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Moving to a Digital Native CMS

Crossposted from Technology for Marketing and Advertising 2013

Your current content management system is probably old. Maybe even ancient. Many companies are still using first or second-generation CMS products built prior to the “dot com” revolution. Do some of these product names sound familiar? TeamSite, Vignette, Fatwire, Red Dot, Stellent, Rhythmix? These products were once innovators and helped drive the growth of the web in the early part of the 2000s. But then the web evolved and legacy content management systems were unable to keep pace. According to builtwith.com, there are tens of thousands of sites still stuck on a legacy CMS.

The symptoms of using a legacy CMS include: poor usability and frustrated users, the inability to easily deploy content to multiple devices and screen sizes, the complete absence of social media support and a dwindling vendor community making it impossible to get support and gain insight into the future of the CMS.

Digital Disruption

First and second generation CMS products were designed to solve the “webmaster bottleneck” problem e.g. to distribute publishing beyond the specialised role of the webmaster, who would manually create pages using tools like Dreamweaver and FrontPage. When websites were mostly brochures, this approach worked but as digital technology began to make a larger transformation on business, the web moved quickly beyond the brochure and the legacy CMS could no longer keep up.

Let’s review some of the big digital disruptions over the past 6 years:

  • In 2007, the first iPhone was released, opening the door to the full web experience on mobile devices.
  • In 2009, Netflix launched next generation personalisation features; allowing users to receive fine-tuned content recommendations. Netflix (and Amazon) continue to innovate with personalisation, getting the right content to the right user at the right time.
  • In 2010, Apple released the first iPad and has since sold well over 100 million of them. There are now nearly 50m tablets sold each quarter.
  • In 2011, HTML 5 and CSS3 opened the doors for new multi channel delivery approaches like responsive design. 2012 was a banner year for responsive design, with some high profile sites going responsive like ge.com and microsoft.com.

The last 6 years have seen some of the most significant advances in technology in the history of computing, but thousands of companies are still struggling with a CMS that predates Internet Explorer 6 and simply can’t meet the needs of a modern digital marketing organisation. It’s time to go “digital native”.

Open Source is the Digital Native CMS

The failure of legacy commercial CMS products to keep pace with the speed of innovation on the web has led to a new breed of “digital native” open source CMS projects like Drupal. These open source projects are driven by large, active communities who work hard to ensure the projects evolve at the pace of the web.

The primary benefits of using a digital native CMS include:

  • Users First: Making it easy for content authors and editors to publish content in real time. Usability is the most common source of frustration for users of legacy CMS products.
  • Mobile First: The ability for designers to completely separate content from presentation to ensure maximum content re-use across a wide range of mobile devices and screen sizes. This is a must to adopt new approaches like responsive design.
  • Social First: Allowing companies to create branded social communities and integrate social media and social networks into existing websites, including support for social authentication.
  • Community First: A vibrant community ensures the long-term success of a CMS through rapid innovation. For example, when Pinterest hit critical mass in March 2012, the Drupal community quickly built, tested, and deployed a Pinterest module and over 20 sites were using it within a few months. This type of real-time innovation simply isn’t possible without the backing of an active community.

With a digital native CMS, the technology shouldn’t put barriers on executing an innovative digital marketing strategy – one that’s social, mobile and relevant to your customers.

Moving away from a legacy CMS isn’t easy, but if your company is one of the thousands of companies still using one of the CMS dinosaurs like TeamSite and Vignette, it’s time to move. The pace of innovation is only going to increase and adopting a digital native CMS is the best way to ensure your company is prepared to keep up with the pace of change.

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