How to Select the Best CMS for your Business? [2024 Edition]

Updated 16 May 2024
Published 17 Feb 2022
Satyam Chaturvedi 4953 Views

We live in a digital age where data and content play an important role in the success of any organization. Any business needs to provide the right content to their customers at the right time.

This is where the Content Management System (CMS) comes into the picture, and it acts as the backbone of your content marketing strategies and campaigns.

While developing the content, we usually put more focus on making it delightful and accessible, but if your CMS can’t display and manage it correctly, then it will lose the intended impact on your customers.

Hence, we can say that selecting the best CMS is certainly a vital exercise for an organization, as it helps them keep their ambitions on the growth path. 

The fact of the matter is that you cannot switch over your CMS with a single click; it is an in-depth process that requires a lot of effort, analysis, and coordination among different teams in your organization.

So, let us start with a few questions here:

  • What stakeholders will contribute to the decision-making?
  • Should you select an on-premises, cloud-hosted, or SaaS solution?
  • What should I look for while selecting a CMS? 
  • What features do you prioritize? 
  • What would be the prospects, support, and maintenance?

In this blog, we will answer these questions and provide you with a deep insight into the CMS selection process.

What stakeholders will contribute to the decision-making?

Before initiating the CMS selection process, you must identify the stakeholders who will be using the CMS and who will have their say in this process. 

However, this is harder than it seems. As the requirements and size of your organization grow, so do the stakeholders. Your marketing team wants a CMS that can incorporate marketing tools, whereas the sales team may ask for CRM integration in your CMS.

Your IT team may demand a CMS that is compatible with the existing infrastructure stack, or other teams may ask for a CMS solution that can fulfill their requirements.

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It is quite difficult to keep all stakeholders happy, but you can certainly strike a perfect balance here. You must engage all the stakeholders, provide them equal representation, and ensure their requirements are prioritized (in terms of functionalities and integrations) using the following method:

  • Must-have: Essential functionality or feature the department cannot work without.
  • Important: Features that are not critical but as important as must-haves.
  • Nice to have: Desirable features for a department, but not critical for functioning.
  • Would-have: Least critical features, not desired for now, may have the lowest payback value for a department.

You may design a matrix like this after capturing your teams’ recommendations:

Teams Must Haves Important Nice to Have Would Haves
Marketing
  • Seamless integration with other tools
  • Permalink structure
  • Personalized Features
  • Content Scheduling
IT
  • Backup
  • Redundancy
  • Compatibility with existing IT Infrastructure
  • Security
  • Encryption
  • Penetration testing
  • Usability testing
Autoscaling capabilities
Editorial
  • WYSIWYG editor
  • 3rd party Plugin support
  • Access Permissions
  • Content Management
  • Editorial Calendar
  • Content Analytics
  • Reports
Sales
  • Product listing
  • Product Catalogue
  • 3rd party integration
  • Advanced Searching capabilities
  • Flexible pricing
  • Flexible shipping
  • Pricing and segmentation
  • Regionalization
  • Multilingual capabilities

Here it is also important to understand that a CMS development company selection process may take a significant amount of time.

For a medium-sized enterprise, you may have to spend a couple of weeks, whereas for a large enterprise, it may take a couple of months to fulfill this process, right from releasing RFP to signing the final contract.

You must look for a solution that could offer the most high-priority features for most of the stakeholders.

Should you select an On-premises, Cloud-hosted, or SaaS solution?

It is unarguably the most important decision you will have to make while selecting the right CMS solution for your business. Let’s see what these solutions are, how they function, and what features they offer.

SaaS Development solution

On-premises CMS

For an on-premises CMS, you must buy a license from a CMS vendor and deploy it either on the hosting provider’s servers or your servers.

The CMS vendor is solely responsible for updating and maintaining it, right from installation to security, whereas the infrastructure upgrades would be your responsibility. Drupal and WordPress are the two most prominent on-premises solutions.

