What to Look for in a Content Management System (CMS)

There are so many Content Management Systems out there, making all kinds of wonderful promises, it can be difficult to know which one is the right choice for your small business. 

But don’t worry, we’re here to help you find the right one by letting you know what specific features to look out for. 

Specifically, we’ll be talking about these CMS features:

  • User friendly
  • Variety of design templates
  • Plugins and extensions
  • E-commerce capabilities
  • Customer support
  • Price

They all offer loads of useful features that may or may not be useful to your business. So we’ll cover the main features to look out for, then look at some of the most popular CMS platforms so you can decide what the best one is for your business.  

What is a Content Management System (CMS)?

A content management system is a platform anybody can use to help create and manage content on your website. 

Most CMS platforms are actually website builders as well, letting you build a website of your own then give you an easy way to manage and customise it. 

It’s a simpler alternative to building one from scratch, or asking a web developer to build one for you. If you already have a website, CMS can be integrated into the site to help you manage the content and design. 

What are the Benefits of CMS software?

CMS platforms are all about making website management easy and streamlined. They help you manage your online content with:

  • User-friendly features – easy for you to manage, easy for customers to use.
  • Easy maintenance, including updates – host sites take care of the more difficult technical stuff.
  • SEO-friendly features – to help you appear higher on search engines.
  • Developer and community support – to help you get started and figure out CMS features.
  • Multiple user access – so anybody in your business can use the platform.
  • Simple design changes – easy to make a good looking site for your particular brand.

The main selling point is that any business owner can make a good looking website that’s easy to use and manage, without the need for in-depth technical knowledge. 

Key Features to Look For

User friendly

The whole point of CMS software is that it makes website design and management easy, so most of them aim to offer a service that is intuitive and simple to use. 

Variety of design templates

CMS platforms offer you a range of pre-made design templates to help you build your website. Some have more options than others, allowing you to create a more unique looking site.

Plugins and extensions

A good CMS platform will allow you to add more software solutions and extensions to your website. Some are more compatible than others, so they’ll allow you more room to customise your website’s features.

Ecommerce capabilities

If you want to use your website to sell products or services, you’ll need to find a CMS platform that lets you add a payment gateway. 

Some platforms will offer this as a service, some will charge you for the option, and different sites will be compatible with different payment methods. 

Customer support

Using a CMS platform is quite confusing for beginners. There are a lot of features to get used to, so the learning curve is steep.

For that reason, a good CMS platform will offer user support that can answer questions, explain features, or give general advice on using the service. 

Price

There are CMS available at different price points, and it all depends on what you’re looking for. Most of them offer free services and charge more for extra features. We’ll go into more detail about prices in the next section. 

What are the Best Content Management Systems for Small Businesses?

WordPress.com

WordPress is the most popular and well-known CMS platform. It’s easy to use and quick to set up. They’ll host your site, so you don’t have to worry about complicated updates or security. 

Their business subscriptions give you access to over 50,000 extensions and plugins you can directly add to your site, and they offer customer support through email or live chat. 

Price

Business subscription  – £20 / month

E-commerce subscription – £36 / month

These are both viable options. The only difference is the E-commerce one accepts payments in 60+ countries, integrates with premium shipping companies, and has better design options. 

WordPress.org

This confuses a lot of people, but wordpress.org is different from wordpress.com. 

It still gives you access to all the same plugins and extensions – the main difference is that wordpress.org is self-hosted and free. 

Self-hosting means you’re responsible for maintenance, security, and updates. 

WordPress.org is seen as the original DIY CMS, so it’s main advantage is how much you’re able to customise your site in any way you want. 

It doesn’t offer much support aside from FAQ and blog posts, so it might not be the best option for complete novices. 

Price

The domain and setup is free. You just pay for whatever else you want to add to your site. 

Squarespace

Squarespace is easy to use and has an emphasis on design and aesthetic. They host your site on their domain, meaning they take care of updates and complicated back-end stuff. 

They have a large library of design templates and make it easy to search and customise them. They’re directly integrated with Getty images to help you find and use images without fear of copyright infringement. 

Squarespace also offers 24/7 customer support for every level of subscription. 

Price

Squarespace has a cheap personal plan that’s fine for personal use. But for small businesses that want to accept payments, there are 3 suitable subscription plans:

  • Business subscription – £15 / month, (3% transaction fees)
  • Basic Commerce subscription – £20 / month (0% transaction fees)
  • Advanced Commerce Subscription – £30 . month (0% transaction fees)

Obviously, you get more features when you spend more money, so it really depends on what you need. 

That said, the 3% transaction fee can be crippling if you plan on expanding in any way. It’s probably worth just paying the extra £5. 

Wix.com

Wix is probably the most beginner friendly. There is an option to just answer a few questions, pick a colour scheme, submit your Logo, and they’ll build a site for you. 

Alternatively, you can build one yourself with an easy drag and drop design feature.. 

That said, once you’ve got a finalised design and your website is ready, you won’t be able to change the basic layout. There are also a limited number of plugins and design templates, so there’s always the risk that your site won’t be very unique

On the plus side, Wix sites are hosted so they’ll take care of updates and security. Also, their sites are mobile friendly straight out of the gate, which is a feature that’ll cost money with other CMS platforms. 

They also offer 24/7 customer care with all their packages, and “Priority Customer Care” for the more expensive packages.  

Price

For simple sites. 

  • Unlimited subscription – £9.50 / month
  • VIP subscription – £19 / month

For E-commerce sites that want to trade online:

  • Business basic subscription – £13 / month
  • Business unlimited subscription – £17 / month
  • Business VIP subscription – £22 / month

The difference between these plans boils down to storage space, customer support, and the amount of video content you can have on your site. 

Complement your CMS with Countingup

The Countingup business current account makes it easy to manage all your financial data in one simple app. 

The app comes with free built-in accounting software that automates the time-consuming aspects of bookkeeping and taxes. You’ll receive real-time insights into your cash flow, profit and loss reports, tax estimates, and the ability to create invoices in seconds. 

You can also share your bookkeeping with your accountant instantly without worrying about duplication errors, data lags or inaccuracies. Seamless, simple, and straightforward. Find out more here.

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