So, you’re starting a business, and in 2022, that means starting a business website. The decision over which content management system (CMS) to use for your website is an important one, and it should be made diligently. Each platform comes with its own pros and cons, and conducting some thorough research is necessary. However, there are a few overarching considerations that 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 first you have to take a step back and evaluate.
“What are your business goals? Are you an eCommerce business that’s trying to sell a physical product online? Maybe your main objective for the next few years is to figure out how to get your product from warehouse to consumer in the most effective way possible. If so, you need to think about how that process needs to be represented online.”
Fuller says there are cookie-cutter content management systems that can help with that.
“If you’re a small business and you’re just trying to start up, this could be a good first step. You might try something like Shopify. CMSs like this do a lot of stuff out of the box, without having to do a lot of customization.”
On the flip side, Fuller says you also need to consider scalability when setting those initial business goals. If you’re planning for your business to grow by 25, 50, or even 100% in the next five to ten years, she says this needs to be a major consideration.
“You definitely have to figure out how you want to scale when choosing a CMS because if you go with the cheap solution, you may end up having to redo that work in a year,” explains Fuller.
“Let’s say you go with an inexpensive website out of WordPress, and then you spend several grand developing it, or however much is considered cheap for your business at the time. Two years later, you might realize your website won’t grow with you, and then you just completely lost that investment. That’s why it’s so important to figure out what your goals are for the next five, ten years, before choosing a CMS.”
Keep ease of use at the forefront
At the end of the day, no matter which content management system you choose, someone will be responsible for entering your content into the system and publishing it online. Though this prospect may seem obvious, it can sometimes be overlooked as you are browsing the many bells and whistles touted in the industry.
“You need to be able to get your content out there 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 support multiple times to complete a simple entry or update on your website, Fuller says that’s not good.
“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 used by a business regularly.”
Prioritize needs versus wants
Fuller says focusing on “must-haves” for that initial website release can also help you choose the right CMS for your business.
“You don’t want to put everything into that initial release. That will become convoluted and cluttered, and you’ll become too focused on things that you might not even need or want in the long run,” explains Fuller. “You always have to ask yourself, ‘is this a nice to have? Or a must-have?’ And then decide where you should prioritize each one 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 discovery along the way.
“The final product is never going to be exactly what you asked for upfront because there is always going to be a handful of things that change or pop up over time. It will be a very organic process. So, think about what you really need for that initial launch, functionality wise or otherwise, and then choose the CMS that’s going to best deliver those core needs.”
Some tips to consider
Each business needs to evaluate their own goals and priorities; however, Fuller says there are a few universal items that most companies should look for in a CMS:
- Intuitive content editor (including the ability to review content before it’s published, such as a staging site or preview mode)
- Responsive themes
- Well-maintained add-ons
- Social media integration
- SEO & analytics tools
And while we can’t tell you which CMS to choose (because, again, it depends on your specific business), here are some recommendations that come up repeatedly, which may give you a place to start:
Lastly, sometimes custom is the way to go. Off-the-shelf software doesn’t fit the needs of every business, so it’s important to evaluate all your options upfront. This will ultimately save you time, money, and headache.
Bit-Wizards started as a custom software development company. The complexities of custom software are profound, but we’ve been building software since the year 2000. We know exactly what to plan for and where the risks in your project may be hiding. Let’s talk custom solutions today.