How to select the best CMS for our hosted website


Our website hosting environment can introduce specific requirements or limitations into the selection process. For example, we may only be able to host within a LAMP stack environment which requires a PHP based CMS, while some organizations are only able or willing to host in a Microsoft-based IIS environment, which would prefer a .NET based CMS solution.


Usage scenarios describe how our team will interact with the CMS when performing their common tasks. For example, if Advika typically logs into the CMS and updates employee bios, how does it find the webpages to edit in the CMS? Does it use a search function within the CMS or manually scroll through? Does it rely on the CMS filtering her results by department? This is a great way to test the practical use of various CMS choices based on your teams needs and daily workflow, especially during demos.


Licensing cost is another major factor when selecting a CMS. Smaller budgets drive organizations to select a free or low-cost CMS that carries a small licensing fee. The number of users, editors and other permissions-based roles come into play here too. Licensing fees can be structured according to the quantity of people who are working on the website, and if you have multiple users. When assessing cost, it’s important to remember that licensed content management systems include other benefits with the licensing fee. The dollars you spend give you access to dedicated resources working on improving and maintaining the product, support staff and a quality product with a proven reputation in the marketplace.


Our CMS should give us the right level of flexibility so that our internal team can update content without knowing HTML (and without paying for ongoing maintenance to make changes). Discussing features and functionality during strategic planning helps direct us to the approach we take to development, and make a CMS selection that aligns with these requirements. Depending on the skill level and development savvy of our team, templates can help “lock down” the look and feel of a page and limit the ability of users to make edits and mistakes on the site.


There are inherent security risks with using open source CMS tools, as we’re working with plug-ins that are written in the open source world. We have no idea what someone might be hiding in these plug-ins, which opens up huge risks for server hacks and we don’t have access to a support team to help resolve the issue. Licensed tools like Kentico and Sitecore have teams of developers working on hotfixes and addressing vulnerabilities and we have the option to reach out to them for assistance instead of attempting to blindly troubleshoot.


If we are using other tools such as customer relationship management (CRM) solutions or digital asset management (DAM) systems, it’s important to consider what programming language we’ll be working with and determine the best way to transfer data back and forth. Security is an important consideration here as well depending on the sensitivity of data, certain measures need to be taken.