Wagtail Admin

Some Considerations When Selecting A Content Management System

Issues, trade offs and option for open source CMS solutions

by Faber Radix
Selecting a content management system can involve numerous trade offs between factors and is rarely a straight forward choice to make. Here we outline a number of the considerations which may be involved and how they relate to some of the open source options currently available.

Content management systems (CMS) are architectures/procedures for managing content, most often in the context of serving that content up over the web. At its simplest content management can be a load of HTML and other files in some directories which are directly edited when required. Usually though, a CMS will involve one, or more, programs which facilitate a variety of users to interact with the content. Depending on the the amount of content, the extent to which the content needs to be added to/updated, the number and variety of users who must be involved in creating and editing the content, and the different ways in which the content must be delivered to end users, a variety of different content management solutions will be most appropriate.


"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." - William Morris

In most cases there are significant disadvantages to using a system which is vastly more complex than will ever be required for the task in hand. If you need a website which will only ever have a handful of pages which will be very rarely updated, and there will always be someone available with the necessary skills to make those changes to the raw HTML, running a complex CMS like Wordpress (just because everyone else does that) to manage that content may, depending on the situation, have completely unnecessary performance, maintenance and security impacts. Mostly though, these criteria are not met and even if a single person is responsible for updating the site, either they do not the technical skills or the rate of content changes required make some more complex CMS desirable. 


"... usability is about people and how they understand and use things, not about technology." - Steve Krug

Most content management situations involve users who are creating/maintaining the content, and depending on the situation it is possible that their ability interact with that content might be a significant factor in the success of the project. If a project requires engaging and leveraging the input of a large number users with limited technical skills then choosing a CMS which facilitates that will be very important.


"Only entropy comes easy." - Anton Chekhov

The factors feeding into the “maintainability” of a CMS are numerous. In a purely abstract case simplicity can also imply maintainability but the reality can often be far more complex than that.


“Adaptability is not imitation. It means power of resistance and assimilation.” - Mahatma Gandhi

It is rarely the case that

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Whitehawk Solutions is digital studio based in Brighton, UK providing a full suite of web design, development and consultancy services, and aims to be a one stop shop for all your web needs. 

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