Starting a business in the 21st century means creating a website and choosing an accompanying content management system (CMS). A CMS helps you create and manage content on a website without building it from scratch. With a CMS, business owners and employees can prioritize customer interactions instead of website management.
The decision over which CMS to use for your business is essential and should be made diligently. Each platform has pros and cons, and you must conduct thorough research on your options to find the best fit, but a few overarching considerations can help you make the best choice for your business.
What is the goal you are trying to achieve?
Mobile/Web Design Team Lead at Bit-Wizards, Lisa Fuller, says you must start the process by taking a step back and evaluating your business goals.
“Whether you are starting an eCommerce business to sell a physical product online or determine how to connect consumers with your products effectively, you need to consider how that process and your business goals will be represented online through whichever CMS you choose.”
Fuller says there are cookie-cutter content management systems that can help with that. Several software programs offer ready-to-use templates to help you get your business’ website up and running with less up-front effort.
“If you’re a small business just trying to start, selecting a CMS with easily adaptable templates could be a good first step. You might try something like Shopify. CMSs like this offer a comprehensive set of features out of the box without requiring a lot of customization.”
Keep scalability in mind
Fuller says you must consider scalability when setting your initial business goals and choosing a CMS to meet them. If you anticipate that your business will grow by a small margin, or potentially double in size within the next five to ten years, she says scalability must play an important part in choosing a content management system that can grow with you.
“If you use a cheap solution, you may have to redo that work in a year. Let’s say you choose an inexpensive WordPress website and invest a small portion of your business’ budget in developing and deploying it,” says Fuller. “Two years later, you might realize your website won’t grow with your business, and your business completely loses that investment. That’s why figuring out your goals for the future before choosing a CMS is so important.”
Keep ease of use at the forefront
No matter which content management system you choose, someone will be responsible for creating, entering, and managing online content through the CMS. Though this prospect may seem obvious, it can sometimes be overlooked as you browse the many bells and whistles touted in the industry.
“You need to be able to prepare, review, and publish your content quickly without running into a handful of problems that you can’t work around,” says Fuller.
If your team is forced to reach out to your content management system’s support multiple times due to issues with completing a simple entry or updating your website, Fuller says that can add up to significant downtime for your business.
“Ideally, you’re just in and out of the platform, and your content is up there. Ease of use is a no-brainer for any CMS a business uses regularly.”
Prioritize needs versus wants
Fuller says focusing on must-have features for that initial website release can help you choose the right CMS for your business.
“You don’t want to put everything into that initial release. Your website will become convoluted and cluttered, and you’ll become too focused on things you might not even need or want in the long run,” explains Fuller. “You must always ask yourself, ‘Is this a nice-to-have or must-have feature?’ And then decide where to prioritize each of those in the process.”
With any website, whether you’re working with an off-the-shelf solution or a custom solution, Fuller says there will be plenty of discoveries as you and your team continue exploring and interacting with your chosen CMS.
“The final product is never going to be what you asked for upfront because there will always be a handful of things that change or pop up over time. It will be a very organic process, so consider what you need for that initial launch, functionality-wise or otherwise, and choose the CMS that best delivers those core needs.”
Tips to consider
Each business needs to evaluate its own goals and priorities; however, Fuller says there are several universal items that most companies should look for in a CMS:
- Intuitive dashboard
- Content editor with a staging/preview feature
- User and role-based administration
- Responsive themes
- Well-maintained add-ons
- Version backups and control
- Social media, marketing, or CRM integrations
- SEO and analytics tools
Finding the right content management system is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Depending on your business and its needs, different CMS options offer various pros and cons. While we can’t tell you which CMS to choose for your business, here are some recommendations that may give you a place to start:
If you want a CMS that fits the needs of your business like a glove, working with a company to build a custom solution is the way to go. Off-the-shelf software doesn’t always fit every business’s needs, so it’s crucial to evaluate all your options upfront and determine if you need a unique solution. A full assessment of your requirements and options could save you time, money, and headache in the long run.
Bit-Wizards started as a custom software development company. The complexities of custom software are extensive, but we’ve been building software since 2000 and know everything there is to know about software development. We know how to plan for your project, find hidden risks, and create the right solution that can grow as your business expands. Contact us to talk about custom solutions today.