Updated: Apr 21, 2020
Not all businesses will require a content management system (CMS) to manage their websites. Whether you need a CMS or not will depend on a number of factors.
Do you need a content management system?
To determine if you need a CMS, ask yourself the following questions:
How frequently will you be updating the site?
Will you regularly post serialised content like blogs and press releases?
Will you need real-time updates?
Will you need version control for your content?
Will you have a big editorial team with multiple user groups?
Will you need an approval workflow?
What other functionality do you need from your platform?
What technical skills do you have in-house?
Do you need reusable content and layout templates?
Can you cover the up-front costs and ongoing maintenance?
If you have a small, brochure type website, with small amount of content that you rarely need to change, it may be difficult to justify the additional cost, time and effort of setting up a CMS. You should weigh out the costs and the risks of implementing a new system against the possible improvements.
If you have a static HTML website that you need to update frequently, or you plan to build an entirely new site, you should consider a content management system as an option for your project.
CMS requirements checklist
If you determine that you need a CMS, you should look at the business objectives you expect it to meet. Draw up a checklist of the requirements and list the CMS features and functions you would like the tool to have.
For example, looking at your business' requirements you may decide that you need a CMS with:
an e-commerce facility to handle online payments and process orders
an adaptable workflow
access to specific add-ons, plugins and features
a password-protected area for customers, suppliers or staff
an internal search functionality in addition to the standard site navigation
advance functionality such as online registration, display or affiliate marketing, product recommendations, user-generated content and other dynamic marketing content
web analytics functionality to measure website performance
integration with cache management tools, other business systems and applications
You should also consider the wider business impact of a content management system. For example:
the cost of CMS implementation (eg time, staffing, training and support)
the choice between open-source or proprietary systems
migrating your website to a cloud platform, partially or fully
Migrating content to a new CMS
It's worth noting that implementing a CMS on an existing website, especially one with a complex back-end system, may require a lot of development work. Occasionally, it may be more cost-effective to start over with a new website. Find out how to implement a content management system.
If you're a blogger and you have a small, brochure type website, with a small amount of content that you rarely need to change, it may be difficult to justify the additional cost, time and effort of setting up a CMS. You should weigh out the costs and the risks of implementing a new system against the possible improvements.