Content (management) is king
Gone are the days of static websites that require you to get in touch with your "webmaster" to make updates and changes to your site. For the past decade, marketers have been introduced to content management systems at various capacities. While not all performing the best, the onset of the modern CMS has allowed companies to publish and update their website content without involving IT personnel.
Though not all systems are created equal, I have yet to run across someone that will talk you out of developing your next website on a CMS. The focus within the industry is placing you, the client, in the drivers' seat as much as possible. That allows you to be agile and create dynamic content as you see fit.
While one web development shop might be quick to sell you on their CMS, it really is best to take a step back and ask yourself a few questions to better understand your needs as it relates to administering website content.
It is good to keep in mind that a system’s job is much more than acting as a channel for you to administer content on your website. The CMS handles much of your website’s heavy lifting and it is best to take a step back and identify what it is you need your website to do before proceeding with that RFP.
The following are top-level questions that are often overlooked:
- Do you understand your business needs, goals and how those translate online?
- What is your overall website strategy?
- What type of functionality, as a whole, do you need to the site to deliver?
- Have you given consideration to your mobile audience and does the CMS play well in this space?
- What are the key challenges, if any, that you will have to overcome when deploying a new CMS? Is this buy-in from the C-suite, or IT department?
- Who will be maintaining the CMS? Is this something that can be done in-house with a few clicks of a mouse, or does IT need to be involved?
Digging deeper into the CMS itself, understanding your needs as a content creator and/or marketer is key as well:
- Are you looking to have a blog or news and resources section integrated into your new site? (Tip: you should...)
- How often will you be updating or publishing content?
- How user-friendly is it to create, edit and organize content?
- Is the editor function easy to use for your entire team when administering content?
- Does your website require a lot of media such as PDF documents, images/graphics, embedded videos from YouTube — and how does the CMS handle these?
- How search engine friendly is the CMS? Does it produce clean, efficient code out of the gate, or will it require a lot of time under the hood, tweaking and getting it just right?
Ask around. Odds are other marketers and business owners are using a CMS. Ask them for a look behind the scenes and see for yourself, firsthand, how easy or difficult it is to use.
At the end of the day, save yourself some time and headache in vendor selection by asking yourself, “What are my must-haves vs. my nice-to-haves?”