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Everything you need to know about choosing a content management system

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What are the steps for choosing a CMS?
A content management system (CMS) is a must-have solution for creating, publishing and updating content. In fact, any website that features regularly updated content or a significant amount of it will benefit from choosing a CMS, as it can streamline production from start to finish.

The key to choosing a CMS—whether it’s for a small business or large organization—is finding one that matches your team’s skill level, offers features that will benefit your organization and can scale as your needs change.

Here’s what you need to know about web content management and how to find a CMS that is right for you.

The key to choosing a CMS—whether it’s for a small business or large organization—is finding one that matches your team’s skill level, offers features that will benefit your organization and can scale as your needs change. Here are seven things to note about web content management and how to find the CMS solution that is right for your business.

Determine your content management needs

Someone choosing a CMS for enterprise content management and someone who wants to start a weekly blog for their small business will have very different needs. Large organizations looking to create unique digital experiences will benefit from an enterprise-grade decoupled or headless CMS, which offers more flexibility and customization options. For very basic content publishing or if you have limited IT knowledge or support, a coupled CMS with many prepackaged templates and plugins may be a better fit.

What is a content management system?

A content management system (CMS) is a platform that simplifies the upload of content elements to populate your site’s web pages. Of course, if your business functions and customer interactions are done primarily online, you will also want your CMS to handle more advanced customization and provide developer control. The bells and whistles you should strive for all depend on your content management strategy.

Having the right CMS can help you launch and grow a new website when you’re just starting out or take a business to the next level by reaching new audiences and generating income streams. Choosing a CMS that can help you develop a consistent content schedule and allow content teams to collaborate in real time can also improve productivity and keep the focus on creating compelling content.

Seek out always-accessible functionality

Mobile content management and cloud content management, which includes not only your content updates but how your back-end data and files are stored, can make it easy to update pages on the go from wherever you are. With so many teams working remotely, choosing a CMS that allows for a seamless process from anywhere and across multiple types of devices is a very important consideration.

Make a wish list of advanced tools you might need

Choosing a CMS that has built-in tools for social media updating and search engine optimization (SEO) can help you not only produce content but drive traffic to it as well. Other helpful features include detailed analytics and content scoring to help inform your content management strategy as you grow. If your site is international, there are even CMSs that can facilitate multiple language translations. And don’t forget to make sure your provider emphasizes digital security that ensures your brand assets (and online reputation) are safeguarded.

Do a test run to determine user-friendliness

Most CMSs allow prospective customers to see a demo of the platform or sign up for a free trial. Take advantage of the opportunity to test-drive various CMS editing tools, set up a content calendar, import images and video, add metadata, make sure both the content library and your digital assets are easily searchable, etc. Ideally, the process should be intuitive and similar to other software suites you’ve used so that onboarding your users will be a cinch.

Check out the workflows

If your content projects require collaboration with several team members, from writers to editors to legal compliance, you’ll want the ability to set up various levels of approval and user permissions. You may also want to assign tasks and projects to others, track changes and be able to access previous versions.

Look for signs of strong customer support

When choosing a CMS, especially in the beginning, you may need support and can’t afford to wait hours or days for a response—especially if that means losing revenue. Confirm that you’ll have access to a representative who can make sure your inquiries are handled in a timely manner. Also, see if the CMS provider is responsive on their social media accounts and has video tutorials and other helpful FAQ materials to get you up to speed.

Make sure there is compatibility with your tech stack

Choosing a CMS that offers integrations with the other major apps and platforms you use to run your business can enable your data to flow smoothly, save time and make for a more efficient workflow. Some popular integrations to think about for your CMS may include your email newsletter provider, stock image and newsfeed services, analytics programs, social media and more.

Choosing a CMS may seem like a big undertaking, but by putting in the research time up front, you can find one that will make your content management more efficient.

image of author Dawn Papandrea
About the Author
Dawn Papandrea
Dawn Papandrea is a regular contributor to Brightspot. She’s an award-winning freelance writer specializing in small business marketing topics. In addition, Dawn has written content for dozens of well-known technology brands and also covers personal finance for various media outlets. She lives in Staten Island, New York.

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