One of the practice areas within Wakefly is implementing Content Management Systems (CMS). Almost 99% of all our website clients (re)launch their websites using a CMS. As a Company whose principals have been implementing CMS platforms for over 10 years, you can say our background with identifying a good CMS from an ok/poor one is pretty solid. So what are some of the attributes of a good CMS. Before discussing some of these attributes, maybe I should take a step back and discuss what is a Content Management System?
“A Content Management System is a software platform that allows content authors to create, edit, manage, and publish content content to your website. The website could be your public facing consumer website, your employee Intranet, or your secured customer website.”
While selecting a CMS, there are both business and technical criteria to keep in mind. I am going to use this article to discuss some of the broad criteria to keep in mind, a followup article to discuss technical (functionality) criteria to keep in mind, and a series of articles discussing some of the Content Management Systems we have used and implemented for our clients.
CMS packages are offered in various licencing models such as:
- Domain: The cost is by URL (e.g. http://www.wakefly.com). You can use the CMS package to manage any content around a selected URL.
- # of Users: The cost if by the number of content authors (e.g. 10 content authors), who can login to the CMS and manage content. In most cases, this is still combined with the Domain i.e. # of Users who can manage content across a specific URL.
- # of Servers: This is basically a server license, which allows you to have as many sites (URL’s) and as many content authors as long as long as all sites are being hosted on a specific server. If you are planning on having a web farm of multiple servers (for load balance and redundancy), then in many cases it requires an additional server license.
- Open Source: There are several open source CMS packages in the market and the obvious benefit is the licensing model (can’t beat $0!)
As a marketer or business owner, the exact licensing model to be picked depends on whether you have a need for CMS vendor support (eliminating open source), number of sites you want to manage with a CMS (>3 sites usually would lean towards a server license from a cost standpoint), and number of content authors (<5 content authors would be a Domain and/or # of Users licensing package; the exact one really depends on the functionality offered by the respective CMS).
There isn’t a good attribute as such from a Licensing standpoint. Each CMS package has its own reasoning for their respective licensing model. Our recommendation is to be aware of the different options and assess their alignment with your internal goals, both current and future, in order to make a decion that will meet your needs today and scale for the future.
With platform we refer to the operating system and application server requirements. The different flavors include:
- Windows Server, Asp.Net, Internet Information Server and Sql Server
- Windows Server, Php, MySql
- Linux, Apache, Php/Perl/Python, MySql
- Tomcat/JBoss with Java
- (Many others)
The platform you end up picking is quite often determined by your internal IT requirements. E.g. your IT staff may have experience only with Windows. One point to keep in mind is making a decision on a platform by taking both marketing and IT requirements into consideration. If it is a pure IT decision then in the long run, marketing usually is unhappy with the CMS (lack of features, functionality, etc).
From our standpoint, IT requirements should be taken into consideration while picking a platform but it should not be the driving force behind the decision. A combination of Platform and Functionality should be used together.
Openness and Integration:
With openness and integration, we are referring to the CMS offering an open architecture and API in order to integrate with external systems. External systems could be enterprise document management systems,
eCommerce payment gateways, and external databases. A good CMS offers an API (Application Programming Interface) that is rich with options and is also well documented. The API allows you to import data into the
system (in case you are migrating from a legacy CMS to a more current one), export data (when your CMS forms need to pass data to your CRM e.g. salesforce.com), and process transactions (e.g. process eCommerce
With functionality we are referring to all the features available in the CMS. A follow up article will be published next week describing all the possible features one can expect in a good CMS.
If you have any questions around picking the right CMS package, feel free to contact us at anytime or email me at jmahtani@wakefly dot com.