By Nikolay Barbariyskiy | 18.10.2021

Content Management Systems: 10 tips for choosing the right one - part 1

Engineering – 5 min read

10 tips for choosing the right CMS

What is a Content Management System (CMS)? Simply put, it's a tool for you and your team to create, manage, and distribute different types of content to your customers. Almost any type of business has a need for this kind of tooling, no matter the size or focus. It comes in handy when you are a small company and you need to publish simple blog posts, when you seek support for your digital marketing purposes, or when you’re as huge as news portals and magazines, whose business is pretty much entirely based on such tools.

How to select a CMS? What to look for? In cooperation with Jake Lumetta from ButterCMS, we put together 10 useful tips that will help you to choose the right CMS according to your needs.

1. Make use of a ready-made CMS solution, don’t build your own 

The CMS tooling market is very mature, as this domain has been thoroughly explored, and I’m willing to bet that you will find tools that already exist and suit your needs. You should go for it and choose one of those. It will save you time and money. Building your own custom CMS is a big investment; all the more challenging when you have specific requirements too. 

But of course, there are a few rare instances when it's better to create your own CMS. A good example is a huge magazine or a media house. To succeed in this highly competitive environment, every second counts, and a custom CMS tailored to your specific requirements thus represents a great competitive advantage. 

2. Don’t lock yourself in

Whatever CMS you end up choosing, make sure that you can access the data at any time. All data should be easy to extract and export. It is not rare that--due to pivots in business--the original solution (that was initially great) cannot fulfill new business and tech requirements anymore, and you are forced to migrate all your data to a different platform. As simply and quickly as possible, of course.

For example, ButterCMS supports exporting all of your blog posts in a single click.

10 tips for CMS

3. Prioritize your requirements

Are you a small team? Congratulations, the problem is already solved because it’s relatively easy to discuss things quickly. However, if you work in a large company, the number of requirements might be overwhelming, as every part of your business has its own set of mutually contradicting requests. Don’t worry, though, and have realistic expectations for your CMS. Keep in mind the 80/10/10 rule: 80% of the requirements will be fulfilled out of the box, 10% will be implemented and worked around, but the last 10% is nearly unachievable. Hence, it’s better to gather all the requirements, prioritize them, and take into account that you’ll be giving some up or substituting them with other solutions.

4. Headless or traditional CMS?

A traditional CMS provides E2E experience, from content creation and management to visualization. That sounded all great in the beginning, but modern demands showed its limits. It just isn’t sufficient for today's requirements for speed, website load time, and the presentational part. One system can't handle it altogether.

A headless CMS, on the contrary, is focused on solutions for only one part--content creation and management (while distributing it with UI agnostic API).

Yes, you will have to invest in the creation of your own website or front end solution, but in return, you get unlimited power in creating a unique and very responsive website that stands out from the generic crowd of traditional CMSs and that your customers will hugely appreciate.

I personally highly recommend using a headless CMS like ButterCMS for just creating, managing, and delivering content. Front end should be solved separately to achieve the best results for your website.

5. On-premise or SaaS solution?

In my opinion, if you don’t have any strict legal or security considerations (however, such things have nothing to do with a CMS anyway, if you ask me), I would recommend a SaaS approach. Why? 

There are costs to take into consideration: a CMS license, its support, maintenance, and operations. And as your business grows, this cost could become more and more significant, forcing you to deal with the proportional growth along with your business on your own. 

On the other hand, SaaS solutions handle everything on their own, and you pay only for what you consume, meaning they scale with your business. 

“With ButterCMS, since it's SaaS, we handle all security. No maintenance, patches, backups, downtime, or anything like that for the customer.” Jake Lumetta on the advantages of ButterCMS. 

These are the first five tips for choosing the right content management system. The other five will follow in another article in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, if you'd like to discuss our personal experience with selecting and creating different types of CMSs or to learn more about prioritizing requests the right way, feel free to contact us (Jake, me) via LinkedIn, we’ll be happy to talk.

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