When deciding to build a new website, many businesses’ first question is: what CMS should I choose? But picking a CMS isn’t about choosing whatever the best CMS in the market is. Every company’s needs are different and, accordingly, different CMS platforms will be best for different companies.
Many companies also get stuck in the idea of whether to choose a proprietary or an open source solution, or to find a platform that is specifically catered to their industry. Although these can be helpful things to think about, they can also be counterproductive if they take away from choosing the best CMS platform for you. In fact, going for a platform that isn’t an obvious choice for your industry may lead to great ideas you hadn’t considered.
The key when it comes to choosing a CMS is to understand your unique requirements and those of your customers and to pick a solution that can accommodate these. In this article we bring you the top 7 questions you should ask yourself before, and not after, choosing a CMS solution:
1. What’s your budget?
The first question before you even begin your search for a CMS platform is, what’s your budget? This will help you rule out whatever options are off the table from the get go, and prevent you from wasting your time researching solutions that you will never be able to adopt.
Understanding the scope and size of your project, as well as of the CMS platforms available, is a good way of gauging what a reasonable budget may be.
2. What is the purpose of your site?
Once you have budget considerations out of the way, the next thing you should consider is: what is the purpose of your site? Is it intended as a long-term business website, or are you building it for a short-term project?
This question will be important when considering your site’s architecture; if you're thinking long-term, your site should be built in a way that is flexible enough for any future developments, growth and use cases. This approach will help you avoid any future unforeseen costs brought on by a badly planned content architecture.
If, on the other hand, you're building a short-term site, you may want to put all your efforts into making the site look exactly the way you'd like it to look right now, potentially saving time and resources that you would otherwise spend planning your content architecture. Keep this in mind when choosing a CMS, as different platforms may be geared towards different timelines and take different approaches to content architecture.
Another aspect to think about in regard to your site's purpose is whether you're looking only for a CMS, or for a CMS provider. Are you just looking for a tool that your development team can use to build your site, or would you prefer a provider that is able to guide you through the process, to provide support and to maintain your site for you? These are questions to keep in mind, as they'll come with different costs and platforms.
3. What are your performance and integration needs?
The nature of your site will determine what your hosting and integration needs are and it's important to think of these in advance. Particularly online storefronts tend to be integration-heavy and often require scalable hosting options to prevent the site from crashing during high-traffic streaks.
Even if your site is not an online store, it is still important to determine first what your performance and integration needs are and then choose a CMS solution that can accommodate these. This goes hand in hand with planning your content architecture; as long as you've mapped out your entire site you'll be aware of what particular integrations are needed. In the same way, thinking about your top use cases and expected traffic fluctuations will give you a better idea of what your hosting needs will be. Mapping all this in advance will help you make better CMS choices.
4. What are your internal resource capabilities?
Once you've established your integration and performance needs, it's time to think logistics. Who will actually build and maintain your website? Do you have in-house developers? Are your content editors technical or non-technical?
If you have in-house developers, keeping them in the decision-making process will be a key way to ensure that whatever CMS platform you choose uses programming languages that your developers are familiar with.
You will also need to work with your development team, agency or CMS provider to ensure that the site is coded in a way that reduces content editors’ reliance on developers as much as possible, especially if your content editors are non-technical. If every time you make an update to your website you need to rely on developers, you will waste precious time and resources, so make sure that your CMS allows you to do this.
5. How soon do you need your website?
What is your project timeline? Are you planning a long-term website and ready to wait a few months to ensure the site is optimal? Or do you need something quick within a few days or weeks?
If you need something fast, the best option may be to go for a pre-templated solution, although this will mean being quite restricted in terms of design. Picking a CMS that provides templates and that allows your team to quickly put a site together without relying on any external parties will be the best option.
If you’re thinking long-term, focusing on ensuring your design serves your unique business needs, and not the other way around, will enable you to build a more effective site and, ultimately, a more valuable tool in the long run.
6. What are your security requirements?
Security is always a concern for businesses building new websites, although how much of a priority it is will depend on the nature of your company. The key is to ensure that your site has the necessary security measures in place, without hindering on performance or user experience.
The general perception is that open source platforms aren’t as secure as proprietary platforms, which isn’t always the case. However, as a rule of thumb, make sure that the platform you choose can be made secure according to your unique needs and that it has the necessary certifications. Thinking about this in advance will prevent any unforeseen security hiccups along the way.
7. What features do you require?
Finally, when you have established all your above needs and determined a few CMS solutions that fit the bill, the best way to pick a winner is to look at their features. What are the main features that you need and which platform best aligns with them?
This consideration goes hand in hand with your website purpose and project roadmap. By looking at what you’d like your site to deliver, you can establish the key use cases and user journeys and determine what features are appropriate for each. This applies to future use cases and journeys too: are there any features that you would like to implement later on in the future? Which CMS platform is best aligned to your long-term product roadmap or vision?
We hope you found these tips helpful. What were your top considerations when choosing your CMS platform? Let us know in the comments!