An Open Letter to CMS Vendors: Why Nobody Cares About Your Latest Update

This is an open and unapologetic letter to CMS vendors who can't figure out why their updates get no love from their community.

More to the point, it's a letter to those same vendors who don't understand why their updates aren't news worthy.

Let's get to it:

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Dear CMS vendors,

As the Editor of CMS Critic, my inbox is battered with “news” of updates from around the world of CMS on a daily basis.

Some of those news items are interesting – but most of them aren't.

Here's why:

1. You Announced Your Update Horribly

Here's something that really bugs me, personally.

If you are launching a new product, or perhaps announcing a set of new features for an existing one, you should do so with energy, commitment, and confidence.

But far too often, I see announcements being made with zero effort.

For example, I see blog post announcements that are made up of nothing but bullet points. No introductions, no images, no structure, no nothing.

I also receive abysmally short press releases with minimal information and a short quote from a CEO saying something generic. This approach will bore your community – and repel journalists.

Instead, here's how to best present your update:

  • Blog Post: Publish a well-crafted blog post, with images and preferably a video. These should be directed towards your users first and foremost, but with the press in mind also.
  • Press Release: Here's where you can focus on journalists. Give them extended (and interesting) quotes from your executives, more images, and some general information about your company. Link to your blog post announcement, too.
  • Go The Extra Mile: If your update or product launch is worth shouting about, then do some shouting. Feature it in your next email newsletter, talk about it on social media, make custom graphics for it, make a video for it, and start a hashtag. Just do something to stand out.

2. Your Update Ignored User Feedback & Complaints

You boast about being community driven, but do you actually let your community drive anything?

Releasing updates is almost always a positive event, but if you take years to implement features that your community is in need of, don't be surprised when they don't applaud your latest version – because it's not what they want.

If you have this issue, there is no quick fix. You'll have to go back to the drawing board to begin prioritising the features that your audience has been crying out for.

But it will be worth it, because a happy community is more likely to buy your add-ons, share your news, and vote for you in the CMS Awards.

Plus, a journalist such as myself will be more inclined to cover said news, since it got such an awesome reception.

3. Your “Major” Update is Actually Minor

Your product's major updates are golden opportunities for you to gain new customers and claim media coverage. But so often, those chances go begging.

When WordPress 4.4 was released, I accused it of being “bare bones”. Because it was.

But WordPress isn't the only CMS vendor guilty of this. I've seen many “major” updates that are truly disappointing in terms of value.

If you aren't able to bring together a string of genuinely interesting additions to your platform, then I suggest you hold off on releasing it – even if that means having to adjust your product's roadmap.

If it's a chronic problem, you may want to stop releasing so many minor updates in between the major ones, so you have something left over for what should always be the biggest milestone in your product's history.

The fact of the matter is, a lot of CMS vendors are approaching their updates all wrong. Hopefully, the points I have raised in this open letter reach the right people, and sparks the right kind of change.

Yours frustratedly,

Kaya Ismail
Editor, CMS Critic