Many CMS features are never usedYou may be impressed by some of the features during a CMS product presentation, but in reality many of the features that are shown during the sales pitch are rarely used when the product has been implemented.

The unfortunate fact is that these features not only add lines of code and complexity to the system, but also come at a cost. Too often I have seen a good and reasonable product become excluded from the short list, simply because they did not have good sales demo and support for one or more of the features on the below list.

The 8 CMS features you are likely never to use

  1. Workflow is something most customers ask for, but the vast majority don’t use it. Some use very simple approval processes, but that’s quite far from some of the wizz-bang visual workflow creation tools that I’ve seen in sales meetings.
  2. Color coding changes; so that you can easily see what changed between versions (similar to Microsoft Word change tracking) is also a nice demo feature which may be used to differentiate a vendor, but in reality customers rarely use it.
  3. Microsoft Office integration; e.g. getting content from Word into CMS by directly clicking save from Word. SharePoint is the main exception to this, where several SharePoint customers actually use this feature, in particular for their intranet. Many press releases and other web content are born in Word, so this demo normally get the editors excited, but in reality Word integration often ends up as a copy and paste job.
  4. Future preview, e.g. how will my site look in a week for scheduling campaigns. A nice idea, in particular for digital marketing to be able to see how the site will look at the launch of the next campaign, but not exactly straight-forward to implement.
  5. Back-end analytics; e.g. CMS statistics on usage of the administrative / editorial interface. Most web professionals struggle to find time to look at their website analytics, so while this can also be a persuasive sales demo, very few find the time to actually look at the CMS statistics.
  6. Advanced search; very few people use Google Advanced Search, and even fewer use and rely on the advanced search provided by the CMS. Some vendors have implemented advanced search features, often via integration with a 3rd party search engine. Once and again; this can be a great demo in particular for those organizations that feel they are drowning in content, but advanced search is simply not used.
  7. A/B testing e.g. for headlines on-the-fly to find the headline that performs best. A/B testing is beginning to become more popular, but is mostly implemented outside the CMS by a 3rd party tool.
  8. Frontpage editing, e.g. click directly on edit on a given page; another great demo which scores cheap usability points. Rarely implemented in the real world, except for small customers that don’t worry too much about staging environments, permissions and quality assurance processes.

Avoid over-investing

The above list was created at a meeting in the European CMS Expert Group, which meets regularly to share experiences and set the agenda for the industry.

If you want to meet like-minded individuals and avoid over-investing in and ending up with an over-complicated CMS next time, you can apply for a seat in the group or attend our web content management conference track at the upcoming J. Boye Aarhus 12 in November.