eCommerce Tools & Software

A CMS Comparison in 11 Easy Steps – How To Find The Right CMS For Your Project

The article 6 Myths about Content Management Systems has already described that the selection of a content management system (short: CMS) accordingly dependents on the individual project and its requirements. Therefore, the focus of this article is a CMS comparison which shows the important requirements you have to look at. Use the 11 simple steps to make a much easier decision for or against a particular CMS.

The custom CMS comparison

To perform a custom CMS comparison, it is important that you can answer the following questions about your project. The following points are always properly described and explained. To come to an optimal result, you should clearly know the requirements of your project. The following requirements should be answered to make a good decision. If not, you have to define the requirements clearer.

1. Objectives of the project

The first and most important question that should be answered, are the objectives of your project. By answering this question, it is much easier to answer the next questions. It is really important to know what the exact objectives of your project are.
Perhaps the goal of the project is only the delivery of content. Maybe social elements such as a chat, a forum, reviews of content, etc. play a more important role. Possibly an online shop is necessary. The possibilities are endless and can complement each other, so to speak, many combinations are possible.

If an online store is wanted, it would be certainly better to use a different software in the whole or additionally. However, there are often extensions for content management systems that offer functionalities for a shop. It should be noted, which functions and representations of the products are important for your project. For a really classic online shop, without extra content, a shop software would certainly be better than a CMS. It should also be borne in mind that for an online store various interfaces have to be provided. A shopping cart software usually offers such solutions, as a CMS or its extensions does.
So, before it goes to the next step, you should summarize all the goals once in detail. This allows to make a far better decision, because the rough requirements will be much clearer for the project. The next point of the CMS comparison is about the offered content of your project.

2. Offered content

It is assumed that content plays a special role for your project, otherwise choosing a CMS would be lesser practical and a CMS comparison would not make really sense. The use, or better the choice, of a CMS depends on the one hand on the mass of content. For example, when a blog should be created, therefore regularly new content has to be created and be managed. The situation is completely different when only a few pages are needed, the content will not be changed often, than a CMS is mostly not necessary.

In addition to the amount of content the type of content plays an even more decisive role (s. Point 1). The simplest variant of content would be to provide a text with the possibility to add images. In the sole use of this content type, the easiest CMS would be conceivable. The factors loading speed (also: page speed), search engine optimization (in short: SEO) and usability of a CMS have greater priorities.

Often, however, other types of content are required. Perhaps content has to be linked together, such as links with a place combined with latitude and longitude. Maybe videos should be published or a podcast should be started. For this you have to find out whether the CMS supports it, or what CMS have extensions for this content.

3. Number of involved persons and the workflow

This point is a really important factor, which is not to be underestimated. If the number of authors, or involved persons, it should be defined in advance, who create content, change and may publish it. At the same time, the entire workflow should be noted and it has to be tried to perform the workflow with the CMS optimally. If a desired CMS do not support the workflow, or there is no extension for it, the CMS falls from the selection. Does the CMS have only a few defined rights and user roles for the management, it is also very difficult to carry out a good workflow. These content management systems should be removed from your CMS comparison if you want to work with several people and different rights.

4. Number of websites

The management of multiple websites through a CMS is often feasible with a higher charge. Some content management systems do not support this feature. In this case the CMS solutions should not be used when you want to manage them in one hand. In particular, implementing and management capabilities of the various sites with a CMS plays the role. So, are the same people involved in the various websites? If so, are they managed from one location, or are they maintained for all websites on one place?. It should be remembered to point 3, the workflow and rights management. Again: close all content management systems from the CMS comparison which does not support your workflow.

5. Multilingualism

Publishing multilingual content is not standardized in the most CMS solutions. However, many different extensions are available which are implemented through different approaches. Depending on the choice of extension for multilingualism, it can lead to problems or errors with other extensions. It is therefore very important to sit down beforehand with all other desired extensions apart and test them with the multilingual extensions. It is especially important because the content created before often can not be easily traced back to their original state, or be integrated into another extension. So changing the multilingual extension is very difficult at a later point.

6. Clarity and ease of use (usability)

Often several people are working on a project (s. Point 3), which have often technically less experience. Therefore it is very important that even technically inexperienced people can deal with the CMS. If the number of such persons is hight, the clarity and usability of the CMS should be good. Otherwise, the effort and the costs of training will rise sharply.

7. Awareness of the CMS

Often only really very popular CMS solutions are judged in a CMS comparison. In some cases it is, however, to assess meaningful other solutions. This is related to other factors, whether a particular CMS should be used or not. When special features are there could be a special CMS for this issue. But there could be some better known for CMS solutions have extensions for this, too (s. Point 8 and 9).

The really absolute advantage of well-known content management systems is the wide distribution and thus a good documentation, as well as many forum entries with solutions of a lot of problems. Thus, problems are often solved easily than with a less well-known system. Furthermore known CMS solutions are often provided with an update to close vulnerabilities, otherwise better known content management systems are much more often attacked than lesser-known systems. Vulnerabilities can not be immediately closed always, are known more quickly and are often exploited. Even that should not be forgotten in a CMS comparison.

8. Number of additional modules and extensions

Solutions for special requirements as already mentioned before, are often needed. Therefore, the available number of enhancements makes a decisive role in choosing a CMS, when special features should be required. A good management of the extensions in the CMS, but also a good search function and filtering for extensions the CMS should have. Even without special features, the CMS should have standard extensions, such as SEO extensions.

9. Loading speed, also known as page speed

The page speed is an SEO factor (s. SEO Tips) and should not be underestimated. There could be a problem by using of many expansions in some CMS solutions. In some systems, the loading speed of the page decreases dramatically, the more extensions are being actively used. If this is the case, it might be more meaningful to choose another CMS. Otherwise, it provides the ability to cache content (with or without extension). Thus, the problem would not be so highly leveled. It should be reviewed regularly when used. Otherwise, even a special CMS could be useful if certain special features are supported and the page speed would be improved with it.

10. Online shop functionality

Often, a CMS should also have online shop functionality. However, the combination of content management system and shop functions makes only sense if really (other) content plays a role for the project. If the goal is the classic online shop, a shop software would be much more meaningful and the CMS comparison lapses. Otherwise, with the use of a CMS, it must be sought in the most likely case for an extension of the CMS. It should be ensured that the usability is fine for non-tech-savvy people.

11. Connection to other systems

The communication between your system and others, for example payment providers, social networks, etc. are often very important. It should be pre-determined which interface communications are needed and whether it is possible to integrate them and how easy it is.

Conclusion

Depending on the requirements of a project, choosing a CMS can become quite complex. With the attention of the 11 steps for a CMS comparison it is much easier to choose the right CMS and adapt it to the desired features, or otherwise exclude content management systems from the comparison.