A content management system (CMS) is website creation and management made accessible, even to those with no programming knowledge. You know you need one—the question is how to choose one. WordPress is probably the first one that comes to mind since it’s the CMS behind about a third of all websites. Still, there are many options available, and WordPress isn’t necessarily the best choice for you.
It pays to carefully consider a variety of factors when choosing your CMS, and to work with a web development company to help you make the most of it. They can help you choose a system, design it for you, and build upon it to create the website you need while you stay focused on your customers.
Here are a few things you’ll want to consider when choosing a CMS:
Is It Easy to Use?
This is a tough question to answer, because “easy” means something different for everyone—and every CMS, no matter how user-friendly, has difficult parts to manage. Certain themes can also be more challenging than others. You’ll want to focus on what you do most often, whether that’s blog posts, images, or schedules and booking. Is it easy to format, or are you puzzled when you hit “preview” and see nothing like what you thought you had created?
The more time and effort you invest in the foundation of your site, the easier it will be to use. Choosing a CMS that feels intuitive to you is a great start; after that, you’ll work with the development company to customize and simplify it until you have it where you want it. Keep in mind that it’s an ever-evolving process. For example, the company behind the CMS might make upgrades that render your customized items useless, and you’ll have to rewrite those customizations. A web development company can stay on top of those for you and make the changes with limited time spent in lost functionality.
What Features Does It Offer?
You don’t necessarily have to find a CMS that has everything—that’s what plugins are for. WordPress on its own, for example, is pretty bare-bones, but it comes with a rich marketplace of plugins, both free and paid. You can add features like a client login or CRM integration, but adding them requires some strategy. The more plugins you have, the slower your WordPress site will run, so it’s important to choose only the ones you need. Furthermore, some of them won’t work with your chosen theme, and others don’t work when used together.
If you need a client login to protect documents, you’ll want to look beyond WordPress, which would require several plugins to do the job you could find built into another CMS. If you’re going to build an entirely different site for your client portal, WordPress can still be a good option for your primary site.
The basic features you want to see are an easy-to-use content editor, customization options, and user management options that allow you to set different editing permissions for different people if you intend to have more than one person editing and managing the site.
Is It Scalable?
For your website, you have to look beyond your current needs. You’re expecting your business to grow, so you want to choose a CMS that can grow with you. It’s much easier than having to start all over when you realize your business is bigger than your website can manage.
Your development team can help you identify what features and integrations your business will need by the time you have a certain number of customers or you’re making a certain number of sales. By choosing a CMS that offers those functions and/or building them into your site from the beginning, you’ll save yourself from costly rewrites down the road.
Is It Secure?
You have a big responsibility to protect your business and client information, and that requires careful management of your platform. Though WordPress sites are most often compromised, the breaches are generally among those that are not updated and maintained: 44% of WordPress hacking was a result of outdated sites. More than half of WordPress vulnerabilities are from the plugins—which is another reason to choose yours carefully.
Some CMS companies are better at security updates than others. WordPress has a security team dedicated to staying ahead of hackers, malware, and other vulnerabilities. Some updates are made automatically by the CMS or plugin creators; other updates require action on your part. Make sure you use the latest versions to ensure you have the latest security technology working for you.
What Does It Cost?
WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Magento, and Microweber are just a few of the free systems available. Most come with a wide range of open-source plugins and paid plugins. Other platforms, like Sitefinity, Kentico, and EVOQ require a monthly or annual fee that covers patches, upgrades, and ongoing support. These systems tend to come with the capabilities you would need to cover with plugins in an open-source system.
Customization costs vary depending upon what you need to have done, but those customizations can save you time and money in the long run if they make your site easier to use. Custom solutions aren’t always necessary, but they can provide additional control, user-friendliness, and functionality, and they can help your website stand out among the others in your industry.