OK, so your CMS isn't the main ingredient in a website's success, but will be crucial in making it easier to control and manage material.
This material includes copy, images, videos etc. and this usability means it's more likely that your website will be more frequently updated and stay fresh and relevant to your audience.
It also gives you a framework to work within to make sure it looks consistent and true to your brand. The best ones will make this process easy, whilst enabling you to continually develop your website features.
Some are free to use (open source) but others are licensed so you pay a fee. Open source versions such as Umbraco, Drupal and WordPress are continually developed by the user community, whilst licensed or closed source products such as Sitecore and Episerver are owned and developed by a software company.
Some of the features that should be present in a good CMS are:
- Standard templates allowing easy changes to the website appearance from one central place
- Controlled access allowing some pages to be restricted to certain users without logins
- Scalability so it works across many domains (website addresses) and enables the creation of microsites/web portals within the main site. Also you should be able to plug in additional modules to build better functionality
- Easily editable content allowing non- technical people to create and edit website content using common conventions e.g. “Ctrl B” for making text bold
- Workflow and delegation so that simple tasks such as updating content can be performed by a wider team but checked by the administrator prior to publishing
- Asset management so you can build and manage a library of useful material such as PDFs, images, video that can easily be imported into the website
- Ability to display content in multiple languages
- Allows easy integration with other systems such as databases or booking systems
If you are about to build a new website, it's a great time to consider your existing CMS and ask whether it is right for you. It's the ideal time to see what else is out there and whether other options will provide a better platform.