Choosing a CMS is an increasingly challenging proposition. Do you base your decision on feature set, cost, scalability, integration or all of the above?
At Ridgeway, we've seen many cases over the years where the wrong software has been put in place, been badly implemented, or there hasn’t been the requisite planning put in place upfront to consider the implementation from all angles. Choosing wisely saves time, effort, and importantly, cost in the long run, and with so many options out there it can be a bit of a minefield.
Below are a few tips to help guide you in the right direction and ensure success for you and your business.
Determine your requirements
So first things first, you need to invest time into understanding your business requirements. Without a clearly defined set of requirements, it's easy to end up with some impressive functionality that you just won’t use, or some missing functionality that is vital for your business. Make sure you involve all key stakeholders that will be using the system to get a true understanding of their needs.
Understand what’s out there
Do your research to understand the market and what’s available. When doing this make sure to keep your requirements in mind and don’t become a kid in a candy store! It’s easy to get wowed by the newest, shiniest things so make sure you don’t get distracted and always refer back to your needs.
Don’t over buy
Did your mum ever buy you a jumper that was three sizes too big, thinking you would grow into it? The trouble was that by the time it actually fit, it was summer so you never wore it. This is a common issue that we see with clients - not that they wear over-sized jumpers, more that they have bought a CMS platform that is way beyond their needs, opting to include functionality that they never end up using! The end result is a system that is complicated to implement, expensive to maintain, and something that isn’t always easy to use. You should select a platform that has scalability, however. This might sound a little contradictory to what I’ve just said, but this is why selecting the right CMS platform based on your business requirements now and 5 years down the line is important, it shouldn’t just be based on a glamorous-looking feature set.
Speak to people that use it
A great way to really understand the pros and cons of a platform is to speak to people that are already using it.
A great way to really understand the pros and cons of a platform is to speak to people that are already using it. Your agency or vendor will be able to provide references and I would strongly recommend you do this. You could also speak to the user community or peers in other businesses who have implemented solutions on the same platforms. Ultimately, you have to make a decision that is right for your business but it can help to build a picture from the experiences of others.
Your website going live is just the start. When selecting your platform and agency, you need to think further down the line. What will happen should something go wrong? The benefit of partnering with a digital agency is that they should provide a support package to ensure your platform remains secure, reliable, and fully optimised. Make sure you find out about the different support packages that your agency offers, and whether they can meet your needs.
The ability of your CMS platform to integrate with existing systems or third-party applications is an extremely important consideration, particularly if you have multiple systems to run your business. If your current systems will not integrate effectively then the resulting dispersed data can significantly hamper your business’ ability to collect, compile, analyse, and report on important information without significant manual intervention which will cost time and money.
Budget and licensing
When choosing a CMS platform, you will need to think about your budget and what you want to invest. This includes the initial set-up cost as well as any ongoing license fees. There are two main routes: a commercial proprietary CMS or a free open-source CMS route. Choosing one over the other comes down to your business requirements and budget, but keep in mind that open source doesn’t mean free. There may be no on-going licence fee but there can be other challenges to overcome which may cost you time. Think about ROI. If investing more upfront gives you a greater return and meets your business needs better, then this is always recommended.
The aim of this article was to provide some food for thought when choosing a CMS platform. We know it’s not an easy decision and there are lots of things to consider, but the main thing to keep in mind throughout is your business requirements and future plans. We have a wealth of experience and our team of consultants would be happy to discuss to best option for you and your business needs, so why not get in touch?
We've built a wide range of websites using the all-in-one CMS, Ecommerce and Online Marketing Platform, Kentico - check out some of our work with clients including Twinings and HMV.