So you’re in the market for a new CMS. You’re likely feeling anxious about making sure your final decision is one that you’ll still be happy with in five years. Since today is Halloween and we’re all a little focused on the things that may scare us, I figured this would be a great week to offer up some pointers on how to avoid having your CMS purchase come back to HAUNT you. (Boo!)
Shopping for a CMS can be frightening. You don’t want to pour your budget down the drain, only to experience regret due to the fact that your decision left your organization’s needs unmet. So let’s discuss some points to consider right now when the only investment you’ve made so far is time in the buying process.
You Need to Take a Test Drive
When comparing options for your next CMS, what better way to get an inside look than to experience a demo or free sandbox or both. These options can be really insightful into how a system operates. And let’s be honest, just as with other large purchases in life, would you really be comfortable buying a car without a test drive or a home without an inspection? The same theory applies here.
You’ll Actually Want the “Warranty”
This point goes with the one above, but let me explain what I mean by “warranty”. Whenever I buy a large, costly item, the warranty always seems much more attractive and important. When it comes to a new CMS, you could compare having a warranty to the level of customer service and support you will receive once your CMS has been purchased. Will you have access to benefits such as an extensive and active user community, installation flexibility, an annual user conference you can attend, and unlimited support contacts? Also, will the CMS provider release regular updates, and for that matter, will they still be in business five years from now? Research what real benefits come post-purchase and make sure they’ll meet your needs.
Don’t Get Fooled By Flashy
When shopping for a CMS, try to look past the flashy features that sound great on paper but won't ever actually be used by your content contributors and CMS administrators. Sure, having an infinitely customizable workflow sounds awesome in theory, but you know that most of your users have no desire to jump through hoops to get their content published. Evaluate your true needs first, so you won't get distracted by flashy features that aren't necessary for your organization. If you’re a large organization with many sites, data portability, copying sites, and sharing content may be incredibly important components of a quality CMS for you. If you’re a smaller organization, you may be more concerned with a short learning curve for end users, easy content creation wizards, and in-context edit. Look for the qualities you need, and don’t get distracted by those you really don’t.
Are They Resourceful?
You’ll want to purchase your CMS from a resourceful vendor. They should be versed not only on their product but also on the industry as a whole and the needs of their target audience. Some of the best resources include webinars, case studies, and of course, white papers. For example, one white paper that applies to this article’s topic is The Top 10 CMS Buying Mistakes, which you can download for free by simply filling out the short form below. This white paper is a fantastic resource covering topics such as factors you should consider in your purchase, why you need to look beyond pricing, and CMS selection pitfalls to avoid.
Is there a Return Policy on this?
Lastly, the return policy can also be a deciding factor when it comes to your purchase of a larger item. To be clear, there isn’t usually a return policy on content management software. What I mean is that often, the time and resources it will take an organization to implement a CMS almost make it impossible to change course after you get up and running, even if you are didn’t invest all that much “money” into it. You’ve already invested a lot of time and energy and--let’s face it--emotion into moving your site over to the new CMS, so it’s that much more important that you make the right choice.
Halloween may be almost over, but you CMS selection decision could haunt you year-round for years to come if you choose the wrong one. Download The Top 10 CMS Mistakes white paper now, so you can avoid the biggest mistakes and keep the Trick out of you CMS Treat.