You should probably know by now that you can’t accomplish any of your marketing and demand generation goals without a website. And, by extension, you should probably also know that you can’t accomplish your marketing and demand generation goals without a good website.
That’s why choosing the right content management system is critical for any business. CMS software allows marketers to create, design, host, edit, manage and track the performance of all of their website content — but if you choose a system that’s too constrained or cumbersome for your business, then your team could spiral into a content management nightmare.
Is it time to make a switch? Here are some key points to consider when evaluating your current CMS.
The Implementation Process
Realistically, you’re always going to experience some kinks and limitations with any CMS software you choose — what really makes or breaks the system is the implementation.
A clunky CMS solution that’s implemented perfectly could still give you satisfactory results. On the flip side, a great CMS that’s implemented poorly could cause more problems than it solves.
Although the CMS software you choose needs to be a good match for your business, you also need to think ahead, gather the necessary resources and make a plan to ensure the implementation process goes smoothly.
Open-Source vs. Hosted Solutions
While evaluating the pros and cons of open-source and hosted CMS solutions, you’ll often find that their blessings are also their curses.
Hosted solutions are focused and tend to be great for a specific goal or challenge, but they aren’t designed to be everything to everyone like some of the open-source platforms. For example, HubSpot is built for inbound marketing and because it’s a managed platform, you don’t have to worry about performance, uptime, updates or any of the complicated IT components. However, this makes it less customizable on the server level, so if you want to write Python, Node or something that interacts with the back-end technology, you’ll need another server to process those things.
On the other hand, open-source platforms are highly flexible and customizable, but this additional flexibility also comes at a cost. Open-source CMS platforms like Wordpress or Drupal can be made to do anything, including e-commerce and restricted site areas, but their open-ended nature increases the risk of poor implementation. You can save time and energy with access to a huge library of pre-constructed plug-ins, but if these plug-ins aren’t executed properly, the platform could lend itself to clunkiness or disjointedness.
For either type of CMS, you have to consider the goals of your business, the technical skills of your team and the specific needs of your website. If nothing else, at least ask yourself: Does this solution degrade the overall user experience? If so, you’re on the wrong platform.
Ease of Management
Speaking of the technical skills of your team, the ease of managing the platform is another important indication of whether or not the CMS you’re using is right for you.
The beauty of a CMS is that it gives non-technical marketers the ability to control their own website without the need to contact IT every time they need to make a change. If your marketing team still needs to funnel updates through your web development team, that’s a sign that you need to switch to a simpler CMS.
HubSpot, for example, has a very intuitive, user-friendly interface — but that’s only a huge benefit if your team isn’t technically savvy. The bottom line is, a good CMS shouldn’t need IT personnel to be involved at all. The right CMS for your business is the one that’s easily managed by your marketing team.
Room for Growth
As with any business platform you invest in, your CMS system should be suitable for not only your current needs but also the needs of your business as it grows. The platform that works for you as a startup may crack under the pressure of enterprise-level operations.
Of course, scalability is always one of the most complex factors of any major business decision; anticipating the needs and challenges of your business in the future can be difficult. To account for scalability, you have to take the time to really think about your expected business trajectory over the next two to three years. Is there room for growth? Or will your current CMS be a limiting factor?
Be careful to find the balance between a scalable solution and an unnecessarily complicated one. If you overestimate your need for scalability, you could end up paying for an entire enterprise site and functionality that you don’t actually need.
Especially as your business grows, consolidation where possible is key to efficient and effective operations. If you’re already using HubSpot for email automation, it might make sense to consolidate your platforms and use it as your CMS as well.
Think about the feature sets you need and how many of those features are native in your CMS platform. Does your CMS enable conversion optimization, A/B testing, responsive design and other specific functions your business might need? If not, you might want to switch to an all-in-one solution for fewer third-party costs and more efficient operations.
Support Lines and Communities
Depending on the needs and the technical sophistication of your team, you may need different levels of support from your CMS solution.
For example, HubSpot subscription includes access to a 24/7 support line with dedicated IT personnel who are infinitely familiar with their platform. They have a smaller community knowledge base on their website, but the 24/7 support line might appeal to those who need more hands-on help with managing their platform.
On the other hand, the open-source user community is much more realized with forums, wikis and other online communities where you can go for answers to your questions. But because these user communities are so large, there is no formal support line that you can call when you need an immediate and personalized answer.
Think about the kind of support you want and need from your CMS solution. Careful consideration of this often overlooked feature will ensure that you have the help you need when you need it.
The Takeaway: Does Your CMS Align With Your Business Goals?
No matter what, the decision-making process should always be driven by your business goals. If your main goal is to create a marketing site that will drive awareness and lead generation, HubSpot might be the best choice for you, because it’s built from the ground up for just that. If you have more specific goals and needs, like an e-commerce component that needs to be on your primary website, you might want to go with a more customizable, open-source solution.
Obviously, there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to CMS solutions. You want something that’s user-friendly and easy for your marketers to update, while also providing enough customization and interactivity to show off your brand and personality. By taking into account these six things, you’ll be able to narrow down your options to the CMS that’s right for you.
Christopher Mathieu is the Chief Design Officer at New Breed, where he oversees the creative strategy behind every project we produce. His unique ability to combine his fine art background with his technical web expertise has led Chris and his team to produce countless sales-ready websites and inbound marketing...