Confab | Jeff Cram: Learning to Love Your CMS

I have a client going through a major content management system [CMS] implementation right now, so I’m eager to hear how we can learn to love our CMS. No one loves their CMS. My comments in italics.

Jeff Cram works with ISITE Design in Portland, and they write a blog called The CMS Myth.

Shows a chart from The Real Story Group I’ve seen before, demonstrating the CMS landscape. There are a LOT of options out there.

Says the “mid-market” CMS is rising fast. Documentum, Oracle, others were built for a different era when web content was viewed as a file repository, and newer CMS are more agile and iterating faster.

Content management can enable great customer experiences. It’s the technology that can make or break your ability to deliver the right content to the right person at the right time. Therefore it is important to make sure you read reviews like this one here before choosing which CMS to use for your business.

Cram pointing out that implementing a CMS is a multi-disciplinary project, but sometimes, content strategists aren’t actually at the table. I’ve had that happen in the past, with predictable results, but in the project we’re currently working on, business goals and content strategy have been driving the CMS project from the beginning, which is magic.

CMS mythbusting

Inline text editors: Bless this man’s heart: He’s slamming the inline text editors that are so popular now. [You know, where you go to the site, and if you have the right permissions, you can click and edit the content right there on the page.] If your site is more complex than a plain old blog, you can’t use the edit-on-the-fly, front-end tools. When you have complex business rules, you need a robust CMS. Major CMS are now selling based on front-end editing, but it’s just not that valuable.

Challenge of the occasional user: Here’s another one I’m worried about with our system. The occasional user can’t remember what they’re supposed to do. Cram’s response to that is, stop letting people in your CMS. I think this is a critical point: Who gets how much control and power in the software? Will your software let you set up a workflow to handle requests, but not allow actual access to occasional users?

The workflow myth: Everyone wants to create really complex workflows, and then they don’t work….they are too complex, or people don’t use them properly, and they create bottlenecks. So, so true.

Taxonomy: Content needs structure. Someone needs to define the structure, and that’s probably not the engineer setting up the CMS. [There should have been more laughter there, but maybe this is a pain point? Maybe no one is dealing with this? This is a BIG part of what we do every day at Creekmore.]

Content modeling: This is not really a myth, but a useful point. If you build your architecture properly, you can model content based on the choices people make. If someone chooses “prospective students” on the front page of your higher ed site, you can create a more targeted experience when they click on other pages. It’s difficult to pull off, but some complex systems today make this possible.

Moving beyond wireframes: Wireframes get used a lot to build CMS, but they don’t fully represent the content strategy. The challenge is to fully represent the content needs, the taxonomy, the business rules — the whole content strategy — when you’re setting up your CMS.

Day two problem: People don’t staff for CMS maintenance. You’ll have new initiatives, change your focus….plan to re-engineer as you go and staff/budget accordingly.