Eric linked me to an article this morning called The 5 Hidden Costs of Running a CMS, which I thought could use a response from our perspective. In fairness to the author, it sounds like he is referring to the adoption of established enterprise-level content management systems, which in most cases require adaptation of systems around them. With the NewfangledCMS, our core code is the foundation for each development project, and is built upon in order to provide a custom solution for each of our clients. This difference allows us to provide a positive spin to each of the 5 hidden costs.
The Cost of Training
Every site that we build using the NewfangledCMS goes through several phases of development before it is ready for content entry. Prior to that point, we provide training to our clients so that they will fully understand how to use all the basic tools of the CMS as well as any unique functionality that has been built for them in particular. There is no additional fee associated with this training. We also provide on-going support to our clients, which is covered by their monthly hosting/support fee, so if they ever have a CMS-related question, our Project Managers can do this at no additional or unpredictable charge.
The Cost to Quality/Functionality
I fused the next two points into one, because in my opinion the quality and flexibility of a site are mutually dependent. In this case, I would argue that using our CMS allows us to deliver higher quality than we would be able to deliver building a custom site without one. With a site that does not use a CMS, the ability for a user to make content changes would rely upon their development ability. With a CMS, you can manage the maintenance of the site among users that don’t have development skills. In fact, our CMS has user controls that allow our clients to assign particular content type maintenance to individuals and groups so that work doesn’t get inadvertently undone. From an efficiency point of view, the CMS has the edge here. However, it is true that a CMS might lock in certain kinds of functionality, so with an out-of-the-box CMS solution, flexibility might be limited once its been implemented. In our case, the CMS is customizable, so new functionality upgrades can be handled with much less effort than a site built without a CMS.
The Cost of Redundancy and Complexity
Since our CMS is based upon a core code kernel and then customized for each specific project, this is not an issue for us. However, there is basic functionality that we put in to any site we build, like activity reports, user account management, site backup, etc., that doesn’t get used by everyone, but thats not a significant problem to our clients. In most cases, when they are reminded that they have that functionality available to them, they are pleased. Because we focus so much on thoroughly prototyping our projects, each site is built with the specific functionality set needed for what the project was planned to do- nothing less, and usually not much more.
The Cost of Commitment
Our CMS is included with any project we do. That means we give free and unlimited NewfangledCMS user licenses to every client – large or small. We do this because we believe in the positives of using a CMS so strongly.
I appreciated Pauls conclusion though, which I’ve quoted below:
So am I suggesting you should avoid content management systems entirely? Not at all. The benefits they provide are real and cannot be ignored. However, I am saying that you should go into the process of selecting a content management system with your eyes wide open. A content management system is not a magic bullet that solves all your content woes. However, it can be a useful tool is selected carefully.
Its true that a CMS is not a magic bullet. We believe, though, that a carefully selected CMS solution, like ours, is ultimately a significant benefit.