Looking for the Right CMS? Here's a Checklist

CMS Checklist

A content management system isn't necessarily the only component you'll choose for a digital experience platform, but it's the foundation on which all your future options will rest. Making the choice for such a key asset can seem fraught, but it doesn't have to be.

In a recent CMSWire webinar on identifying the right CMS, Melissa Webster, vice president of content and digital media technologies at the research firm International Data Corporation (IDC), outlined the criteria to consider when you’re evaluating options.

Every point on your checklist should speak to at least one of the internal users your CMS will need to satisfy. In what follows, Webster focuses on three important groups: content authors, developers and IT administrators.

"Don't forget, business users and developers both need to contribute. Find a platform that lets them collaborate to develop the full range of digital experiences you want to deliver," Webster says.

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For Content Authors

Some organizations funnel everything through a few power users, while others want to open authoring up to a long list of casual contributors. Whatever your approach, make sure the interface is extremely easy to use.

"These days, nobody expects to take training," Webster says. "We're all used to downloading a new app and using it right away. If [your CMS] is not intuitive enough to use without opening a manual, no one's going to use it."

Your content authors will require:

  • An intuitive, customizable user interface.
  • WYSIWYG authoring and previewing.
  • The ability to publish without IT support.
  • Built-in support for responsive web design.
  • Content syndication for social media channels, mobile apps, etc.
  • The option to leverage pre-developed widgets and plug-ins.

For Developers

One of the chief requirements for any CMS should involve development tools for JavaScript. That helps developers spend more of their time coding and delivering great new experiences and less on the mechanics of programming, such as debugging and managing the release process.

"Some of our developer research shows that nearly half of the developers in some geographies are using JavaScript today," Webster says. "They want instant gratification, and so do marketers."

Your developers will require:

  • Tooling for JavaScript and other popular languages and frameworks.
  • Modern APIs.
  • Support for open standards.
  • Extensibility and support for plug-ins.
  • Ease of integration with pre-built connectors for: enterprise apps, e-commerce, web apps, personalization and targeting, analytics, identity management, CDPs, and other technologies.
  • Support for rich media and new content types, enabling rich, engaging experiences.

For IT Administrators

Your organization is going to take on significant business and productivity costs whenever a digital asset has downtime, sluggish performance or reliability problems. Make sure the back-end offering is every bit as strong as the front-end experience you want to deliver.

Your IT administrators will require:

  • Powerful workflow capabilities to automate routine tasks, improve productivity and ensure control over the publishing process.
  • Ease of administration, including a dashboard for monitoring website health.
  • Performance, reliability and scalability.
  • A cloud-based or cloud-ready platform; should be architected to be modular and elastic.
  • Vendor support; always talk to references.

Webster suggests being strategic about your CMS decisions. If you're running multiple content management systems, consider standardizing them with one vendor, she says, and "if the vendors that you're currently using don't meet all your needs, look for one that does."
Finally, Webster says to remember that a modern CMS really is the heart of your digital experience platform: "Our advice: Don't make it the weak link."

How can you be certain your CMS is future-proof? Make sure you’re on top of these six key trends defining the digital landscape. For more, download our free 2019 CMS Buyer’s Guide e-book, watch our informative webinars or contact us.

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