5 Questions for Choosing a Content Management System

August 31, 2015

Content Management Systems are one of the easiest ways to build and manage your website. Deciding on a Content Management System is anything but. With options from Drupal to Magento to WordPress, each with their benefits and issues, deciding which CMS is right for your site can be a massive task. However, breaking that down into key questions will help narrow the playing field and make your decision easier.

What do we want our site to do?

The most fundamental question in the entire process, knowing what the main functions and goals of your website are will set the main direction of the framework decision making process. The two main types of sites are Informational and Ecommerce. If you are looking to sell a product online, you need to be looking at Ecommerce Content Management Systems. If you are simply looking to inform customers about the products and services you company offers, you will be building a site with an Informational Content Management System. Now, there is some cross-over when talking about many modern sites: Ecommerce sites will still need to be able to create content, and Informational sites will need to be able to drive sales via connecting with their customers.

Will It Have A Blog?

One of the most common features of either type of site is a blog. This platform allows a company to publish content on a regular basis, which is a key channel for communicating with customers and visitors. Knowing whether you want to have a blog on your website early in the process will help ensure the functionality is a core component of the CMS choice.

Custom Design or Theme Framework?

When talking about Content Management Systems, there are a few different ways to style them. You can either have a custom design created by a designer, or buy a theme from an online marketplace and tweak the colors to match your brand. The designer approach will be more expensive, but lead to a more custom look and feel for the site, and a tighter fit to your brand. The purchased theme approach will be faster and cost less, though will run the risk of not fitting as tightly with your brand.

CMS Decision Making is a long journey

Where will it be hosted?

For many of the major Content Management Systems, there are several options available for hosting the site. The most common choice is to host it on a private server, managed by the website company, a third-party IT firm, or by the company themselves. This approach keeps the most control over the server, but requires more effort to manage. You can also host with an application-specific host, which have servers, processes, and management tools designed to work with your CMS. These require less effort to both setup and manage, but come at a slightly higher cost, and offer less control and flexibility over the server. The final option is to host your site in with a Software as a Service (SaaS) platform. With these hosts, you only ever deal with the application, and the server is fully managed by the host. These offer the easiest setup and management, but also offer a more limited feature set, less control over your data, and a longer support process.

What do we already have knowledge in?

If your internal team already has training or experience in a Content Management System, that CMS should at least be a contender in the process. If you have workflows built around your website, document them and see how the various systems are able to work with that process. You may need to include additional time in the launch/transition phase of your site build to integrate the site into your internal workflows.

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