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How to Judge the Usability of a CMS

When deciding which CMS to choose, one of the factors should be the usability of the system for those publishing content.

Your CMS - your rules

Websites today thrive on content; preferably high-quality content. To generate content you have editors working in your CMS day-in, day-out. For most people it's easier to generate content in a distraction free area. So your content management system CMS should not be a distraction. Your editors have to get to the point where they will generate value quickly and hassle free. While the initial setup of your website will seem like the biggest part of the project, your editors will spend far more time working with the system later. This does not mean that every part of the system must be equally usable. You have to know which common tasks your editors will be doing and where their focus is. On websites having a strong e-commerce focus, the main content may be edited in the PIM. In others it might be the blog component. Only you can decide which parts are important.

Skills and knowledge of your editors

When judging the usability of a CMS for your specific project, generate a list of common tasks that need to be done day in, day out. Every part of the daily work of your editors should be part of that list. Now look at the CMS you are considering and how these tasks could be accomplished there. Consider your editors' skill level. Maybe they are CMS pros and have been working with different systems for years. Maybe they never saw a CMS before. Depending on how tech-savvy they are, your requirements will be different.

Editor's choice

Implementing new software is something people often fear. Learning something new makes people feel uncomfortable, even if they are not lacking skill or knowledge. To prevent this feeling when deciding on a new CMS, it is a pretty good idea to involve your future editors in the decision process. Show them the systems you're considering, ask them for their opinion and let them decide, which system is the most usable for them.

Use the demo

Most CMS vendors provide demo installations - use them.
Together with your editors write down their workflows for their most common tasks. If possible, try walking through these workflows in the CMS demo. Ask potential integration partner or the vendors themselves to take part in such meetings. Ideally ask your integration partner or vendor to configure a demo tailored to your workflows.

Make sure the CMS can be adjusted to fit your needs.

Judging the usability for those publishing content to your website is only part of the selection process - find out more things to consider next week in our blog post What to look for in a CMS.


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