I Can Smell Your CMS

A guy that I work with, Travis Maynard (@travismaynard on Twitter), was tasked with looking forward and exploring new content management systems (CMS) that would work with the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center’s .NET and servers and .ASPX/.ASP pages. Originally, many years ago, the decision was made to go with a product called Kentico. Kentico is advertised as “Full-featured CMS with e-commerce, intranet, social networking, online marketing tools & more… easily manage your website.” On one side we needed a robust, quick, and user-friendly CMS that afforded multiple front-end and back-end roles, but on the other hand there were budgetary concerns, and we needed to ‘spend’ money on something.

So, Travis was forced to choose a ‘purchased’ product, which was Kentico, and was persuaded to not look at open-source CMSs, like WordPress, Drupal, etc. So, as we have been working for years now with the Kentico CMS, we now are very much aware of the difficulties and limitations of the CMS, and are looking to migrate out due to the following problems which are conveniently highlighted in this video both Travis, myself, and our team watched:

Basically, the key points of this presentation are that content management systems, like great design, should be utilitarian, simple, and well designed; more so, they need to promote easy workflow, URLs need to be simple, cool and not change… what CMSs shouldn’t have is insane load times, they shouldn’t be media-heavy, they shouldn’t ostracize designers and developers by being so open that they aren’t usable, and code WYSIWYG code needs to be somewhat moderated.

This presentation is very relevant to my area of profession, study, and interest because in my lifetime I have worked with WordPress, Foundry, Slate, Pligg, Kentico, and I’m about to teach myself Umbraco for work. Web design is very much informed by content that is provided and coauthored by people that aren’t designers, so a Fourth Order Web Designer simply has to utilize CMSs. And so, it is my perception of design starting to change, especially web design, and I see it change on a daily basis in my professional life. Designers are now concerned with systems, education and participation with that system, and improving the system on a whole to be sustainable and effective.