What’s the right CMS for me?

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I get this question a lot. “How do I know which content management system (CMS) is right for my company or project?” It’s a tough question when considering that today’s CMS are very similar. In fact, they are so similar in offerings that the distinction should be weighted more on how a site is managed than the CMS itself. Internal approval processes and the technical skill level of the site administrator is the most important factor when choosing the right CMS.

We help our clients navigate their choices by asking the following questions:

  1. What are your technical specifications? Does your IT department dictate only .NET solutions? Does the CMS need to have full time support? IF the answer to either of these questions is yes, be aware that open-source is off the table and the overall cost increases quickly as the CMS software itself can run into the tens of thousands.
  2. Who will be maintaining the site? A junior staff member or someone with specific web-based programming skills? For ease of use, WordPress wins out with a simple interface easily understood by the non-technical. But, if you are looking to add features to WordPress to make it more powerful, expect to loose some of the ease. With a few interface add-ons, Joomla comes in at a close second, providing greater overall control of the entire site. Out of the box, Drupal is targeted more to the technical developer and requires more customization to the administration panels before it is ready for a client to use.
  3. Will the project need staging and production servers? In larger organizations with layers of approvals needed before changes can go live on the site, having the two stage approach is best — a Staging server for internal approvals and a Production server for the public. Typically, you need an expensive CMS for this feature, but you can get around it by packing the files and database into a single bundle and move the files from server to server. As of a year ago, we have found packaging solutions for all three open-source CMS.
  4. How complex are the pages within the site? Typical websites have two or three columns that make up a page. One column is for the main content; the other columns provide supporting content such as secondary navigation, contact info, or client testimonials. Page complexity allows us to discuss the uniqueness of managing content of each CMS.

These three questions are a great place to start when considering the right CMS for you. Our goal is to leave our clients with an easy-to-use solution that matches their technical expertise and workflows. By considering budget, resources, skillsets and required features, we can deliver a website that is not only a beautifully designed and powerful marketing tool, but an easy-to-administer technical solution as well.

If you have a specific question, or better yet a project, you can contact me at isham@creative-mischief.com. Either way, good luck with your research.