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CMS Wheel of Choices

4 steps to choosing the right CMS for your business

Choosing the right CMS can be the make or break for your marketing operation. If it's too clunky and slow, you'll be wasting time resource on working with it. If it's too expensive, you'll blow your budget before you can even market your site. Here we breakdown the steps to choosing the right one for your business.
BY Doug Fairbrother - September 16, 2020

In a world full of acronyms, especially in the marketing and digital space, it can seem difficult to swim through the various three-letter phrases bobbing around wherever you look. But there are a few that are worth paying attention to, and CMS is one of them.

What does CMS stand for?

 

CMS stands for content management system. A CMS is used to manage and update your website, whether that’s through adding products, creating blog content, or adding new services and guides. It’s what you use to keep everything running smoothly and always updated so your customers can see what’s going on.

CMS has come a long way since websites were first developed, and with the creation of open-source software platforms like Hubspot and Wordpress, developers aren’t the gatekeepers of good websites anymore. Thanks to CMS advancements, you don’t need to understand HTML, Javascript, Ruby, Python, or any of the other coding languages that sound like cocktails at a hipster London bar to get great results.

With this development, it means there has been an explosion in the offerings of CMS, and finding the one that works best for you isn’t always straightforward. Luckily, there are a few questions you can ask that will help you filter out what you don’t need, and focus on exactly what you need a CMS to do for your business.

Question 1: What do I need a CMS to do for me?

What do you want it to do - CMS

Break it down into the simplest form - you’re going to be the one using it every day and CMS can be a make-or-break for businesses and clients. So what do you need it to do? Some initial thoughts that might spring to mind:

I want to be able to make updates quickly - blogs, products, services, etc.
I want to train staff in-house rather than employing someone new
I want it to be easy to use and not require specialist developers


By asking yourself some honest questions about what you want a CMS to do for your business, you can quickly work out what options are best for you. For example, if you run a service-based business, Magento or Shopify aren’t going to be good choices for you, as these are tailored towards e-commerce businesses that need to be able to add products and track payments and sales. Don’t be tempted to jump into bed with one that your mate recommended you (sorry, that was a bit Carry On!) - ask yourself exactly what you need it to do for you.

At Catalyst, not only are we a HubSpot partner, one of the leading open source websites and CMS providers, but we're also experienced in working across all types of CMS. We find that each CMS has it's pros and cons, and it's about finding the one that works for you and your business needs. It’s this careful insight that helps us deliver brilliant results for our clients and make sure you’re getting the ideal solution every time.

Question 2: How much resource is required to run it properly?

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So, you’ve settled on an option you like the look of - first hurdle cleared! The next big questions to ask are going to be: how much does it cost and how much time is needed to manage it.

CMS sites are flexible and pretty much anyone can pick up and use them thanks to template designs and layouts ready made that you can choose to use. Simply upload content into, and away you go with your shiny new website. These off-the-shelf options are great for beginners or people wanting to test the waters, but many clients and businesses have specific needs and outcomes that templates just can’t deliver.

It’s here that you can engage with developers and digital agencies like Catalyst who can help you design a custom website using a CMS like HubSpot. A good development team will work with you to create a website that both fits your needs while being easy to use and update in the future, using bespoke frameworks and templates that build on the CMS available. It’s a win-win - you get a website that does exactly what you need it to, and you don’t need to hire a professional developer permanently just to maintain website updates.

Although CMS sites don’t require you to hire a pro developer to manage it long term, if you don’t have anyone with CMS experience in house, you will have to look at investing in some training for your team (or yourself!) in order to use it properly. CMS options are intuitive and very easy to use, and knowing your way around them can take time - but once you’ve got the basics down, you’re set to go. Get used to using things like a WYSIWYG editor (What You See Is What You Get), which is common in WordPress and other CMS platforms.

A bonus is you’ll be adding skills to your team with CMS training. With the world going ever more digital, you can be sure you’ll have at least a couple of staff who have dabbled in CMS or are keen to learn more. HubSpot offers free courses and even certification in getting the most from your CMS and online presence, making it a great choice for businesses wanting to up-skill.

Question 3: Does it have long term capabilities?

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If you’re investing in a new website, you don’t want to be having to go through the whole process again in three years when it becomes slow, incompatible, and generally out of date. Plus, the time and cost involved in having to update, retrain, and potentially migrate all of your website over is a huge undertaking - it’s not exactly a job many people are champing at the bit to take on.

A good CMS system will be adaptable. It should integrate with existing and new systems, be able to implement new plug-ins and updates, and have the capacity to work with new systems in future (like AR/AI technology, interactive event stands, or virtual event hosting). These types of considerations are essential as you don’t want to be stuck with a system that is top of the line now, but doesn’t work as soon as the next big trend in digital comes out.

With open-source software systems, their own developers are always working to ensure this doesn’t happen, but not all CMS were created equal, so make sure you ask this question before committing. WordPress and HubSpot are constantly expanding their own portfolios of integration options and APIs (another acronym for you - API is application programming interface), which means you can incorporate all sorts of other software options that your business might use, such as online payment or booking systems.

A CMS should play well with others and be a part of your team when it comes to supporting with digital and future demands. Think of your business as Iron Man - the front runner, the innovator, the leader always on the move. Your CMS should be your War Machine, ready to realise the ideas and create a solid plan of action.

Question 4: Does it have good UX and UI on both the front and back end?

Terms like front end and back end might have different connotations for you if you’re not familiar with web development terminology, but get your mind out of the gutter - it’s not like that at all.

Front end is the styling and design that you see when you access a website - like how you’re reading this blog right now. Back end (stop it) is the part of the site where you perform updates and it’s where the CMS really comes into its own. You can control the whole website from here, from adding new pages and products, to altering the styling and adding new features. It’s your command deck for keeping everything running as it should.

Now, for UX and UI. UX stands for User Experience, and UI for User Interface.

UX is about the front end of your website. It’s how easily visitors can navigate your site and get to the information they want to find out. UX is all about making a website a seamless experience for users across desktop, tablet and mobile. It collates style, design and understanding of how people behave to create a fantastic website that drives your customers to where they (and you) want to get them.

UI focuses on how easy it is to get things done in the back end. By having things clearly labelled, the idea is that anyone, from a pro web developer to a complete novice, should be able to pick up the basics. The use of clear, consistent, and uncomplicated language or pathways to get where you need to be is essential in good UI for CMS. The better the UI, the less time you have to spend on learning how it works and you can jump straight into using it.

And That's it...

You are now set to start exploring the world of CMS! We know this can still seem like a huge, daunting task, so Catalyst is here to help if you have any questions, or want to find out more about how to get the best website and CMS up and running for your business. Our marketing specialists and team of digital experts can answer the questions you might have, make recommendations, and we can even guide you through options to help you make an informed decision with a reliable, trusted partner.

We know that a website is an essential part of any business, and at Catalyst we want to help more people understand the potential of websites, and get the most from their online presence.

Best way to find out more is to get in touch here.