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What Is a CMS and How Do I Choose One?

November 21, 2019

It’s Monday morning, and you need to make some simple changes to your business’s website. No problem. Because in addition to the highly specific set of skills you need to run your business, you’re also proficient in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript!

Okay, maybe that’s not realistic. But that’s okay, because in addition to the staff you pay to help you run your business, you also have a full-time web developer to make those changes for you! Okay, so that’s not realistic, either. That’s where a CMS comes in.

So what does CMS mean? CMS stands for Content Management System. It’s software that allows you to update your website without writing code. There are lots of options to choose from. The WordPress CMS and Kentico CMS are two of our favorites, although Squarespace, Wix, Drupal, and Joomla are among the myriad of other choices.

Here are the biggest questions to ask yourself when choosing a CMS.

A Content Management System is software that allows you to update your website without writing code.

CMS Pros and Cons: What Questions to Ask

Is it intuitive enough for your team to use daily?

If your CMS is unintuitive, updating your site will be a frustrating experience. You’ll end up paying someone to update it, or worse, you’ll end up not updating it at all.

A good web developer can help you plan for the types of content you want to feature on your site, and they can customize your CMS to allow you to simply type in your content when you want to make changes. In addition, they’ll configure the admin interface so you can easily make your content look beautiful, even without writing code.

Can it be customized to fit your content?

Many content management systems rely on templates, but if your content doesn’t fit into the template, or you don’t have the right photography, you’re not setting yourself up for success. We like to build custom templates around your content, which eliminates a ton of design issues—no more weird gaps or text that’s too wide for you to read comfortably.

These details give your site the clean, polished look you want. They also help to funnel your users toward the decisions you want them to make, whether that’s a product purchase, a service request, or an email signup.

Is it capable of everything you need it to do?

Do you need to take payments? Would you like to give users a simple option to sign up for your email list? Do you want to integrate with Salesforce, HubSpot, or another customer relationship management platform? A good web development agency will ask these questions on the front end to ensure you choose the right CMS to meet your business goals.

WordPress and Kentico are both capable of almost any integration you can imagine, but beginner-focused products like Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace are less capable of customization.

Is it slow?

This is a bigger issue than you’d think. Content management systems like Wix and Weebly sacrifice performance to give non-developers more design options for their site. A slow website won’t bring in leads like a fast one, especially in an era where half of website traffic comes from phones.

A good web developer will customize your CMS so it doesn’t take design shortcuts but is still blazing fast. Beyond that, a good CMS can be configured to further optimize website performance even after the site is built.

Can it be optimized for search engines?

Most content management systems have some SEO capability, but that doesn’t meant they’re created equal. SEO professionals love working on highly configurable systems like Kentico and WordPress. Conversely, platforms like Wix lack many of the SEO tools to help your customers find your website with a Google search.

Can you find people to support you when you need help?

WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world. While there’s no shortage of WordPress developers, you still want to do your due diligence when selecting someone. The less popular your CMS, the smaller the developer community, making it harder to find a true expert.

So which CMS is right for you?

That’s a tricky question, because it’s not just about the CMS—it’s about the team who customizes the CMS for you. If you were painting your house, you want good paint and a good painter.

We recommend WordPress and Kentico because they’re versatile, powerful, widely used platforms. But more importantly, they’re platforms we’re very good at working with. Got more questions about choosing a CMS? Want to see examples of our work? Drop us a line!

Ready to make a beautiful website with us?

Sure am.