If you wonder what is a CMS or why you might need one, pass this post 😉 We will soon come with some introductions on CMS and the whys you need one. I answered to a question on linkedin and thought that sharing my insights could be worth it in our blog too.
Beyond personnal tastes, experience and preferences I think this might be interesting to list objective criteria that could help you discreminate them.
Here are things that matter according to me but feel free to add your own suggestions below.
Power of the community >
How many developers, agencies, experts, professionals, plugins… are going to be available and at what pace will it allow you to follow new tech developments? If your partner is recommending you a CMS but that the one is proprietary, it might cost you money or time as soon as you will want to be adding a new trendy feature. Whereas open source communities such as wordpress or Typo3 are having so many developers that in no time, new features get available…at no cost.
Whether your site is small or big you need the performance to be the best. People make a decision to stay on your site in seconds, so you cannot afford bad performance. For large sites or small blogs, the site responsiveness is key.
How easy is it going to be for you to develop a needed plugin, install a new function, leverage lastest technologies (mobile, AR, geotagging, sociale networks)?
SEO ability >
How is SEO embedded in the CMS? Do you have to re-develop or is it easily configurable? How deep can you tune it? SEO is not an option it is a must. WordPress, Typo3 for instance do this very well, reason why we use them namely.
How much will you have to spend just for the product / development? can you get it cheaper?
Consider hidden costs too. Once you get locked-in in a solution, consider the price to a technological move for proprietary CMS to open source / low end open source to more evolved CMS. Consider the learning curve too. How much will you need to spend to get trained? How easy is the interface ?
Ease of use >
Consider the interface. How complex is the interface to learn? How much time will it require to get a training and have your users transformed into master users ? (a very personal preference as each of us has its preferred) And also, consider the « templating » flexibility. Sites evolve over time, how easy will it be for you to change your settings / layout?
We use and recommend Typo3 for large sites and / or sites needing landing pages, forms and any complex marketing / templating stuff (A/B split testing for instance) and WordPress for smaller ones. Both of them range very well against the upper criterias but in the end, when it comes to choosing, we all have our personal choices 😉
An important thing to consider, IMHO, is the consistence of the code base. A cleanly designed, and extensible code base will ensure modularity and compatibility… If you’re forced to hack the CMS code to make it work, then you should consider using another one. Remember content management implies separation between content, layout, and controls… If things are mixed, then it’s just not a CMS, and you should avoid using that stuff…