The CMS Debate... Covering all the Angles?

Elements of a Brand

For years the design and development community have been debating this very issue. Which CMS is best? Rather than fuelling the fire on this one, I'll offer my own perspective on this sensitive subject.

What Works for YOU

In practice the question of 'best CMS' is impossible to answer, since all of these programs are designed to work in a particular way for a particular purpose.

A CMS is simply a tool for a job; it has to be designed for a fairly narrow range of duties or it won't work well. Which is the best: a screwdriver, a saw, or a hammer? Obviously, there is no answer to this - it depends on what job you are doing. Content management systems are the same - you have to pick the right one for the job. Therefore, the best CMS is the best one that best fits your needs.

Tony Byrne, over at Real Story Group (formerly CMS Watch), took a similar position:

There is no "best" web content management system. […] The best CMS for you is the one that best matches your needs - your budget, scope, and type of project - in short, the one that fits best for your web publishing and interaction scenarios.

When Real Story Group evaluates a CMS, they have 12 different scenarios to consider, and they evaluate how will the CMS would do for all 12. Scenarios like:

  • Corporate Brochure
  • Enterprise Intranet
  • Ultra-Large Single Site
  • Microsites

Even just with simple labels like this, you're in a much better position to choose what CMS fits. A CMS that does well with a "corporate brochure" may fail spectacularly for an "enterprise intranet." With a large number of content management systems to choose from what are some of the key components you should consider when considering a CMS platform for your business?

5 Important CMS Considerations

CMS Search

1. Core functionality

When most people think of content management, they think of creating, deleting, editing and organizing pages. They assume all content management systems do this and so take that functionality for granted. However, that is not necessarily the case. Nor is there any guarantee that such functionality will be presented in an intuitive way.

Consider carefully the basic functionality you need. Even if you do not require the ability to structure and organize pages now, you may in future. Be wary of any system that does not allow you to complete these core tasks.

2. SEO optimization

You want a CMS that will let you:

  • Rewrite URLs to get search engine friendly URLs
  • Full control over the titles of the pages or articles
  • Full control over the keywords and description meta tags
  • Automatic sitemap generation

A CMS that cover these aspects will at least ensure that your website is search engine friendly and that it follows the basic SEO guidelines.

3. Flexibility

This is the one category where an open-source CMS, paired with a competent team of developers, will beat out a commercial product every time. By nature of the fact that open-source CMS codebases are publicly available, your development team can reconfigure, restructure, and extend the CMS to be highly-customized for your unique organizational needs

4. User Experience

It doesn't matter how many fantastic features a CMS has to offer; a CMS won't do you any good if your staff can't - or won't - use it to keep website content up to date. If people who aren't tech savvy will be using the CMS, then user-friendliness is essential. Definitely try to demo the system in advance, and do user testing of key features during development.

5. Customization

You need a content management system that allows flexibility in the way content is retrieved and presented. For example, can you retrieve news stories in reverse chronological order? Can you display events in a calendar? Is it possible to extract the most recent user comments and display them on the home page? Flexibility makes a CMS stand out.

So What's the Best CMS for YOU?

So what do you think? What CMS do you use? Do you think it's the best CMS? If yes, why? Please leave your comments below.

Robert Valcourt
Aug 03, 2012
By Robert Valcourt

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