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.