A content management system (CMS) is an application that enables you to create and modify digital content for your website. It is useful not only for setting up your website but also for modifying it over time. One benefit of a CMS is ease of use — that is, you don’t have to be technically savvy to use it. Another is that a whole team of people can use it, so you can assign various tasks to team members. These features add up to full control over your website content.
A CMS also enables you to create blog posts, which can serve to get fresh content onto your site, attract visitors, and provide useful information to customers and prospects. When visitors see that your website is up to date, they understand that you are invested in making sure they have the most current information possible.
In the following sections, we offer information for how to choose the best CMS for your company’s unique needs.
The Importance of Choosing the Best CMS for Your Company
In today’s business environment, your website is your storefront. The way it appears can attract or repel customers, and it’s easy for them to move on to the next provider if they don’t like what they see. Customers or prospects who see an outdated or stale website may even get the impression that your company is unable to provide the kind of service they want.
Given the importance of strong content to promote your business, you want to make sure you have a strong system for managing it. According to global talent marketplace Upwork, “A good CMS makes it easy to add, edit and remove website content without ever writing a single line of code.” These elements of your website can include text, images, or videos. You need to come up with a system for staying on top of these changes, but the CMS offers the foundational tools you need to implement them.
Types of CMS and Which Is Best for Your Business
There are four primary types of CMS. The one you choose should depend on how advanced you need it to be, what language your website is built with, and the skill level of the people who will be using it.
You can download an open-source CMS at no cost and with no licenses, contracts, or upgrade fees. However, other costs may be involved, including hiring someone to help you set up the system, customizing the software, purchasing templates, add-ons, and plugins, and the time it takes to train staff. Examples of open-source CMS applications are WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Magento, and PrestaShop.
Use this solution when: you want a reliable, stable CMS that will continue to be improved overtime.
Proprietary software is that which your company builds and uses exclusively. The benefit of this type of software is that you can create it specifically for the needs of your website and ancillary sites, such as e-commerce. The primary drawback is that it may take considerable time and money to build. However, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks as you save time, effort, and money on upgrades and gain the ability to update your website more efficiently.
Use this solution when: you have specialized content management needs that cannot be met by commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) solutions, and you have the budget and time available to develop proprietary software.
Commercial software is that which you can purchase off the shelf. While there may be customizations that you can implement, it is generally expected to work right out of the box. You will need to buy the software or a licensing fee, and you may need to also pay additional charges for updates or support. Examples of commercial CMS platforms are Kentico, SharePoint, IBM Enterprise Content Management, Pulse CMS, Sitecore, and Shopify.
Use this solution when: your content management needs are fairly straightforward and the features available in a COTS solution are compatible with the tasks you need to perform.
Software as a Service CMS
Software as a service (SaaS) is similar to commercial software in that you are paying for a solution that may have some customizations but is generally designed to work as it is provided. The difference is that SaaS is available only from an online source and only on a subscription basis. One of the benefits of this type of solution is that technical support and ongoing content storage are included.
Use this solution when: your content management needs are fairly straightforward, the features available in a SaaS solution are compatible with the tasks you need to perform, and you want a full-package solution that includes updates and technical assistance.
Other benefits include consistent costs over time giving you the ability to budget more easily, no need to upgrade as this is taken care of on an ongoing basis, the ability to use the software from any internet-connected device, and the ability to easily scale up or down depending on the number of users you have at any given time.
Best CMS for Small Business
Small businesses are smart to work with a web developer who can set them up on a user-friendly CMS that is appropriate for their website and their team’s skills. In this scenario, the developer might configure the website and train users on how to update their own content. Typically, this type of arrangement is useful for small companies that don’t have a permanent web development staff on site.
Some CMS platforms known for being user-friendly are WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla. User-friendly CMS applications are simple, offering an interface that is similar to programs users might already be familiar with. With the interface, users can easily change text as things about the business shift, update or replace images that better reflect the business over time, and add videos and blog posts that help visitors stay up to date on what the company has going on.
How to Evaluate a CMS – Features and Requirements
So, what makes a good CMS system? The best CMS platform for your company is the one that enables you to efficiently and easily make changes to your website, and one that is easy to use for all team members. Additionally, the CMS should be cost effective and reliable. To determine which specific business requirements you need to fulfill, ask the following questions before you start your search.
- How frequently do we need to create content?
- How frequently do we need to revise content?
- What is our workflow like? How many people are creating, changing, and implementing content? What kind of tracking do we need?
- Who needs access to your content?
- What different types of content will you be creating?
- What level of security do we need?
- Do we need multilingual capabilities?
- How do we expect our business and content team to grow?
- Do we use e-commerce? If so, what features do we need to optimize it?
The following are some specific features to help you know what to look for in a CMS.
Remember that one of the reasons you are regularly updating your website is to get more business. That means that your CMS should be capable of accommodating more users and tasks. For example, say you want to start adding video testimonials to your site. That is an entirely new task that may require different skills and tools that you want to be there when you need them.
