You need a Web Content Management Systems (CMS) if:
1. You manage news and content updates with Adobe PDF. Overuse of PDF content is often the tell-tale sign an organization needs a CMS. Business users turn to PDF to produce new content because the process of updating web pages is too difficult. Organizations at the top-end of this spectrum publish all press releases with PDF, or worse yet – the cardinal sin of web content – Microsoft Word. A similar sign is content managed as images on a website. If you are putting text updates as images or blending text and images it is time for a CMS.
2. You need to manually update multiple pages on your website when you add content. When you publish news stories or events do you need to manually update the home page, section front, related content links, audience content links or other sections of your website? Many content management systems provide a “Write Once Publish Everywhere” approach to managing content that automatically updates pages and navigation or provides streamlined updates. The ability to automate updates is also called content reuse and when combined with XML content is often considered the #1 ROI factor for web content management.
3. You support multiple audiences. For example at a university current students, faculty, prospective students; Or in government – community, business, and employees. We call this multi-constituent content management. A good CMS can help you repurpose and channel your content for different audiences – saving time, money, and simplifying the web management process.
4. You manage over 70 pages of content. Many people consider 70-pages a small website. Comparatively it is – many Mediaspawn customers manage tens or hundreds of thousands of pages. But 70 pages is the tipping point where content becomes unmanageable without a CMS and simple web tools like Dreamweaver, or Front-Page, have a hard time scaling to support information architecture and content reuse requirements.
5. A good CMS does not only help you create web pages, but also update and manage pages. If old content is not updated or archived you need a CMS. More importantly you need an internal process to manage content – remember that ultimately people not software manage the web.
6. It takes more than two days to get new content on the web. Two days is an eternity on the web. But assuming you are using a CMS with multi-step workflow I would argue that two days is an acceptable process-time with approvals. However, time and time again I have spoken with content managers who experience several weeks to get basic updates up on a website. This can be a “Webmaster Bottleneck” issue or it can be too complex of a process using third-party vendors or design firms. Either way, if you cannot get emergency content online in minutes and approved content online in days you need a CMS.
7. You work in a regulated industry. Compliance is one of the key drivers for using web content management. A good CMS product will allow you to enforce standards across an organization (although I would argue that ultimately compliance is not a CMS feature, but a business process).
8. You manage more than three websites. Many organizations need to manage dozens if not hundreds of websites. Prime examples are affiliate chapters for trade associations or unions, franchises or branch locations for businesses, or country sites and multi-tiered marketing for large enterprises. If you fall into any of these categories you need a robust content management system that will support multi-site management, content reuse, and workflow. The rub is that although you need a robust CMS, you also need one that is simple to use because invariably local site managers require easier CMS solutions.
9. You manage multi-lingual content. Similar to multi-site content management, multi-lingual content requires a robust CMS application. There are several multi-lingual use cases (same site bi-lingual, same site multi-lingual or distributed country sites bi-lingual). There are also different processes from centrally translated content to locally translated content to outsourced localization services. With a web content management system some of the key features to evaluate are separation of content from presentation, content reuse, support for Unicode and BIDI (bi-directional text), dynamic templates (co-branding and navigation) and the ability to localize Flash and other media in the CMS.
10. Your branding is inconsistent across departmental sections and sites. Often in a large organization like a university or a regionally departmentalized corporation there is a lot of autonomy in website operations. I would argue that a certain amount of autonomy is good, but not to detriment of branding and messaging. If each section of your website looks like an entirely different website you need a web content management system. A good CMS will provide templates and stylesheets to enforce branding, while still providing each department the ability to create original content. A very good CMS will support variations in templates (co-brands) while still applying style control.
There are many other reasons to purchase a web content management system. At Mediaspawn we often work with organizations trying to launch online marketing programs that require frequent updates for landing pages and other content, or developing complex content applications, or needing to support more advanced information architecture like faceted navigations. But really any website that is managed by a team or in an organization will benefit from content management.