CMS Development: The best CMSes for Marketing Managers and Content Editors
Customers demand content – and a high volume of customers demands vibrant, dynamic and distinctive types of content, updated regularly.
With 250+ programs on the market ranging from simple design tools to scalable enterprise platforms, selecting the perfect CMS for your next web build can be daunting.
Below are three that we’ve used and would recommend for robust, scalable content management.
The #1 most popular CMS for over a decade, with more than 50,000 plugins available. WordPress continues to listen to feedback from its large community base and regularly updates its platform with new features. You can install an entire SEO optimized website in five minutes with minimal technical knowledge. With 27% of global websites being based on WordPress, this makes it a great CMS with a familiar user interface for marketing teams to work with.
WordPress can be extended beyond its initial installation with plugins, and its super easy-to-use collection of functions that make managing content a breeze. But I want to talk about two specific features of WordPress that allows it to contend with other popular CMSs in this decade. The REST API and the introduction of Gutenberg.
Wait, WordPress has a REST API?
Yes! But what does this even mean?
All WordPress websites can have its pages/posts/custom posts information and any additional information accessed through its JSON API. This means that you can develop a website in any modern development framework on its front end, and populate the page with data straight from the API connection with the WordPress backend. This is known as a serverless architecture; where the server is not requesting any information during the middle of page rendering. It is highly recommended as a powerful tool to deliver fast and scalable front end websites, without alienating the team you’re building for.
Technology professionals who think of WordPress as a blogging platform are failing to understand the versatility and robustness of the system. It is used for all kinds of websites, and WordPress, being the sentient CMS corporate giant that it is, is often adding new features to improve its system. Its own new baked-in builder is in direct competition with some of the most established page builder plugins currently used by content managers. But with Gutenberg becoming more stable and more features being added with every update, it’s easier than ever to create custom blocks for your next project within WordPress’s native functionality.
Webflow is an emerging player among modern, code-free CMSes. While WordPress takes a post-centric approach, it can fall short on how approachable it is for agencies that work in Agile or a two-way project management structure.
Using a block like drag-and-drop builder, it is easy for designers who are code-native, to build a website while being able to resize and amend each individual block to fit with an agreed design. Then, the development team can enjoy an easy “headless” API architecture to link it up with whatever third party packages they feel will help the website run as optimised as possible.
Webflow is great for content managers, as its CMS allows for them to design, build and write content for new pages. You can also input the content right into the design, so you know how it will look before it is published to the world.
It’s drawback is that it isn’t free. Webflow charges a minimum of £15 a month (paid annually) for it’s limited plan and £30 a month (paid annually) for full access to the API and CMS. Plans start from £25 per month (paid annually) for their ecommerce platform. But it is an investment into what is arguably one of the most exciting and comprehensive CMSs in recent years.
From CMSes with integrated software, to easy to use WordPress-adjacent platforms, the current market constantly develops the emerging concept of CaaS (Content as a Service). Contentful is one of many market leading content platforms for medium to enterprise level content management solutions. With an API driven mindset, this is the preferred choice for front-end developers and designers to craft experiences without the limitations placed on them from off-the-shelf platforms.
How is this different?
Lets take a minute and understand the key differences in CMS structures.
Decoupled: A CMS structure where the back-end and front end tasks are separated. It does not assume anything from your project and offers website templates, pre-configured layouts and a WYSIWYG editor to create your content. In an architectural point of view, it is not headless, however, this is completely optional to use and considers how content is presented (using the presentation layer). A decoupled system can achieve everything a headless approach can.
Headless: In a headless approach, the CMS takes no responsibility on how the content would be presented (no front end presentation layer). It prepares content ready for display and pushes to the specified delivery environment of your application. This provides developers the freedom of how information is displayed using their choice of various frameworks/coding languages. Essentially, you are separating each component to a wider net. API integrations (e.g with SAP, CRMs) can flow easily without disrupting the entire content management system.
Traditional: Simply put; an approach that uses an intertwined architecture of the back end and front end. This is good for simple solutions, however, it restricts you to major transformation requirements and needing skilled developers to carry out heavy customisation when scaling up to more advanced systems.
This is where Contentful comes in; it may be considered as a headless CMS, however it comes with more “brains” which sets an entire new standard of content infrastructure. It works by hosting a hub to store all your content and a programming tool that allows developers to ship information to any website, app or device. The content infrastructure then turns the content into code so you can build out any digital product for any platform. This allows you to reduce spend on various resources and use your development team much more wisely. Being ‘API-First’, Contentful’s key focus is to provide powerful enterprise grade APIs compared to the general market (API-plugins) to manage complex digital needs. All of this being hosted on the cloud without the need to set up nor maintain your own server.
For small Businesses, pricing starts at 40$/month for developers while enterprise level pricing starts at 879$/month.
Contentful is not a one-stop-shop out of the box solution, therefore a decent team of developers using proprietary code will be needed. If you are looking for a simpler solution whilst only needing one or two API integrations; then a traditional setup may be more accommodating.