Measure Twice, Cut Once with Web CMS

Carpenters, of all people, have a great saying, one that everyone responsible for a CMS project should tattoo on their forearm, or at least write on their office wall in big red letters:  “Measure twice, cut once.” It’s just four simple words, but oh-so-rich in wisdom and rife with pragmatism.

Precision matters to carpenters. So their little saying about measuring and cutting clicks inside their brain every time they’re about to rip into a new sheet of plywood or saw a 2×4. It reminds them: you have one shot at getting it right, or it’ll cost you time and money.

And, just like it’s impossible to fix a botched cut (well, unless you can afford an endless supply of plywood, or if right angles don’t matter in the house you’re building) it’s similarly hard to straighten out a CMS initiative whose first few “cuts” are ill-measured or hastily accomplished.

Every web project manager has had one misadventure to know: long days/sleepless nights, plus an added tariff of missing your timeline, killing your budget, shedding your internal credibility and executive support — and for some, shedding your job.

We continue to advocate that, to do CMS right, you need at the very least a vision, a plan, and a well-defined process  –remember, measure twice, cut once — to deliver a successful CMS outcome. Early steps of a project may seem mundane or easy to bypass for efficiency’s sake – say, astutely defining visitor personas, or properly defining content taxonomy.  But keep in mind: these are your 2×4’s and plywood, so saw them at your peril.

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).

More articles from David Aponovich


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  1. Great words, Dave.

    CMS poorly done, gives CMS a bad street rep.  Keep up the banner for web excellence using CMS.

  2. Adriaan Bloem says:

    Yes… and no. Some may never get past the initial planning stages because they over-do it. It’s all about balance… exactly as Jeff’s earlier post about the team that should run these projects explains.

    To illustrate: Dilbert’s take on "measure twice, cut once" in web development about a week before your post:…/dilbert2008031349276.jpg — which, apart from the punchline, subtly references what happens if you spend too much time planning.

    Either isn’t good. That’s why it’s so hard to give advice that has universal appeal ;)

  3. Ron West says:

    Is planning for a year a bad thing?  Well in my case – yes.  After planning starts and stops we now have no more budget to actually implement.  In some cases, if we had done less planning and "prototyped" a solution we would at least have something.  I am all about planning but I agree – how do you not get caught in the "too much" category?  Maybe another post about proper planning???

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