Duck and Cover: Avoiding Drive-by CMS Implementations

Although it’s not quite an epidemic (yet), we’re encountering examples of a problematic trend that fits squarely into CMS Myth. We suspect it’s only going to grow, so fair warning.

We term it ‘drive-by CMS implementations.’ It’s a trend in which third-party web agencies and tech shops doing CMS projects, well… leave a trail of smoke and mayhem in the rear-view mirror. Too many agencies—through neglect, lack of expertise, shoddy development practices and other factors– botch the project, sometimes aggressively so. Others fail to offer a long-term strategic vision for their client, which inevitably leads to bigger issues.

The injuries inflicted by CMS drive-bys are many. We’ve seen search engine rankings drop off the face of Google; the complete content of a website stuffed into a single back-end folder; authoring environments that simply don’t work; sites whose dynamic home page barely loads; and many, many more examples.

There are many reasons for this situation. A big one is: CMS projects can be difficult. It’s not hard for a CMS project to jump the tracks, even for the most competent developers and agencies out there.

But a more critical factor that's been flying under the radar: We see a land-grab underway among agencies, big and small, that want to ride CMS momentum to big-ticket web consulting gigs. And no wonder, as hundreds of right-sized/right-priced and “easy to use” CMS systems (mid-market, low-tier, and open source) are enticing all sorts of organizations to invest in CMS. For integrators/agencies, there’s a relatively low barrier to entry to put themselves out there as a CMS consultant. 

The net-net? Anecdotally, we see integrators/agencies jumping in feet first because the initial CMS learning curve appears relatively easy. Nothing wrong with that. But many times they aren’t realizing there’s a much more challenging, long-term strategic learning curve to master to enable them (and their clients) really get CMS right. The implementation itself, or course, is very important; it’s also just the beginning of a successful' CMS project.

The situation won't get better anytime soon. As the barrier to adopting and integrating a CMS gets lower and lower (price points, ease of development, point-and-click features) and thousands of companies look for a CMS, the problem only worsens. Hence the big problem: You don’t know you have a problem until you’re done!

Been a victim of a drive-by? Let us know your story; we'd love to share your story … and we'll change the names to protect the guilty.


About the Author
David Aponovich

A former 'CMS Insider,' David is relentlessly focused on the gap between vendor speak and customer adoption. In addition to keeping a keen eye on industry trends, he works with clients on the cultural and process implications of CMS that are so often overlooked. David wrote for the CMS Myth during his time working at Connective DX (formerly ISITE Design).

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