plan.
Although these are not the only considerations when looking for an online solution, you should have these 5 factors as part of your priority items.