Selecting a CMS for your Client

When you start a website or blog, you need to carefully assess all the content that you are going to post on the particular domain. To attract an audience to the site, you need to make sure that the content that you are posting on the website is useful, interesting, easy on the eyes as well as well organized. Organization and management of content on the website should be given equal importance as much as the quality of the content.

Without clearly defined and organized content, the website loses its functionality; hence, is ignored by the audience. To generate a considerable amount of traffic, equal importance should be given to the text based and graphic based content. CMS, abbreviation to Content Management System, is a structure of carefully chosen tools that allows you to control the display of information on your web pages.

You can find several CMS software online that can be used for free. However, when you wish to generate revenue out of your website, you need to rely on paid CMS software that is often used by professionals. While some of the tools might seem handy at first, they might be completely useless. Before you invest in a costly CMS, it is better to check out the free CMS tools. You should also have a fair idea of your requirements and budget before you set out to buy a new CMS.

API First/headless CMS

These are great choices if you want to develop a custom website using a platform such as Ruby on Rails, Node.js, or Elixir/Phoenix and pull content where you need it. I have deployed web applications using Contentful and was quite happy with the results. I have also evaluated some other platforms.

List of best products on the market:


Update: Since writing this in May 2017, Contentful has added a pretty awesome approval process

  • Easy to use and integrate.
  • WYSIWYG editor for users built around markdown.
  • Webhooks can send multiple events per published content.
  • Has three built-in roles: Admin, Developer, Editor but also allows custom roles.
  • You can negotiate with them for a more enterprise package.
  • Great support staff.
  • Excellent developer tools including tools in Ruby, Javascript and Python.
  • Well documented delivery, management and preview APIs.
  • Full disclosure: This is my goto solution.

Link to cost page

  • Easy to use UI
  • Highly customizable
  • Webhooks works like Contentful; the only downside is that it does not push the content. Instead, it pushes the ID to the content, and then the code needs to be written to grab the content itself
  • Has users but no roles

Link to cost page

Cloud CMS

  • CRUD is manageable
  • WYSIWYG uses HTML rather than Markdown
  • Setting up Webhooks is tied to workflows and can require some digging
  • Extensive roles and management console

Link to cost page

Cosmic JS

  • Interface is clean, and supports many templates and a large starter content
  • Easy publication of a static site with the content to get started
  • Everything is stored in GitHub
  • Webhooks allows you to plug into different events, published, saved as a draft, deleted, etc
  • Admin, Developer, Editor roles as well as a few others
  • No custom roles

Link to cost page

Build vs. Buy

Most of the people are unaware of the fact that it is not necessary for you to purchase a pre-established CMS. Instead, you can customize and build your own CMS. While building your own CMS sounds fancy and useful, it can be costly.

Benefits of building a customized CMS

Choice of selecting the most important CMS tools:

When you invest in a customized CMS, you can choose the tools that you want to invest in; hence, save costs by ignoring the less useful tools. For example, if you are hosting a website for fancy decorative items, you might want to include a CMS tool that allows you to enhance image color and quality. However, this tool might be useless for you if you are hosting a content development blog.

However, this benefit will only apply to expert users who know what exactly they want on their website and how they want it.

Can conduct focused market analysis and research:

Every blog/website serves as a source of information or business for a particular sector. With a customized CMS, you can focus on most helpful tools for your content type. You do not have to rely on established ground rules of a CMS rather conduct your market research to identify the particular set of tools that you will require for your website.

Flexibility and option

With a pre-established CMS, you do not have a choice of adding/removing certain editor options; but with a customized CMS, you have the flexibility to choose the editor options for your content. For example, if you want to select on two particular fonts/colors for your entire website, you do not need to pay any extra amount to install a hundred other useless fonts.

Complete control over the organization and display of the content

A pre-established CMS allows only a certain fixed options of content display. You might not get the exact orientation of the website page and images as per your liking after buying a CMS. However, when you built a custom CMS, you have the control over the image resizing as well as image quality as per your preferences.

Benefits of buying a pre-established CMS

24 x 7 professional support

When you built a custom CMS, you do not have access to the developer every day. However, when you buy a renowned CMS, you often get access to a customer helpline that can help you with the queries related to organization and management of content.

Years of generalized market research

With a pre-established CMS, you get your hands on several years' worth of research and background for content management. You do not have to conduct any unique market research and can rely on a generalized and globally accepted system of CMS.

Reliability of the CMS software

A pre-established CMS is often more reliable as the team of developers is quick and efficient in rolling out updates from time to time. The servers of these developers are often capable of handling a large amount of traffic without failure or lag. Also, incorporation of a better risk-management system allows you to manage any failure or risk quickly.


Benefits of using Managed Hosting services

When you use an external website hosting service such as WPEngine or Contentful, you get the following benefits:

  • Ability to handle a large amount of traffic
  • Reliable services and customer helplines
  • Efficient user analysis and website tracking
  • Strict adherence to user guidelines and tried and tested methods of web hosting

Benefits of hosting yourself

When you host a website all by yourself using services like Digital Ocean, you get the following benefits:

  • Customizability according to growth and expansion
  • Cost-effective
  • Complete control over the CMS and other hosting factors

Using built CMS platforms such as WordPress, Joomla or Drupal

If you want to focus only on the content development and leave the CMS to an expert software, you can rely on platforms such as WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal that offer you a lot of customization options. Each of these platforms has an excellent plugin system that can be used to make limited custom developments.

However, if you are going to make customized changes via the plugin system, you have to rely on expert developers who are well-versed in plugin development. You will come across several developers who claim themselves as plugin developers but instead, they can only install plugins and configure pages. Hence, it is important that if you are in need for the customized plugins for your site, then you choose a plugin developer carefully while conducting a proper interview session.


Before diving into buying a costly CMS, it is better to evaluate your requirements as well as budget. It is crucial to perform a market research to understand the needs of your users and web developers. I have 20 years worth of experience in the field of CMS. You can ask for my advice in case you need help with a development roadmap or require consultation before buying the mentioned products.