Technology & Development, Content Management

5 Pitfalls of Using an Outdated CMS

blindfolded man in dangerIf you are already cobbling your system together with inefficient processes and workarounds, it’s probably time to consider a new CMS.

It took only two weeks in his new job as webmaster at Victor Valley College in Victorville, California, for Justin Gatewood to realize that the college’s website had issues.

“We had glaring problems in the environment, primarily that people had direct FTP access to the server and the public-facing site without any type of controls,” Gatewood said. “None of them were trained or experienced web professionals—more like hobbyists. The site was all over the place. One of my first tasks was to clean up the website and improve the experience for end users.”

Like many colleges, Victor Valley had valid reasons for delaying an upgrade to a content management system (CMS), but as Gatewood learned, there is a fine line between waiting for more money, time, and staff—and waiting too long. Realizing the importance of getting a new system sooner than later, Gatewood and the Victor Valley team spent a few months vetting CMS vendors before choosing OU Campus. In less than two months’ implementation time, the entire institution was using OU Campus. “OU Campus provided us with a modern method for allowing content contributors to edit the website while also allowing us to maintain control over the design and security of the web server,” Gatewood said.

Gatewood learned that having a robust CMS is not a campaign; it is part of the strategy for meeting your institution’s goals. Yes, change is hard, but without the scalability, flexibility, and creativity provided by a state-of-the-art CMS, you won’t be able to keep up with the fast pace of technology.

Consider these five pitfalls of using an outdated CMS:

1. An older CMS is costly.

A recent study found that on average, the cost of data center, software, and hardware downtime is $5,600 per minute. Can your institution really afford an older CMS? Regardless of how experienced your IT team might be, constantly repairing a slow, cumbersome system that has a tendency to stall or require downtime is not conducive to your bottom line. Likewise, managing the ever-growing amount of data taxes older systems and costs your team valuable time in repairs—time that could be put to use toward other projects.

2. You’ve outgrown your capabilities.

Your institution has grown beyond the capability of your current CMS, inhibiting any enhancements you want to make. A scalable, flexible solution that grows with your school makes it easy for you to adapt your CMS as the needs of your users change. Plus, the more your user experience is streamlined and pleasant, the more likely existing and prospective students will explore your site and use it consistently as a helpful tool. If your CMS cannot accommodate a feature-rich website, your traffic could decrease and you could lose valuable prospects.

3. Your technology is tired.

Gone are the days when pretty pictures and an online payment system were state of the art. Today your website must have accessible, interactive features that work on a variety of platforms. You need power to load videos at breakneck speed and page templates that allow content contributors campus-wide to create and revise pages at whim. The older your CMS becomes, the more it will affect site performance.

4. Your resources are allocated for problems in the past rather than creating a framework for future solutions.

Developers who are constantly hampered by software issues have no time to address enhancements. A modern CMS will simplify the work for everyone by making updates and additions easy and quick. Additionally, commercial content management systems have knowledgeable, ongoing tech support so you never have to go it alone, freeing time for your team to explore features like artificial intelligence (AI) and personalization that are just over the horizon.

5. Security is at stake.

A CMS that is not consistently maintained allows hackers access to your site through unmonitored “back doors,” making it easy to contaminate. Phishing elements that trick users into sharing information are among the most popular infections. Another is malware, code that in inserted into your site with the intent of damaging or disabling it.

Because open source systems like WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal are the most widely used, they are also the most likely to be attacked, making them especially vulnerable if updates and patches are inconsistent. “These systems aren’t just your CMS, they are your website at the same time, so if they get hacked... bye-bye website,” said Gatewood. “OU Campus doesn’t host your website. It provides access to edit it, so the separation of CMS and web server is an additional layer of security that open source options don’t have.”

Victor Valley experienced two security breaches before upgrading to a secure CMS platform. “We actually had a few open source solutions that got hacked twice,” Gatewood said. “The first time, the front page was debased and replaced with a photograph of a cowboy with a bandanna and the words “Outlaw Ownz,” a hacker group in Portugal. The second time, it was replaced with a graphic image of Satan flipping a bird. Some of the people using the system had downloaded some open source software and that created a pathway for hackers to take over the servers. Fortunately, I was able to find the issue, but since we’ve had OU Campus, we haven’t had a problem.”

Considering a website redesign to go along with your new CMS? Check out our recorded webcast on Sustainable Redesign.

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