As the world has changed in the blink of an eye, so has the way we market to consumers. Now, more than ever, your website exists as BY FAR THE MOST IMPORTANT doorway to your brand and your brand experience. While stores stay shut, and face-to-face interaction is vastly limited, brands will rely on reaching their target audiences via their websites. Therefore, your website is mission-critical to your success.
Bluetext has published a 5 part blog series to help you think about and pressure test if your website is the best it can be.
Bluetext clients are often asking for our recommendations on the best content management system for their website, whether as a redesign or a re-platform for their business. We are a forward-thinking digital marketing agency that provides game-changing digital experiences for brands looking to make a difference in the market, and as such, we have always been a technology-agnostic company and supporters of the open-source community.
Over the years, we have helped countless clients identify the appropriate CMS to meet their specific use cases. We work with organizations of all sizes: from startups looking to launch their first website, to large, established organizations with complex business workflows and integrations and distributed teams. No matter where your company falls on this spectrum, we have proven guidelines for deciding on which CMS will be the most appropriate for your organization. Here are three key considerations to guide you through your CMS selection process to ensure you are set up for success for the next 3-5 years.
1. Determine Your Stakeholders and Their Needs
The first step in selecting the best content management system is to identify those individuals who have a stake in the redesign/re-platform and analyze their needs. To begin this process, take stock of who is involved with the current website (typically Operations (IT), Marketing and Executive Management). Depending on the size of your organization, there could be many additional stakeholder groups.
For each stakeholder group, take time to understand their specific needs for the new CMS and use these insights to develop KPIs for the platform:
- Operations (IT) – Your IT team is likely concerned about the technology stack (what can they support), where it lives (cloud, on-prem) and what their role will be in terms of ongoing maintenance.
- Marketing – The marketing team typically drives the website. They are likely concerned with the feature set: content management features, workflows, learning curve, marketing integrations, social sharing, etc.
- Executive Management – Most often, the executive team is focused on two things: cost and timeline. How much is this going to cost, and how long is it going to take to build?
It is important to conduct this step every time your organization goes through a redesign or re-platform, as structure, needs, and concerns evolve over time. For example, in recent years, day-to-day website ownership has generally shifted away from traditional operations/IT teams into the hands of marketing teams.
2. Outline Requirements
The next step in the process is to translate stakeholder needs into requirements. We recommend building a requirements matrix that outlines the full set of necessary features for the new CMS platform. Much of the matrix will consist of functional requirements, but it should also include cost, technology, and timeline constraints. A forward-thinking mindset must be applied when developing requirements. Consider feature sets that are planned for the next 2-5 years to ensure the selected CMS has the flexibility to accommodate business changes. To build an effective matrix, leverage the following strategy:
- Gather Requirements. Supplement and expand upon the needs of the stakeholders by gathering wholistic requirements from actual users. We recommend conducting workshops with each user group. In some organizations, the user groups may include the marketing, operations and sales teams. In other organizations, distinct business units or regional teams may make up other user groups. The workshops will result in pages and pages of notes, which should be consolidated into a set of functional requirements.
- Consolidate & Group into Usage Scenarios. Consolidating your requirements into high-level usage scenarios will help you, and your team, come to a consensus on critical functionality. During the CMS product demos, you will be armed with your list of usage scenarios and can ask specific questions regarding how the platform in question would handle such scenarios. Some possible usage scenarios could be:
- As a content editor, I want to be able to manage and reuse digital assets from within the CMS so that I do not need to re-upload items.
- As a content editor, I want to be able to manage content from my mobile device so that I can provide real-time updates from remote locations.
- As a content approver, I want the ability to review content before it is able to be published on the website.
- As a site administrator, I want the ability to update the menu links on the website when the organization decides to change the navigation of the website.
- As an IT Stakeholder, I want the CMS application to be built in PHP so that my existing team of developers can manage and support the website.
Creating a Prioritized Feature Matrix
Leverage the usage scenarios to develop your feature matrix and prioritize each requirement. What are the must-haves, nice-to-haves, and stretch features that you could live without? Prioritization is very important and should not be taken lightly. Be sure not to let your feature matrix get out of control. This should be a list of no more than 50 “features” that you need the new platform to provide.
