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The CMS Checklist

  1. Multilingual – Can the CMS cater for any language both on the front and back end?  

  2. Scalable architecture – Can the software be load balanced across multiple web servers? Is it cluster aware? Can it perform under pressure or does it fail whale? Ask for 3rd party test results.  

  3. Migration tools – Does it come with tools or methods for migrating tens of thousands of pages of content?  

  4. Web standards – Can it produce clean, semantic HTML and accessible content?  

  5. Documentation/support – Is it backed up with appropriate technical documentation and user guides? Is the product supported locally by a team of developers?  

  6. Installers – Does it have a simple 1 click installation, or is an army of engineers required to make it work?  

  7. Secure – Ask the vendor when the application had its last security review. Does it have formal accreditation?  

  8. Usability – Where does the user interface sit on the hierarchy of users’ needs?  

  9. Extensible – Does it have a mature API or SDK allowing it to be easily integrated or extended?  

  10. Search – Is a comprehensive search engine ‘baked in’ or will you need to buy an expensive 3rd party tool? From an external perspective is the CMS SEO friendly?  

  11. Metadata – Is the content underpinned by a robust metadata framework or is information management a manual task?  

Not all of these requirements are essential for everyone but asking these questions will definitely tell you if the product is a mature and stable offering.

The larger vendors excel at many of the checkpoints but often fall short on web standards and usability. It’s usually the opposite for the smaller players. It’s no wonder low end CMS’s have made such a dent in the market, but these offerings can be lacking in other key areas such as security and migration. It’s often the mid-tier vendors that tick the most boxes because they usually pre-date the enterprise players and have the advantage of being agile, coupled with extensive domain knowledge in a relatively new field.

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