As we saw in Part 1 of this two-part post, organisations typically focus on the wrong things when evaluating content management systems (CMSs). They focus on features when they should be focusing on whether their organisation can use the CMS effectively, or at all.
To be fair, “ease of use” is often included in the CMS RFP checklist – but if it’s Requirement 53 of 78, and weighted no higher than “CMS has a blogging platform” or “CMS provides social media integration”, then it may as well not have been included.
Sure, if you need a blog and social media integration, then you need to make sure the CMS you’re evaluating has these features. But I respectfully suggest that a good 50% of the CMS evaluation schedule weighting should be devoted to questions such as:
- How easy is the CMS to install?
- How easy is it to integrate with existing applications, where necessary?
- How easy is it to administer?
- How easy is it for the people who will be adding and updating content to do that work?
- Is it realistic for those people to update this CMS in the time they actually have available for such work?
And these questions need to be answered empirically, not just by making assumptions. Get your admin staff to sit down in front of the CMS and try doing realistic tasks. Get someone to whom they don’t report to observe how they get on and listen to their comments as they go and when they’ve finished. Promise (and ensure) confidentiality, encourage them to be honest, and treat the results of those user tests as the most important part of your CMS evaluation process.
Because, if your shiny new CMS with its blogging platform and its social media integration and its Lolcats plugin is never used by the people who are supposed to use it, or if scheduled content updates are never made, then your organisation has just spent a whole lot of time and a whole lot of money for nothing.
Do pay attention to the features. But only after you’ve paid attention to the users.
And if you’d like to have a conversation about your CMS requirements, then get in touch.