The matrix will allow you to score the products against each other in a logical way and get a good idea of the product’s compatibility for your organization.
|Feature||Prioritization||Product 1||Product 2||Product 3|
|Easily manage content||
|Easily manage content on mobile devices||
|Integrate with Product X||
|Integrate with Product Y||
|Strong Multilingual Support||
Easy, right? Of course, gathering large groups of people for workshops is easier said than done! No matter the size of the organization, the scheduling for these types of workshops is a challenge, but ultimately, the work pays off. Skipping this step will, more often than not, result in the selection of a sub-optimal product and the need to rebuild the CMS again next year.
3. Market Research & Validation
Market research will help down the list of products available on the market to arrive at a “short-list” of candidates for consideration. There are several resources available to inform your research. Two of our primary sources of information come from top analyst companies Gartner and Forrester. Dries Buytaert put it beautifully in his blog post:”If you want to find a good coffee place, you use Yelp. If you want to find a nice hotel in New York, you use TripAdvisor. Similarly, if a CIO or CMO wants to spend $250,000 or more on enterprise software, they often consult an analyst firm like Gartner.”
To give a brief recap in case you are unfamiliar with how Gartner rates vendors, they look at two key, top-level criteria: Ability to Execute and Completeness of Vision. They rate vendors on their ability to deliver what they promise and their ability to stay ahead of market trends to provide a quality product to their customers.
While this is not a complete step-by-step guide to performing a CMS comparison audit, it should give you the tools you need to get it started. While every organization is different – wether it be organization structure, specific requirements or current marketing goals – utilizing these activities while performing your CMS selection will help ensure that you are setting your organization up for success.
When it comes to building or remodeling your company’s website, partnering with a top website design firm is essential. By hiring a leading website design firm, you get to work directly with experts, maximize the utility of your team’s resources, get access to the latest technology, and so much more. Having a professional, user-friendly website can make all the difference when it comes to acquiring new clients and retaining old ones. Prospective customers will appreciate an enhanced user experience and will be reassured by the legitimacy of your company. Read Bluetext’s top 4 reasons to work with an expert website design firm.
1. Make a Lasting First Impression
At Bluetext, each website we build or remodel goes through a strict quality assurance process to ensure every page functions properly and looks perfect. Our team of coders, developers, and designers evaluate both the UI and UX of the site, validate all links and forms within the site, and ensure that each page follows brand guidelines – but that’s just to name a few of the steps in our process.
When it comes to your website, we know that first impressions are incredibly important. In fact, it only takes users 50 milliseconds to form an opinion on your website and decide if they will stay or leave. Not to mention, over 35% of users will leave a website if they find it unattractive. With a leading web agency, you can rest assured that your website will not only look good but is also easy to use.
2. Optimize Your Website’s Loading Speed
One of the most essential ways to make a positive first impression on users is by having a website that loads quickly. As a website design firm, our team of web analysts will assist with file compression and code optimization, enhance time to first byte, evaluate HTTP requests, and everything else in between, ensuring that your site loads as fast as possible.
About half of web users expect websites to load in less than two seconds and will leave if a website takes any longer than three. If your website drives $100,000 in revenue per day, increasing your loading speed by one second could help increase your daily revenue by 7%. A leading web agency will ensure that no potential customers are lost due to site speed.
3. Ensure Your Site’s Accessibility
At Bluetext, all engagements go through our team of accessibility experts to ensure you are publishing in compliance with the newest WCAG AAA standards. With well over half of the world on the internet, it’s vital to ensure that there are no barriers to access your website for individuals with any disability.
4. Create a Successful Campaign
Through different channels such as social media, mobile applications, search engines, and display networks, businesses can get their names in front of countless users. Meeting the ever-changing requirements of those channels, however, has become increasingly difficult. Not to mention, most every country has different advertising requirements, adding another layer of complication for those interested in advertising outside of the United States.
A website design firm, like Bluetext, can not only help you run global ad campaigns but can help you build the perfect landing page for users to see when they click on your ads.
If you’re looking to hire a leading web agency, see what Bluetext can do for you.
