Do I need a CMS?

I’ve been managing digital projects for twelve years and during that time I estimate I have worked on 50-60 website builds. Of those sites I would confidently estimate that no more than 40-50% actually required a CMS. On several occasions I have delivered CMS training, logged back into the admin panel 6 months later and found the changes made by the site owners were in the single figures.

Why does this matter? Well, plugging in a CMS can be an unnecessary expense (in both time and commercial terms) when that time or money could be spent better elsewhere, for instance marketing the website you’ve just had built.

A CMS is not a silver bullet. It can be shaped to give you control over your content, but it can also be at the expense of design and if you have large team at a cost of time and training for that team. There are some fantastic CMS platforms out there, our preferred platforms at Cite are WordPress, Drupal and we’ve recently begun working with Craft. These all come with huge advantages but can also add cost to a project.

So do you really need a CMS?

Three broad approaches to consider

  1. A full CMS site
  2. A hybrid site – parts of which are controllable via a CMS (for example a blog)
  3. A flat HTML site – no content controlled by CMS

Under what circumstances do you need a CMS?

  1. You have a site that will require weekly (or more frequent updates).
  2. You have a large team all of whom may contribute copy and need an approval process a large multi-site
  3. Installation with multiple languages

What about a hybrid solution?

Useful if you have one or two areas of the site you regularly update (for example a blog or press release section)

When don’t I need a CMS?

  1. If your content is unlikely to change on a regular basis
  2. You have a small site with little content
  3. You have very specific and very bespoke designs in mind
  4. You think you may wish to redesign again in the near future

If I don’t need a CMS what about updates?

If you don’t have a CMS then yes any changes will need to be undertaken by your development team and/or your incumbent agency. But if your content and design doesn’t change that often then the cost for this is unlikely to be high.

Don’t forget that if you do ask and receive a CMS, a significant part of the project cost will be setting up the CMS admin, training your team on how to use it and the development work to recreate the agreed designs with the CMS framework.

As with any agency worth its salt, we’re always happy to sit down with prospective and existing clients to discuss the right options. We’d encourage you to take a step back and ask if you really do need the CMS for some/all of your site?