Too often, homegrown technology starts as a savior and then becomes a headache. Maybe your DIY content management system (CMS) was amazing at first, but over the years, it’s become a source of frustration. What happens is that support wanes, maintenance costs climb, and functionality falls behind. Does this apply to your CMS? If so, you’re not alone.
Many paths to custom CMS
You probably needed your CMS to present content in a way that suited your business. Maybe you needed to support a customer service agent portal, or blend content and external data on a partner portal, or even use a custom CMS to work with another custom tool like your CRM, for example. Bottom line: you turned to a custom CMS because available alternatives didn’t meet your needs. Read the post What Is a CMS?
for a refresher on CMS basics.
Yet, you may look at your custom CMS and wonder if it still meets your needs. That’s because, today, the entire customer journey from marketing to service has become digital. Every team in your organization needs to create experiences – and content – to engage the customer. But, if your homegrown CMS is weighed down by complexity, they might have a hard time.
Consider the signs you need to switch CMS
CMS options have evolved beyond the out-of-the-box coupled CMS that you were avoiding by going custom. It might be time to say goodbye to your custom CMS. Ask yourself whether any (or all) of these three signs that it’s time to retire your CMS apply to you:
1. Your CMS only supports a few channels well
Perhaps you turned to custom CMS because your legacy out-of-the-box coupled CMS couldn’t do something your business needed. That “something” could be many things such as manage video, link to your CRM, or support SEO. So you ended up with a CMS that was really good at one thing, like adding video to product web pages. But it doesn’t support apps, wearables, personalized content distribution, or any number of other modern uses. Basically, you find yourself saying, “I wish I could …” about your content more and more.
2. Every new content idea becomes an IT project
Some “I-wish-I-could” moments turn into “I-must” projects. With a custom CMS, these projects inevitably involve developers. An occasional development project that leads to a better digital experience isn’t a bad thing. But when every good idea from a content creator becomes an expensive ordeal, it’s a sign your custom CMS isn’t flexible enough.
3. Only your digital agency or a third-party developer really understands your CMS
If an agency or third-party developer built your custom CMS, they might be the only ones who can modify it. This adds complexity and expense to every effort to change the way you present content. Feeling stuck with a legacy development partner is another sign your custom CMS needs to go.
Choosing a future-ready content management system: headless or hybrid
Today, you can avoid custom and still deliver an amazing digital experience. Coupled CMS isn’t the only option anymore. There’s also headless CMS and hybrid CMS. Both free you to create better digital experiences. Let’s look at each:
- Headless CMS: This type of CMS doesn’t tie the content to the presentation layer (the head), giving you plenty of flexibility. Content feeds into a separate presentation application. But, there’s a downside. You have to invest time and money into buying or developing presentation applications.
- Hybrid CMS: This type of CMS blends the most appealing features of coupled and headless. Hybrid comes with templates and presentation tools. And you can develop presentation layers when that’s the best option for you. You save time with built-in experience templates and presentation tools. Plus, you own the way you present content, empowering you to deliver a great experience to customers on every channel.
When you replace your custom CMS with a headless CMS, you gain the flexibility that drove you to custom in the first place. But there’s an even better path. Hybrid CMS lets you create better experiences with built-in tools. And you can create unique digital experiences when it makes sense.