The Content Management System or CMS is very important to your website.
You might not know that a CMS is called that, but it’s pretty straightforward. It’s the software that allows you to manage the content on your site.
WordPress or Craft is a CMS. It’s a way to manage the content (words, videos, images, etc.) on your site.
There is a common feeling that once the content for a website has been created and the design has been completed that the site is “done”.
That’s not true and if you manage a website you know it’s not true. There are always things to change and tweak and that’s how it should be.
I like to think of a website as a salesperson. And a salesperson is always learning more about the product or service, the customer and about sales in general. So in real life a salesperson is always making tweaks and changes and you need to do the same on a website.
That’s why the CMS is so important. If your CMS is difficult to use or out of date it can be impossible at the most or frustrating in the least to make necessary changes. It leads to email threads and calls to developers and designers and becomes a mess.
If you’re in that situation or even if you’re not it’s good to assess your current CMS and determine if it’s time to make a change. It’s a project to change your CMS, but depending on the following factors it might be the right choice for your long-term success (and sanity).
Usability is the biggest issue with any CMS.
Well, it’s at least the issue that can lead to the most frustration. A CMS is something a business owner or manage will use all the time. That might mean every day, once a week or once a month, but even once a month is pretty often and if the CMS is too challenging to use the frustration levels go up because time is lost.
If you’re frustrated by your CMS and how challenge it is to use you have two options:
1. You can commit to learning more about the CMS. There might be articles on how to do things. There could even be instructional videos. You also likely need to commit to using the CMS more often because if you’re not using it you’ll use the ability to do things efficiently.
2. If information isn’t available on how to use your CMS then it’s a red flag. The same could be true if you try to use a different CMS. Ask a business owner that you know what CMS they use. You might be using a custom CMS that your designer created while your buddy is using something open source. If you find, for example, that it takes you 5 clicks to upload an image to your site while it only takes 2 for your buddy then it might be time to make a change. Those little things can really add up.
The next big item is capability. Some content management systems are more capable than others.
Different CMS options might have the ability to live preview changes. This means you can change content like words and images and see a live preview of what it will look like on your site before you publish. A different CMS might have an simple tool to allow you to create forms on your website without the need of a developer.
You don’t want more features for the sake of having features (as that can add unnecessary bulk to your website), but if you find that your struggling more often than you should it could be time to investigate the capabilities of another system.
A switch might be worth it.
Updates are important for any software including a CMS.
Open source software is vulnerable for hacks and security issues, especially the more popular it might be. To stay on top of that, CMS creators and managers will update the software to fix vulnerabilities and other bugs that may be reported over time by their users.
Updating a CMS can turn into a larger project than you might want to pay for. The more add-ons and custom components you’ve built into your CMS the more complicated an update can be. Making regular updates shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg, especially if you have a small business website.
Next up is performance. Another reason CMS(es) update is to improve performance. They might add features, but they’re also looking for ways to make the software faster. They want to make it easier for you to use and faster for you to do basic things. They also want your website to load as fast as possible.
Because who wants to wait five seconds for a website to load?
Faster is better.
If your CMS and website haven’t gotten faster in a while (or ever) then odds are good that you can find a better CMS. Your current CMS might also get into a rut of becoming slower over time. That’s always frustrating, but it does happen because some software companies fall into the trap of adding too many features while leaving features that should be removed.
Sometimes it just comes down to dollars and cents (or sense).
You might be paying for a CMS every year or every month when a free version might be a better and less expensive option. Or maybe one costs less while still doing everything you need it to do.
There is also the issue of maintaining your website. It’s good for every business to have a designer and developer on call. There will always be questions every once in a while and issues to resolve. That costs money and you want a CMS that a good designer and good developer know how to use. And you want to make sure that if you need to find a new person to help you that they know how to use your CMS.
I used to work for a company that used this old paper printer in the office for lots of reports. There was one guy that knew how to fix it. What happens when that guy retires?
Always leave yourself an out and that might mean using a more popular CMS.
Changing a CMS can be a headache in itself. And it can cost money, but it’s an important consideration because it can save you time, money and energy in the future. If you have a better CMS it can also put you in a position to improve and grow your business. Not just your website, but your business.
So use the items above to assess where you are with your CMS. Talk to a few of your peers and see what they’re using. Ask them if they could show you how their CMS works. If you find a better option then look at what it will take to make a change and do it.
You might be in a better position if you do.