Content management systems (or CMSs) have been the backbone of digital content for decades now. Initially developed in the ‘90s, CMSs have come a long way. As our technological landscape shifts and user expectations become more sophisticated, CMSs continue to evolve, providing far more features, advanced integrations, and a much richer user experience.
The days of LiveJournal and default Wordpress templates are long gone, and our proprietary CMSs help content-centered platforms travel leaps and bounds into the future with the simple click of a button. Error messages, static templates, and unreasonably basic CMS features are no longer the building blocks of a good content management system.
Whether you have a lean portfolio site showcasing your work or an enterprise technology website with a rich (and deep) content taxonomy, there are no longer reasons to cut corners when building a site—not when highly functional, customizable, data-centered platforms are not only readily available, but are also both easy to navigate and affordable.
Whether working remotely or under the same roof, any time a team is working together to bring a digital experience to life, that team deserves modern tools. These days, CMSs should be noticeably different in functionality than those circa 2014; if this isn’t the case, your site is long overdue for an upgrade. If the content management system is buggy, antiquated, unintuitive, or uninspiring, you cannot create a clean, modern, functional, and innovative experience for your end users—and in our digital age, user experience directly correlates to your company’s success—and bottom line.
New features that should be part of any current CMS include everything from legacy features like version histories and both back- and front-end editing and publishing capabilities, but also tools that allow users to navigate multiple facets of site construction, maintenance, and marketing within native UI features—without a lengthy library of semi-functional plug-ins.
So what features should you expect to find in today's best marketing CMS?
Rich editing and content design tools
Today’s most functional CMSs allow users who many not have a background in design or coding to easily navigate formatting features, so they can create beautiful content of all types, whether it’s a new landing page or a simple post. Many CMSs offer drag-and-drop content-type functionalities so users can better visualize their updates in front-end editors. These features mean more people within your organization will have the skills set to create and share content—and your organization won’t have to spend as much outsourcing web design.
Automated SEO suggestions
SEO has become one of the most important parts of a website’s framework and determines whether or not your company’s website will capture the search result visibility and digital market share it deserves. Having SEO suggestions built into your CMS takes some of the guesswork out of site and page optimization. From SEO-friendly URLs to meta descriptions, these tools offer sensible suggestions for a piece of content’s SEO components.
Version history and revision features
Version history and revision features track changes so teams can see who made changes and when, while allowing older content versions to be revisited or restored when necessary, These tools should offer on- and offline auto-save functionalities which capture updates as a user makes them, eliminating the risk potential of lost work in the case of interrupted connections or hardware failure.
Intuitive indexing of content
Simple and quick searchability is a no-brainer, but are you using a CMS that truly has it? It’s not enough to be able to scan for keywords within the system. A modern CMS should offer users the ability to filter by author, keywords, publication date, and even asset types involved.
One-to-one personalized marketing
Being that advertising is an important source of revenue for many digital companies, relevant advertising is invaluable. One-to-one marketing and targeting tools allow users to implement presets and filters that help tailor a site visitor’s experience so it is relevant to their web activity. This creates a tighter, more refined visual experience and, at the end of the day, makes the likelihood of conversions for your ad partners much greater—a win-win for the advertiser and your revenue.
Native Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Generating and nourishing leads and maintaining customer relationships is the most vital part of any business’s success. Imagine a CMS that, aside from intuitive design tools and simplified publication features, also offered native CRM functionalities so you no longer need two independent platforms that serve two entirely different purposes. That is how we’ve reimagined today’s content management systems—a CMS that offers a native CRM as part of its standard features.
Real-time website analytics
Numbers should be easily accessible and available in real time. Metrics matter and real-time metrics are invaluable. Site performance directly affects your business performance, and identifying top- and poorly performing posts or pages allows you to better optimize (or update) content based on user behavior. A viable CMS solution should offer analytics that have no information gaps or lag time so you can make real-time content decisions.
Seamless sharing and integration tools help automate social media sharing, which enhances your visibility across your social media channels. Social media integration can also capture post performance so you have an additional set of metrics and analytics to help drive your content and social media strategy. A worthy CMS helps make these processes remarkably smooth.
Your website is your product—and your product needs to be protected with the most advanced security measures available. Historically, sites built on CMSs have been one of the most targeted by hackers. That’s why CMSs have begun to adapt their platforms to offset security breaches by implementing things like Secure Sockets Layers (SSL) that encrypt sensitive information and keep your website—and all associated data—as safe as possible.
And last but not least: reliable support
As many website designers and end users know, CMS support is not always easily accessible, which can make solving for defects and bugs a nightmare. With a growing portfolio of CMS options on the market, developers should prioritize open communication channels and establishing relationships with their clients by bringing support to the table, ready for users whenever it’s needed.
These are, of course, not all of the features that should be part of a highly functional CMS. But these are the things we think are fundamental parts of CMSs basic feature offerings. With the year coming to a close and more developments on the rise, we already have a few functionalities not listed here that we can’t wait to release in the new year. What features do you think are missing from the CMS landscape?