The Vanguard View: Insight for Association Websites

10 Things to Consider When Choosing the Right CMS for Your Association.

Posted by Chris Bonney on Mon, Jan 09, 2017



It could be argued that the content management system (CMS) is the most important element of your site.

Sure, having a credible and professional association website is paramount, too, but an efficient CMS is a bedrock upon which you can build stellar digital experiences. Unless your users get a consistent experience across sites, channels, and devices, any attempt to engage them will likely fail.

Having a powerful and reliable content management system is becoming less of an option. But, it’s easy to get distracted by features and costs and to ignore your organizational needs in the CMS selection process completely. Understanding the various departmental requirements and psychological trade-offs is equally as important.

So, how do you choose the right CMS for your association?

1. Know What Makes Your Association Tick

According to one report, content management systems are seven times more likely to fail because of lack of organizational fit than from lack of features. These problems usually arise from the fact that the people who buy CMS aren’t the ones who use it, and they don’t really understand the content management issues. Get in touch with your strategy and execution team before buying software because they will help you understand the requirements.

2. Understand Your Production Process

Without a good understanding of your content production process and needs, you won’t know what features to look for, which can only add to the confusion of making a decision. Try to identify the weak links in the process because these are the bottlenecks that hold back your marketing plans, drag you down, and put your staff under pressure.

3. Bigger Isn’t Always Better

You should always be shopping for value over capacity, functionality over price. Don’t think that, by choosing a large CMS vendor, you will get better performance. Paying more money doesn’t necessarily mean that your CMS is better or more reliable. It also does not automatically increase the chances that the project will be successful

4. Consider Functionality

You must pay close attention to functionality. That might sound obvious, but you’ll be surprised to find out how many people assume that all content management systems are created equal. Be wary of CMSs that promise to create, edit, delete, and organize pages.

Also, think very carefully about the core functionality of your CMS. Even though you don’t really need the ability to organize pages now, you may need it in the future.

5. Look for a Friendly Editor

Web developers find exhaustive software documentation a sign of quality. Busy editors, on the other side, want a tool that is user-friendly and intuitive to use. The editor, in particular, is one of the most important features of CMS software. It represents the interface through which content is added and amended, and it needs to be easy to use and navigate.

6. Customization

In this day and age, you should be able to separate web design from content. Unfortunately, some developers have not adhered to web design best practices and continue to create systems that put unreasonable constraints on the way content is retrieved and presented. Make sure your CMS is flexible and allows for customization.

7. Easy Administration

The whole point of a CMS is to allow your staff to make content updates and changes easily. So, it’s imperative to choose a solution that is intuitive and easy to use. A complicated content management system will only add to the confusion and frustration, and only take up way more hours to navigate through the mess.

8. Built-In SEO Tools

Despite the hundreds of thousands of articles chronicling the death of SEO, search engine optimization isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, Google is constantly updating its algorithm to deliver more relevant results. So, having a built-in SEO tool will help you keep up with the changes and add keywords and tags, optimize images, format heading, and create Google friendly URLS.

9. Social Media Integration

By now you should be completely aware that social media has become a vital component of every organization’s marketing efforts. That’s why any modern CMS should make it easy to add social media sharing buttons on the most important pages of your association website.

10. Excellent Website Support

A great CMS should offer detailed documentation for learning, and should answer any question, from the most basic to the most advanced. Make sure your CMS has a searchable database and quality help files.

In Closing

Choosing the right CMS tool is an essential step that can make or break your association website. Equipped with the right knowledge, you can make a decision that will help your association become more focused and agile.


Topics: CMS, content management system, association websites

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