Your CMS Matters Less Than Your Content Management System

by Andrew Schulkind

I’ll cop to that terrible, attention-getting ploy: If you know that CMS stands for content management system, my headline reads as redundant. I could have just as easily called this post, Your CMS Matters Less Than How You Use It. But what’s the fun in that?

Audience attraction tricks aside, whichever CMS you favor – Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla, ExpressionEngine, etc. etc. etc. – the CMS is only as good as you make it. Setting it up to fit your workflow and match your marketing goals is critical.

It’s easy to find fans of each of the CMSes I mentioned, as well it should be. They are all pretty impressive right out of the box. (As are platforms like Wix and Squarespace, which require even less help from coders/programmers.) Their real power, though, isn’t in the brains they were born with, but what you can teach them.

Customize Your CMS for Your Content

For example, we create what we refer to as custom content types (and which go by different names in the various CMS ecosystems) so that clients can easily create content that is styled and displayed consistently without the need for coding.

Instead of the single WYSIWYG (“what you see is what you get”) editor that most CMS setups have on their editing screens, the edit screen for a custom content type has separate fields for each element of content you want to add to a page.

Think of your Team page. Each staff member listed has a name, a title, a bio, a headshot and perhaps a few more details. The custom fields make entering those elements easy and, because the styling is done by the CMS behind the scenes, keep the Team page looking consistent.

Customize Your CMS for Your Site Structure

A well-crafted set of CMS templates can go beyond that nice little trick. For example, that same Team page might be arranged alphabetically, but with team members grouped by role. (All the partners are together followed by the analysts, and so on.) Once you define a new team member’s role and enter her last name, the CMS does the rest. No manual reshuffling of team members to get the order correct again.

There are many other examples of how to customize your CMS to save you time and make your digital marketing more effective, including categorized/tagged calls to action and progressive profiling. Selecting a CMS is only the beginning. More important is focusing on the marketing goals you have and how the CMS can help you reach them. That’s why the real magic of a web development project is done before the graphic design and coding get started.

We’d be happy to help you map out a strong CMS strategy. Just give us a call.