How to Choose the Best CMS for Your Website

by in Technology

Continued from ‘Which Technology is Right for my Website?’

Of all technologies used on your website, the most important one you must give primary attention to is the Content Management System (CMS), which is the system used to manage content on your website.  It enables your control of the website.  A good CMS should easily accommodate the timely updates and management of your entire website without any outside assistance. This CMS will also reduce operating costs. On the other hand, a poorly designed CMS will become a major source of frustration and will drain your time, resources and budget. With no CMS in place, you will have to rely on your web developer for any content changes to your website.

Which Content Management System is Right for My Website?

The answer to this question depends on your needs. Prior to embarking on the project, ask your web developer about the CMS they will be using for your website. Then, request a demo. Make sure that it is easy to use and has all the features that you need.

There are literally thousands of Content Management Systems available, depending on your website’s purpose, application and platform chosen. Below are some of the popular choices:

CMS Platform Cons / Pros
WordPress Linux WordPress is a very popular open source choice for small, simple, entry-level websites. It began as a blogging platform and remains a popular tool for running a blog. It is very user-friendly but not a very good choice for enterprise-level CMS because of known customization, security and scalability issues.
Drupal Linux Drupal is a better open source choice for complex / advanced websites or websites that that require complex data organization. It is capable of producing more complex websites but has a reputation of being difficult to work with.
Joomla! Linux Designed as an open source community platform, with strong social networking features. Offers more flexibility than WordPress but not as versatile as Drupal.
SharePoint Windows While technically not a CMS, Microsoft’s SharePoint has a complete set of publishing and collaboration features. It is great for internal intranets, but building a public website requires a great deal of effort and expense.
Sitecore Windows Sitecore recently became one of the industry’s leading CMS. It is a great enterprise-level .NET CMS that features a Windows-like interface and many features, but it has a relatively high cost of ownership.
Kentico Windows Reasonably priced, this easy-to-use and function-friendly growing CMS is quickly becoming a CMS of choice for Windows-based website deployments.

Benefits of a Custom CMS

There are many Content Management Systems, but no single CMS is right for all websites. In fact, you may get an impression that there isn’t a single system that does everything you need.  If your website requires a great deal of custom functionality, a custom-designed CMS may be the answer.

With a custom CMS, you have the ability to have your website built to the exact requirements of your business. Custom CMS solutions are typically built to be highly flexible, offer integration with third party applications and may better accommodate advanced website functionality.

Ease of Use & Level of Control

The top requirement of any Content Management System is its ease of use and the amount of control you have over your website. If you can’t easily update the necessary content, publish timely updates or create new pages on your website on your terms and at your convenience, then having a Content Management System would pointless.

Unfortunately, in the web development industry we see too many Content Management Systems where the website is built around what the CMS does and doesn’t support. As a result, users are forced to compromise and settle for inconvenient interfaces, cumbersome update processes and limitations due to “lazy” design.  In the process of working with the CMS you might realize it has many shortcomings and limitations. This is unacceptable. A good CMS needs to adapt to your business’ standards, processes, and not the other way around.

Ensure that you have a full understanding of the CMS functionality, and insist on the time to test drive an example of the CMS you will be using before it is deployed on your website.  Ask your web developer about the level of control that you will have with the CMS.  For example, what are the features and components that you will be able to update on your website versus having to involve your web developer?  If you foresee a need to update content on your website that the CMS doesn’t support, talk to your web developer about providing you with the tools so you can perform this task in house. This will save time and money.

Features of Content Management

The features of each CMS vary, but most include a set of standard features that will either be included with your system or priced individually. This is a good time to review the features you need.

Level of Automation
Navigation & Link Management
Documents & Multimedia Support
Asset Management
Search Capabilities
SEO Friendly
Editorial Review & Approval
Authorized Access
Revision Control
Multi-lingual Support
  • Level of Automation – does the CMS offer sufficient automation to make updates easy for you? For example, does it automatically update links to newly uploaded or updated content, create image thumbnails or convert uploaded content to the appropriate format? A poorly designed CMS may result in repetitive and duplicate work. A good CMS should make every update quick and effortless.
  • Navigation & Link Management – does it automatically support updating links among pages, as well as all forms of navigation on the website?
  • Documents & Multimedia Support – can you upload documents of certain formats, embed videos, etc.?
  • Asset Management- does the CMS have a central library to store and reuse images, documents, etc.?
  • Search Capabilities – does the CMS have search capabilities?
  • SEO Friendly – how SEO friendly is the CMS? Does it generate search-engine-friendly URLs?
  • Editorial Review & Approval – can you have an editorial review process, where one user prepares an update and another user reviews it before publishing?
  • Authorized Access – can you assign user privileges and roles, allowing users to pre-defined levels of access?
  • Revision Control – can you quickly revert to a previous version of a page?
  • Multi-lingual Support – does the CMS include support for translating the website into multiple languages and allow users to select a language of their choice?

Download the CMS Evaluation Worksheet

Next: What’s the Difference between Commercial and Open Source?