A New CMS Won’t Fix Your Broken Web Strategy

I read a lot of RFPs (Requests For Proposals) for website redesigns, and I sit through a lot of demos and presentations. What strikes me is the number of projects where the focus is on the content management system, and not the goals and strategy of the project.

Why do we have such an obsession with changing platforms and technology when a “website isn’t working?”

I believe this is because we think the problem all along has been the platform. And I believe that in most cases, this approach is wrong.

As a technology vendor and implementer of technologies and platforms, this thinking might seem counter-intuitive. But the truth is this: web content management systems have come a looooong way and most systems do more than any organization can ever hope to use. Yep, there are differences between WordPress, Sitefinity, Drupal, Sitecore and Ektron for sure, but today, I think these differences are at the margins.

Ultimately, the things that really matter are the strategy behind the website redesign, the ability of an organization to rally behind the strategy, a solid implementation that includes lots of training, and the quality of the technology vendor.

If your website isn’t working for your organization, investing in a new CMS with a fancy WYSIWYG editor, drag and drop interface and complicated workflow won’t’ solve your problems. They will help, for sure, but if your content strategy isn’t in place, if you don’t make a commitment to fabulous images, you don’t have a plan for marketing your site, you don’t measure results, and you don’t have the right team in place, you’ll be replacing that CMS in a few short years.

BTW, don’t confuse my being CMS-agnostic with the idea that once you invest in a CMS, you can let it sit as is — forever. Content management systems must be upgraded on a regular basis so you have benefit of the latest security patches, new functionality, and vendor support. I tell clients to use the upgrade process as an opportunity to reevaluate their businesses processes, get staff trained and retrained, and make optimization tweaks to the website.

The next time you find yourself saying, “our website sucks, we need a new CMS,” ask yourself this: Is it really the CMS or does your strategy, process and/or training need the reboot?

 

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