My Understanding of the Web Content Management Industry after Two Years of Selling In It
According to Wikipedia, a Web Content Management System is defined as:
"A web content management system (CMS) is a software system that provides website authoring, collaboration, and administration tools designed to allow users with little knowledge of web programming languages or markup languages to create and manage website content with relative ease."
Sounds simple enough right?
Then why is it that 90% of the people I speak to everyday still face challenges with their current CMS? In fact most folks hate their CMS and also hated the one they had before the one they hate now. Most common struggles involve; a bottleneck of e-mails with content updates or structural website changes. Did you really spend your budget on the ability to only make changes via a WYSIWYG editor? I bet you bought, built or developed a CMS to avoid these problems in the first place.
So, why is this happening?
Your options are limited. I know that sounds inconceivable considering there are "hundreds" of different content management systems; but what do they all have in common? Until Percussion has decided to do things differently all the CMS market has to offer is a development platform that requires a custom implementation. No matter what platform you select, you follow the same process; identify information architecture, taxonomy, design, and finally content. Trust me it frustrates me that there are hundreds of Content Management Systems out there, and I continue to learn about new systems every week.
All of these stages will require a custom build or fully integrated web/core business applications. While commercial systems are built through APIs; in Open Source they are built by stacking modules. This makes your CMS home to all of your central web applications. This may explain why most websites are a constant work in progress, as simple tasks over time become more and more cumbersome.
In the end, backwards compatibility is a growing concern as technologies are innovating at an extremely rapid rate. Due to the amount of resources required and often the minor benefits offered by each product release you choose to push out your upgrade. You continue to do this with your web technology for 3-5 years until you "blow up your site" and start all over. Is this really the path to getting the biggest return on your investment?
What's the answer?
Give yourself options. Take a best of breed approach and separate your technologies. This creates an agile environment for your organization. It allows you to keep your developers on core application development, infrastructure, and necessary integrations. Separating your content from code allows non-technical users to perform daily web tasks with no complexity within a powerful and simple interface.
Stop allowing yourself to believe your unique business needs demand an entirely customized environment, and realize the benefits a simplistic approach to each element of your marketing strategy. This divide and conquer mentality will maximize productivity across multiple if not all of your departments, and increase your bottom line. At the end of the day your ability to get fresh content to the web trumps your ability to serve a small select amount of content to your visitors. Regardless of organizations sales cycle prospects are constantly browsing their website trying to figure out if they want to invest in your products/services. Consistently having new information on your site will help separate you from your competition, and it's about time that more people got involved in that process.