When Will End Users Overwhelmingly Love Their CMS?

gilbane experts

Wrapping up day one at Gilbane 2013 I’m at a fun session called “Stump the Content Management Consultant” where the audience submits tough questions and three CMS consultants try to answer. The catch – they can’t listen to the other answers and the audience votes on the best answer. No pressure and “It depends” won’t cut it.

My question was first out of the gate (front row seat FTW) and it addressed what I feel is one of the toughest challenges for most organizations and vendors.

The question is “when will end users overwhelmingly love their CMS.”

We know that CMS hate runs deep and CMS Myth readers know we’ve documented the many reasons why this happens. I was curious if any of them thought we would ever reach the day these platforms were actually loved. While they all dodged the yes or no answer, they gave insightful answers to how we can overcome the pain.

Here’s what the three experts said:

David Hobbs
The biggest problem is most organizations don’t treat it as a priority. Folks will love it when organizations treat it as a priority.

Irina Guseva
End users will love their CMS when two things happen. One, when the C-Suite lets end users in on the process and two, when vendors stop the race for more functionality. Nobody cares about predicative analytics. People still wake up at 2 am to push the button and publish the press release.

Kevin Nichols
When a CMS finally meets user requirements. It often meets tech requirements, but there are other users and it’s those groups that need to be addressed. This includes end users, content strategists and other roles.

All of the off the cuff responses were great, but I thought Irina’s was the best and hit at the heart of several of the core issues. Author experience simply needs to be a priority at vendors and organizations need to start demanding it.

What do you think? Will we ever see the day CMS platforms are truly loved?

About the Author
Jeff Cram

Jeff Cram is Chief Strategy Officer and co-founder of Connective DX (formerly ISITE Design), a digital agency based in Portland, OR and Boston, MA. As the Managing Editor of the CMS Myth, Jeff is passionate about all topics related to content management, digital strategy and experience design.

More articles from Jeff Cram


4 responses… read them below or add one.

  1. Petr Palas says:

    Hi Jeff,

    first, I somewhat disagree with your “CMS hate” view. We actually have customers who tell us they love our CMS. We may also have some who hate us, but that’s life. We work on turning more customers into lovers every day. So there are exceptions.

    The reason why vendors have been focused on features so far is simple: that’s how customers buy. And to comment on Irina’s view: look at their Real Story Group’s report – 90% of the product evaluation is focused on comparing features and the vendors won’t score well unless Irina sees “predictive-analytics”-like features. So what can you expect?

    The good news is we see a clear trend in the market: customers are focusing more on the UX side during their evaluations and they want to see more scenario-oriented demos rather than feature-oriented sales demos.

    That’s not a big surprise – when you look at the core WCM functionality, the top vendors provide pretty much everything customers need, so the race moves towards UX and (in the near future) to the total customer experience with the CMS (support, training, partner ecosystem, development community, etc.)

    I just do not share that negativistic view and when you look beyond the traditional “enterprise” incumbents in the market, you will see challengers who are truly committed to customer success.

    Petr Palas, CEO, Kentico

  2. Jeff Cram Jeff Cram says:

    Great points Petr. Thank you. I agree that hate is a strong word and it’s not universal. I am specifically referring to the author experience in complex and distributed (yes,
    enterprise”) organizations where we’ve seen overwhelming frustration from end users. As we wrote here, the tension often has nothing to do with the technology itself. http://www.cmsmyth.com/2013/08/the-real-reasons-people-hate-their-cms/

    Folks that love and appreciate their CMS (and there are many) are often the power users who understand it’s true benefits and use it day in day out. I’m glad you see progress with customer demands and are focusing in on UX. I’m excited about the future of CMS as well.

  3. Irina Guseva says:


    Actually, there’s a lot more that goes into RSG’s evaluation report than simply “comparing features.” And you know it. The comparison charts are but one part of the story. The research goes into more depth than rating vendors based on who has predictive analytics and who doesn’t.


  4. While we (like Petr) see some really enthusiastic users, I’d basically agree with Jeff’s finding. Unhappiness with the CMS (to avoid the phrase “hate”) seems to be a constant phenomenon in our virtually ever changing environment.

    From my vendors perspective I see the challenge to bridge the gap between what content strategists evangelize (structured chunks not blobs, WYSIWTF) and what the users presently go for (Word-like UX, WYSIWYG). The CMS user interfaces I looked into (including our own) have decided more for one side, or the other. An exciting synthesis is still missing.

    Being “nice” to the content strategists obviously means to support a well structured, presentation agnostic, and easily expandable content model. This a technically complex beast. We have committed this as a must-have, feeling that the contrary would be a system which is not fit for the future of a multi-devices web, let alone the web-of-things.

    But users in general don’t think in content structures but in pages. Simple CMS products are quite good at that (there shortcomings are somewhere else) and the users like it. More complex systems need to hide the underlying technical complexity from the users, and that is something pretty tricky. We and other vendors haven’t quite succeded here as yet. But the better we solve this in our more complex systems, the happier our users shall be. At least that’s what I believe.

    We and some other vendors are trying to move the UI forward, that is what I take from ongoing discussions in expert group meetings, and on the web. More mind-sharing between users, content strategists & vendors is most welcome!

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