Web Content Management Systems Overview
Web CMS’s underlying elements are undergoing a radical transformation. Originally, web content management systems supported static web page authoring and production sites managed by technical teams, commonly AD&D professionals.
Then, vendors added advanced capabilities for separation of content and presentation, what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) authoring with drag-and-drop tools, and configurable approval processes supporting faster, more complex digital engagement scenarios.
Now, even these advanced capabilities are commodities. What now defines web CMS? One senior vice president of digital experience at an agent told us that “core CMS is definitely a commodity; but as experience management challenges grow, web CMS must support a much broader mandate.” This digital experience platform mandate demands consistent, flexible support across every customer journey.
Web CMS’s key capabilities such as semantic insight, APIs, cloud, and continuous delivery are reshaping web CMS’s relevance to the digital experience.
Adjacent capabilities for commerce, marketing, self-service, testing, targeting, and optimization further stitch web CMS into the core fabric of a broader digital experience platform.
Four Key Roles Need Specific Web CMS Strengths
Web CMS serves many masters inside today’s enterprise organization. While every organization is unique, four key roles within the enterprise have specific needs that will shape web CMS selection:
- Content authors and managers need semantic structure. Content taxonomy and metadata are reborn with new semantic insight and solutions for auto-tagging assets. As one customer reference told Forrester, “Because of the easy content metadata structure, we’ve been able to launch an enterprise taxonomy for the first time ever.” Another customer reference told us that this new capability lies at the heart of their cross-site publishing efforts.
- Digital architects need both front-end and back-end APIs. Front-end APIs extend the web CMS reach beyond the web. One customer reference told us, “We’re really pleased because we didn’t have to build a separate CMS under the app, and customers now maintain a shared ‘to read’ list on both the tablet app and website.” While back-end APIs should allow for less customization and greater agility, as one customer reference told us, “It’s a big monolithic app and takes hours to deploy. So we chose to wrap it in an aggregation layer, which allows us to be much more dynamic.”
- Web operations specialists need scalable tools. Millions of concurrent visitors? Those who focus on web operations feel the pain of legacy systems; as one customer reference told us, “We had to fine-tune (the solution) so it didn’t run like a dog, which meant lots of arcane settings had to be tweaked.” But streamlined administrative tools and contractual terms can make this easy. As one head of enterprise web services reference told us, “We are a multi-division company, but everything is in one code base, one template. Today, 70+ sites run on the same instance, saving tons of money.”
- Marketers need contextual design tools with built-in testing and optimization. Yesterday’s web design wish list has become table stakes. One customer reference told us, “We had to move off (legacy product) because it was clunky, with no support for modern standards. To make a site mobile, you had to give up your first-born child.” In 2017, over 60% of digital experience leaders chasing the promise of personalization turn to their web CMS solution — the top choice.2 Today, references tell us that they’re starting to segment, target, and test, but, overall, the features are immature or skills missing to take advantage of them.
Web CMS Evaluation Overview
To assess the state of the web CMS market and see how the products stack up against each other, Forrester evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of the top 15 web CMS products. After examining past research, the user’s need assessments, and vendor and expert interviews, we developed a comprehensive set of evaluation criteria. We evaluated products against 25 criteria, which we grouped into three high-level buckets:
- Current offering. Our evaluation of current capabilities focused on functional capabilities in four core areas: content structure and metadata, experience management features for practitioners, technical product architecture, and packaged extensions.
- Strategy. We evaluated each vendor’s go-to-market strategy in terms of overall vision and roadmap, cloud deployment options and track record, service partner program, pricing transparency, and developer program.
- Market presence. The market presence criteria, which determine the size of the symbol on the Forrester Wave graphic but have no weight in terms of overall scoring, include installed base of enterprise logos and global footprint for technical and account services.
An extract article published by Mark Grannan (Forrester)