Choosing a CMS for your new website is no simple task. Especially with large scale websites (and businesses), it’s important to make sure the CMS you pick meets all your requirements, so you can manage your site as efficiently as possible.
As web development experts, we can confidently tell you that there’s no such thing as the ‘best’ CMS. Each of the CMS platforms we offer has its own unique set of strengths that’s suitable for a specific type of business. Whether you are looking for an off-the-shelf solution or a tailored system that supports a large venture, you are faced with the same challenge – selecting a CMS that matches the unique needs of your business.
The first step to narrowing down your options is having a list of factors to consider as well as a ‘wish list’ of functionalities. Here are some things to take into account:
what are your business goals and how do you plan to measure them?
Before starting a web project, the first step is to determine its goals. Are you getting a new website to improve user experience, increase traffic or enhance your brand image? Start by listing all your desired business outcomes and then outline how they will be measured on the new site. Knowing this from the offset helps determine what functionalities your CMS needs to perform.
what are the main ways in which you will use the cms?
- To create different levels of user permissions
Large businesses in particular often need to give their various departments/team members different user login with access to specific functionalities – e.g. who can upload, review and approve content which goes live.
- As a tool for centralised content management
This includes regularly updating the site with blogs, press releases and real-time updates. You can also use the CMS to manage aspects of your content workflow before it goes live, especially if you have a larger editorial team.
- As a portfolio of unique design options or pre-made templates
Reusable layout templates and content blocks allow you to update existing pages and create new ones without compromising the overall design of the website. Mobile optimised templates are another useful feature from the design section of your CMS.
- To integrate specialised modules
This could be an internal facility such as an e-commerce module for handling online payments and processing orders. Good CMS platforms can also be integrated with third party systems such as CRM, procurement and cache management tools.
what are your must-have cms features?
When compiling your list of key CMS functionalities, think about the business needs you want the platform to meet rather than the specific technical solution counterparts. This way you leave room for web specialists to offer alternative methods of achieving the results.
- Content management
Having a content editor tool which is easy to use, flexible and allows you to style and format as you need is one of the key boxes a CMS needs to tick.
- Internal search functionality
In addition to the standard site navigation, an internal site search is a key feature of most websites, especially in the field of e-commerce. Site search will improve the user experience your website offers and signpost customers to the products/services they need, which often results in a higher conversion rate.
- SEO optimisation
Look for a CMS which allows you to optimise content for search engines through use of headings, meta descriptions and breadcrumb URLs. Content tagging and categorisations are also useful features for both SEO and for website search/navigation – consider adding these to your extended wish list.
To measure website performance, you need a CMS that has a web analytics functionality. This could be internal to your website, or an integrated external tool such as Google Analytics.
- Media management
Being able to upload, edit and store media files such as images, videos and PDFs is another useful feature. It means that other people using the CMS can easily access them, and they don’t get lost over time.
- Multisite functionality
Big businesses in particular can benefit from a multisite functionality. Being able to manage the content across multiple ‘child’ sites from one centralised CMS improves efficiency and reduces room for error.
- Bespoke features and functionalities
Before looking into CMS options, consider also what bespoke functionalities you may need. These can be anything from events and social media integration to more advanced features such as product recommendations, online registration, user-generated content, display or affiliate marketing, and other dynamic marketing content.
finalising your cms requirements checklist
Use scenarios to clarify issues, make abstract requirements concrete and review internally with stakeholders to make sure nothing essential is left out. This way you needn’t worry about having areas of uncertainty, and are equipped with a concrete context for your functional requirements when choosing a CMS.
Consider the vendor offering – when choosing your CMS vendor, a few non-tech factors to consider beyond their expertise and fees include:
- Do they offer CMS training upon completion of the website project?
- Will they support change management - e.g. growing your website alongside your business growth
Estimate the total cost of implementation and ownership – get an idea how much your CMS would cost on top of the initial purchase price. The total CMS cost may include:
- Custom features
- Staff training
- Support and maintenance costs
- Third-party apps
While it’s important that you provide ample detail on your CMS requirements, beware of overloading your ‘wish list’. Too much detail could result in choosing a complex solution that burdens your business with additional training and maintenance costs when a simpler solution could have met your needs just as efficiently.
Once you’ve gone through the checklist and narrowed down your CMS requirements, you will be better equipped to choose between the different options available to you. Find out what CMS platforms we work with and get in touch to discuss the best solution for your business.