The True cost of a CMS
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The True cost of a CMS

Image courtesy of Library of Congress – Amelia Rosser as Ireland (April 1920)

We often are asked to ensure that our software is “easily updatable”. A decent client facing CMS seems too often to be a pre-requisite to an interactive’s design. Now, we use CMS for handling the content a lot, but that decision, always comes at the end of the initial design process. It should never be determined at the beginning.

The first question you have to ask when looking at a CMS is simple. How often will it be used? While we all start with best intentions heading into an exciting new project, the reality of what will happen a month after it’s up and running needs a good long think. Time is money, money needs resources allocated. Often, particularly in heritage projects, you also need visual assets. Historical assets. For commercial projects you’ve dropped 1000s on a photo shoot. These are expensive pics. Even if you’re spending just €1,500 on a few copyrighted pictures to illustrate your latest update you MUST guarantee that the quality of the content writing is there to justify that spend. So have you got someone dedicated to those updates?

Next you have to look at WHAT your are updating. Is it a couple of paragraphs and images/videos? Great. Would it be better if that monthly update was truly custom? If we are spending money on some decent assets, should we match that with a custom presentation/interactivity that suits that content uniquely?

Finally, and this is the one we often think gets completely overlooked, how much is the CMS costing me from the outset, and how many custom updates could that cost buy me over the first year? Not the second, or third year. Just the first. Chances are, after a year of using a robust CMS you’ve found ways to use it better, quicker and more efficiently. But would you want to make changes to suit your workflow and the content? Of course. Are you using it less than you originally intended? Definitely. If you could wind back the clock a year, would you approach the whole CMS thing differently? Hell ye! If you now sat down and designed a CMS after using custom updates instead for the first year would you want a CMS / Did you save money? Maybe. And if you do. It will be tailored exactly to YOUR experience, the content you’re using and the resources you have and your customers will have a better experience.