Mulling the CMS Myth

Thanks to either someone on my Twitter feed or on my Google Reader I discovered a new blog this week that really chimes with alot of my thinking recently. Called the CMS Myth it is a blog that really seeks to make a single point;

When it comes to web content management success, it’s not just about the technology.

I know I am particularly guilty at times of getting blinded by the search for the ‘right’ technology – and then inevitably feeling let down by it soon after implementation. This is despite the fact I know full well that the CMS itself is just one piece of the wider puzzle. The term ‘content strategy’ is bandied about alot these days and I tend to be a bit dismissive sometimes as I worry the hype is outweighing the usefulness but, and it is big William Perry sized but, the reality is that it is often the kinds of things covered in these strategies (people, processes, planning..) that make or break a CMS project.

The post that drew me to the blog is particularly pertinent to me at the moment; titled The CMS selection myth: Stop the insanity and focus on what really matters. It includes this nice term ‘CMS Readiness’ and an interesting checklist

  • Vision: Where does the organization want to be in 3-5 years and what’s the overall vision for how digital will drive the business forward?
  • Customers: How will your customer interact with you across their entire journey and what is the role of digital (web, mobile, e-mail, etc.) in enabling these experiences?
  • Content: How are you approaching the overall content strategy and how will it support the experiences you hope to deliver?
  • Team & Culture: How will you support the digital channel and CMS and do you have the proper roles and team members in place?
  • Measurement: How will success be defined and how can analytics and optimization be used to drive ongoing value?

Even for a non-commercial organisation like mine these are valid questions – and not ones to which I/we have all the answers so that is something to have a hard think about in the months to come. Anyway the blog seems to have a decent % of useful, practical posts so it has made its way unto my reading list going forward.

5 responses to “Mulling the CMS Myth”

  1. That list of questions actually looks like a great list for us as implementers of CMS projects to ask new/prospective clients before starting work. Assuming they have not already.


  2. I found that one a few weeks back to, and promptly spent the next couple of days reading and mulling their archive!

    I realise that the points are more strategic than operational, but it reminds me that at work last week I got asked whether our current CMS was a burning platform. We began its introduction about five years ago. In terms of meeting expectations of its users and wider digital platform integration, I can’t imagine any CMS that can last (at least in unmodified form) for that period of time given the pace of change that the average consumer is exposed to on the broader web.

    I know at least one uni that has migrated to WordPress for serving their main website. I have no idea if that’s the right model, or whether the ground-up approach that govuk has taken is right but either way it asks serious questions about how we do large web system deployment and updates, and what resource might be required to deliver a good technical infrastructure which can support that content strategy.

  3. Only 1 typo is pretty impressive on this blog!

    I like the idea of a ‘CMS as a burning platform’ – ours certainly is – in fact it is pretty much burned out. I do think we are on the verge of a new, dominant model emerging – like the rush to CMSs the 1st time. I hope it is something built on an open stack – whether a product like WordPress (or Plone Matt!) or the GOVUK approach but whatever it is it is going to mean more in-house technical resources than most of us have I think.

  4. Something I came to realise quite quickly, after becoming a CMS sysadmin and editor, is that the challenge of (trying to) manage a web presence is fundamentally editorial one. A CMS is fundamentally a publishing platform… I’d also like to raze a proprietary CMS that dare not speak it’s name! I’ve observed that many early adopters of web content managment did get it right the first time around, and end migrating to a better solution- after all it’s a relatively young technology, even by web tech standards. I think that one thing this article demonstrates that lessons are beginning to be learnt…

    So, until somebody authors a WP plugin with a literary AI, the tech can to help facilitate the editorial process through workflow, but in the end human intelligence is still required. Carbon based information processing remains superior to the silicon variety 😉

    @pip, I’m running WordPress along side a web CMS now, and gaining traction in using it as complimentary service to CMS sites – for publishing news & events type stuff its just works better. The CMS then consumes the WP RSS to have the news & events listings in sites hosted there. I like WordPress because it doesn’t try to be all things to all men, unlike the typical CMS, though, you have to careful to not go overboard with plugins. Hence its easier to see past the tech and think about ‘content strategy’ more, as Matt is advocating. I know that some pretty big US Uni sites are using WordPress now (Duke?), but I am all for sitting back and let others feel the pain of the bleeding edge.

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