Content management system

Choosing a CMS, or content management system

What’s the best content management system? Easy question, but as with most things, not an easy answer. As with most things, the more sophisticated the audience, the more sophisticated the answer.

Here are a few of the major things to consider when creating a CMS. Once you add context to your organization’s needs, you’ll be in a better place to reach out to folks like me, or to the CMS vendors themselves.



Pretty much by definition, CMS work with file management, access. However, a component content management system (CCMS)allows more granular definition of content, allowing a greater level of reuse. Structured content (like DITA or aero/defense standards) generally indicate a need for a CCMS.


When considering CMS, CCMS, or whether to move to structure, localization can be a primary driver. Consider your current or expected localization costs, then discuss structure and CMS issues to come up with a migration plan that will rapidly pay for itself.

Preferred editor/workflow

In structured environments, there’s no real restriction on content editor/CMS combination, because the content model/CMS combo is the real driver. However, if your group is committed to a specific editor, look to the software manufacturer for recommendations. Software like FrameMaker, RoboHelp, and Flare give you a level of reuse.  Author-it seems to specifically target the localization market. There are lower cost systems that work primarily with MS Word, and with other more “basic” editors.


Not much to say here, except that you’ll want to honestly evaluate your available budget, and get estimates of implementation (not just acquisiton) cost early in your evaluation process.

Internal tech resources

CMS range from Open Source, to budget, to full service. One of the biggest cost drivers is the willingness to commit time and resources to the implementation. Make sure your available tech resources match the CMS you choose.


I’ve helped many organizations work through these issues on their way to implementing structure and CMS. There are other things that enter into the equation (like mobile delivery and accessibility), and each CMS has its own sweet spot.

Post a comment if you’re looking for more detail on choosing a CMS.

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