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The ultimate guide to picking the right CMS

cms platform

In a world that’s gone mad over abbreviations: CMS, CRM, B2B, B2C, CTA, EOD, OOO, to name just a few off the top of my head, it’s about time we tackled what they actually mean. The one that we’re most familiar with is the trusty old LOL, which I really don’t think is going to help us much when we’re liaising with a very formal director in a company boardroom (albeit, it might lighten the mood). 

So in this blog, I want to tackle CMS, because the others are all pretty easy. CRM and CMS are always confused with one another, and it’s not surprising why. But they are, of course, very different. So what is a CMS platform and how do you choose the right one?

What is a CMS platform?

I’m under no illusion that you probably already know what a CMS platform is but for those unfamiliar with the term, it means “Content Management System”. A CMS platform is basically software that allows you to create and design a website to your liking without having to delve into complex code. 

Websites are typically coded with HTML, CSS, and Javascript, which, as you may know, are markup languages that have a very steep learning curve. Writing code is very time-consuming, especially when you realise the sheer amount of code you must write to create a site (which I’m sure your developers have told you). If this all sounds like a headache then you can understand why CMS platforms are so beneficial and time-saving for the average website owner; they do the tedious leg work for you. With a CMS platform, you will be able to easily create, modify and remove various content from your site when and as you please. If you are familiar with code, however, there are CMS platforms that are developer-friendly and allow you to further customise your site. 

How to pick the right CMS platform for you

There is a wide range of CMS platforms available so how do you know which one is right for you? Here are a few points to consider before you decide to spend some money on a CMS platform:

The price

Whether or not you want to pay for a CMS platform will be a major factor in which CMS you choose. There are CMS platforms that are free, but it’s important to note that these are at a “basic” level. Free CMS platforms are much like other free platforms you’ll find online, they give you the foundation for an “initial” site, so if you’re looking to grow and expand, they’re really not the right fit for you. 

Paid CMS platforms offer both monthly and annual subscription plans, helping you to spread the cost and budget. The plus side for opting for one of these is that you’re less likely to need third-party extensions and add-ons, as it comes as a more “out of the box” system that has functionality and features that are a step up from the “basic” models.

Ease of use

It’s important to remember that it won’t just be your developers that are working away in the backend of your website, you’ll also have your content team, your product team, and sometimes even your marketing team working away on the website. Therefore, the system you pick must be easy to use for the average user, not always a tech-heavy individual. For example, if your CMS is very complicated for simple content edits like when there’s a typo on a product page, it could prove detrimental. There needs to be a healthy balance between a complex system that gives you and your website everything you need vs. ease of use for your whole team.

Third-party extensions

Depending on which CMS platform you opt for, third-party extensions can prove to be the website superhero you’ve been looking for. A lot of CMS platforms don’t come with the exact features and functionality that you want so third-party integrations can prove to be the perfect solution. 

99% of CMS systems will allow integrations and extensions, and the majority of them are free to use. The huge benefit of using them is that they give you the flexibility to drive your website in the direction that you want it to go without the need for developer time. 

For the most part, CMS platforms will have a category available to you for extensions so you can literally just cherry-pick the ones you want and install. It’s important to note that if you have to download files before installing, you should always be sure that the extension is safe and secure before doing so.

Portability

It’s quite common for website owners to change their mind about their CMS somewhere along the line which can sometimes mean a massive upheaval for the website. Luckily, CMS platforms that have portability options give you peace of mind if you decide you no longer want to use your current one and want a change. You will want the option to port your data if you like your site the way it’s developed and upload it to your new CMS platform. 

The design

Luckily, CMS platforms typically have ready-made layouts for you to choose from so you don’t have to code up any. So opting for a CMS that has a wide variety of templates, free and paid, can help you save time and costs on developers. Alternatively, you can use a free template and use your developer team to make it more on-brand by diving into the code, it’s all available to you to do so.

After all, you don’t really want your site to be generic looking when there’s hundreds of other companies vying for the attention of your target demographic.

These are just a few pointers of what you should look out for when choosing your CMS. Watching tutorials and online videos can be a great way to see if you like the look of the interface, how everything works in the backend, and overall, if it’s exactly what you’re looking for. 

Once you’ve got your website up and running, make sure it doesn’t go offline or get hijacked with a free account with StatusCake website monitoring!

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