The Vanguard View: Insight for Association Websites

5 Things Your CMS Does NOT Need To Do

Posted by Chris Bonney on Tue, Dec 08, 2009


describe the imageWe're big fans of associations sticking to their core strengths. We feel the same way about software providers. So, it always come as a bit of a surprise to us when associations expect a content management system to do everything from update their website to stir their latte.

Content management systems are more important than ever because they are the platform on which your web presence is built. So, it IS vitally important that it be able to handle the heavy lifting for things like site structure, navigation, edits, workflow and single sign-on.

But Can It Do That?

We feel, though, that it is equally as important to have expectations around what a CMS should do and what it could do. Sure, a CMS COULD have AMS capabilities, but you're always going to be better off investing in an AMS separately. Looking for both in a product is kind of like expecting your car to get you to work at "car speed" and also across the country at "plane speed." A car will get you across the country, so it could be sold that way, but the experience cannot be compared to that of an airplane. Not a big fan of extended car travel, so make sure you're always buying the right experience for your members.

Here are 5 other things your CMS does NOT need to do:

1. E-Commerce - Yes, there are some CMS'  that provide e-commerce. We generally recommend leveraging your AMS for online payments whenever possible.

2. Social Media - Yes,  many CMS providers offer some Web 2.0 functions as part of their tool. The two primary things to consider in that case are 1) are they simply masquerading Web 1.0 tools like discussion forums as Web 2.0 tools? 2) Does the functionality of their tools equal that of  standalone social media software vendors?

3. Mobile-Compatibility - Yes, mobile is the future, so you'll need pages of your website to render appropriately on smartphones. Get it. But looking for functionality that takes an existing page and makes it mobile-friendly is not respecting the big picture. Mobile is a contextual experience for your users. Your mobile site should not simply be a mirror of your existing website. Page copy needs to be shorter, navigation needs to be more specific and, on a whole, your mobile site should be a fraction of the size of your main site.

4. Translate - Yes, your CMS should have the ability to manage multiple international sites within one interface. And you should be able to manage different templates and unique navigation for each within your CMS to accommodate your international sites. But what you don't need it to do is translate pages for you. We've found most international site managers like to translate pages in their own way. In many cases,  while they may be delivering the same message of your English site, the international site managers may have ideas on how to deliver the message in a way that resonates with their audience better. In other words, people in Germany want their content delivered very differently than Americans do, so an apple-to-apple translation of your pages might not be a great marketing choice.

5. Be A Timer - Create a content delivery plan outside of your CMS. Don't expect your CMS to email you when content expires. Sure, some content may need changed after a particular date, but in reality very few actually do. To have that functionality as part of your CMS creates a crutch for your site publishers to lean on. They should be focusing on providing universal, timeless content that doesn't require a lot of maintenance.

My main point here is that when it comes to technology, don't look for the Swiss Army knife solution. Integration and single sign-on technology is at a place now where you can easily create a seamless experience for your users by connecting third-party software together. Be leery of any software that claims to do it all. Your members deserve better.

So what do you think? Is there a #6? Do you disagree with any of these?

Topics: ams integration, web strategy, social media, mobile, CMS, association technology, content management system, Websites, associations

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