5 things to consider before you choose a CMS

Peter Cura

by Peter Cura

Content management can be complicated and so there’s naturally a business in building and selling content management systems (CMS). There are many CMS products and providers to choose from, ranging from open source and free to commercial services, so how do you decide which CMS is best for you? Here are five tips to get you started. Two of them have huge implications.


Tip 1. Get organised first, get the CMS later.

A proper CMS is great if you already have multiple content streams to manage and you are already well organised. Even so, if you know exactly what you want to do with your CMS, how you’re going to use it, and why, you could still ask an expert for a second opinion to make sure you haven’t overlooked anything. However, if you want a CMS to solve your problems or because your current data management is a confusing mess, a CMS won’t really help. You’d be better off organising your data first, otherwise you’re just going to load the same big mess into your CMS. And the problem will remain.


Tip 2. Before you get the CMS, decide who’s going to maintain it.

Let’s make this clear: if your CMS is free, it’s your responsibility to look after it. And, yes, your company will have to have to pay an expert to look after your free CMS, either in-house or outsourced. If on the other hand you buy a CMS, you may possibly be able to buy maintenance, support, development and customisation services from your supplier. But you’d better check before you sign anything. And you’d also better know who is responsible if something goes badly wrong.


Tip 3. Before you get the CMS, understand its security requirements.

In the wake of the Panama Papers, you’ll want to make sure your CMS is secure. It seems that what made the leak possible was a record breaking level of CMS ineptitude, with the data being hosted on a Drupal CMS that was 3 years old, with known critical vulnerabilities. (Note: we’re not saying Drupal is bad, we are saying you need to look after it). So when you do choose your CMS, again, you need to know very clearly who is responsible for looking after it. You need to know who checks that the updates are done, who keep it secure, and whether it’s secure enough in the first place. The other option is costly and embarrassing.

If you’re into customer tracking and analytics you need to know that the European right to be forgotten now applies to all aspects of online life.

Tip 4. Make sure your CMS will be able to comply with the new EU data laws.

There are new EU data laws coming into force. Therefore, before you get a CMS, you now need understand what personal data it collects and why, where and how. And how to delete it and keep it safe. I haven’t seen this law mentioned much yet but you really should pay attention. It is extremely likely that, at this moment, not one CMS on earth complies. The new laws come into force in summer 2016 (yes, that’s only a month away) and then EU member states will have two years to comply. So what’s to worry about? For example, the right to be forgotten now applies to all aspects of online life. If your data has a security breach, you must report it to the authorities within 72 hours. If you are a large company, you will need to hire a dedicated data protection officer. And trivial things like a maximum penalty of 20 million Euros for non-compliance. This may seem far over the top but it is now EU law. And given that the company that once proclaimed, “Don’t be evil”, now rivals the NSA in their non-stop monitoring of the world’s population, Europe does have a valid point. When you choose your CMS, make sure it can comply.

Keep your CMS easy to use. Normal people want a CMS to work for them without caring about how it happens.

Tip 5. Keep it as simple as possible

Our last recommendation is to keep your CMS simple, especially for the user. While the inner workings of a CMS may be heaven to play with for tech geeks, normal employees probably want to edit some text, add a picture, add a link, and click publish. They’d like everything to work for them without caring even slightly about how it happens. Remember, not everyone needs all the 1001 admin options and you can often reconfigure admin rights so that not everyone sees them. So when you finally choose your CMS, make sure that normal mortals can use it. Let’s say that your client’s 65-year old CEO wants to write his own blog. Is your CMS actually simple enough for a slightly befuddled pensioner to use? No? Then maybe you’d better reconsider. In any event, choose wisely and keep it simple.


Contact Luxus for help

Wondering how to get all your content online in as painless a way as possible? Talk to Luxus, we have experience with most of the big CMS systems, including web shop integration.