Content management systems (CMS) have revolutionized the web, giving companies, of all sizes more control over their websites.  They’ve come a long way since the days when only technical experts could use them.  But, as CMSs grow ever more feature, rich implementing them can become a more complex undertaking for website developers.  Whereas in the past the entire website would have been under the control of IT departments in most companies, these days’ marketers and stakeholders in the business will often b using a CMS to make changes, directly.

This is because, as CMS features have developed, and so have user-friendly front-ends.  This makes even the most complicated web page editable by someone with only technical expertise.  Many CMSs also provide the marketers with ways to optimize their visitor’s experience through multi-variant testing or content targeting. This has potentially put content management and updating in the hands of all employees of the business, which can bring its own headaches and underlines the importance of having the proper approvals and processes in place from day one.

All this can be incredibly positive for front-end developers and content editors who are no longer restricted by what users can or can’t update and are therefore free to create more complex websites.  Any credible CMS will restrict what contributors can and can’t do to ensure branding and presentations aren’t compromised. In fact, it’s a positive move for everyone concerned; contributors are no longer wholly reliant on IT and developers are given free rein to innovate, but to make life as easy as possible there’s still a lot that needs to be considered.

  • The complexity and cost of customization – Beware of promises of ‘out of the box’ customization as they don’t always give the full picture.  Make sure you factor in the time you’ll need to spend customizing a CMS in your budget.
  • Licensing – Understanding the CMS’s licensing model is important.  There may be hidden costs involved.  There might also be restrictions on the number of people that are able to use the CMS, which could pose problems further down the line.
  • Content migration – Moving legacy content from your old website can be costly.  In fact, a site rebuild is often a more palatable option.  If you must migrate large amounts of content, take the opportunity to prune what you can and be prepared to spend some time in the rest.

Future-proofing is an important element in all of this.  There’s nothing worse than having a flashy new website design that isn’t easy to update.  It’s vitally important to sit down at the beginning of a project and scope out what the daily requirements of the site will be and other things that might be considered.