Choosing the right CMS can seem like a daunting task. If you’re a digital publisher, you’re probably more interested in the topics you cover than the technology that’s powering your website. But choosing the right CMS can make or break a publication.
Content management systems control the way we create, manage, and modify the content on websites. They’re the tools that help publishers build and update their websites without needing to write new code each time a blog post or article goes live. Content management systems handle all aspects of website infrastructure, so publishers can spend time working on generating the best possible content for their websites.
As you evaluate which CMS will work best, it’s important to keep in mind long-term costs and the scalability of various options. One of the biggest mistakes that we see publishers make when it comes to choosing the right CMS is picking the cheapest solution and overlooking the long-term costs that are tied to that decision. The cheapest content management systems usually don’t have the features that publishers need to help their businesses grow, and migrating to a more robust CMS is not without its challenges. In almost every scenario, publishers are better off selecting a CMS they can grow with, like WordPress, even if that CMS costs more upfront.
Of course, cost isn’t the only factor that publishers should consider when choosing the right CMS. If you are a publisher who is looking to grow your website, or you’re thinking about launching a new website from scratch and unsure about where to begin, then we have put together a list of the most important questions to ask.
1. Am I ready to build a custom CMS?
The idea of building a custom CMS can be very enticing. But with years of experience working with hundreds of digital publishers, we can definitively say that in-house content management systems just don’t live up to the hype. It doesn’t matter how large your team is or how many years of web publishing you have under your belt. Handling the complexities of a custom CMS is too much, and the amount of technology support that’s going to be required to manage a custom CMS in the long-term is too expensive. Digital publishers are much better off going with a CMS like WordPress, which can be customized using various themes and plugins.
2. Is my CMS scalable?
The publishing industry is always changing. Very few publications look the same today as they did a decade ago. The last thing you want is for your publication to be held back by a CMS that doesn’t scale.
If you have already chosen a CMS that will not scale with your business, then you should consider migrating to WordPress from your existing CMS.
3. How do I want my website to look?
When you’re rolling out a website redesign, that’s not the time to take a gamble. For the best results, we recommend that publishers get input from their teams before implementing a new content management system.
The way that your website will look and function might impact the CMS you choose. This is especially the case if you plan to leverage new technologies, like augmented reality or virtual reality, or if you want your website to be optimized for mobile audiences. If you want your website to look a certain way, then you need to make sure the CMS you select supports the right channels.
4. What sort of costs should I expect?
Let’s be frank. Migrating to a new CMS like WordPress is a big deal, and the project isn’t going to be free. For a project like this, it’s important to look at the big picture. The content management system with the lowest upfront costs might cost you a lot more in the long-run, especially if there is a chance your publication will expand in the next few years. For example, there are some SaaS content management systems that charge users a monthly fee. But what happens if you want to add advertising to your website, and the CMS doesn’t support that? What happens if you want to sell subscriptions and put up a paywall? Low-cost content management systems usually do not support the needs of growing digital publications, and the cost to reverse course and migrate to a different CMS, like WordPress, can be significant. That’s why it’s important to consult with a reputable web developer to learn about all the costs involved before selecting any system.
5. How quickly can my team learn the UI?
Every CMS is different. If you’re a technology pro, then you might think a CMS feels intuitive. Do your writers, editors, and sales employees have the same level of confidence? When you’re choosing the right CMS, you want to make sure to pick a platform with a user-friendly interface, like WordPress. This is especially important if you work with a team. The easier the UI is to use, the faster your team will be able to pick it up and the less time you’ll spend on training.