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What to Consider When Purchasing a Web CMS

clock-iconJune 19, 2017

So many factors go into the decision to buy or upgrade a web CMS: which should you focus on? PHOTO: Chloe RidgwayChoosing a web CMS is one of the biggest decisions a brand can make.

In 2017 and beyond, a content management system is no longer just the software you use to manage your website. Any CMS worth its weight is also able to leverage visitor behavior and data to shape customer journeys and deliver tailored content to multiple audiences across channels.

In short, a modern CMS is the primary link between a brand and its customers. Thus, it’s now more vital than ever to avoid going home with a lemon.

The only problem is, how do you go about choosing the best CMS for your brand?

The Question

What’s the most important factor in the decision to purchase a CMS? Is it price, functionality, architecture or something else?

The Answers

Karol Jarkovsky, Director of Product at Kentico
Jarkovsky has been working in product management, global software development and customer success for more than a decade. He recognizes the opportunity that businesses have to digitally transform themselves in order to survive and thrive in today’s highly competitive environment, and has committed himself to helping develop the disruptive technologies that make such transformation possible. Tweet to @kentico_karolj

While all of these factors are important to consider, we believe organizations should pay equally close attention to two additional factors.

First is omnichannel experience management, and how effectively is the organization able to produce and manage content for various channels. Not just web or mobile, but also social, IoTs, VR, AR, voice assistants and others.

The second one are the microservices architectures organizations need to consider when building future-proof digital marketing technology stacks. This can help organizations be flexible and agile in fulfilling complex business needs through seamless integration of multiple best-of-breed solutions.

David Roe, Partner and CEO of Authentic
Roe founded Authentic because he saw the massive amount of potential in the Content Management market to align customer wants with client's business needs using new methods and digital marketing technologies. He believes very strongly in the value of helping clients create "Authentic" relationships with their customers. Tweet to @authenticDgtl

The most important factor that should be considered in the purchase of a CMS is the facilitation of contribution. The focus should be on the actual contributors and the usability of the platform. If it isn’t used properly, it could be a point of failure across the board.

A well-designed CMS should enable the people who have their hands on the keyboard as they will always be your biggest success factors.

Boris Kraft, Chief Visionary Officer at Magnolia
Kraft is the co-founder and Chief Visionary Officer at Swiss-based Magnolia International Ltd., the company that develops Magnolia CMS. He has been writing code for 25 years and is a renowned public speaker. Kraft's responsibilities at Magnolia revolve around the future of the company, the product and the CMS market in general. Tweet to @bkraft

A flexible product is your best bet to minimize business disruptions required if you need to replace your “can-do-everything-you-need-today CMS” with whatever you need next year. Every organization needs a CMS. So the decision is not if you need one, but what you want or need to stay in business. If your chosen CMS makes it easy to innovate and adapt, provides an inspiring user interface to foster creation of great content and comes with the tools you need, backed by a passionate support and development team, you are off to a great start.

As content marketing is driving business revenue, price should be irrelevant — it is value that matters. Content can come from many sources, including from the traditional notion of a CMS, but needs to be mixed, tagged, targeted, translated and generally turned into something useful. That is much harder than one might think.

You can get tons of free (as in “no license cost”) CMSs, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they help you win the innovation war. Functionality certainly is very important. Even though many CMS’s provide broadly speaking the same base functionality, the difference in what they were built for and how they perform in real life is massive.

Abhay Kumar, Vice President of Business Development at Priocept
Kumar has over 17 years of experience working on various IT, digital media, ecommerce and web application development projects. As a Project Manager at Priocept, Kumar oversees the designing, building and deployment of web technology platforms for some of Europe’s leading companies. Find him on LinkedIn

The slightly unsatisfactory answer is that the most important factor is subjective to each individual organization based on their differing requirements, experience and technical skills.

Technical capabilities is the one factor we focus on. Have you considered the technical implications for your creative vision? Who is going to build it? Support it? Do you need all the bells and whistles — or is simplicity better? Starting from a solid technical spec increases the likelihood of success.

Certainly one of the least important factors is price. In life, some things are reassuringly expensive such as a child car seat or breakfast tea. In these cases price ensures the quality of the product, but it doesn’t guarantee the happiness of your child in transit or the enjoyment of your first meal of the day. Similarly, investing heavily in a complex CMS doesn't guarantee the success of a digital platform.

Tim Brigham, CEO of dotCMS
Brigham is a seasoned ​entrepreneur and "bootstrap executive" with​ ​more than 20 years of experience in creating and building digital content and software companies. He co-founded dotCMS in 2009 and has helped grow it into an award-winning open source CMS. Tweet to @Its_DaKine

While factors like price, functionality and architecture are important, the marketplace is now more experienced than ever before when it comes to content management systems.

Customers already know what they want and prefer to dig deeper into other aspects of the CMS, such as the product roadmap and strategy, customer success approach, and yes, even customer-vendor compatibility.