A CMS (content management system) can be a cost- and time-saving alternative to custom web development. But pick the wrong one and you’ll saddle yourself with an exorbitant price, a lack of tools, or tons of extra development time. Here’s how to make sure your CMS will be manageable and a great fit for your company.
How much can/should you spend?
CMS platforms vary widely. Licensed solutions, such as AEM and Kentico, can cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars plus additional annual license renewal and support costs. Open-source solutions, such as Drupal and WordPress, offer free software and charge modestly for hosting, themes, and plug-ins. You must weigh your needs against the costs. More expensive solutions come with a variety of integrated tools, while open-source platforms require downloading and installing more third-party plug-ins. Some plug-ins are free, but those may not include support. Both CMS types will require development and testing time, but depending upon the complexity of your site, licensed platforms may require more.
When do you need it?
Speed of implementation can be important. How soon do you need to be up and running? Some platforms require a lot of man-hours and a team of developers. Can you handle it in-house? Will you need help? Your choice may hinge on the availability of adequate tech resources to not only build the site on your timetable but also provide the necessary ongoing support and maintenance.
How scalable and extensible does the CMS need to be?
Consider the other tools and systems that need to integrate with your site. The more you need, the more you might want a licensed solution with plenty of native functionality. Integrations you should consider include:
- Account/profile management
- CRM integration
- Lead generation/automation
- Email marketing
- Digital asset management
- Multilingual support
- Video capabilities
- GDPR compliance
Few options offer it all. However, you may find that you can get all or most of what you need in a lower-priced licensed solution. And for smaller budgets, open-source platforms accommodate plug-ins for Salesforce, MailChimp, and other popular tools that can be added as needed or as budget and time allow. Consider your long-term goals, and be sure your choice will work for you now and also accommodate future needs.
What about security?
Your website may include sensitive content, such as customer data, that needs strong security. Does your CMS choice offer built-in security features? Or will you need to take extra measures to keep content safe? With open-source platforms, as the name suggests, the code is open, which means it can be accessed and adapted by anyone, offering flexibility at a low cost. However, because themes, components, and plug-ins are developed by third-party developers—and not by the platform providers—they may leave security gaps and be less secure than native tools. And because these open-source platforms are highly popular, they’re attractive to hackers looking to inject malicious code. That said, taking the right precautions and staying proactive can keep your open-source site safe.
Whether you choose open-source or a more comprehensive licensed solution, you’ll need to be vigilant and keep your platform updated to combat new threats, including any themes, components, and plug-ins. And you should consider added technology measures such as web-application firewalls to protect your servers.
Who will edit and maintain the site?
Before you settle on a solution, ask for a demo to see what skills are required to build and edit pages. An easy-to-learn user interface can reduce frustration and development costs.
Will you be migrating content from an existing website?
As you prepare to transition digital assets from one site to another, staying with the same platform used in the past might help, and it might not, depending on the needs of your new site and whether the CMS facilitates easy migration. Don’t assume that sticking with the same CMS will be easier or less expensive.
Do you need help?
Turn to Oden. Well-versed in all aspects of website production and management, we can conduct an in-depth analysis to pinpoint the best CMS for your company’s needs and budget.