Choosing the right content management system for business
3 Keys to choosing the best CMS for your business.
- Do the groundwork — A thorough discovery and strategy phase is important in figuring out what you need and what your options might be.
- Open Source or SaaS — Will a ready-made platform and license suit your needs, or do you need a level of customization not found in an out-of-the-box solution?
- Headless or Coupled CMS — Do you want your content to seamlessly adapt to different channels? Find out if your choice of platform will make this possible.
With the right CMS, you can reshape or re-purpose content quickly and easily. And if there's one thing we've learned during the spring of 2020, it's the importance of being able to change quickly, whether you’re scaling rapidly in response to increased demand or rethinking your marketing strategy.
But with so many choices on the market, how do you know which platform is right for you? Here are some tips:
Lay the groundwork.
Here’s the most important point about choosing a CMS: There’s no single perfect solution for everyone. The best content management system for your business depends on your unique goals. That’s why it’s important to have a thorough discovery and strategy phase.
You need to:
- Gather input from all stakeholders. This might feel like a pain at the beginning, but it can prevent problems down the road.
- Budget for the long game. A common mistake is to only consider the short-term costs of a CMS. Always keep in mind that your content strategy is a work in progress. Spending a bit more on a good foundation can ultimately lead to lower long-term costs (and fewer headaches). We’ve seen this process over and over at Acro Commerce.
Decide between SaaS and open source.
Content management systems can be classified in several different ways. Perhaps the most important distinction is the source of the platform.
Many enterprise content management systems use a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. These are ready-made programs for which you purchase a license or subscription. The ecommerce platform Shopify is a popular example.
- Pros: With an overall focus on usability and a wide range of available features, a SaaS web content management system can save you time in both setup and maintenance.
- Cons: You’re limited by what the platform can do. Imagine having a ground-breaking idea for your business, but not being able to implement it. Security is another point to consider. Are you comfortable with another company having control over how your data is handled?
Open source code is freely available. And users are able to modify or enhance it. As a result, an open source platform like Drupal can adapt to fit your CMS needs, no matter how big your vision is.
- Pros: The customization options are limitless. (Want to learn more about Drupal’s strengths in meeting consumers’ needs during the current pandemic? Check out this article.) Plus, unlike with a SaaS system, you can decide how to manage your data. This flexibility has obvious security advantages, as it puts you in the driver’s seat.
- Cons: The biggest drawback is complexity. For example, if you want to create a Drupal content management system, the sheer number of potential modules can be daunting. But the good news is that open-source development can be done in-house, or through an agency with years of experience and solid connections to the Drupal community (like us!)
Of course, the line between open source and SaaS isn’t always clear. Some SaaS systems have open source modules, for example. A thorough comparison of the features and costs associated with each approach can determine which is right for you.
Consider where and how your content will be presented.
Let’s face it: The days when an organization could simply post content and wait for customers are long gone. To keep pace with your goals, content must display on an increasingly broad range of channels, which could include social media, smartwatches, slide presentations, perhaps even augmented reality applications.
Your CMS can help you. Having a road map for your products can help you decide between the following options.
A coupled CMS
This is a more traditional model. In simple terms, where the content is stored (the back end) and where that content is displayed (the front end) are tightly “coupled,” which makes it possible to view content before it is published to the world. This has obvious advantages, particularly if multiple people work on your content.
A headless CMS
In a headless system, the content is not connected to a single display method. Instead, it can adapt to different channels through APIs. It might help to think of the name: The “head” is the display and the body is the data. That might sound like a bad Halloween costume idea, but the separation is vital for developing new revenue streams since it allows you to seamlessly expand your reach.
But what if you want both options: an easily managed front end plus the ability to integrate with other channels? That’s where the API-first approaches of platforms like Drupal shine. Drupal gives you the ability to make changes to your front end as needed, without affecting your other integrations. In fact, you can use Drupal for your CMS while retaining a website developed with another program.
Ready to learn more?
We know you’re unique. We want to help you find the CMS that works for you, not only right now, but as you grow. If you’d like a free consultation about the things to consider when choosing a CMS, and how we can help, give us a call!