Content is king, but if your Content Management System (CMS) can’t manage and display your content correctly, it won’t have the impact you intend. With so many CMS platforms to choose from, finding the appropriate one can seem like an intimidating task. The task becomes even more daunting when you consider that the wrong choice can bog down your business and delay your growth.
There are hundreds of systems to choose from, with various specialties and price points between them. The top CMS Platforms in 2020 are:
- WordPress: easy to use with a simple configuration and flexible customization options. It is the ideal platform for blogs and corporate websites.
- Drupal: easy to use if you have coding experience. It allows for advanced customization and is capable of producing complex websites. It is ideal for large organizations like government websites.
- Joomla: is more flexible than WordPress but is not ideal for novices. It is designed for intranets and community websites.
- Magento: has a paid and a free version and is ideal for eCommerce sites. It has lots of flexibility and customization options. It can handle large sites with lots of products and customers.
- Shopify: features a user-friendly drag and drop interface and has a variety of themes and extensions. It can be used for websites of all sizes.
These platforms all come highly rated by users, but how do you know which one is right for your website? To select the right CMS for your website, you need to evaluate your options based on the following criteria:
A basic CMS needs to allow you to create, delete, edit, and organize your website’s pages. However, it’s a mistake to assume that all CMS platforms have these abilities or that they will be available in an intuitive way. For example, not all blogging platforms let you manage and organize pages in a tree hierarchy. Rather, individual posts are organized automatically according to date and category. This is fine if you want to keep your interface simple and easy to understand, but it limits your ability to customize how your content is displayed. For this reason, it’s essential to consider the basic functionality you require carefully. You also want to evaluate how easy it is to create, delete, edit, and organize. As most CMS platforms will offer this functionality, usability is critical and should be tested before purchasing.
A CMS aims to manage content, but not all systems have a comprehensive management system. A poorly designed system with poor accessibility and usability is a hurdle you don’t want to have to deal with. In particular, the way your system handles images is crucial. Your CMS should force users to add <alt> attributes to images and provide basic editing tools. Furthermore, you should consider how the CMS handles uploading and attaching PDFs, Word documents, and other files. Can you add descriptions to these files? Does the search function index them? How is the file displayed to the end-user?
The Editor Feature
Most CMS will have a WYSIWYG editor. WYSIWYG stands for What You See Is What You Get. It allows users to create HTML content without actually needing to use HTML coding. The user will essentially see what the end result will look like while the content is being made. The downside to this editor is that if you have multiple content providers, they can customize a page’s appearance, which may undermine your design and branding consistency. For this reason, you should look for a CMS that only allows content providers to mark up headings, links, lists, and other elements without being able to customize their appearance.
The Search Function
The search feature is an essential component of any website. Over half of all users will use the search bar when looking for content. When assessing the search functionality of a CMS, consider the following:
- How frequently does the search engine index your website?
- How thorough is the search engine? Does it index all the content of each page? Does it index any attached files?
- How fast is the search engine?
- Can you define the scope of the search function to a specific section of the website or refine search results?
- How are the search results ranked? Is this customizable by you or the user?
- Are you able to control how results are displayed and customize the design?
Ability to Customize
Your CMS must allow you flexibility in the way your content is retrieved and presented. If you can’t customize your system, then it’s a no-go. Essentially, you need a system that gives you flexibility in how you save and publish content. For instance, are you able to search and retrieve content in chronological order? Can you display recent comments on the homepage? Is there a calendar option to display events on? A good CMS will let you do all this and more.
Choosing a content management system requires that you evaluate your website’s needs against the platform’s abilities. In addition to considering the features that each system offers, you should also look at things such as licensing, support, accessibility, and security. Also, be sure to think of the vision you have for your website’s future and make sure that the CMS you choose can help you meet your goals.