Choosing a content management system (CMS) is a big decision when building a website, especially if it’s something you’re not particularly knowledgeable of.
The right CMS will make it a lot easier for visitors to interact with your new site, which will ultimately make them much more likely to be converted into customers.
We spoke to Yorkshire-based Identify Web Design who said: “It’s very important that you take some time to consider lots of different content management systems.
“Not only will it make things a lot easier for you in terms of maintaining the site going forward, but it’ll also make things a lot easier on your customers, which is what it’s all about.”
Here are ten of our top tips to find the content management system that’s right for you.
First things first, you’ll want to make a list of all the things you want your site to be able to do.
For example, you’ll probably need a shopping cart and maybe a photo gallery, but what about a blog section or a way for your customer to log in?
There’s likely more than you thought once you get thinking about it, so it’s important that you pick a CMS that will be able to accommodate all of these functions.
While it’s important to identify your current needs, make sure that you look forward to the future as well.
Hopefully, a few years down the line your business will have expanded, and your site will need to do as well.
For this reason, you’ll need to be able to add more content, products and images in the future, and while most content management systems will allow you to scale things up but this is always worth checking beforehand.
Third party support
While it might not be necessary for every site, it’s worth making sure that your CMS will be able to work with third party functionalities such as online chat facilities to allow you to provide customer support in real time.
(This blog from Kissmetrics explains why live chat is so popular at the moment and it’s definitely something you should be considering!)
While it’s important to make sure you have all of the functionality you need, it’s important that you don’t invest precious money into things which you aren’t going to wind up using.
It’s also important that you’re very clear on what the overall costs of using the CMS will be.
Hopefully, you should agree a simple monthly or annual payment, and that’ll be that, but do be sure to read the small print and make sure there are no other hidden fees and costs that you’re going to be hit with.
Consider using an agency
You’ll also want to consider how you’re planning to maintain the site once it’s live. If you’ve got a big team and someone available to do it in-house, then it’s no problem.
However, it can be very time consuming keeping a website maintained, so if you don’t have the experience or the resources to take time out to do so, you might be better off getting help from a digital agency.
If you do choose to go with an agency, they’ll likely have a CMS which they prefer to use, which will make your decision a little bit easier, although they should be proficient in all of them should you wish to use a different one.
Is content easy to edit?
While certain aspects of the CMS will require an experienced head, there are many user-friendly options which will allow even the least tech-savvy members to at least update text or add images.
Finding the most straightforward and user-friendly option will allow you to share the burden of updating the site a little more evenly.
Can you integrate analytics?
Being able to track the key performance metrics of the site is also important to make sure that the CMS can integrate tools such as Google Analytics.
Measuring the activity on your site and how many visitors are being converted to customers is important for planning ahead and quantifying how successful the site is being.
Is it SEO-friendly?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is crucial to your site, so it’s important to make sure that your CMS helps out in this regard.
Make sure that the CMS will allow you to write unique product and category descriptions (duplicate content is a big no-no), and also see that it generates simple URLs.
Most content management systems will also allow integration with specialist SEO tools.
Does it allow multiple users/permissions?
This is especially handy when working in a large team, where multiple people or teams might need access to the site at the same time.
For example, while the IT department might need to be able to edit the back end of the site, the marketers might want to be able to edit content and blog posts.
You might also want to be able to limit the access of any outside parties that may help out with things such as design or content, to stop them gaining access to private information.
Can it run multiple websites?
A CMS which allows you to manage multiple websites from one dashboard is great, even if you don’t currently have more than one website.
It’s a good feature to have for the future, especially if you plan to start up a mobile site.
These systems will allow you to update content across multiple websites all at once without having to edit it separately on each site, and you can also set user roles and permissions across multiple sites.
The main content management systems are WordPress, Magento, Joomla! and Drupal to name a few, but there are plenty more out there so check them all out and see which is best for your business.