Let’s have a glimpse of the advantages and disadvantages of On-premises CMS

Advantages Disadvantages
Better control – Here the decision of choosing environment and infrastructure is your responsibility, which gives you better control over the functionality of CMS. Installation and Maintenance – Here you will be responsible for installation and maintenance of CMS solution, its deployment, and support as well. You may have to hire additional staff to ensure adequate maintenance of your CMS.
Customization – You can make unlimited customizations to your open-source CMS to fit into your business requirement. Even if you have a closed-source CMS, then also you can make a lot of customizations and integrations. Scalability Challenges – Unlike Hosted or SaaS solutions, you may face more challenges with scalability due to your underlying infrastructure. 
Independence – Here the licensees enjoy freedom from licensors or external service providers. You will always have access to our data, even without an active internet connection. High upfront costs – You have to invest a sizeable amount in infrastructure, IT, and license fees to install the CMS solution.

Cloud Hosted CMS

In these solutions, you can buy a license and then host it on a lease server space or install it at a data center. Cloud-hosted CMS works like an on-premises CMS solution, except that it is deployed on 3rd party servers which are not owned by you. WPEngine and Hostway are two examples of cloud-hosted solutions.

Cloud Hosted CMS

Advantages Disadvantages
Quick deployment – This solution can be deployed quickly as there is no need to set up servers and other IT infrastructure at your premises. Host-dependent vulnerabilities – The security of your CMS solution depends entirely on the host and in case it is down or has any security vulnerability then you have no control over the remediation.
High Scalability – The CMS solution could be hosted in the cloud (Azure, AWS, or Google cloud) and instantly scale your resources to meet your requirements. Higher long-term costs – As you are leasing the server space from your host, the cost will remain static or increase marginally with time. In long term, it might prove less cost-effective than having on-premises servers.
Lower upfront costs – You can take server space from the web host by paying a small monthly fee. This makes the upfront cost too less in comparison to the on-premises solution. Data Confidentiality Risk – You may always have a risk of data access by an unauthorized person. 

SaaS CMS

It is an emerging solution that has gained massive prominence in recent years. The SaaS CMS functions just like other SaaS tools, such as Gmail, Google Docs, or salesforce. 

You don’t need to install, update, or maintain any aspect of these solutions, as everything is been taken care of by the CMS service provider. 

Saas development company

You only need to subscribe to it by paying a monthly or annual fee. It gives you the flexibility to not pay any upfront cost or long-term contract cost before deployment.

The SaaS CMS is pre-built software, and it is enhanced or modified by the vendors over time. Apprenda and Source Forge are two examples of SaaS development CMS in the market. 

Advantages Disadvantages
Seamless Scalability: As SaaS solutions are hosted in the cloud, you can scale them to meet your business demands and handle a sudden burst of traffic. Customization: SaaS CMS platforms aren’t development platforms, so you can’t dramatically change how the core application works to suit your needs.
No maintenance and upkeep efforts: All the maintenance, bug fixing, and maintenance activities will be taken care of by the service provider. Hence, you will have adequate time to fulfill your core functions. Support: Since the CMS vendor is responsible for all installation and maintenance, you are essentially dependent on a third party for your support. If the support isn’t good, you can’t jump in and fix things yourself.
Pay-as-you-go model: These solutions can be availed of by paying a monthly subscription fee. You can pay using flexible payment plans, which helps keep the upfront cost low. Security: For SaaS solutions, the security is taken care of by the service provider. This could be an issue if you are dealing with sensitive data, as you won’t have any control over security.

SaaS and Cloud-hosted solutions are a paradigm shift from the conventional CMS platforms, and they have become more prevalent in recent times.

In a nutshell, we can say that SaaS and Cloud-hosted CMS solutions represent the future. They are highly scalable, cheaper upfront, and give you adequate flexibility to use multiple vendors. 

CMS development services

On-premises CMS solutions were viable a few years ago, but maintenance, scalability, and security issues have captured the imagination of organizations and users alike.

Medium or small-sized organizations can select a SaaS or cloud-hosted CMS solution, as it costs less upfront and doesn’t require much support or maintenance. Large organizations may use on-premises CMS to fulfill their complex and business-specific requirements.

Read Also: Launch Your SaaS-based Virtual Classroom Website and Mobile App

What to look for while selecting a CMS? 

You must look at multiple aspects while looking for the perfect CMS solution for your organization:

Business Impact:

Here you must perform an analysis to understand the impact of the CMS platform on your business. 

Skillset:

You need a specific skill set or expertise to perform the installation and maintenance of your CMS. You must acquire these skillsets to ensure the seamless functioning of your CMS solution.

