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How to Choose a CMS Platform

By Kristen Palm

In most cases, the first time anyone interacts with your company or association is through your website. If your website’s content management system (CMS) is hard to use or is unsupported, it can lead to a dated, stale website. When staying with your current CMS becomes too costly, make sure you take the time to thoroughly evaluate potential replacement CMSs to ensure the system you choose meets your current and future business needs. For many, it can be a daunting process.

Here are four things to consider when choosing a CMS platform:

  1. Usability
  2. Functionality
  3. Support
  4. Security


Consider your range of end users. You have members, potential members, consumers, leadership, employees, business partners, and of course the random visitors from all over the world—all with their own reasons for visiting your site. Don’t assume you understand their goals, challenges and motivations. Knowing what each audience needs will help you focus your research on only those CMSs that have the functionality you need now and the ability to grow with you. It’s also wise to involve a committee of stakeholders early in the process to help generate buy-in for the chosen CMS.

“Speak to all the teams within your organization to determine what processes they use the CMS for and how their audience uses the website.” – Michelle Adams, lead content manager, Purina


From social sharing to responsive design templates, functionality is one of the top factors for organizations to consider when choosing a CMS. However, also make sure you choose a CMS that is flexible and that integrates with other systems your company uses.

“Deploying a CMS that is flexible and allows for integrations gives you the freedom to update the functionality of your website to meet changing business needs without changing your CMS. This will extend the reach of your investment.” – Rich Campbell, president, Engage


One of the most important factors to consider is the company’s commitment to user support—both through customer support and the user community. In addition, consider the stability of the CMS provider—both financially and within their leadership—to ensure the support you receive at the time of purchase will be there years down the road.

“Functions change with every release, but a commitment to user support is generally in the character of the organization and is difficult to change.” – Dick Slackman, Tenby Technologies


The security of both the data coming into your website and content published to your website is of utmost importance. With new vulnerabilities and issues emerging all the time, make sure it is easy for your staff to implement any CMS updates (patches, upgrades, etc) to prevent your website from being a target for hackers.

“Limiting the number of people who have the ability to add or delete pages or plugins through user roles reduces security risks, so make sure your CMS supports multiple user role management.” – Michelle Adams, lead content manager, Purina

There are a number of additional factors to consider when evaluating a CMS. However, by taking these things into consideration when choosing a CMS platform, you will be able to focus your research efforts making the task seem less daunting.

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