Choosing the Right Ingredients for the Content Management System Recipe

Cooking Content Management System recipes requires the right blend of product design with technology. Getting the right technology becomes easy if the development of these systems is directed accurately to gratify client requirements.

In part three of this ongoing series on the sphere of Content Management Systems, MarTech Series is focusing on popular technologies that help CMS come alive. The writing aims to provide information for both sellers and buyers about what technology is commonly available out there for the development of Content Management Systems.

Moreover, CMS enterprises need to re-invent their ideology around the user group of their products. These may be individuals who are only interested in easily getting their content organized or published — or users who have a high degree of technical cognizance.

Whatever the case, CMS developers need to ensure that the end product resonates with their client and that users enjoy using these systems.

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Technologies Driving Content Management Systems

Open-Source Content Management Systems

Globally, the term ‘Open Source’ implies software that users can use for free. When CMS are developed using such technologies, automatically such software becomes free to use as well. Developed by leveraging programming languages such as PHP and MySQL, Content Management Systems that are open source are under heaviest adoption globally. And why not! They are free! Extremely useful for smaller businesses and/or individuals who put up their own blurbs, blogs, novellas, etc. on the internet, these systems can be accessed by users without knowing the source code of the software.

Open-source technologies are developed by a global community of software enthusiasts who are a part of that technological group. A user of this group has the right to change the code and add/reduce features from the existing platform. The benefit is users of the Content Management System have no need to understand software whatsoever to upload content. For users, there are manifold options — so choosing the right platform might be difficult due to a variety of available options. But, once small and medium businesses, as well as individuals, decide on a platform of their choice, they can get a brilliant Enterprise-Level Content Management System at a very low cost.

Nowadays, there are also numerous third-party options to install plug-ins in the existing Content Management System. Such ancillary software, substantially widens the paradigm of CMS. With that said, there are flip sides to using a ‘no-cost’ CMS too, such as:

Viewers of digital content hosted by practically ‘free’ CMS appear lackluster in quality and strongly indicate a low budget. Hence, this might not be very conducive for businesses, at least, when it comes to first impressions.

There is no personalized support crew for the practically-free CMS. Hence, if users get stuck with a system issue, it may take an indefinite amount of time before the issue is fixed.

Lastly, users never get software upgrades in free versions. Hence, there is a high possibility that enterprises and individuals remain on the same version of the software, which they had from the start. Upgrades can be costly, however, are needed in order to keep up with the present day content distribution trend.

Hence, as a seller, if you are not WordPress, Drupal or Joomla, there is tremendous scope to discover a new way to develop a CMS that balances these user problems.

Matthew Baier, COO, Contentstack
Matthew Baier, COO, Contentstack

Speaking about the best technology to develop a CMS, Matthew Baier, COO, Contentstack, said, “No single CMS is perfect for every possible use case. That said, many modern CMS solutions are deliberately architected to be more versatile — and thus more broadly applicable — than traditional CMS packages. As a general rule, for a CMS to succeed in the future, it has to be flexible, embrace modern technologies, and bridge traditional channels, such as the web and new/emerging digital channels.

Headless CMS offerings have the advantage that they are architected in a modular fashion, allowing for more flexible deployments, faster time to market and extensibility. Contentstack, for example, uses an API-first architecture and microservices to offer powerful enhancements to both the CMS operator experience, as well as the end-user audience experience. Contentstack can be easily extended and enriched via a 3rd party, open source or custom functionality, which means customers are no longer limited to the functionality offered by a single vendor or a single product suite.”

Also Read: What Type of Content is Best for Lead Generation?

Headless CMS

One of the most recent discoveries in the CMS sphere, a Headless CMS can be defined as a back-end only Content Management System that is independent of a visual medium. It displays content through the use of RESTful API (JSON, XML) and hence, does not bother about the visual medium that will be used to display the content. Its only job is to store and deliver structured content. As brilliant as it is conceptually, one of the key challenges in such a system is the display of data. As mediums change, predicting how data will be displayed becomes next to impossible. It is then a software developer’s nightmare to apply unique skills for a standard data display.

Headless CMS is a portable system. It is extremely useful for several enterprise teams as well as individual entrepreneurs on-the-go to carry their entire company’s inventory and display it wherever they are. This contributes largely to building brand value and adds speed to Sales and Marketing campaigns. The following are the basic differences between Headless and Traditional CMS.


As for Headless CMS developers, the business market for this product is vast. However, since it’s a new technology, enterprises need to be very vigilant about every development stage of the product. They will also need a strong trong team and a bright echelon of stakeholders to be optimistic about their company to become a Tech-Unicorn.

WordPress and Drupal are already bracing themselves for the evolution but considering their inertia, analysts predict that they will get there, but it will take time. Companies currently established in this domain are Storyblok, Contentful and Prismic.

Ben Haynes
Ben Haynes

We asked Ben Haynes, Co-Founder, Directus, about the right blend of capabilities to build functional Content Management Systems.