Technology:

Here you must assess how your CMS is compatible with your existing technology stack. You must analyze all technical aspects and make an appropriate decision.

CMS Development Company

Security:

It is certainly a big consideration. You need a CMS that should keep your content and data secure against any security threat or vulnerability. It must have adequate security checks and controls in place. 

Ongoing Requirements:

You need to analyze the ongoing requirements of the potential CMS platform, as it will help you develop a strong strategy to deploy an able solution.

Customization Capabilities:

Customization gives you the ability to make countless changes to the CMS platform to meet your business requirements.

Blogging Abilities:

The CMS solution must allow you to create, edit or post blog entries. It must also allow you to manage and promote the blogs.

Platform Cost:

You must fairly assess the overall cost of the potential CMS platform. It must contain the overall cost you are supposed to pay in the name of support and maintenance.

Search Engine Optimization:

SEO is vital for any business as it increases the visibility of your content. Please ensure the CMS platform has adequate in-built SEO capabilities.

Social Media Marketing:

A CMS solution must offer the ability to share content on all the major social media platforms. 

WYSIWYG Content Creation:

A CMS platform must allow you to create and edit the content using a visual editor using several components or blocks.

Email Marketing:

Your CMS solutions must address all your marketing and publishing needs. It must allow you to trigger email marketing effectively.

What features you must prioritize?

While selecting a CMS solution, you must prioritize the features you want in your potential solution. You can prioritize the features into three broad categories: must-have, critical, and Nice-to-have. This will certainly make the selection process easier for you. 

Must-have Features

Integration with your Sales and Marketing stack:

Your CMS solution touches the systems on which your Sales, Marketing, and other departments hinge. The CMS should seamlessly integrate with your CRM platforms, ERPs, marketing campaign management systems to ensure smooth function across all departments.

Digital Marketing

Scalability:

Your CMS must guarantee seamless performance even during a sudden spike in traffic or additional resource load. This is usually achievable via a PaaS or SaaS infrastructure.

Security Features:

CMS must offer adequate security features such as robust user management, frequent bug fixes, permission control, and 2-step authentication.

Feature-rich and Easy-to-use Editors:

It should offer content versioning, WYSIWYG editing, and several customization options. It must provide a delightful user interface that content editors love to utilize.

Mobile-friendly Dashboard:

This enables your team to read, modify, and manage the content on the go. It also allows you to get a glimpse of various vital parameters of your CMS.

Stability:

Your CMS software must be stable enough to withstand sudden crashes or performance glitches.

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Critical features

Support for Multiple Content Types:

It should support various content types, such as audio, text, videos, standalone pages, and blog posts.

Personalization:

It must serve personalized content and offer one-to-one experiences to your customers.

User-management and Permission control:

The CMS solution must have adequate user management and permission control mechanisms to handle multiple content creators and editors.

Robust Vendor support:

Your CMS solution must offer strong support from the vendor. It will help in event of any technical issues or performance downgrades.

Modularity:

It is an important feature for any CMS, especially with an open-source solution. It allows your developers to utilize the complete potential of the content management system.

Strong Documentation:

CMS must offer strong documentation management, as it enhances the experience of developers and support staff.

Framework-agnostic:

This is again a vital feature, as it ensures your CMS is not dependent on a specific cms technology stack. This gives the solution the flexibility to run on any framework or platform.

Version Control Mechanism:

It allows content authors to access earlier versions of content, make a comparison between different versions, and identify the team member who has made any changes. 

Performance:

A CMS with reliable servers and robust CDN services must be selected, as that gives a higher level of performance.

Ability to Upgrade:

A CMS must offer easy and hassle-free upgrade options for your business. 

Custom CMS Development services

Nice-to-have features

Multilingual support:

If your business has a global reach, then your CMS must support multiple languages. Your CMS solution must adapt to the users and content creators who read and write in different languages.

Content Approval and Workflows processes:

It enables efficient content velocity and content creation, as it streamlines the workflows for your content editors.

Multi-Site support:

A CMS solution must allow you to manage all your online assets and brands in a single place. 

Round the Clock Support:

It is important to have this feature, as it gives assurance to your customers that their queries and concerns will be looked into at any point in time.

Open-source CMS solutions offer user and developer forums where users can share their concerns and find solutions. Branded platforms provide support by email or phone as a part of their package.

