Similar to hiring a new employee, there are many considerations when embarking on a web development project. Things like a mobile-friendly layout, attractive design, content strategy, compliance and on-site or off-site hosting play a pivotal role in a successful web end product. While all of these are important, there is an essential step required to produce a website that is secure, easy to use, flexible and displays content attractively. So when it comes to a content-management system (CMS), how do you make the right choice?
The following steps will help your business choose the ideal CMS for your website.
Hopefully, the web development project will involve multiple areas of the business, or at least the team members who will have direct involvement with the website and how it functions. By listing priorities from must-haves all the way to could-haves, you can identify a CMS to fit the needs of the whole business. For instance, your marketing team may need an integratabtle platform to connect with other marketing channels, and your sales team might require a form builder for lead generation.
This list should be saved for reference so there are considerations made for future enhancements once the initial iteration of the website is complete. The identification of these necessary requirements, as well as future considerations, will help qualify CMS options that fit your true needs and scale to encompass wish-list items.
So if customization sounds like the right fit, there are plenty of options to satisfy this need. Platforms such as Craft, Expression Engine, Concrete 5 and WordPress offer easy-to-use front-end management dashboards, while allowing more developmental flexibility on the back end. It is important when determining the usability to keep both technical and end-user skills in mind so that the CMS can be protected, maintained and updated, as well as provide ease of use to those making content updates within the CMS.
Similar to finding a CMS that fits your usability needs, it is equally important to consider the features available with the CMS platform. Make sure that the platform is able to accommodate as many of your identified requirements as possible. Another CMS feature that can help your website hit the ground running is integrations with your technology stack (i.e., CRM, sales software, project management, cloud storage, etc.). Defining the interactions and determining possibilities will help streamline development, while providing a measurable metric for the website’s impact on the business.
Content support should be considered, as well. The intention of your site will determine what types of content (i.e., video, audio, blogs, etc.) need to be supported. Flexibility within the pages to lay out various content provides customization without requiring further development. Finally, security and stability should be features that impact your CMS decision. The more popular a CMS is, the more prone it will be to attacks, so make sure to consider frequency of security updates, as well as security features or available security plug-ins.
4. Future Needs
Your website should evolve with your business. What you need today might not be what you need in five years. If technology has shown us anything, it's that things are changing faster than ever. Your CMS needs to have the ability to scale with your business’s requirements, both technologically and economically. Select a CMS that avoids the need to re-platform—ones that offer upgrades, new features and consistent updates. This ensures that, as your business needs shift, your website can rise to the occasion. The traditional way of building websites is changing. Websites should no longer go through a singular overhaul just to remain stagnant for the next few years, awaiting the next web redesign or development project. Through a growth-driven design model, your website and CMS should be going through ongoing continuous improvement. And your CMS should support this mentality.