Today, more than any other marketing touch point, a website is the digital soul of an organization. All roads lead to it. As a mission-critical asset, it must be kept current and fresh with an easy-to-use content management system (CMS). Which one should you pick? I hope this post help you answer the question.
The CMS Ecosystem
Generally speaking, the CMS exists in the following setting with the responsive website powered by the CMS, and various website users experiencing it on their favorite devices.
The Desirable CMS Feature Set
A robust CMS system must be:
- User Friendly – The CMS should be easy to use for both non-technical content administrators and web/technology teams. It should have spell-checkers, content preview, and content rollback features.
- Customizable – It should be flexible and customizable for standard tasks, but it should also have the ability to extend its capabilities with custom language support.
- Scalable – The CMS should be able to handle large amounts of content and accommodate the needs of multiple users and divisions.
- Accessible – A good CMS system should generate code that supports all users including those with disabilities. They should either offer accessibility checkers or easily integrate with third-party accessibility checkers.
- Responsive Design Friendly – Because this is both efficient and a ranking factor for Google, it should support the creation of responsive design which automatically adjusts to various viewing devices and browsers.
- Integration Friendly – Because websites exist in a digital ecosystem, the CMS should be able to integrate with other technology tools and platforms such as social media, CRM systems, event management tools, HR tools, catalog tools, marketing automation systems, analytics packages, and more.
- SEO Friendly – Because you can only buy what you can find, a website should support mechanisms that facilitate Google rankings: meta-data, social shares, automatic XML sitemap generation, 301-redirects, 404 pages, search bot friendly URLs, robots.txt files and more.
- Multi-Language Supportive – If you are serving international markets or multiple ethnicities, your CMS should provide support for multiple languages.
- Access Controls Outfitted – Standard features must include granular permissions, access controls, audit trails, and roll-backs.
- Secure – The CMS should have robust security features beyond basic SSL encryption, and user authentication. It should be regularly updated to address any security vulnerabilities.
Popular CMS Platforms
There are four types of CMS systems: proprietary, cloud-based small-business, open-source or commercial grade. Although there are dozens of options of CMS softwares, we are sharing the most popular ones being used by manufacturers and industrial companies:
WordPress (Open Source)
WordPress comes in a two main flavors: Page Builders and Customizable.
Page Builders enable a manufacturer to build a website rapidly without any technical know-how. However, the website code generated is bloated, not SEO-friendly, not customizable and slower websites. For non-mission-critical websites, many page builders are available including Elementor, Divi, Beaver Builder, WP Bakery, Oxygen and Gutenberg.
For more robust websites, WordPress can be used in two configurations: Advanced Custom Fields (ACFs) and Custom Meta Boxes (CMB). Generally speaking CMB offers more flexibility and customizability. These systems are built with LEGO-block-style plugins offered by a vast community of web developers.
If you use WordPress, you’ll need to manage its security patches very pro-actively, not just for the WordPress base software but for all the plugins you decide to deploy.
Drupal (Open Source)
Drupal is an open-source CMS platform built by software developers for software developers. When unlimited power, total flexibility and total customization are paramount, Drupal is a great CMS platform for building your website. Of course you’ll need Drupal programming experts either on your own team or your agency’s team to support you.
To minimize ramp-up time and training costs, smart Drupal shops have created universal page builders. It helps to pick and work with smart shops.
CMS Hub by HubSpot (Cloud Based & Proprietary)
HubSpot’s CMS called “CMS Hub” is really an ecosystem software that is surrounded by add-on inbound marketing, blogging, email marketing, SEO and customer relationship management (CRM) tools. On the surface it’s a drag and drop interface is attractive with pre-built themes and templates, but if you have to customize things, you have to master the HubL scripting language.
Other Cloud Based CMS Platforms
Cloud based CMS platforms like WIX and Squarespace are quite popular with non-technical marketers. Although they are available at an attractive price and are painless at first blush, these systems are bloated, not as customizable and not as SEO friendly. Use them at your own peril. We would not recommend that serious manufacturers use them for mission-critical corporate websites.
Commercial Grade CMS
Although commercial CMS systems are more expensive as compared to proprietary, cloud-based and open source systems, inclusion of all advanced features is a customary practice for commercial CMS software. Commercial CMS systems are ideal for enterprise companies with large number of content creators producing a large amount of content. Magento, Sitecore, and Cascade are three examples of commercial grade CMS systems.
Choosing the Right CMS For Your Company
Which is the right CMS for your company? It depends on your marketing needs, the number of your content marketers, the size of your organization, the size and depth of your web/IT team, your budget and the quality of your marketing agency relationship. Some guidelines follow.
If you don’t have Web/IT team or if you don’t have a reliable marketing agency partner, stay away from open-source options. Medium to large companies typically do have web/IT teams, but if they are maxed supporting in-house needs, it’s best for you to hire experts and ask them to build and maintain your website so your content teams can focus on using the CMS system to maintain your website.
At the end of the day, a good CMS system should bring you peace of mind. It should work for you rather than the other way around.
Contact us if you are seeking a smart manufacturing web development agency which can help you join the elite group of manufacturers growing their company’s share of mind, voice and market with amazing web experiences.