The path that takes you from idea stage to finished website is long and pretty full of turns and twists. Many questions must be asked and answered before work can begin. Where does choosing a CMS (content management system) fit into this and why is it so important to get right?
What does a CMS do?
A CMS is the underlying system that your website sits on top of. 10 or 15 years ago it was common for websites to be built from scratch. This was time consuming and resulted in the same types of features and functions being created in differing ways by different people. A CMS is a common platform that means these features and functions can be picked off the shelf, ready to use, rather than created from scratch. Some common examples of CMS are WordPress, Joomla and Drupal.
How to pick the best one.
It’s important to understand that one CMS is not “better” than another; they simply have different strengths and weaknesses. Knowing those strengths and weaknesses is a key element to picking the right one for your project. Some are aimed at being flexible, some are aimed at online stores, and some are aimed at being simple to use.
The first step is to define exactly what your site will be and what you want it to achieve. A big part of what I do for my customers is getting this detail down correctly. You might have an existing site in which case I’ll find out what is causing you issues and what is performing well. If we’re starting from scratch then we’ll begin with what you want to achieve and work out how your needs can best be met.
What effects will a CMS have on my project?
Different CMS systems do things in different ways. The most important thing is that your chosen CMS supports all the features you’ll need. If you need an online shop, then some will be better than others. Likewise you may have plans for e-commerce or client logged in area. By picking the right CMS these features can be created quickly and effectively.
You may also have operational needs. Multiple staff may need to add content with editorial oversight or you may have a subscription based website model. Once again picking the right CMS will make implementing this a smooth process.
If I’ve picked one already, is it too late to change?
This depends. Sometimes I can find a way to add the functionality that you require or overcome issues with your current CMS. Sometimes a website redesign can be part of a CMS migration. It is also possible in some situations to move from one CMS to another.
Needless to say it is better to select the right CMS at the start. I firmly believe in finding the right tool for the job. My service offering is built on a refined process that includes spending all the time needed to get your requirements down on paper so that the best CMS can be selected. This process will save you time and money, not to mention a few headaches.