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Best Practices: Guidance On Content Management Systems

October 27, 2014

Implementing the right content management system (or CMS) can make updating your website a breeze. Whether you’re selecting a CMS for the first time or replacing one that doesn’t quite meet your needs, this list of guidelines is designed to help you choose wisely.

How to Choose a CMS

  • Gather Requirements
    Carefully scope out exactly what you need the system to do. You’ll also want to factor in permissions, approval requirements and customized features that are unique to your business.
  • Look Ahead
    Consider how your content needs will shift in the foreseeable future. Before you invest, determine whether the CMS can grow with your company over the next three to five years.
  • Make It Secure
    Choose a CMS that won’t compromise sensitive information or leave you and your customers vulnerable to hackers.
  • Consider Integrations
    Will the CMS you’re eyeing integrate well with the existing platforms and systems you need to run your business? Ask your IT department or development partner to weigh in.
  • Budget Wisely
    It’s important to factor in plug-ins, updates, and any licensing and maintenance fees that are required to keep your CMS running smoothly.
  • Define Metrics of Success
    Be very clear about what success looks like in your organization. Ultimately, you want a CMS that gives you easy access to data that measures your progress.  


If you’re working with a development partner, you can always ask for a demo of whatever CMS you’re considering. The goal is to find one that meets your business needs and will be an easy, efficient option for you and your team.

How to Use a CMS

  • Set Goals
    You launched the CMS in order to reach and exceed business goals. Now it’s time to devise a content strategy that maps to those goals specifically.
  • Define Roles and Responsibilities
    Now that your CMS has been implemented, you can establish an ongoing process for creating and updating content that satisfies key stakeholders.
  • Create Standards
    Establish a set of conventions that keep your messaging and editorial practices consistent. Capture elements like brand guidelines and naming conventions in a style guide that’s shared with the whole team.
  • Work in Phases
    Make a prioritized list of everything on your site that needs to be updated. Start with the most important areas and keep working until everything is current. (And just when you think you’re finished, remember that you’ll need to continually refresh the content!) 
  • Fine-Tune the System
    Chances are you’ll need to adjust the system once it’s in use in order to meet your business objectives. Your IT department or development partner can help you tweak it until it’s optimized for your team and your needs.
  • Edit and Archive
    Now that you’re on a schedule that keeps content fresh, you’ll want to archive anything that’s outlived its usefulness. Your IT department or development partner can make sure it remains searchable so you still get the SEO benefits.
  • Analyze Metrics & Chart Your Next Move
    Remember that analytics component? Now is the time to look at the data and evaluate whether the content is performing the way you want it to.

Guidance works with several partners who provide outstanding content management systems that we customize for our clients. We’d like to congratulate one of those partners, EPiServer, on their 5th consecutive year ranking as a “Visionary” in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management. Click here to access the full report.

We wish you best of luck choosing and using your new CMS!