Beyond A CMS: Factors That Really Determine Project Success
Many request for proposals I receive request a specific Content Management System (CMS). While it is important to make sure that you move forward with a legitimate CMS that covers all of your needs, the truth is that most projects can be handled by any modern CMS. Rather than argue the merits of any any CMS, let’s look at what really makes a website project successful.
In my experience, the most successful websites begin with a focus on the purpose of the website and the goals that it should achieve. It’s critical to have a clear definition of your goals at the outset of your project. Also critical is working with a designer who can help you determine the objectives you’ll need to meet in order to achieve these goals.
The second most important factor to your website’s success is content. Although content is what most users go to websites for, it often becomes an afterthought during the planning process. Most of the clients I meet with have plenty of ideas about the look of their site. These same clients often seem confused when I ask if they have thought about the words, images and videos that will appear on their beautiful website.
Smart ways to think about content
- What are your users looking for?
- What problems can you solve for your users?
- Have you audited your existing content? What do you have, what do you need?
- Do you have images for your site? Photography / videography?
- Will there be audio (podcasts) on your site?
- What is your content strategy? (Be sure to include social media and other online promotion.)
- Who will do the copywriting?
- How often will you be adding new content?
- Do you need an editorial calendar?
These are just a few questions to get you thinking more critically (and effectively) about your website content to get you on the path of project success.
Ease of use of the CMS
The third factor is ease of use. While it is true that most every modern CMS can meet the functional requirements, what often is not talked about is how easy it is to use for the person entering content.
With each project I spend a lot of time modifying the system to achieve this, but in my experience this is often overlooked. Make sure whoever you hire does an excellent job of making your system easy to use. Out of the box all CMS have weaknesses that need to be addressed to be easy to use.
If a CMS is hard to use it will soon not be used. Make your life as easy and make sure you put your organization in a position to win!
Planning for continued success
The last factor is planning. Once your new website goes live it is imperative to keep the momentum going forward. How will you continue to promote the website going forward? When will new content be added to the website and by whom? Instead of thinking your website as a project that once done is out of mind, develop a plan to succeed!
Don't get me wrong. There is nothing inherently wrong with specifying a specific CMS for your project ... if you take these items above into account. If you're like most clients a successful project will need much more than a technology decision to succeed. A CMS is a tool. Nothing more. Don't lose sight of this.