Which Content Management System Is Right For You

Choosing A CMS

Does your website need a content management system?

There’s a very good chance that the answer is an unequivocal “yes.” Although there’s certainly something to be said for building and maintaining one’s website the old-fashioned way(HTML and elbow grease), this is generally an impractical choice for anything other than a small website with a dedicated web designer (or a site without a regular update schedule). The fact is that most pages on the modern web are going to require a CMS of some sort in order to function.

Unfortunately, selecting the right content management system for your organization isn’t always the easiest task. There’s a lot of stuff you’re going to need to take into account, a lot of research you’re going to need to do before making your final decision. Failure to do this will lead to a fair bit of unpleasantness, putting you into a situation where even the simplest task becomes downright herculean in difficulty.

So, what questions do you need to ask in order to ensure you make the correct choice?

What Are Other Sites In Your Industry Using?

While you don’t necessarily need to ape what the most popular websites are doing, it pays to have a look around at how the competition is managing their content. With that in mind, the first step in deciding what CMS to use is to do a bit of market research. Look around at a few authority sites with a similar demographic/topic to your own. If possible, get in touch with a few staff members and ask them what they think of the CMS their employer utilizes.  For that matter, see what you think of it, yourself.

How Experienced Are You/How Technical Are You Willing To Get?

The second question you need to answer is how much work you’re willing to put into learning an overly-technical content management system (and how much experience you have with web design, besides). In part, this is tied to how much control you want to have over how your site looks and functions. If you’re looking for a positively ridiculous level of customization and control, you might want to go with Drupal or MODX; otherwise, WordPress might be perfectly suited for your needs, particularly if you’re a novice.

How Much Are You Willing To Spend?

Next up are budget constraints.  How much money does your organization have available to spend on a proprietary CMS platform? Do you have any money available to you at all? Note that you’re likely going to need to factor in hosting fees, as well.

What Do You Intend To Use It For?

Now for the most important question: what are you looking to get out of your content management system? Do you want your site to be capable of gathering user feedback? How much control do you want your contributors (if any) to have over how the site looks? What’s the purpose of your organization, and what are its goals? How do you intend to grow/expand in the future?

Essentially, in order to make an informed decision, you must be intimately familiar with the innermost workings of your company, and take into account virtually every usage scenario your website might possibly see. Ask yourself which features you absolutely need, and which are simply window dressing.

What Kind Of Vendor Do You Want To Do Business With?

Last but not least, you need to ask yourself what kind of vendor you’re looking to work with. How important is it that they provide regular, on-demand support? Does there need to be a thriving, welcoming and passionate community? What sort of roadmap fits best with your own vision?

In Closing

Most websites need a content management system in order to function – it’s a matter of practicality. Choosing the wrong CMS, though? That’s almost as bad as not having one in the first place. In order to make an informed decision about which content management system your organization should use, be sure you first know exactly what you’re looking to gain – otherwise, you’re going to find yourself in a rather unfortunate mess.