How to Choose the Perfect CMS

Golden computer symbolizing the perfect CMS.

The cake title is a lie. There is no perfect content management system (CMS). They all have pros and cons, highlights and flaws. I can’t help you find the perfect CMS, but I can help you find the CMS that might be perfect for you.

If you’ve read my previous CMS articles, you’re already aware of what a content management system is and why it’s beneficial. Now, that you are sufficiently prepped, let’s move on to my formula for choosing a CMS. It’s a super easy formula that I call the 3N’s – Needs, Necessities, and Nuisances.

Needs

First and foremost, you need to make a list of specific features and functionalities that are mission critical to your goals and success. Next, prioritize those. Then, highlight the ones that are on your make or break list. Have you ever shopped for a new car? It’s kind of like that. You’re going to check out all the bell and whistles. You know everything you’re looking for in a new car. Somethings are nice to have (*cough*…heated seats), but you could live without them. However, if you’re 7 feet tall, things like proper leg and headroom are probably on the make or break list for you.

Necessities

This is different than your make or break list. These aren’t things that are specific to your business or personal goals. These are just generally good things that you should be looking for in any CMS system. Here’s the short list:

• User friendly
• Widely used
• Scalable
• Intuitive UI

You’ve probably heard the term KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) thrown around more than a time or two in your life. The reason this acronym has been circling around for the last 60 years or so is because it’s true. Most things work best when they are easy to use instead of being over complicated. You don’t need to look for the CMS that has a billion different features. Make sure the process for doing what you need it to do isn’t overshadowed by a bunch of stuff you don’t need.

The next thing to look for is the popularity and history of the CMS. Does it work on some obscure code that no one knows how to program anymore? Is it entering the realm of forgotten software? Look for something current that has a good track record. You want something that has developers flocking behind it. The CMS you choose should be well supported.

You’re also going to want something scalable. Never limit your growth. You never know in this modern world when something is going to take off and explode into popularity overnight. While that might not happen to your business, growth certainly should be the goal. Make sure you’re not going to have to completely replace your CMS if you grow. You should be able to move up to a larger plan or expand the platform with add-ons, plugins, or extensions.

We talked about keeping it simple but make sure it’s intuitive as well. Having five buttons to choose from doesn’t do you any good if they all look like some foreign hieroglyphics. It should be easy to find what you’re looking for within a few simple clicks or without having to consult the help section a hundred times. This is where taking a demo of the CMS can really help. Most platforms offer a free trial or a guided demo. You can also look up YouTube tutorials to give you a better insight into the product before committing.

Nuisances

This is the complete opposite of the ‘Needs’ section. Anything you hate about your current platform goes here. Anything that’s on your no-no list belongs to the ‘nuisances’ section. For example, if you need a CMS that will only reside on an intranet in your office for specific security purposes, forced cloud functionality might be a big no-no. Other things might not be so make or break. However, don’t compromise if there is something you’re really sure you don’t want in your CMS. This doesn’t have to be specific to features either. For example, you might say, “It costs $50,000?! Whoa! That’s a no-no!”

Knowing what your personal must -haves and must-have-nots are will be key in choosing the perfect CMS for you. Immediately throw out any choices that don’t meet the ‘necessities’ section. Hopefully, the guide along with our previous two articles will help you narrow down your choices. Researching can be a long process and can also be overwhelming. If you need help, feel free to contact us. We’re well versed in content management systems and we also have a lot of experience shopping around for platforms. Remember – always try before you buy!

Stephanie Rawson

Stephanie has 15 years of self-taught HTML and web design experience along with an associates degree in Information Technology from Colorado Tech. Her previous experience in eCommerce and customer service gives her a unique insight into what clients and their customers are looking for. Outside of work, Stephanie is active in Christian ministry and loves geeky hobbies.

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