In the previous post we explored how to start a web project.
Know thy CMS
CMS stands for Content Management System. I can’t stress enough how important it is to select the right one. This piece of software will either become a healthy heart of your website that works smoothly in the background and grows together with your business; or a constant headache of regular breakdowns and technology limitations.
Manage your expectations by writing down the most important features to be produced, both at launch and in the future. Think about non-functional requirements, such as peak traffic times or integration with 3rd party services.
As an Open Source advocate, I strongly believe that you should consider liberal software licence, if you ever plan to extend, customize, or integrate your solution. Many such products have enterprise level stability and security. Open Source protects you from vendor lock-in, stimulates innovation, and reduces the total cost of ownership. You only pay for on-demand technical support or consulting services, if you need them.
Some of the well established options are eZ Publish, Drupal, or Magnolia – at least they have been proven from a decade of my web content management experience. However, you should always match product capabilities with your specific needs above all, and only then select the winners.
Have you seen an example built with this CMS that solve similar business problems?
When you have a short list of CMS, get in touch with their vendors to request a demo and see if you can establish long-lasting business relationship. Get feedback from other organizations who have been using the product for some time. What was their learning curve like, do they find administration interface usable? Join the community forums, discover past track record, and get to know the ecosystem.
If you require professional services such as training courses, technical support, or expert consulting, request their details early. Check the pricing model, contract terms, and ability to scale as needed. The bottom line is that the vendor should be able to provide full on-demand product responsibility and other guarantees in the form of a service level agreement that fits your specific needs.
Once you have confirmed business credentials of your selected CMS, you still want to invite technical personnel to have a closer look at the underlying platform and make sure it will integrate into your existing IT environment.
Start with documentation, it should feature publicly available manuals for both users and developers that are thorough and up-to-date.
Then read industry reviews or maybe even the code itself together and investigate product’s maturity in the areas of internal architecture, feature set, customization & extensibility.
Sophisticated CMS also offer rapid application development tools, pre-built content elements and functional modules, embedded security and performance tuning mechanisms.
If you plan a complex website with large amount of users and data, or enterprise level integration, pay utmost attention to performance, scalability, and robustness issues.
To summarize the above, you need to verify:
- Performance & Scalability
- Architecture & Quality
- Support & Documentation
- Adoption & Community
In the next post we will get very practical and test the ability of your potential technical partners to deliver the goods.
Part 1: Start a web project
Part 3: Select subcontractors
Part 4: Define requirements
Part 5: Organize development process
Part 6: Deploy the system
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