Technology July 8, 2014 Last updated September 18th, 2018 1,708 Reads share

How Do You Choose The Best Content Management System?

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I am sure you know that ‘Content is King’. But how does one manage, edit and add to their site’s content? The solution is simple! There are many content application platforms out there to integrate and have developed into your website. Yes, I am talking about a

Prioritize the functionality

Consider the basic functionality you need. You may not require the ability to structure and organize pages now, but you may need them in the future. A majority think that CMS is all about creating, editing, deleting and organizing pages and assume that these functionalities are the single most important element of all.

However, this may not be the case. Not all blogging platforms will allow you to manage and organize pages in a proper hierarchy. You may even find individual ‘posts’ automatically getting organized by criteria such as category and date. In fact, limitation in functionality keeps the interface simple and easy to understand.

Always test the CMS for usability before you decide to purchase, or have integrated into your website.

The system should be flexible

Experienced developers work on various projects and they know that change is inevitable. Therefore, it is important that the CMS you choose should pro-actively facilitate change. I am not only talking from a plug-in/extension perspective but also from the point where web developers can sensibly override any core features without interfering with system updates, security patches and upgrades down the line.

The content presentation and design should not be directed only by technology. Not adopting the best practice can create a system that produces pathetic code. This forces unnecessary restrictions on the design and can severely impact accessibility. Therefore, a flexible CMS is all you will need.

The system should make interaction easy

If you plan to gather user feedback, the CMS should be able to provide functionality that allows a third-party plug-in to provide it. Also, if you wish to host a community on your website, the system must provide functionalities including Forums, Chat, Rating or Comment.

So, ask if the CMS you choose makes this process easy:-

  • Does the system enable you to customize fields or does it require technical expertise?
  • Can you specify who results are emailed to?
  • Consider the type of functionality you need, and accordingly, choose the best CMS that will support it.

Higher loading performance

It is natural that if millions of hits are taking place on a webpage that is dynamically assembled from your CMS, there could be a performance drag. This significantly impacts and delays a page’s loading time, thereby potentially diverting web traffic from your site. In today’s accelerated world, no one will likely wait for 10 seconds to view a web page. However, with a CMS that circulates static pages, the page is vigorously preassembled upon content change and your site (particularly your page) will load faster when chosen as it stays fixed on the web server. Only when the content author logs in to make changes in the site, the page is dynamically assembled from the CMS database. However, when the page is changed and saved, the CMS system publishes the static page to the web server through FTP or secure FTP.

Pay attention to the editor

The editor is the interface through which content is added or amended. It allows you to apply basic formatting that includes color and font. WYSIWYG editor is the most popular traditional editor for the majority of content management systems. However, this editor often falls short, despite the fact that it is the most used feature within the system.

New generation editors will allow you to mark up headings, links, lists and other elements without specifying how they should appear. The editor within the CMS should not endow a content provider the ability to control appearances. In addition, the editor should be able to manage external assests such as downloadable files and images

Security

Site visitors are always accessing the CMS database when loading the page. The website and CMS database should be outside the corporate firewall for visitors to access, which makes it vulnerable to hackers which can cause significant downtime. Consider a static publishing CMS system that can be installed separately away from the web server on an application server. This type of CMS server can function like a staging server with a complete back-up copy of your web site.

Managing images and files

Poorly designed systems can frustrate users with improper usability and accessibility. Images in particular can cause severe problems. Therefore, ensure that your CMS allows you to add <alt> tag attributes to images. Also, the CMS system should be able to provide basic image editing tools such as resizing, rotating and cropping. Also, one should consider how the CMS deals with uploading Word Documents, PDFs and other file types.

Multiple Platform and scalability support

Different websites use different operating systems such as Linux, Windows or UNIX. It is always good to select software solutions that are platform independent and can run on multiple operating systems. Now ask, “Can your CMS integrate well with other server side technologies? How well can the system’s API be used to build dynamic server side pages?” These factors should be considered if you are thinking about scalability.

Also, when considering multiple websites, your CMS system should have the flexibility to manage more than a single website.

Search function

Search is a crucial part for any website. Half of your visitors start with search when looking for content. So, there are a few factors to consider when evaluating search functionality

  • Check how often the search engine’s index your website
  • Can they index the entire content for each page such as attached files, PDFs, Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents?
  • Check the speed of the search engine
  • How does the search engine determine the ranking of the results? Can this functionality be customized?
  • Can you control the customization of design and how results are displayed?

Deployment solution

If you have built a new web site, how do you plan to migrate your current site content to the new site? The best methodology seems to be rolling out each department at a time to test sections before moving to the next department. But how do you manage the cross department links on the pages which are not yet moved to the new site? Your CMS should provide you tools to address this issue. Without a content migrating strategy, enabling a site with CMS can be disastrous.

Don’t waste money for functionality you will never use, neither do you want a CMS that no longer meets your requirements.

Images: “CMS Content Management System with white chalk on blackboard./ Shutterstock.com

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Eric Haskell

Eric Haskell

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