Selecting a Web Content Management Product

So you want to take a look at a real Web Content Management (WCM) product. How do you go about evaluating all the different products and vendors? What should you be looking for in a WCM package? Is it better to build your own, buy or use Open Source?

The best way to answer this question is to compare the products on an apples to apples basis. You can do this objectively by building a product evaluation matrix based upon your specific needs. The first column can list out the functionality categories (e.g. Security). The second column can be the specific needs (e.g. integrates with Active Directory for roles and authorization) under each of the categories. The next columns would be your products, one per column for each product you want to consider. For each product then you would give a rating (1 to 10 scale) on each specific need.

You can then add a column for weighting each specific need, or do this at the topic level. For example, flexible workflow may be much more important to you than your ability to customize the presentation. You can then add some more columns to calculate the weighting against the rating to arrive at a realistic assessment number for each product on each of your organization's specific needs. Sum these all up per product to arrive at a total product assessment score.

Of course, you can't forget to check customer references, or if it's an open source product, go dig around some sites which are using the tool already.

Below is a list of some topics/specific needs which may apply for you. At a minimum, these should provoke some thought on your part as far as what you are looking for in a WCM product and give you a good start on your product evaluation matrix.

Workflow

  • Support for multiple workflow models?
  • Complex workflows (parallel and serial)?
  • Role/Group integration with flows?
  • Ability to create workflow templates for re-use with different content types?

Security

  • Will the product integrate with your security architecture?
  • Do you require security for content submission?
  • Do you require security for content consumption?
  • Is there support for roles and groups?
  • How is this implemented and managed in the product?

Content submission

  • What are the creation/submission vehicles e.g., via an Office application, HTML/File upload, WYSIWYG, etc.
  • Are there templates to force content managers to adhere to a common content structure (e.g. all posts must have a title, sub-title, body, and who to contact fields)

Presentation customization

  • Extensive presentation customization capabilities?
  • Extensive support for CSS integration?
  • Ability to create presentation templates which can then be re-used for different content types?
  • End-user creation of presentation templates or does it require a developer?

Integration with search

  • Does the product provide its own search engine?
  • Or, will it effectively integrate with your current (or planned search engine)?
  • Security integration with search (i.e. a user can only see search results for what he/she has access to view)

Common document management functionality

  • Versioning
  • Expiration
  • Metadata
  • Check-in/Check-out
  • Collaborative authoring
  • Content history tracking

Architecture

  • If your organization uses Web Services or has an established Service Oriented Architecture, you may demand the product can expose content through Web Services so other applications can present content.
  • Portal integration (e.g., JSR168 support, WSRP support, etc.)
  • Open and documented API available?

Cost

  • Acquisition
  • Maintenance
  • Technical staffing to support (check with customer references)

Administration interface

  • Robust yet easy to use?
  • Complete control of all content in the lifecycle?
  • Role/group management

About the author
Bryan Mjaanes is the creator/editor of Intranet101.com a community-based forum for Intranet Portal professionals.

In The News:

Web Design Jobs  Southern New Hampshire University
Web Developer  Seven Days
Senior Web Developer  Charlotte Agenda
Online teaching workshop  The Tribune India

Ten Major Tips to Develop a Multilingual Web Site to Work

If you are living in a country that its native... Read More

17 Tips to Plan a Website

Everyone wants one.Everyone wishes they knew how to make one.SOME... Read More

Why Do I Need A Web Site?

Even though the Internet has been around for a long... Read More

Web Success Secret - Keep Your Visitors Interested

Visitors to your site come looking for information or solutions... Read More

The Secret Benefit Of Accessibility: Part 2 - A Higher Search Engine Ranking

An additional benefit of website accessibility is an improved performance... Read More

Web Accessibility: The Basics

What is web accessibility & why is it important?Web accessibility... Read More

The Internet Road Map

1) Data CaptureOne easy way to collect e-mail addresses and... Read More

Traffic for Webmasters

"If you build it, they will come"; is an age... Read More

Website Success is Key

The popular search engine Google indexes over 8 billion websites.... Read More

MySQL Database Handling in PHP

Most interactive websites nowadays require data to be presented dynamically... Read More

Web Site Promotion: How To Advertise Your Website For Profits

Making money with your web site is the dream and... Read More

Benefits Of An Accessible Website: Part 1 - Increase In Reach

The DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) states that service providers must... Read More

Top 7 Reasons Why Your Business Needs a Website

A website provides invaluable advantages for businesses who have one.7... Read More

2 Key Ways to Make Your Site a Success

If one more business owner tells me their website sucks... Read More

Web Design for the Professional Magician Part I - Selecting the Perfect Domain Name

Selecting the Perfect Domain NameThe first issue I have with... Read More

What is Blogger.com?

In the late 1990's three San Francisco based web developers... Read More

Art, Artists, and the Web:Part: 2--First Steps in Building an Artist?s Website

What you should do and know if you are an... Read More

Let Your Customers Redesign Your Website!

When you purchase a new item from a Yahoo! Store,... Read More

My Yahoo Search - Beyond Bookmarks

Yahoo has long offered email, an online calendar, notes, bookmarks,... Read More

Website Survival Guide

In the big, wide online world there are millions of... Read More

Web Measurement: What You Don?t Know Would Make A Great Book

"What's in it for me?" you ask. "Why should I... Read More

If Its Done Its Done for: Make Your Website Part of Your Business before You Build

Web sites are an Ongoing Part of Business.All too many... Read More

How Your Own Website Helps Your Small Business Grow

What do you mean, you don't have a website for... Read More

Having a Domain Name And Web Site Gives Your Business The Key To The Door

Just like all things in life, the ways to run... Read More

Web accessibility for screen magnifier users

The needs of screen magnifier users are overlooked when implementing... Read More