Scalability gives you flexibility, which is important because of how quickly technology and your business are changing. That’s why you should also consider getting flexibility with a CMS that supports omnichannel posting. For example, as the metaverse takes off, you might want to develop content that is compatible with that space. Things like the metaverse and virtual reality are only going to get more popular, so it makes sense to consider now how you’ll be able to support them later.
Another way to gain flexibility is to integrate with other applications and microservices. For example, to support the needs of your marketing staff, you want applications that ensure the leads you capture on your website go to good use. Other functions you might want to consider include e-commerce, business intelligence, analytics, and blogging functionality to enable personalized content for website visitors.
If you need support with your CMS, you want to avoid looking for an engineer that specializes in one specific language. In other words, you want your CMS to support multiple languages. That way, if you do need support, you can more easily find an engineer to help you. Additionally, it’s smart to make sure that if you need help with your CMS, the work can be done without disrupting your team’s ability to update your online assets.
Ease of Use
Your CMS is only as good as your team members’ ability to use it. Make sure that the interface is intuitive, preferably with operations similar to other applications the team already uses. Your content is too valuable to risk team member frustration or even inability to update as needed, so make sure you get buy-in from team members and create the opportunity for a trial run before you purchase.
If your website is complex or if you have many people working on the content, you want to have a system that will enable seamless workflows. For example, you need to be able to track what content is in progress, what needs to be published and when, what approvals are needed, and what deadlines are coming up, as well as which channels to deliver specific pieces of content to.
Websites take a lot of time and effort to build, maintain, and draw viewers to. So the last thing you want is for all that hard work to be ruined by a security breach that impacts your content, your visitors’ privacy, and your reputation. Such an attack can take months, if not years, to recover from, and many businesses don’t come back from that kind of catastrophe. Security is highly important, and you should check into how each CMS you’re considering handles this critical aspect of the software.
CMS Platforms to Consider
The following platforms are widely used and may be the right pick for your company’s needs. They range from straightforward content update platforms to e-commerce tools, and more. They are good starting points when figuring out how to choose the best CMS for your business.
CMS Hub is more than just a CMS. It is also a customer relationship management platform, meaning that it enables you to integrate lead gathering with content development. It is optimized to respond individually to each visitor, no matter what device they are using. CMS Hub is designed for any size business and is especially useful for companies that are growing their operations and their online presence. It is easy to use, customizable, secure, and affordable.
Drupal is an open-source platform that works well for a wide variety of users. It offers templates, modules, and themes to help developers create a site initially, as well as tools to easily make changes. Drupal works well for companies that have team members with a high level of technological know-how. The biggest benefits of Drupal are ease of use, customizability, security, and pricing.
Another open-source CMS platform, Joomla is both versatile and user-friendly. It requires some level of technical know-how but is highly flexible with more than 6,000 extensions. It is highly customizable and affordable for medium to large companies.
Magento is an e-commerce platform owned by Adobe. It is great for online retailers who have some experience in this space. While it is highly flexible, this platform may take considerable technical know-how to make the best use of it. Magento is highly customizable, with 3,800 add-ons. It is highly secure with regular updates. Pricing is higher than some of the other options on this list.
PrestaShop is a highly powerful CMS that is also simple to use. It is best for online retailers with some experience and technical know-how. Some features include customizable messages, multi-language implementation, and easy coupon deployment. This platform includes over 6,000 add-on modules and themes as well as the option for other add-ons and support plans. PrestaShop is highly customizable and reasonably priced.
Shopify is an e-commerce platform designed to help sellers set up and manage an online store. It is particularly useful for first-time retailers because it is easy to use. It includes blogging tools, customer reviews, easy payment options, analytics, and other features to help you get your online store off the ground. While customizability is somewhat limited, you still get a good number of themes and apps, as well as robust security and very reasonable pricing.
Storyblok is a headless CMS, meaning it provides an easy way to manage content and deploy it across multiple systems, software, or websites. It is widely used to build corporate websites, e-commerce sites, and mobile apps. Storyblok was designed specifically with content managers in mind and is therefore easy to use. It is good for companies that operate in multiple countries, using multiple languages and various device types. It is customizable, affordable and includes robust security features.
WordPress is the most popular CMS platform in use today. It is an open-source product that highlights usability and is especially helpful for blogging. Because of its ease of use, it is ideal for small businesses or companies that aren’t able to maintain a web development staff. However, if you need more complexity, you can add plugins or other customizations. In addition to being easy to use, WordPress is customizable, secure, and highly affordable. The following video highlights the benefits of WordPress.
Optimize Your Online Presence
With such a varied array of choices in CMS, you are likely to find a platform that’s just right for creating a perfect and unique online presence for your company. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but the time you spend researching the best CMS for your company will pay off big when your website attracts visitors and enables you to communicate effectively to create win-win interactions and relationships.