Choosing a CMS: A Quick Guide for Publishers

As of Monday, April 24, 2023

Whether you’re launching a new website altogether or switching CMS providers, finding and vetting a Content Management System (CMS) should not just be about product features. You also need the right level of vendor support to make the most of your website – and your investment. If you’re considering a new CMS, your partner’s offerings should align with your goals and objectives. 

And, in today’s world, you should be looking for much more than just a CMS.

So how do you choose the right partner for you?

Where to Start in Choosing a CMS

Before you talk with prospective providers, first assess your business and the goals you want to achieve with a new solution:

A good partner will use their experience to suggest proven and effective strategies you may not consider otherwise.

What to Look for in a Content Management System

Your CMS partner should help you maximize the potential of your website – and generate the greatest ROI. To vet providers and find the right fit, ask the following:

1. Are they an engaged team with publishing industry knowledge?

Professional publishers and business information organizations have industrial-strength needs compared with the capabilities of an average CMS. The right CMS provider will think beyond website requirements and focus on having an impact on the entire publishing enterprise. They’ll work with you to help you achieve your goals, and industry knowledge should inform their support. 

You’ll know you’ve found the right team if they take the time to understand your objectives and recommend best practices for your industry. They should understand the nuances of a content-focused business, including workflow, reader engagement, revenue generation and social sharing. They should also detail their capacity for ongoing platform development and how that maps to your business goals, ensuring the platform will continually support your objectives long into the future.

2. What is their planning and implementation process like?

Developing and launching your website should involve clear timelines, objectives and communication. Choose a partner whose process fits your expectations. 

With a good partner, you can be involved every step of the way. The partner will make the effort to identify your pain points, make recommendations, and explain those recommendations in your industry lingo. They’ll prioritize actions that improve your bottom line, like increased editorial efficiencies and enhanced site performance. Further, they’ll put metrics in place to measure success and create accountability.

3. What level of support do they provide after implementation?

Post-launch support is another important aspect of partnering with a CMS provider. If you want to add a new feature, fix an issue, make a change or bring in new staff, provider support can make a difference in timing, cost and effectiveness. 

Your support team should provide regular updates and maintenance, as well as employee training, technical support, creative problem-solving and crisis management. This team should be directly available 24/7 and include individuals who worked on your site. A support staff that knows your software and website is key for efficiency and expedience. Further, the team should track incidents to prevent reoccurrence, and they should have a clear procedure for change requests and customizations.

4. Is the platform reliable, fast and secure?

Reliability and security are imperative to a well-run website. Your efforts and investment won’t be worth much if your site isn’t functioning or your security is compromised. Make sure these components are a priority:

5. Do they offer the functionality you need as a publisher – and more? 

Publishers have unique needs like increased audience engagement, sophisticated audience data capabilities and diversified revenue streams. Your vendor should accommodate features and functionality that encourage innovation and remove obstacles to growth. 

Key publisher capabilities include:

6. Are their audience data capabilities advanced and actionable?

Your new CMS should elevate audience data and make it more actionable by:

Removing silos means unifying data from across functions like registrations, downloads, newsletters and ecommerce to generate comprehensive user records in one database. With the right vendor, your data can integrate with email service providers, payment systems, marketing automation providers, fulfillment companies, ad servers and more. With improved data, and more of it, you can better serve readers and deliver a personalized experience. It can also greatly bolster your lead generation campaign efforts.

7. Are they committed to ongoing development?

Benefits of a SaaS CMS include:

Though SaaS systems allow for ongoing development and automatic updates, that doesn’t mean every provider is up-to-speed with the latest features as soon as they’re developed. Further, certain providers will prioritize different updates over others depending on their focus and industries. 

Ask about the vendor’s product development roadmap. Does it follow a regular schedule? Is it responsive to your market or applicable to all industries? Also, can you monitor the update process and provide input on priorities? 

A good partner will establish regular software updates for your site. These updates will follow a disciplined process to meet the evolving needs of your customers, help you stay ahead of your competition, and contribute to your bottom line. They should add ongoing value and “future-proof” your investment against outdated software and features, so your site is continually relevant and competitive. 

8. What does their portfolio demonstrate?

Finally, every thorough vetting process involves reviewing past work and performance. It’s important to see the system and service in action to see if the provider delivers on their offer and whether their offer truly aligns with your needs. Ask for examples of their work, especially those that have comparable business models and features. 

Choosing the Right CMS provider

Take the time to find a good fit for your business strategy. Your website is a critical component of your overall strategy, and you want to work with a company that understands your industry, offers the functionality you need, and is willing to invest in your success with ongoing service and support.

See ePublishing’s solution in action. Request a Demo