To Remodel or Replace Your CMS? A Q&A with an Industry Expert

The backbone of your website is a content management system (CMS, for short). A CMS is an application used to manage and publish web content while keeping everything consistent and on brand. This allows multiple users to contribute, create, edit, and publish content without the need of a developer.

As with most technology, a time will come when you might need to replace your CMS and start from the ground up again, but how do you know if that’s the case? We sat down with Enlighten’s web and CMS practice lead, Jordan McFarlane, and asked the important question: when is it time for a CMS remodel and when do we replace it altogether?


What Does a Content Management System Do?

A CMS allows you to create and manage content in a centralised location, then publish it to a website.

Let’s say you have a blog on your website. Within your CMS, you can write a post, choose pictures, and then publish that post to your site. You don’t need separate solutions – everything is in one place.

There are so many CMS options out there! How do I know which one is right for me?

Jordan, explained that the right CMS depends on your business needs. Enlighten uses three types of CMS:

  • A simpler CMS that is easy to update, meant for small businesses without dedicated marketing staff
  • A more sophisticated CMS, which enables users to create pages and microsites, giving companies greater control over their sites without having to rely on developers
  • An enterprise-grade CMS with a built-in suite of marketing tools for large organisations that want to personalise content for segments of website visitors

The first one enables small businesses without dedicated marketing staff to upload content to a website easily. This category gives the organisation a measure of control over the website. The downside is the person in charge of website administration can’t change or customise the template without the help of a developer.

A more sophisticated CMS works well for companies that have at least one employee dedicated to managing the website or want to customise for campaigns semi-regularly (but not be often enough to have a dedicated developer). With the tools provided via the CMS, they can create unique pages without the need to learn to code.

'The right CMS depends on your business needs.'

Larger companies with fully-resourced marketing departments will want an enterprise-grade CMS such as Sitecore. Sitecore delivers the capability to personalise content based on customer segments.

Jordan cited the example of a customer who wanted to start selling a B2B product directly to customers. At the same time, installation partners were also frequenting the site because customers interested in the product would fill out an online form, which would go directly to the installation partner.

Sitecore can segment website visitors into categories, then serve up content personalised to meet those visitors’ needs. In this case, Enlighten used Sitecore to create a website that discerned these two groups, and customers would see one type of content, while installation partners would see another.


Is It Time to Replace Your CMS, Or Just Do a Remodel?

How can you tell if you need a completely new CMS or if you just need to patch it up a bit? Jordan commented that there are three reasons a company would require an entirely new CMS:

  • Companies have a new business process that their current CMS doesn't support
  • Their CMS is past its end-of-life point
  • The company wants a new theme for the website, which could necessitate investing in a new CMS
New Business Processes

As your business grows, your processes might change. Jordan cited the example of automating a paper-based process – perhaps customers were previously filling out forms, and an employee typed them up. Automating that process would save time and money.

If you're using a simple CMS that doesn't allow for process automation, it would be time to move to a more sophisticated CMS. On the other hand, if the change you want to make to your website is a one-off (for example, creating a new landing page) and not something you're going to do very often, it's not worth replacing the CMS.

The CMS is at the End of its Life

At a certain point, a software or hardware vendor will stop manufacturing a particular product. It will no longer offer support for that product. The same holds true for CMS vendors. 

'When a vendor no longer provides support for a CMS, it's time to replace it.'

What are the risks involved? When the vendor no longer produces updates or patches for that CMS, it is vulnerable to hackers. Moreover, if you have technical support issues, you have nowhere to turn. Jordan indicates that this is the time to replace your CMS. A new system will have vendor support for a long time to come. That means it's a safer and more sustainable choice for your business.

Creating a New Theme for a Website

Jordan noted a third situation in which a company would need a new CMS: the company wants a new theme for the website, which might necessitate getting rid of legacy systems.

A website theme is the look, feel, and tone of your website. Let's say your current website is pretty simple, with a blue-and-white colour scheme. You want to create a more sophisticated image by updating the colour scheme to aquamarine and ivory and adding the ability to play videos.

'Another reason for replacing a CMS could be if the current system doesn't support a new website theme.'
If your current CMS doesn't support those capabilities, it's time for a new CMS. Conversely, if your CMS supports those capabilities, you just need to do a bit of tweaking.

Enlighten Designs: Implementing the Right CMS Solution for Your Needs

Enlighten Designs has been delivering exceptional digital experiences for over two decades. We do that by understanding our clients' needs and matching them with the perfect solution, including CMSes. We're proud partners of Microsoft and Sitecore, which supply the leading CMS solutions on the market. Talk to us today to learn more and find the right CMS solution for your needs. 

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