Has your CMS become a drag on your organization? One of the most frequently-asked questions we get in conversations with clients is, “Should I upgrade my Content Management System?”. As trends in marketing evolve, so do the feature sets of tools used by marketers. As your CMS begins to show its age, the costs of keeping it up to date and adding enhanced functionality increases.
For many technical, marketing and IT teams, a clunky CMS, or one that they have simply outgrown, can mean lost opportunities to update and management content and analytics from one of the most valuable corporate assets. To help you determine if your Content Management System is weighing you down, we have put together a list of questions that can help you decide if it is time to upgrade your CMS platform.
First, Consider Refreshing your Brand
- When was the last time your refreshed your brand? If you don’t remember the answer, it’s probably time for a refresh.
- Is your brand identity fresh and modern? Take a look at your website, your logo, your digital assets and email campaign you use to sell your brand and connect with your customers. Also look at what your competitors are doing.
- When was the last time you did market/user research to identify your target audiences? Do you know if you are you still marketing to the right audiences?
- Does your messaging and positioning accurately reflect your current value proposition and customer pain points?
Asking yourself these types of questions should help determine if it’s the right time to progress your brand with a fresh perspective to meet customer preference and expectations. A brand refresh is the perfect timing for an update to your Content Management System. It also allows you to take advantage of the ever-growing feature sets that today’s platforms provide. Take the time to review the CMS market and do a comparison to determine what platform best meets your business needs.
Upgrade your Technology Stack
- Does your current CMS platform allow your team to easily and effectively find, create and update content?
- Are you managing several web properties across multiple technology platforms? Would it be easier if these were consolidated into a single platform?
- Does your Content Management System provide you with the tools you need to effectively reach and attract you target market?
- Is your Content Management System built for IT or is it built for Marketing?
Over the past few years, there has been a dramatic shift in ownership of Content Management Systems in the Enterprise. No longer are CMS’s provisioned and managed by your IT teams. No longer is it enough to provide an easy, structured way for non-technical users to create and manage content. No longer is it enough to provide useful tools such as WYSIWYGs, Form Builders, Workflow Tools and Enhanced Navigation Structures.
Today’s CMS’s are expected to not only support native content management tasks, but they are expected to support multiple digital properties. They are expected to keep up with ever evolving policies like accessibility and privacy. They are expected to enable a conversation with users based on what is known about them.
- Is your current Content Management System supported by a company and/or a community?
- Is your CMS currently up to date with the most recent version of the technology?
- Do you have old legacy custom code preventing you from updating the underlying CMS technologies?
Security is always a concern when dealing with your website. The last thing you want is for the homepage of your website to become a poster-board for the hottest deals on the dark web. Having an old or outdated CMS leaves you vulnerable to well-known security vulnerabilities that are just waiting to be exploited. It might be time to get that ticking time bomb disarmed.
Most platforms provide tools to keep you informed about platform security and notify you both when a vulnerability is found and when a patch is presented. We highly recommend learning how your platform handles this type of communication to ensure you are in the know. Below are some links to useful information for Drupal/WordPress.
- CMS Provides Warning Messages from Admin UI
- Public Service Announcements: https://www.drupal.org/security/psa
- Security Releases: https://www.drupal.org/security
- Twitter Feed: https://twitter.com/drupalsecurity
- CMS Provides Warning Messages from Admin UI
- Releases: https://wordpress.org/news/category/security/
Reduce Maintenance Costs
- Are you paying a hefty monthly retainer to keep the lights on for your CMS?
- Do simple changes (like text or image updates) require a technical team to implement and/or take days or weeks to get updated?
Wouldn’t you like to use all of the money you are dumping into keeping your technology up and running into your marketing campaigns and content initiatives? If you are spending more money on your technology than you are on your marketing, it is likely past time to upgrade your CMS. A CMS should streamline your content management tasks and empower your team, not suck it dry.
- Do simple changes (like text or image updates) take days or weeks to get updated?
- Are your page templates flexible and adaptable across desktop and mobile?
- Are you spending a majority of your development efforts trying to keep your website up and running rather than enhancing it?
- Does your system allow you to effectively market to your customers?
If the answer to any of the questions listed above are “yes”, then it is likely you have outgrown your current CMS platform and need to upgrade.