Yeah, yeah, yeah, we cover tons of solutions every day. In fact, Seth Gottlieb, founder of Content Here says there are somewhere between 1,700 and 2,000 products out there that call themselves content management systems, so options certainly aren’t the problem. But how exactly to select one? There’s a pressing issue.
Today’s guidance comes directly from Gottlieb, who today held a workshop at this year’s Gilbane San Francisco conference in hopes to teach us all exactly how to find our perfect Web CMS match. And trust us, it’s not as scary of a process as it may seem. Rather than provide ultimate or magic answers, Gottlieb's refreshing words heavily focused on getting back to the basics.
Choosing a Web CMS
First, exhale and shake the jitters off because, we kid you not, the first comment from the audience was: “People are afraid they won’t know what requirements to look for because they don’t really know what a content management system is.”
Gottlieb’s answer? This is a common problem, mostly because the content management needs and awareness of what those needs are, are constantly evolving, right along with the Web.
Tools: The Number 1 Demon
On a less comforting note, Gottlieb also made it clear that even if you choose the perfect system, there are plenty of other chances to fail -- consider ineffective integrators, failed content migration, no real usability testing or CMS strategy, for example.
Those are all some pretty frustrating scenarios, but the number one demon, according to Gottlieb, is a problem with tools. And it’s not always that they’re not good enough. Because, let’s face it, this is 2009 and man, we’re advanced!
Ironically, it’s often that we’re relying too much on their capabilities. Gottlieb’s primary example of this is ROI, a necessary digression for just about every person trying to make a dime on the Internet these days.
Gottlieb urges us to keep in mind that unlike ROI tools, content management systems are not robots that do all the things we don't want them to do. It’s not as if we all won’t have to change the way we work or assume new responsibilities just because so many processes around us have become automated. Consider that we aren’t handcuffed; we just need better system management.
Measure the Value of Your Content
As far as measuring goes, Gottlieb says, “If you want to measure something, measure the value of your content and then do the things to maximize it." The best way to check the value of your content is to take it away from your life and see if your personal sky subsequently falls. Once you understand why your content is valuable, then you can focus on investing in the improvement of it.
In fact, Gottlieb surprisingly made the comment that most people don't even need a new content management system, and that most of us only think we do because we've spent too much time letting our tools do all the work without thinking about it.
Before You Buy a CMS
Some steps he suggested before even considering a new CMS are: clean up your content, redesign and reorganize responsibilities.
Once you get over that hump, if you find you still need a CMS you can tackle the task of investing your time in the filtering process. According to Gottlieb, “The only way you’ll know if a system is going to work, is to use it. Get to a list of products to prototype, develop and filters. Then filter faster."
Think Product, Not Vendor
How you choose what to filter is obviously, up to you. After all, everyone has different needs. But Gottlieb had a final tip that we think applies to everyone.
His home-hitting point was that typically in the software market there is the notion that nobody ever got fired from IBM or other big companies.
But Gottlieb believes “in the CMS marketplace, that has held to be false. The larger companies have a far more concerning track record than the middle tier players. For example, Interwoven and Vignette just got bought, didn't they? Open Text has four or five Web CMS systems; they won’t hang around forever."
Finally, he said, "Don’t think about the viability of the company, but the viability of the product.."