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Technology & Development, Content Management

Don't Buy a CMS from the Past—Buy One for the Future

Learn how to evaluate a content management system for the long haul.

looking into the futureOmniUpdate is a pioneer in higher education web content management software, and over the last 17 years, we have seen transformative changes—as well as a lot of web content management system (CMS) companies that have come and gone within the industry. We have also responded to thousands of higher ed institutional requests for proposals (RFPs), and while many of these have been quite thorough, future-proofing is often an overlooked element in evaluating a CMS.

What does buying a CMS for the future actually mean?

Don’t just buy a CMS that fulfills your current needs. Rather, anticipate your future needs by analyzing website visitor engagement statistics, technology trends, and student enrollment patterns. Also consider your core needs and how they might change over time. Your institution’s strategic plan will also provide a roadmap for where you are going. Armed with this knowledge, you will be better equipped to determine whether the scalability and flexibility of a certain CMS will meet your projected needs.

Speaking of the future, does the CMS provider you are considering have industry cred?

Vetting a vendor is just as important as vetting a CMS. A well-supported CMS will never become outdated; it will simply be updated and improved as technology and user needs change. However, the key to making sure you purchase a CMS for the long term is choosing a forward-looking CMS provider that will also be around in the long term. Even now, the CMS market is undergoing huge changes, and with growing frequency, colleges and universities are contacting OmniUpdate in a panic over learning that their existing CMS is being sunsetted and phased out.  

“We know that fragmented markets tend to consolidate, usually because of economies of scale, such that two or three providers eventually dominate,” explained Owen Savage, OmniUpdate’s Vice President of Strategy. “Without understanding industry evolution and identifying the leading players, colleges and universities can easily select a weaker vendor, one likely to exit the market in a relatively short timeframe.” Purchasing a CMS is more than a transaction, Savage said. “It’s a multi-year commitment and it pays to choose a partner you can trust to be around in 10 or 15 years’ time.”

Is the CMS designed for streamlined integration?

Changes in technology are inevitable, so a CMS should be extensible with core functions and built-in capabilities that allow for easy, seamless integration with existing systems as well as new technology. Just think of the technological innovations introduced in the last 5 years alone. Will your system be open enough to simply plug in technologies yet to be invented? Future-proofing your CMS ensures that it stays fresh and up to date.

Is the CMS built for speed?

The ever-increasing speed of the internet has created a world of impatient web surfers. Teenagers who don’t remember the days of dial-up are especially annoyed when a website doesn’t load almost immediately. In fact, 2 seconds is the threshold for ecommerce website acceptability, and Google aims for under a half-second load time. Look for a CMS that updates fast, efficiently, and across all platforms at once.

Will you manage the CMS, or will it manage you?

The last thing you and your team need is another complicated system to learn. A powerful, state-of-the-art CMS should automate much of the everyday technical functions of your site, freeing you to focus on the primary mission of your institution. A CMS built for the future will include comprehensive, responsive customer support that stays current on IT issues so you don’t have to.

In the market for a CMS? Check out our new guide for evaluating a web content management system.

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