Considering a Content Management System? The Things You Need to Know

Holly Leech
Posted by Holly Leech
21st February 2020

CMS what to consider

Your website is your online presence. The driving force behind your digital activity.

Whether you are an e-commerce, non-transactional or a single page site, content is key and needs to be managed effectively to deliver a great experience for the end user.

As time moves on, Content Management Systems (CMS) develop, adding new features to help businesses grow. Many can be bought in a template format that can be loosely adapted to suit your needs, or, bespoke systems can be built to deliver a tailored solution for your organisation. 

With so many options available, it can be hard to understand where to start. 

Why is a CMS important?

In short, a CMS gives you the authority over your website. It allows you to create, edit, manage and maintain web pages on a single platform, streamlining how you manage it and ensure you keep on top of it to deliver the best experience for your customer.

A CMS marries power with a simple interface, making it an incredible tool for businesses.

Its purpose delivers key benefits to users such as:

  • Changes can be made simply and effectively, improving site maintenance and the overall aesthetic of the site.

  • You don’t need to be technically savvy to understand how to effectively use a CMS platform – they are designed to suit different levels of understanding, from no experience, right through to someone who has worked on websites forever. It means that you don’t always need to enlist the help of a developer.

  • Streamline your workflow and do it more efficiently with the use of the tools provided that allow you to complete things in half the time such as creating pages, changing alt tags and adding an image.

  • There is no limit to who can use the platform. You can assign lots of users so that people can action changes as and when required, the responsibility doesn’t need to sit with one individual. You can also track changes each individual has made, allowing you to monitor actions completed across the site.

  • You can apply additional functionality through plugins, such as live chat, contact forms and email sign-ups. This allows you to deliver more to the end user.

Perhaps the most beneficial part of a CMS is that you are in control. Without the need for continuous outside resource, you have the ability to assign tasks and roles to your team at your own disposal.

Dipping your toe into a content management system:

The first thing to think about when looking into potential CMS platforms for your business, is what you need it for. What is the main objective?

Is it because you want to be able to make changes to the site yourself? Are you looking for ways to streamline your workflow? Is it related to costs and how much you currently pay for developers to complete work on your website?

At the same time, you also need to think about the budget you want to associate with this platform.

A CMS drives business growth through delivering an effective website to your customers, of which can transact in some way, increasing lead generation. How much are you willing to spend for that value?

Once these decisions have been made, you can start to determine if an off the shelf system will deliver the ROI you want to see or if a bespoke system is the way forward.

Off-the-shelf vs Bespoke Systems:

‘Off the shelf’ is determined as a piece of software that comes delivered pre-built with multiple integrations and templates – the idea is that it can benefit as many people as possible and is sold to masses of customers.

These include, Wordpress, Magento and Wix. You’ve probably already heard of them.

Bespoke CMS systems are different in that they are just that, bespoke to you. They are designed with your business goals in mind and personalised to deliver the most to your individual organisation.

But which is best?

Whilst there's no "right answer" with the pre-built version, you have the advantage of ease of use. They are designed with simplicity in mind and come with a variety of templates that you can chose from to deliver a website that is uniform, on-brand and live quickly.

The downside to this of course is flexibility. Whilst customisation is achievable to a degree with these structured templates, it can only go so far. You are limited to the functionality, appearance and style that you can achieve based on the template you chose. Without the additional resource of a developer who can navigate the code, you’re site will remain limited.

When it comes to bespoke systems, of course the biggest pro is that they are tailored to your needs. There’s no need to fit into the “closest customised solution” and hoping your business can resonate itself well. They are designed with each individual company in mind, with the aim to meet their objectives effectively.

Custom build CMS’s are also notoriously more secure than pre-built templates because time is invested to build them that way. Providing that extra protection, makes your business less vulnerable to catastrophic hacking incidents. However, it’s important to bear in mind that the drawbacks to bespoke is that initially, time and money needs to be spent to achieve the end result. Custom build software needs the expertise of web developers and designers, meaning until you receive the end product, you don’t have all of the control.

boxing vector to represent off the shelf vs bespoke

What to look for in your new CMS:

Like we’ve already mentioned, it’s crucial that you have a clear objective for your CMS – this will allow you to create a list of criteria that is required to help you achieve the goals set, meaning you don’t get sucked into unnecessary functions or design tools that are going to be of no benefit.

Whether you choose bespoke or pre-built, some things that your system will need are:

  1. Core Functionality – Ensure that the system you choose, covers the bare bones of what you need it to do. Although all have some form of functionality, determine that the one you choose operates how you need it to.
  2. Editing – Determine how easy it is for you to add a new piece of text or an image without the assistance of a tech wizard? The editing functionality on the site needs to be manageable for your whole team.
  3. Customisation – Understand to what extent can you customise your site? Can it accurately represent your brand through fonts, colours and images? If not, is it going to look like another site that already exists on the internet?
  4. Search – Thinking from a customer perspective is key. How easy is it for them to search for what they are looking for through your site? Can they move freely whilst on the site, reaching their end goal easily? Would a search function allow a user to find the desired information in a more effective manner, therefore improving user journey?
  5. Managing the site – You don’t want to be limited by the number of people who can make changes to your site, being able to grant permissions and manage the assets of the site will greatly improve the development of the site.

Building you a bespoke system:

We know first-hand the need for an effective CMS that delivers on the overarching objectives for your website.

We have worked with businesses in a range of industries to develop custom built platforms that deliver more for our customers. One of which can be found here. 

If you are in the market for a CMS that works with your business, we would love to chat through your requirements.

Get in touch with us below.