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When your CMS is choking your innovation

A good content management system should support new ideas and be a catalyst for innovation. Here's how you can make sure of that.

A CMS is supposed to help supercharge your creativity, not stifle it. Ensuring your content reaches as many of the right people as possible, a good content management system will also support new ideas and approaches. At its best, a CMS is a catalyst for innovation.

So what happens when it’s doing the opposite? How can you fix a CMS that’s choking innovation and keeping your digital experiences from reaching their full potential?

Take advantage of the digital transformation and future proof your digital experiences:

Guide: How to Future Proof Your Digital Experiences

Prioritise flexibility

A CMS doesn’t need to offer all the functions in the universe. What’s far more important is that it can connect to third-party solutions via APIs. With flexibility comes the freedom to grow and develop your CMS at the same rate as your ideas, meaning it will never stand in the way of innovation.

Flexibility also means having the opportunity to get on with daily tasks without involving the developers. A flexible CMS will allow you to make a landing page, or change the formatting of a page, without the need for hands-on help from the techies.

Read more: How to optimise your website user experience in 3 steps »

Make it open-source

When researching a new CMS, ask yourself whether it should be open-source. This means that the source code is open and free to be edited by anyone. In general, open-source is good news for developers as it allows for the steady development of new code that improves the functionality of a CMS.

The result is more frequent releases, as well as increased safety thanks to higher transparency—making it easy for developers to review code quality.

Choose modular architecture

A good CMS is like Lego: its modular nature should make modifying and customising your projects a breeze. With plugins and themes acting like building blocks—or even microservices—you can add or remove elements according to your exact needs.

Have you found that a project didn’t work and is draining resources? Remove the module that’s responsible. Have a great idea for improving your digital experience? Add another building block. A responsible modular architecture should easily accommodate these changes without any risk to the rest of the structure.

Read more: 8 reasons why your digital projects are slow - and how to solve them »

Improve performance

A slow, tedious, and unreliable CMS is any web editor's worst nightmare. To get rid of this particular stranglehold, you should first weigh two options against each other: acquiring a new CMS vs. improving the old. Here we focus on the latter.

First off, you should get your developers to look into and optimise the current technical solution. Maybe the setup years ago was rushed, maybe a software update is overdue, maybe some code has been moved by accident. Figure it out together with your developers—and hopefully you'll optimise performance in the process.

Read more: How to convince your developers to change CMS »

Tuning the database at the same time may also speed things up, as well as identifying decelerating factors in the CMS—like plugins and custom code that slow everything down. Another tip is to invest in a new, faster server. Software can do only so much—if the hardware is struggling like a broken down old car, you should change it.

Finally, maybe something non-technical can do the trick: Have you considered changing your workflow routines? Maybe it isn't the CMS there's something wrong with—it's you and your archaic, lazy ways. Don't shoot me down if this is plain wrong, it's just a suggestion to review your work process.

Pick modern tech

Performance won't help if the system is completely clunky and outdated. This might be the biggest barrier to digital innovation. While your CMS doesn’t need to be fitted out with every feature imaginable, it does need to have all the capabilities your developers require to do their job, now and in the near future. Like open APIs, flexibility, and support to mention a few.

An innovation platform might be the place to start in this ambitious endeavour.

Make innovation a goal for everyone

Speaking of innovation, it should be on everybody’s priority list—stakeholders and developers alike. After all, it’s only when an entire team looks towards the future that the magic really happens. So to ensure you have the budget, resources, and support you need to accelerate new ideas and approaches, make sure you keep digital innovation at the top of your organisation’s agenda.

Sometimes the most innovative ideas are the wildest, but they still rely on a solid foundation to turn them into a reality. A great CMS is flexible, modular, open source and modern – in other words, it’s a future-proof architecture designed to support innovation from every level of your organisation.

This blog post was first published 22 August 2018, but has been edited and revised on 11 November 2019.

Guide: How to Future Proof Your Digital Experiences

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