As the saying goes, content is king. When managing your website, it’s important to choose an appropriate Content Management System (or CMS) that will allow you to easily add that killer content to your blog or website. But CMSs are used for far more than just adding blogs to your website these days, and because of that, it’s important to choose the right one for your business.
One of the most commonly used CMSs out there is WordPress. In addition to powering the website you’re currently on, WordPress is used by 27% of all websites on the Internet. And for good reason, too. WordPress is an extremely powerful CMS that can easily be adapted to meet just about any business need. While it is often the go-to for most developers, WordPress isn’t the only option in the tool box anymore.
There are thousands of CMSs available today. Some are built for ease of use like Wix or Squarespace. Others are built to meet more specific needs, like Magento for e-commerce.
So, given the vast number of options, how do you go about choosing the right one? Here are some important factors to consider when choosing the perfect CMS for your business.
Choosing the right CMS for your website is best determined by your business’ needs. Will your site be a brochure website that may not be updated very often? Is your website the e-commerce portion of your retail business? Will your website be a blog that is focused on a niche market?
Your answers to the above questions will be the most important determining factors for which CMS you should use. Magento is often considered the best CMS available today for e-commerce and has an impressive list of companies that use it, such as Coca-Cola and Burger King. However, Magento may not be the easiest CMS to use based on the level of experience of the person updating your site.
Depending which CMS you choose, there may be a licensing fee that you have to pay per website or on a monthly basis. While these options are more costly, they often come with added benefits such as additional functionality, support and, because the software is proprietary, it is less vulnerable to attacks. CMSs that are built on open source software, like WordPress, are free to use, but it is up to the user to customize and secure your site.
Who will primarily use the website and how easy will it be for that person to update and add new content to the site? Will you be updating the site yourself or will it be necessary to hire an experienced developer to make daily, weekly or monthly updates? As mentioned above, Magento is an extremely powerful CMS for e-commerce but there are other options available that are more user friendly. Shopify, another e-commerce CMS, may not be as robust as Magento but it features a fairly intuitive user interface that makes updates simple.
If your website is more content-focused and updated frequently, you may want to go with a CMS that is tailored to sharing information. While WordPress was built originally with blogging in mind, blog posts are rarely just text and images anymore. More likely, you’ll want to include a call to action or a slider in your blog post. While WordPress has plugins that can handle this scenario, they often require coding knowledge or a professional to set up the template. Other CMSs like CraftCMS have most of those external plugins built in and available right out of the box.
Often, CMSs make live demos available on their websites so potential users can get a feel for the CMS. This presents a good opportunity to make an assessment on usability.
Plugins are yet another factor to consider when choosing your CMS. Even the best CMS may not have options readily available for all scenarios, so an external plugin would be needed to meet such a requirement. Perhaps you want to pull in your Instagram feed, connect your newsletter signup form to your MailChimp account or pull in real estate listings from an external API. Whatever the case, you’ll need to make sure your CMS can handle that request, either natively or through the use of third-party plugins.
In addition to plugins, you also want to be able to customize the look of your site. If you listen to podcasts you have probably heard of Squarespace, a popular CMS that offers a drag and drop user interface to easily customize the look of your site. While this is great if you don’t have any coding knowledge, drag and drop editors are often very limiting and add unnecessary code, ultimately slowing down your site. Most other CMSs such as WordPress, Drupal or Joomla are very customizable, but may require a professional to create.
No matter which CMS you end up going with, you will more than likely run into a problem that doesn’t have an easy solution. Choosing a CMS that has a large community around it may help with that problem. WordPress, for example, has a huge eco-system built around it with websites devoted to troubleshooting issues, meet ups, conferences, as well as a large number of theme and plugin creators. This can make fixing issues a lot easier.
Other CMSs may not have quite as large a following but still have a support system in place in case you run into issues. Wix, another drag and drop based CMS, has a dedicated support center that can help troubleshoot any issues that can unexpectedly pop up.
Given the number of high profile data breaches that have been in the news recently, having a secure website is extremely important; particularly if your website collects users’ personal data or credit card information. Most CMSs receive regular updates with security in mind. Additionally, there are third-party plugins available to help make your site more secure.
If this is a primary concern, then take all necessary precautions to ensure your site is as secure as possible. For e-commerce, Magento is perhaps your best bet. Unfortunately nothing is 100% secure, and in addition to your CMS, you should work with your hosting company to help boost security even more.
Choosing the right CMS comes down to your specific needs. While most CMSs available today are extremely flexible and customizable, it is worth taking time to explore the different options. You’ll most likely have your website for years to come, and picking the right CMS can ensure that it will both stand out from the crowd and be easy to manage.