Choosing the right CMS

Based on your unique needs

Due Diligence

One of the hardest decisions during any website design project is the choosing the right content management system, or CMS. The CMS will play a pivotal role in how you manage your website, and will impact both performance and the types of updates that are available to you. The CMS will also determine the technology stack your website will build upon, and the languages necessary to support it. Like so many things in this world, there is no “wrong” decision when it comes to a CMS, as it is dependant on a wide variety of variables that will be different for each company. However, choosing a CMS without performing the proper due diligence, or without thinking ahead to the future, can cause a wide range of long-lasting headaches for your team.

To make matters even more complicated, a CMS can go to market in a variety of ways. Traditionally, CMS’s have been either licensed by the company that created them, at a wide range of prices, or Open Source and available to the public free of charge. Both of these have benefits and downsides. Licensed CMS’s include more robust features, consistent updates, reliable module development and support for users directly from CMS developers themselves. However, the fees associated with licensed CMS’s often made them impractical for some organizations.

Open Source

Open Source CMS’s offer low-cost availability to consumers, a large pool of independant developers and plugins, and a wide range of users familiar with the system. However, because they are community driven products, updates and on-going development are inconsistent. Third parties who develop plugins you use may not provide support, or may discontinue the product, and there is no guarantee that any of the plugins you use for your site will work with future updates, which can lead to an inability to update your CMS version without breaking key components. The number 1 complaint we hear from WordPress users is regarding important components of their website that either stop working properly and do not have support or are not compatible with new updates, leaving website owners stuck and frustrated.  

Support Options

Too many web agencies only work on one platform or language stack

However, in recent years a third hybrid option has been gaining momentum, and we believe these hybrid CMS’s offer some consumers the best of both worlds without the downsides of either. A hybrid CMS is created by a company and offered up to the community as open source. It is free of cost, but still updated regularly. To make their money, the CMS developer provides optional support packages, as well as a variety of advanced tools available for purchase. This gives consumers the ability to tailor the level of support, along with the price, to their exact needs. Also, because the core plugins for the CMS are built by the CMS developer themselves, it eliminates the fear of unsupported products or breaking changes when the CMS receives an update. In the rare case that a problem does occur, you can turn to either the community of users, or the CMS developer themselves to help find a solution.

The key in determining which solution is right for you is in working with a cross-platform web agency that can provide consultative guidance based on your unique needs. Too many web agencies only work on one platform or language stack, and will attempt to convince any prospective client that their platform is the right choice for them. This is a dangerous approach, and one that is particularly detrimental to their clients.

Our Approach

At Aktiv, we start with your unique business needs, and determine which CMS and technology platform will provide the best solution for those needs. The fact that we work on multiple platforms, and in multiple languages, means that we are not tied to one solution that we try to force on all projects. We don’t believe in trying to push square pegs through round holes. For smaller projects with very few moving parts, traditional open source CMS options may be the best fit, and for large enterprise projects with extremely robust requirements, a fully-licensed CMS may be the only option that provides all the features needed right out of the box. However, for many of our clients, we believe a carefully selected hybrid CMS will be the perfect fit for their project. 

by: Chris Kosiba