A Content Management System is Just a Tool

Tools
Photo Credit: geishaboy500

More and more these days I am finding that clients are coming to developers with requests for using specific content management systems for their new site before they even think of what they want on their site. For example, “I would like a WordPress/Joomla/Drupal site because everyone uses them and I heard that there is a great community around it.”

Any of those may be the perfect tool for many, but did that person think about what will happen if his site changes direction? What if that person wants to add community management or other custom tools? The original CMS choice may not be the best solution after all. There are many great CMSs out there to get any job done, but they are all essentially just tools.

Before you even begin to think about which system you want to use, make sure you have a solid goal for your website and a strategy in place to reach it.

Get Your Goals in Order

The first step to creating your new website is to think of your goals, both for the site launch and in the future. Why do you want a website? What will it do for your business? Consider your target audience and why they would want to visit your website. Spend time thinking about what you want your visitors to do once they are on the site and what impression they will get from your site. Don’t just put up a website because everyone has a website now-a-days and you just “need” one to survive. Make sure your website is up on the web with a purpose!

What is Your Strategy?

Once you have determined what you want to achieve from your site, plan a strategy to get there. Decide what type of content you will be putting on the site and come up with action items that will get visitors to interact with your company in the way that you want. Think about how will you be highlighting your products and services so that visitors will complete the action you have intended for them. Don’t get caught up in the details of “how” yet, figure out what you will be communicating and the response you want first.

Find that CMS!

Now that you have determined your website goals and overall strategy you can start thinking about the tools you intend to use to reach those goals. Create a list of requirements for your website. Did you decide that you are going to use images to display your product? Then make sure a photo gallery is listed as a requirement. Will customers be contacting you through the website? Add a contact form to your list. Think carefully about all the tools you will need to achieve your goals. If you are not sure what the best tool will be to help you with your strategy then brainstorm what you would envision on the website. Your web team can help you determine what tool will best fit your vision.

Of course picking the best CMS for your site is quite a process in itself. But if you know exactly what you need it to do for you then you should be able to select one that will work perfectly. Having the correct tools will be a great help in achieving your web goals, but no matter how great the CMS is, it can not make up for a poor web strategy.