The Most Important Feature To Require In Your Next CMS

Submitted by Bryan Ruby on Sun, 02/28/2016 - 22:05

The Most Important Feature To Require In Your Next CMS

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Agility CMS with Import and Export

When it comes to content management systems, these two questions are the ones that I get asked the most:

  • What is the best CMS out there?
  • What features do I need to have in my CMS?

Over the years, I've tried answering that question in various forums. But inevitably my initial answers to the first question are almost always:

  • It depends on what you want to do.
  • It depend on who you're willing to work with.

This leaves us with the second question. What features do you need to have in a CMS? The honest answer is I won't know until I better understand your business goals and current workflow. But I can tell you with a straight face what is the most important feature your new CMS needs to have:

  • The ability to export your content easily out of your "new" CMS.

Too often, people worry only about importing their content into a new CMS from their old CMS. But what if in a year or two you find your new CMS fails to meet your needs? Before adopting a new CMS, you should have a clear exit stategy for the day your new CMS becomes your old CMS.

With some CMSs, the process to leave from one platform to another is an easy one. We just did an Agility CMS to Drupal migration where Agility's software provided easy access to their export functionality. This didn't surprise me because three years ago I researched Agility well and confirmed they had export functionality readily available. Unfortunately, too many CMSs are not like Agility. CMS vendors don't always provide an easy method to leave their CMS and sometimes this is intentional (it's called vendor lock). Website migrations even in the best of circumstances are already difficult and you definitely don't want a CMS where exporting content is made difficult by design.

Over the years, I've stressed the importance of content ownership. At the end of the day, the only person that should ultimately be in control of your content is you. A number of CMS providers will tell you that data can be exported out of their CMS, but they won't tell you the how is complicated. That complication may include the need to pay a fee to retrieve your own data from their CMS or that the exported data is in an odd format that isn't so easily usable by another CMS. All this messiness is exactly why you should never migrate to a new CMS that doesn't allows you export your own content back out with just a few clicks. Anything more complicated isn't worth you taking the risk of migrating to that new CMS.