“To build a solid future-proof foundation of data, there are four crucial facets a modern CMS must have:

Headless – It would be absurd for a developer to limit or predefine all the future uses of a client’s content. Choosing a headless system means that your data can be delivered to (and from) any device, application, or service… even if they don’t exist yet.

Open Architecture – Many CMS lean towards specific markets, and in doing so tailor their platforms features and data architecture for those use-cases. When you’re included in that demographic, this often seems beneficial at first… until you outgrow that rigid system. Choosing an agnostic framework will help you avoid hitting a technical ceiling that frustrates developers and fragments systems.

Open Source – With such an intense focus on not “locking-in” your data, the same goes for the system that manages it. With a proprietary option, you are 100% beholden to the company managing the software. Conversely, with open-source solutions, you can always extend and customize the framework itself… even if the managing entity disappears. OSS also provides more transparency into how your data is managed so you can audit the privacy and security of your data.

Self-Hosted – This may not be necessary for every company, but it’s good to know you have the ability to take things “in-house” if needed. Many projects need tighter security for sensitive data or higher scalability that can only be optimized through custom server architectures. When SaaS-only platforms are black-boxed on remote servers, you don’t have this option.”

Software as a Service (Saas) CMS

SaaS-based CMS are hosted on the Cloud. The storage hardware and Information Technology Infrastructure is never based on-premise but is sourced to a SaaS-based CMS vendor. Acrobat, Google Docs and Box are some major providers of SaaS-based software.

Also Read: Data Innovators Coming to San Francisco for JOIN 2018

The key benefits of SaaS-based Content Management Systems are mentioned below:

Round the clock availability: Users can access the system anytime during the day. All they need is a reliable internet connection.

Ease of collaboration: Users can access, create, modify, edit and deliver documents simultaneously, irrespective of where they are located in the world.

Workflows: Enterprises do not have to go out of the way to customize business-specific processes. These can be easily created/modified with the use of the existing CMS.

Cloud-Promise: Cloud Servers are making a name for themselves by delivering exceptional hosting capabilities to massive enterprise brands globally. Companies using SaaS-CMS can leverage outstanding system performance, thanks to Cloud Computing.

Secure Systems: Cloud Computing has dossiers written about it pertaining to future-proof and cutting-edge security features. Enterprises can trust the safety of their content with eyes closed.

Storage protocols: Enterprises can demand more storage or request for a reduced storage depending on their need. Hence, the system is exceptionally well scalable.

SaaS-CMS can also be accessed on the mobile phone along with providing internal and external integrations.

This makes things simple for users as all they have to do is pay a licensing fee and they are good to go. However, not everybody might be comfortable with this arrangement. Many users prefer customized CMS solutions, which are always difficult to ask for from larger corporations. Also, the licensing fee may or may not be feasible for small or medium enterprises/individuals.

As for sellers, developing SaaS-based CMS is a dilemma. The entire setup is capital intensive and finding clients is a challenge. Usually, such a setup will attract a large enterprise, but since most of them like to build proprietary CMS software, Sales and Marketing teams will need to sweat it out. CMS developers can be innovative with technology though and create a system where they can attract a large number of clients because of a low-licensing fee.

John Field
John Field

Speaking about the type of CMS that will be a game changer, John Field, Director of Product Marketing at BloomReach, said, “A CMS never stands alone in delivering experiences cross channel. Flexibility/openness is the most important attribute, and this can come from open or closed source, and headless or coupled systems.”

Also Read: DoubleClick Search and adMarketplace Partner to Launch Engine Track Reporting Integration

Proprietary CMS

A Proprietary CMS is built specifically for a company by a CMS developer brand. The software code is never publicly revealed, hence, making such systems extremely secure. These systems are usually built for large corporations that cannot find a readymade solution in the CMS market. The software is heavy to maintain but benefits the enterprise by being one of a kind. 24/7 support is always available and changes to the software can be dynamically made as per requirement.

Proprietary CMS developers are niche market players who have an army of technologists to build a software of this magnitude from scratch. Hence, in order to approach multinational corporations who have large budgets and understand the criticality of a globally accessible, secure and scalable CMS — developmental power has to be massive.

The established brands in the Proprietary CMS sphere are:

Key Takeaways

Combining the second and third part provides a plethora of valuable insights into what is going on currently in the sphere of Content Management Systems. There are possibly infinite combinations in which CMS developers can position their products in the market. The important thing here is that CMS brands need to work as a homogenous business unit driven to achieve the same goal. Product development and the subsequent sales and marketing initiative cannot happen in silos. Every internal customer needs to be fully aware of every step in the DevOps process.

Ultimately, the key to product success depends on user sentiment. If users find the product brutally difficult to operate it is more than likely to fail. Organizations such as G2 Crowd have gone the extra mile to be comprehensive databases for possibly every B2B product out there as far as reviewing these products go. Good publicity is pivotal in product success. The last part of this series will focus on CMS development, wherein the architecture is ready to accommodate future expectations from systems.

Recommended Read: For Brands, It’s Time To Start Paying Attention…To Attention

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