web cms, 2014 Must-Do: Get Back to Basics with Web CMS

It's the New Year. Did you push some of your tasks from last month into January because it seemed like a year away at the time?

Well, it's time to stop procrastinating: 2014 is here. 

To help you get going in this infant stage of the new year, we're kicking off a series of "must dos" in areas including web CMS, customer experience and digital marketing. 

We start here with a must do for implementing and administering a web CMS. And top of mind is getting back to the basics, according to Irina Guseva, senior analyst at the Real Story Group, which specializes in technology research and strategic advisory services.

"I think orgs need to focus on usability and user friendliness," Guseva told us. "Everyone says they want an 'easy to use' CMS, but then buy or implement monsters."

Overbuying, Poor Customization

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Organizations can get into trouble pretty quickly with their web CMS selection. The issue with usability or lack thereof can happen several ways, Guseva said.

First, there are the buyers of CMS tools who are all about an "easy to use" CMS. However, for one reason or another, they often "overbuy." How?

They select a much more complex system than what is warranted by their use cases or what they wanted in the beginning of a CMS selection process.

"This is later exacerbated by the way the CMS is implemented and customized," Guseva said. "All of us need some customizations, but following best practices in your particular CMS implementation are crucial in order to avoid implementing a 'monster.'"

When an organization says it wants "easy to use," what should that mean for a CMS? What components make it easy to use?

"Easy to use" is hard to define, Guseva conceded. "It means many different things to many different people," she said. 

Learning Opportunities

However, organizations and those charged with CMS maintenance and delivery should be able to figure out the definition by including input from various groups and roles in the organization.

Recognize that employees accustomed to working in Microsoft Word will have a different approach than those coding in Microsoft Visual Studio or designing in Adobe Photoshop.

"'Easy to use' then should be proven during demos as you select the CMS, as well as during the implementation and roll-out phases where certain best practices and processes need to be followed," Guseva added. 

In general, though, most Web Content Management (WCM) products in the marketplace can be good enough, with some customization, or as is. But ask yourself: "Are they good enough for your teams?"

User Rejections

Worst-case scenario with your web CMS? Users who don't use it. If your CMS has a "failure to thrive," as Guseva called it, that's a sign it's not user-friendly. As in -- it fails to become adopted by the users and to realize all the promised benefits to the C-Suite: hard or soft.

In some cases, What You See is What You Get (WYSIWYG) or previews fail expectations of the user base. In others, it is due to an overly complex customization.

"The nature of some CMSes in the marketplace is geared toward power-users vs. casual-users," Guseva said. "When all these and other factors come together, the CMS is too complicated and what often happens is that the user base avoids it, and eventually rejects it. This is when the 'We need another CMS' project is initiated."

So what can you do by the end of this month if "select a CMS" is in your 2014 action plan? 

"Identifying your main stakeholders should be feasible enough to accomplish in one month," Guseva said. "Getting the budget assigned and choosing consultants to help you with the selection is the next good step."