Whether you’re looking to upgrade your existing content management system (CMS), or you’re a first time shopper, the process can be quite overwhelming. With so many platforms to choose from, how do you choose the best CMS for your specific business needs and goals? And how do you differentiate the robust systems out there from the flimsy ones?

From researching and setting up demos to comparing features and pricing and more; you’ve definitely got your work cut out for you. Here’s what your business needs to think about when choosing a content management system that makes the most sense for your business, and your budget.

Choosing the best CMS platform.

Open Source vs. Proprietary CMS

As of 2016, the most popular content management systems (CMS) are Drupal, Joomla, and WordPress. Each of these are free, open source CMS platforms, and they offer solutions for businesses of different sizes and technical expertise. Just because these CMS solutions are the most popular, it doesn’t mean they’re your only options.  

There are two main types of CMS platforms, each of which offers benefits and advantages based on what you’re trying to accomplish, and your budget.

Open Source

Open source CMS's have the ability to be easily modified and customized based on your business needs.  They are also updated and improved upon regularly by a community of coders, and are free to download and use. The flexibility and affordability is much greater compared with a proprietary solution, but security continues to be an area of concern.

Proprietary

Proprietary CMS's, on the other hand, are developed, modified and controlled by one company. This type of CMS is often customized to meet the specific needs of the business, and typically includes access to a customer service department for assistance with troubleshooting and system setup. Proprietary CMS companies charge a licensing fee to use and make changes to the system, and can be an expensive investment.

You can find an extensive list of CMS platforms to choose from, with user reviews and comments here: https://www.cmscritic.com/directory/cms/

We know that’s a lot of information to digest, so we’ve put together a few simple tips to help you narrow down your choices and help you to choose the right CMS.

1. Know what you want it to do.

There are CMS platforms out there that do just about everything except make your coffee, and there are others that are simply meant to provide a space for publishing content. Without first defining what you need or want most out of a CMS, it can be difficult to determine what will work best for your business. Decide ahead of time what you can and can’t do without, and will make the decision-making process a whole lot easier.

2. Assess functionality and usability.

How many users will need to access the platform, and what level of technical expertise do they have? Will it be used mostly by developers or marketers? Be sure to get input from everyone who will be using the platform when researching your options.  It doesn’t make sense to choose a CMS that the majority of your users will have a difficult time operating, or that isn’t customizable to meet the specific challenges of your business.

3. Determine your budget.

Unless your business has an unlimited supply of funds, you’ll need to factor in your budget when making a decision. At the end of the day, can you justify a high cost CMS? If content management is a focal point of your business, then it might make sense to have a more complex solution. Think again about what you need the CMS to do versus what would be nice to have. When it comes down to making a final decision, be sure that if you’re paying extra for a complex feature that it will actually benefit those using the platform.

Picking a CMS platform can be a long and complicated process, but if you go into it knowing exactly what you want, you’re more likely to find the perfect solution for your business.

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