SMEs needs to wake up and start looking at how they are allocating their online budgets and start thinking smarter about their web design projects starting with your choice of content management system (CMS).
Business needs to understand that if you spend all your money on the web design you won’t have anything left to spend on marketing your business via Google AdWords or optimise for SEO. SMEs shouldn’t be forcing their web designer or IT departments to try and match the top end of town with the same enterprise level content management platform like SiteCore which can often leave smaller projects with limited budget for customisation, content creation or design.
What if you don’t need all the features?
The first point is that SMEs do not use a majority of the functions or features that their content management system offers so why waste the money if you are not going to use it. If you are looking at mid range ASP.Net platforms like Kentico there are still a number of basic customisations that requires a decent web design & development budget to implement. Also it’s been my experience that Kentico has limitations around advanced web analytics implementation projects and terribly limiting around customisation available for effective onsite seo. Unless you have a full time developer or require strict content policies you may want to consider another CMS platform to Kentico.
Custom CMS look cheap, but are they?
I’ve seen a growing issue over the last 3 years when speaking with SMEs that while their custom cms was initially fairly cheap their costs quickly add up as they can often only get support via a network of limited support partners. For larger redevelopments or ongoing work clients and even your agency will have to pay above market rates to recruit quality developers who have enough experience to work on your site.
Custom CMS are bad for SEO?
The other ongoing issue for SMEs is that many custom CMS web design platforms I have seen and tried to work with are terribly ineffective for onsite seo, they also have horrible usability and the site navigation often feels backward and not intuitive. The site layout and structure combine to create a number of issues that usually break the ability of web analytics platforms to effectively track visitors and don’t easily allow for platforms like website optimiser to function correctly.
My experience is that if you have a custom CMS you will often struggle to optimise for Google/Bing and will be flying blind as your web analytics functions and tracking will be limited as the amount of time required to make the changes won’t be cost effective. My advice is to always avoid custom CMS platforms developed or built by small agencies or single developers unless they have several published case studies on how well their platform improves your SEO. It can often be cheaper and more effective to drop the old site and start again with an open sourced alternative CMS platform which does a lot of the basic SEO work for you.
Consider Open Sourced
I do understand that often it is the requirement of a company to use an ASP.Net solution due to internal IT policies so I have found there are other more cost effective solutions available to business like DotNetNuke. The benefit of platforms like DNN are they offer web developers more flexibility, better SEO and because it is an open sourced platform you are not locked into a limited support channel. There are over 8,000 modules and skins available for DotNetNuke and via Professional & Enterprise edition it’s also used by enterprise clients like ExactTarget.
So if you are wondering about why your website is not performing and you are considering a redevelopment you might want to have a chat with your agency about the cost of your CMS licence as there are a number of more alternatives out there.