With so many options available, how do you choose the right Content Management System (CMS) for your website? First, consider your primary requirements and goals for the system.
Your website hosting environment can introduce specific requirements or limitations into the selection process. For example, you may only be able to host within a LAMP stack environment which requires a PHP-based CMS, while some organizations are only able – or willing – to host in a Microsoft-based IIS environment, which would prefer a .NET-based CMS solution. These types of requirements can immediately rule out a number of CMS options during the selection process.
Licensing Cost & User Roles
Licensing cost is another major factor when selecting a CMS. Smaller budgets drive organizations to select a free or low-cost CMS that carries a small licensing fee. The number of users, editors and other permissions-based roles come into play here too. Licensing fees can be structured according to the quantity of people who are working on the website, and if you have multiple users this can add up quickly.
When assessing cost, it’s important to remember that licensed content management systems include other benefits with the licensing fee. The dollars you spend give you access to dedicated resources working on improving and maintaining the product, support staff and a quality product with a proven reputation in the marketplace.
Your CMS should give you the right level of flexibility so that your internal team can update content without knowing HTML (and without paying for ongoing maintenance to make changes). Discussing features and functionality during strategic planning helps direct us to the approach we take to development, and make a CMS selection that aligns with these requirements. Depending on the skill level and development savvy of your team, templates can help “lock down” the look and feel of a page and limit the ability of users to make edits – and mistakes – on the site.
There are inherent security risks with using open source CMS tools, as you’re working with plug-ins that are written in the open source world. You have no idea what someone might be hiding in these plug-ins, which opens up huge risks for server hacks – and you don’t have access to a support team to help resolve the issue. Licensed tools like Kentico and Sitecore have teams of developers working on hotfixes and addressing vulnerabilities and you have the option to reach out to them for assistance instead of attempting to blindly troubleshoot.
If you are using other tools such as customer relationship management (CRM) solutions or digital asset management (DAM) systems, it’s important to consider what programming language you’ll be working with and determine the best way to transfer data back and forth. Security is an important consideration here as well – depending on the sensitivity of data, certain measures need to be taken.
Making The Decision
When clients come to us seeking a website redesign or a shift to a new CMS, we first listen to their budgetary restrictions, technical requirements, overall goals and needs and then make technology recommendations. All of the factors above – along with any other specific requests – help drive the final decision. Sometimes custom development is needed to make the vision reality, and this is discussed as part of the initial selection process.