Your website is arguably your single most important digital marketing property. It’s also the one that you have the most control over – you own the content, determine the design, and can customise it however you like. Beneath every website is a content management system (CMS). There are plenty of CMS platforms out there, and choosing the best solution for your business is crucial.
Your website is arguably your single most important digital marketing property. It's also the one that you have the most control over. Click To Tweet
I’ve seen businesses migrate to different platforms with seemingly little regard for current or future needs. What’s more, these have been long and expensive projects, with no major improvements. They’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a proprietary CMS, which is subpar.
So how do you go about choosing the right CMS for your business’ website?
Here are some considerations:
Ease of use
In this day and age, a CMS should be easy for anyone to use. There shouldn’t be any steep learning curve involved. This is the norm for SaaS products, and a CMS shouldn’t be any different.
It must be well designed and easy to navigate. Ease of use doesn’t mean compromising features or functionality either.In this day and age, a CMS should be easy for anyone to use. There shouldn't be any steep learning curve involved. Click To Tweet
Uploading, publishing, and updating content
Nowadays, you don’t need to know how to code in order to upload, publish or update content.
WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) Editors and inline editing are basic requirements of any modern CMS platform.
This means that even the most technologically inept are capable of doing these things in next to no time. If the CMS requires any special knowledge or training to publish content, you may want to consider an alternative.
Third-party plugins and integrations
Third-party plugins allow you to quickly and easily extend the functionality of your website. Many plugins are free, some use the freemium model, and others are ‘premium’ and charge a small fee (typically from $10-$99). Even the premium plugins are still much cheaper than paying a developer to build one specifically for your site.
Third-party plugins serve all types of purposes – from SEO and eCommerce to helping secure your website and building your mailing list.
Envato Market is a marketplace for WordPress themes and plugins, which I definitely recommend checking out.
Front end user role management
In a world driven by big data, personalisation that delivers state-of-the-art digital experiences is commonplace.
Real-time intelligence on how users navigate your site can help you deliver the right content at the right time to visitors based on their credentials, cookies or even their site actions.
How flexible is the CMS platform? Can it operate in various environments or is it OS specific?
Some CMS platforms will run in either Linux or Windows, some only run on one. This can limit your hosting options and create issues down the road. If possible, look for an OS neutral CMS.
Some CMS platforms are premise-based, which means you have the license rights to setup the software in your own hosting environment.
Alternatively, you can pay for a third party hosting service on a monthly or yearly basis to take care of all the infrastructure and support. This takes away a huge hassle, and frees up resources at your end.
I use GoDaddy to host this site. It’s affordable, reliable, and provides excellent customer service.
Your hosting setup will affect your scalability, as well as uptime. If your website has lots of traffic, you may need to scale up your servers and resources accordingly so your website doesn’t crash or load really slowly.
Not all CMS platforms are built equal. Back in the day, you had to hire a designer to create all the design elements from scratch in Dreamweaver. If you’re still looking for a completely unique design, you can get one done no problem. This is common for big companies as they need their website to align with their branding.
Alternatively, you can take advantage of the many online marketplaces – like Envato (mentioned above) – that sell website themes and templates, which can be uploaded and applied in seconds.
We live in a mobile-first world. As such, your website needs to render nicely on any device – smartphone, tablet or desktop. This is important for both the user experience, as well as SEO. Yes, Google favours mobile friendly websites in search rankings. Your CMS should support responsive design out of the box.
When evaluating CMS platforms, you have to consider the security implications, the integrity of your data, and whether you can afford to have your site go down or suffer from a data breach.
In theory, all websites can be hacked when targeted, but some platforms are more secure than others. Do your research to be sure that the source code is sound and that security is not a major issue.
A good CMS will service your needs today and tomorrow. It should be robust, feature-rich, and easy to use. I’m partial to WordPress, with a third-party hosting provider.
Here are some facts and figures for WordPress worth considering:
- WordPress runs almost 30 percent of the entire Internet (Source).
- WordPress owns 50-60 percent of the global CMS market – making it the most popular CMS of them all (Source).
- New York Observer, New York Post, TED, Thought Catalog, Williams, USA Today, CNN, Fortune.com, TIME.com, National Post, Spotify, TechCrunch, CBS Local, NBC, and more all use WordPress (Source).
- WordPress powers 14.7 percent of the top 100 websites in the world (Source).
Every business is different, and will have its own unique needs. There’s no right or wrong CMS solution – it is about finding the best fit. Be sure to do some research with the above considerations in mind. Weigh up the pros and cons of each platform. Good luck.
BONUS TOOL: BuiltWith is a free web technology profiler information tool that you can use to find out what any website is built with. BuiltWith technology tracking includes widgets, analytics, frameworks, content management systems, advertisers, content delivery networks, web standards and web servers. Check it out here.
Content marketer, blogger, author and tech geek.