Training and Documentation:

A suitable CMS solution must offer enough documentation and training manuals to impart knowledge transfer to the users. 

What would be the future prospects, Support, and Maintenance?

Your CMS solution is unarguably an important asset and investment for your business. Generally, a business depreciates the value of an asset; however, this is not the case with the SaaS and cloud-hosted CMS platforms. You don’t have to re-platform your CMS solution after a few years or decades. 

CMS Support, and Maintenance

However, as your website progresses in the future, you must ask your vendor about their plans to update their product in the future and how it could impact your website in the future.

You must understand how future upgrades will happen and what kind of costs are incurred for the maintenance and upkeep of your CMS platform. 

Support and maintenance is an aspect that is either ignored or entirely overlooked by most people. For an open-source solution, you have to incur an extra cost to obtain support or remain dependent on forums.

For an in-premises CMS solution, be ready to spend extra on software and infrastructure hosting as well. For SaaS and cloud-hosted solutions, the cost of support is slightly lower in comparison. 

It is important to understand that having a single party accountable for the entire solution is indeed imperative. You must choose a CMS solution where the service provider should be flexible and offer end-to-end support, maintenance, and training for your resources.

It will help you fetch the most from your CMS and also ensure you get a satisfactory ROI. 

Read Also: Got Drupal? Know about Automation, Security, Maintainability

4 Common mistakes to avoid when selecting a CMS solution

You have completed all your homework, but you may end up committing a couple of mistakes while selecting the CMS for your business.

There are four common mistakes you must avoid in this process:

#1- Confusion between “feature-rich” and “feature-bloat”

A “feature-rich” CMS offers functionality that your teams need. Whereas a “feature bloat” offers a plethora of features with little actual use.

You must conduct a thorough analysis and prioritize the features that you need, which will help you select a feature-rich CMS and also help you save some costs.  

#2- Selecting Costly and Complex CMS for future Requirements

Most businesses make decisions based on impractical growth prospects. They might end up selecting a complex and expensive CMS, which may not fulfill their impractical needs in the future. 

It is extremely important to assess your business needs and plan accordingly. SaaS and cloud-hosted CMS platforms enable you to scale as your requirements grow.

You must strike a perfect balance here by assessing your current and future business requirements and then accommodating important features to offer an exceptional experience to your customers. 

#3- Selecting Features over Ease-of-Use

Ease-of-use is usually unheeded when selecting a CMS for an enterprise. We understand that features play a crucial role, but what is their significance if users cannot use them?

This is quite an important aspect, as your different departments and users may have different parameters as far as ease-of-use is concerned. SaaS and cloud-hosted CMS platforms do offer in-depth testing and user reaction mechanisms that ensure continuous improvement in the CMS functionality and user interface. 

You must remain engaged with your CMS vendor and ensure they give you access to their simulation environment, where you can use it in real-time and see what you are purchasing.

#4- Lack of Understanding of Content Management Issues

It is important to understand the content management issues before embarking on your journey to select a CMS solution

If you already have a CMS solution and want to migrate to another one, then you must ask a few questions:

  • Does your business require an alternative?
  • Is it feasible and possible to alter your existing CMS to cater to your business requirements?

If your business is planning to use a CMS first time, then these questions are important : 

  • Will a Content Management System provide noteworthy productivity improvement compared to your existing mechanism?
  • Is this productivity improvement adequate to justify the investment in CMS?
  • Is your business growing fast enough to claim a full-fledged CMS in a couple of years?

These questions will provide you with much-needed insight to make a better verdict.

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Conclusion

Selecting a CMS development company is indeed a tough nut to crack. You must strike a near-perfect balance between different departments and their requirements, gauge multiple options and choose a solution that ticks most of the boxes, such as complexity, cost, support and maintenance, ease of use, and scalability.

Apart from the above-given steps, you must perform these 3 steps as well :

  • Engage with your team and determine their exact CMS demands in detail.
  • Evaluate your organization’s technology stack, stakeholders, and skillsets.
  • Set a budget and contemplate the cost of open or closed source CMS implementation

Hopefully, this comprehensive guide will assist you to select a better CMS for your business. 

Satyam Chaturvedi

Satyam Chaturvedi is a Digital Marketing Manager at Arka Softwares, a leading app development company dealing in modern and futuristic solutions. He loves to spend his time studying the latest market insights.

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