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How To Choose A Content Management System In 2019

If you are planning a content-related project in 2019, you may struggle with having too many technology choices. Should you use your existing content management system (CMS) or go through a complex purchase process to choose a new one? This guide will help you navigate the options and make the best decisions for your organization.

Start With A Gap Analysis

It is likely that you already have some CMS in place. So, the first step is to figure out where you want to be and if your existing CMS can get you there. Here are some questions you should answer:

• Do you want to publish content only on your website or on multiple channels?

• Does the architecture of your existing CMS fit your technology vision?

• Do you want to stay on-premise or use a cloud-native solution?

• Does your current CMS provide the agility you need to meet your goals?

• Are you using the current version of the CMS, or do you need to invest in a major upgrade?

If the gap is too wide and you feel your current CMS holds you back in your strategic initiatives, it may be time to re-platform or add another CMS to your technology stack.


A Multi-CMS Approach May Lead To Content Chaos

Many companies already have an enterprise-level CMS in place. It may be great for supporting big strategic projects; however, it is often overly complex for smaller projects when your marketing team needs to launch a new campaign quickly. As a result, marketers often try to bypass their IT department by hiring an external agency as a workaround and having them use a lightweight alternative, such as WordPress.

Using two types of CMS for different projects may work well, provided you have proper content governance and security practices in place. Still, there is a risk that you may end up with lots of duplicated content in disconnected content silos. Keeping that content updated becomes a nightmare, and your customer experience may suffer due to inconsistencies across channels.

Overall, using a centralized approach to content management with a proper strategy has its value. You should use an additional CMS only as a temporary solution before you make the transition to a more agile CMS.

Traditional Versus Headless: It Starts With Your Mindset

Another decision you will have to make is whether to use a traditional or headless CMS. We have seen a rapid growth of headless CMS in the past two years. Headless CMS fully separates the content and its presentation. This comes with many benefits, such as marketers being able to reuse the same content across multiple channels and developers avoiding limits of traditional CMS.

The biggest hurdle to headless CMS adoption is that it requires a different mindset. Since it uses a content-first approach, it may not provide the familiar web-specific concepts, such as pages or tree navigation.

If your team focuses only on the web and is not ready to adopt the content-first approach, staying with a traditional web-oriented CMS may be a safer choice for you. However, if you plan to support new channels, such as chatbots, augmented reality or voice assistants, or if you want to use the latest front-end technologies, the change may be inevitable.

Hybrid CMS May Address Developer Needs

Even if you identify with the headless approach as a better option, it does not mean you have to throw away your existing CMS.

Most traditional CMS vendors enhanced their solutions with application program interface (API) layers that mimic the headless approach. This provides you with some of the technical benefits of pure headless CMS, such as the ability to use the latest front-end frameworks.

However, just adding an API does not automatically make a CMS ready for omnichannel, and you may find the hybrid model limiting.

Cloud Becomes A Standard But Comes In Many Flavors

If you want to increase your agility and offload your IT department, you may consider moving your CMS to the cloud. Technically, any current CMS can run in the cloud. However, it is essential that you understand the pros and cons of each hosting model.

You can take an on-premise CMS and simply host it in Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure. You would not have to run your own infrastructure, but you would still need to care about the CMS and its security, maintenance, upgrades, etc.

Many traditional CMS vendors provide their own cloud options -- usually managed hosting or platform as a service (PaaS). In both cases, the vendor takes care of your instance of the CMS. However, the monolithic nature of some traditional CMS may require a manual process when you want to deploy code updates or upgrade your CMS, which limits your agility.

If you want to get rid of CMS babysitting, you may want to choose a true software as a service (SaaS) model with a headless CMS. The new headless systems are often built as cloud-native. They clearly separate the CMS and your code by the API. It allows the vendor to take care of the CMS while you focus on your application.

Don’t Let Technology Become The Only Decision Factor

If you answered all the questions above, you might feel ready to make the decision. Be careful here!

One of the most common reasons CMS implementations fail is that decisions are made purely on the basis of technology or feature set. Then, when the content editors start using it, they find that it does not fit their way of working.

To avoid such a situation, consider creating a sample project and conducting a usability test. That will help you answer these questions:

• Does the CMS fit the way your users work?

• Is it intuitive, or do users need extensive training?

• Does the CMS allow users to collaborate on the content?

If you take your time and make sure the solution works for all the stakeholders, you will be on the right path to making your next project a success.

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