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5 Signs It’s Time For a Custom CMS

A content management system (CMS) makes managing and publishing content to your website a breeze. And most digital marketing teams adopt one of the popular ready-made platforms, like WordPress or Drupal, when first launching their business.

However, as with any digital technology, CMS functionality and capabilities change rapidly. At the same time, growing companies also change quickly, adding new business requirements and objectives. If your CMS can’t keep up with all the evolution, what was once a helpful platform for managing your website can quickly become a hindrance.

If you have a hunch that your CMS is no longer working for you, there are five tell-tale signs that it’s time to consider investing in a custom CMS.

5 Signs You Need a Custom CMS

1. You can’t easily craft the content you need

If your existing platform isn’t making it easy to craft the content you know you need, you’ll never reach your full potential. New trends and mechanisms for showcasing content are constantly emerging in the marketplace. To stay competitive, you must consistently produce and publish innovative and engaging assets. Successful digital marketers can quickly publish content with maximum SEO potential, tell stories through creative layouts, and transmit across multiple channels. They have options for different types of content, from simple articles to tutorials, guides, and interactive experiences. All of these efforts require a CMS that is convenient and intuitive to use.

2. You need to grow but can’t

How easy is it to build new functionality into your website? You may need to add new workflows to accommodate growing teams. Or maybe you need to develop an internal new search engine or social features. Whatever your use case, if you can’t easily incorporate new functionality into your site’s code, it’s a sign that you’ve outgrown your existing CMS and need a corporate-class solution.

A website poised for growth will have a path for building new functionality beyond long-form content. Are you finding that adding new functionality is difficult, prone to breakage, can’t be done in a way that supports your brand, involves consistently relying on shady plugins, or leaves your code feeling like a mess of spaghetti? A custom CMS can provide the foundation you need to expand into new territory with peace of mind.

3. You’re experiencing costly mistakes

When it isn’t easy to publish new content, website features, and website functionality, it’s not just inconvenient it can lead to cutting corners in the name of progress. These shortcuts can introduce risks that could bring down your whole system. Such errors are costly.

As a company grows, most ready-made, off-the-shelf CMS solutions eventually become decorated with plugins that each support different features or functionality. Just like when you overload an outlet by trying to run too many appliances at once and flip the circuit breaker, your CMS can also stop working if you overload it with responsibilities it wasn’t designed to handle. This can result in conflicts where making changes in one area of your CMS results in seemingly unrelated issues elsewhere.

If you are afraid to touch parts of your current CMS because one wrong move could cause a big disruption in functionality, then you may need a CMS designed with your team’s needs in mind.

4. Your website–and your CMS–look and feel out-of-date

Website design trends, and thus user expectations, change every three to five years. And if your CMS can’t evolve, your website won’t either.

Old layouts and functionality risk dating a brand as old and out-of-touch. A website built half a decade (or more) ago may feature patterns or designs that are no longer effective for engagement. Does your existing CMS allow you to edit the look and feel of your site easily? Many off-the-shelf CMS platforms don’t separate content and design. This makes updating a challenge. If you can’t easily adjust your layout, pop-in product videos, photo carousels, engaging call-to-actions, or third-party embeds, you need to rethink your CMS choice entirely.

5. You’re falling into the sunk cost fallacy

You might be resistant to updating or building a new CMS after you’ve invested years of time and budget into your current platform. It can be tempting to force your existing solution to keep chugging along if it’s not constantly on fire. But, basing your web strategy on decisions that honor previous costs rather than future consequences is short-sighted.

Not only is there a point when trying to patch new features into your aging CMS becomes cost-prohibitive, but if your CMS is not meeting your goals, you’re also paying an opportunity cost.

Technology ages and fades away—few solutions scale with users over the long haul. Regarding content management systems, the reality is that every 5-10 years, your platform likely needs an overhaul. Savvy digital marketers accept this truth and know when to pivot to something new.

Is It Time to Upgrade to a Custom CMS?

If any of the above concerns are beginning to dominate meetings among your marketing and IT teams, it’s time to reconsider your CMS. Your CMS is the backbone of your digital marketing strategy. It should make your life easier, not more complicated. It should save you time and money. It should support your most important marketing and brand objectives and ensure a smooth customer experience for your audience. If your current CMS isn’t delivering on these promises, you are ready for a custom CMS—one with the infrastructure necessary for your company’s continual growth.

This requires finding a good partner, and not all firms are created equally. Some companies have been burned before by hiring out the custom-build of their CMS, only to end up with a platform that doesn’t effectively support their content or business needs.

A good partner will have extensive experience building custom CMS platforms, especially for large-scale publishers. A consultative partner does more than simply build code. After assessing your situation, they can help you out of a pinch or encourage you to seize an opportunity.

Custom CMS development is a forward-thinking investment. A content management system designed specifically for your team’s needs and workflows ensures increased website performance, integration, and flexibility. Upgrading to a tailor-made platform is a big decision, but ensuring your CMS works for you and not against you pays dividends in the long run.

Michael Trythall

About the author

Michael Trythall

Michael's love of user experience and open source brought him to Lincoln Loop in 2008. Before joining the team, he used his software development and interaction design background to create engaging experiences for high-traffic websites. Since …