How to choose a CMS that will perfectly suit your business needs
To develop a brand on the Internet, you need an individual website: on its basis, the entire promotion strategy will be implemented, built on powerful analytics and the key interests of the company. Any efficient website is created on a CMS or “engine”: the software part of the site, with the help of which the content is managed and configured. So, at the beginning of working on a website, it is important to decide on a suitable CMS that is relevant to your business, its scale and development strategy.
What is CMS?
You are probably wondering what the abbreviation CMS stands for. This is a Content Management System designated especially to facilitate work and interaction with any digital content, be it text, pictures, videos, articles, files, etc.. This system includes numerous scripts and tools that allow you to customize and edit all the content that you have prepared for your website’s visitors.
It is this “engine” that is responsible for the simplicity and convenience of working with content, in fact, acting as an “administrative software block”.
The purpose of CMS
If this system is configured properly, site administrators or even content managers without technical skills can easily and efficiently add new content to the site, edit existing information and interact effectively with visitors. CMS makes it possible to automate many processes and turn the relationship of complex modules into a simple and convenient management process.
Modern web projects, with their growth dynamics and volume of content, require a quick response to changes and prompt implementation of fresh updates. That's what the right CMS is for.
Its functionality can be customized for different formats and tasks:
- online store
- social networks
- personal sites
- corporate websites
Also, the CMS can solve more complex tasks, such as accounting, generating reports on sales or forecasts, integrating into a CRM system or managing your own CRM system, that is, full-fledged management of the sales department.
Types of CMS
On the market there are offered a plenty of CMS types, but specialists divide them into 4 big categories, according to their purpose and the nature of content which is managed:
- WCMS or web content management system. This is the common CMS type used for website management. Usually such systems are flexible and can be used for different websites, including blogs, forums, marketplaces and other website types. Some of such systems can offer their users custom features, while others are connected with various plugins or third party services. Examples: WordPress, Drupal, Joomla.
- ECMS or enterprise content management system. From the name it is clear that these systems are designed for large enterprises, including various functions that large corporations need, such as tools for analytics, financial management, documentation, payroll, as well as the ability to expand the functionality on a big scale. Examples: Alfresco Software, SaaS ECM Box, DocuWare, IBM ECM System.
- CCMS or component content management system. It is a content management system that manages content at the detailed level (component) rather than at the document level. Each component represents a separate topic, concept, or asset (image, table, product description, procedure). CCMS provides a platform for content developers and technical writers to plan, track, reuse, publish, translate, and build blocks of final documentation: text, XML snippets, images, lists, links, and videos. Examples: XDocs by Bluestream, DITA CCMS by IXIASOFT, SDL Tridion Docs.
- DAMS or digital asset management system. DAM system is a software that implements storage, quick search and easy access to all media data for any authorized team member. The platform is used as a place to collect all media content, as a kind of marketing asset for your organization, where all the components of your brand are relevant, fresh, accessible and always ready to be transferred in the right format, regardless of the sales channel. Examples: Adobe Experience Manager, Brandfolder, Bynder.
Ready-made CMS vs Сustom CMS
Based on the above, there are many ready-made solutions for content management. All of them differ in functionality, payment requirements, availability of source code, and other characteristics. Ready-made content management systems can be open source or proprietary.
The "open source" model means that these CMS can be used for free, but may contain paid features, premium plans, or other monetization options. Since they are free, such systems are very popular. However, this "free" status is the source of many disadvantages. Proprietary CMS require payment to operate, as a rule in the form of a monthly or annual subscription. They usually have a short trial period or demo mode to test their capabilities.
Advantages of ready-made CMS:
- simplicity and ease of use;
- wide functionality with constant updating of the database;
- high speed of website creation;
- availability of a user manual.
- inability to solve specific problems;
- high vulnerability of public CMS;
- the need to control updates and compatibility of new versions;
- excessive resource consumption.
Custom (individual) systems are unique solutions designed specifically for one client. They take a lot of time and money to develop, but the benefits are worth the initial investment. Such systems are considered to be a more accurate tool, customized for a specific project and a specific business. Such a CMS is not universal, it is not suitable for some other projects, but for its target project it will provide the highest efficiency.
An individual CMS accurately and efficiently performs all the assigned strategic tasks, does not have any unnecessary functional elements and has convenient data analysis tools. A custom management system is the best option for creating a complex and large-scale website that takes into account the specific features of your business.
What things to consider when selecting a CMS?
- Functionality. With off-the-shelf solutions, the user must adapt to their feature sets, but a customized CMS is designed to fully meet the needs of the client. For example, a user of an open source CMS may find that certain required features are not available out of the box. In this case, features may be provided through third party add-ons or by ordering a custom modification of this CMS from the software development team.
- Scalability. During the planning phase, the development team considers the client's business strategy and plans for the future. Thus, a CMS built according to the client's specifications will have all the necessary conditions for future growth in scale, functionality and load.
- Performance. Ready-made content management systems are designed to be versatile so that they offer as many features as possible and meet the various needs of a large target audience. The custom CMS does not contain features that the client does not need, so there are no pieces of useless code. In the case of custom web content management systems, better performance translates into faster loading speeds, which is good for visitors and good for SEO rankings.
- Safety. The code of open source solutions is available to everyone, so their vulnerabilities are also visible to the public. Thus, experienced hackers can be aware of hidden backdoors in all popular content management systems and their plugins. The more popular the CMS, the more it becomes a target for hackers. In a custom CMS, the code is known to two parties: the development team and the client. This secrecy provides additional protection for the custom content management system.
- Design and usability. Standard CMSs usually have a wide variety of design templates, color schemes, and even website builder features. However, only a custom CMS can provide the perfect look and feel for a website that strictly adheres to brand identity principles. In addition to the aesthetic appearance, it also allows you to create an optimized layout of content blocks.
- Customer support. Many free and paid content management systems boast fairly fast customer support. However, it cannot match the after-sales service of a reliable development team. A dedicated development team will fix a bug, add a feature, or change the system whenever the customer asks for it, because they get paid to do it and because they value their business reputation. Worth to mention here is that you will not be tied to only one development team that created the CMS for you. All custom CMSs are made on popular programming languages, so you can easily switch a team that is supporting your CMS.
- Independence. When it comes to business, don't rely on a third-party solution. If your profits and reputation depend on a particular piece of software, you're better off owning it. The authors of ready-made CMS are not responsible for any damage that may be caused to the client's site due to errors or vulnerabilities in their software product. Sole ownership of a CMS makes your online presence more secure and reliable.
Drawbacks of custom CMSs:
- expanding the functional structure or eliminating technical errors can be difficult if you do it by your own
- creating your own reliable management system requires higher investments (although it justifies itself in work on large scale and complex projects).
As you can see, a custom (individual) content management system has many advantages over standard open source CMS. It can be built using the same technologies as off-the-shelf CMS, but unlike ready-made solutions, a custom content management system will not have such many drawbacks and will be adapted for your specific implementation.