How to Choose a CMS
There are so many to choose from these days, so what should you be looking for when shopping around? We spoke to Content Manager at the tree, Ramin Ghadeesi and Adam Maidment, co-founder of March Branding about what they want out of a content management system.
Ramin Ghadeesi, the tree
Keep things user-friendly: CMSs can be overwhelming to look at and get your head around – for example, attempting to use a Wordpress CMS with 100 plugins integrated to it. But this is because what you’re seeing is the "backend". And the backend is assumed to be allowed to have bad UX.
Analytics: Even the most basic overview of the site can be very useful, something like the single screen dashboard approach.
Security: Plugins, APIs, external or third-party software help get things done. They often mean useful features are added and value is created, but they shouldn't ever compromise or expose the platform. A common issue is users being unable to update their CMS version due to incompatibilities with plugins or themes, which leaves a site vulnerable to hacks.
Flexibility and Compatibility: Every now and then, we get a crazy-complex-wildcard web project, where it’s tricky to integrate a CMS due to the nature of the design or functionality – a good CMS should be "universally adaptable".
Adam Maidment, March Branding
Depending on the brief and goals of a project the specifics of a CMS can vary but I would say the most general points will always be:
Developer Control: You want to be able to build custom layouts, code unique elements and widgets and apply your own styles and scripts. Themes are great for brevity and small projects, but businesses really need to control their design and layouts and having the flexibility to build bespoke sites is a must.
Ease of Use: It might sound obvious, but developers don’t want to jump through hoops to build sites on a CMS. Admins and content editors definitely don’t want hurdle when maintaining the content. Minimal initial set up and config help give a project momentum, likewise having fewer options is a benefit. It's great to have lots of micro-control, but realistically a simple and fast initial deployment of a CMS with the options to expand or add functionality along the way is a much better workflow.
Where Does AI Come In?
Adam Maidment, March Branding
AI is still in its adolescence with regards to website development but there are already some useful features being added to a website with the use of AI.
Chatbots are the first thing which comes to mind. These have helped improve the user experience and raise interactivity. They assist visitors by answering commonly asked questions - a bit like an automated FAQs page. Chatbots can operate 24 hours a day and can provide a useful stopgap when live customer chat is offline.
Another feature which is really becoming popular is 'voice and visual search'. You can allow a customer to voice search the content on a website returning results based on the vocally supplied criteria. Google and Bixby are two examples which operate visual search. Bixby, for example, will detect what you are viewing through your smartphone camera and will return results based on the items it ‘sees’. Adoption of these search mechanisms is only likely to increase and become more mainstream as the technology is more accessible and understood by developers.