The Problems with CMS

There's plenty of criticism of content management systems (CMS). Discovering what bothers us most can help us start to address these problems constructively. We conducted a survey to identify the biggest obstacles to effective content management systems. View the results.

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Near and dear

Ah, here's a subject near and dear to my heart. In the last couple of years, my company has worked with Broadvision, TeamSite, and, most recently Zope. The latter was our choice after the first two. Amazingly enough, we had picked BV in an RFP situation, and they had recommended an ASP who went bankrupt less than two years after our implementation (which was so fraught with peril I can't even tell you).

Shortly thereafter, we wound up with TeamSite as the tool for our intranet. I've just recently worked with it, and it strikes me as the Microsoft Word of CMS's so full of "features" that the people it's intended for (those who aren't heavy duty apps users) really struggle.

Given this, we chose Zope (an open-source CMS) for our most recent effort. Since we're open source-friendly, we actually thought this was a good choice, but to be honest, there was some thought that at least if this approach really tanked, our company would not be out the high six figures that seem part and parcel of the "name" CMS packages.

Fortunately, it's a year and a half later, and we're still happy with Zope. I don't know if it is the product or the fact that we were really intentional about phasing our implmentation (we're doing a three=step implementation of publishing, workflow, and personalization), but so far so good!



I recommended Zope for the organization I work for. Another system has been choosen but not yet implemented. I'm still worried about the outcome.


Heh. I recommended Zope for the organization I work for. I'm in charge of implementing the project. I'm still worried about the outcome! :)

What Other Open Source CMS is Available?

Would someone care to share their experiences with open source CMSs (CMSes?), running on Apache and IIS platforms? Thanks


has about every OSS CMS covered...

Other OS CMS

I don't know about IIS, but the other open source CMS we considered was Midgard (, which works with Apache. I know our tech guys installed Midgard and like it a lot. But the time we made our choice, we went with Zope primarily because most of the Midgard development was done across the pond in Europe, and thus we figured we'd have more flexibility re consulting help with Zope. But this may have changed since I last looked.

CVS, Subversion, coming from developer background

Sometimes I break down and use CVS.
I should look at subversion.


CMS apples and oranges

I continually find the largest problem with CMS is the selection process. People/companies must put together a list of requirements for a CMS. The best first step is figure out what your content creation and manual process is done well currently. Next figure out what you do not do well and where you have found weaknesses. From that point you have a BEGINGING framework to start thinking about a CMS. There are a wide variety of tasks and roles a CMS can play and do well or do poorly.

Many complaints (in the 70 to 80 percent range) I hear are tracable to not spending the time to establish requirements at the outset. Many companies that are on the second or third CMS tend to like their most recent version the most, just like Beth. There are a few reasons: 1) CMS products have improved, 2) The companies have learned what they want the CMS to do and have sought products that do that, 3) The people maintaining the CMS have learned and are now more comfortable. The CMS product selection process if the most important phase, followed by the implementation phase. Implementation is where categories, workflow rules, templates, and processes are established. The implementation decisions can make or break happiness with the product.

Given all of this the CMS market offerings still have a ways to go to improve for many folks. The best thing for IAs is for most successful implimentations of a CMS the IA role is crutial. The building of taxonomies and general information structures is one of the central tasks.

The best advice is to talk to other companies that have similar content /informaiton needs find out how happy their they are with their CMS and find out how they implemented it. The marketing folks in the CMS world often are not interested in getting you the right product only their product.

Poor Person's CMS

I recently completed a project only using PHP. Essentially each topic has its own directory (like '/cars') and within each directory are files/pages with the pages' main content (like 'ford' or 'honda').

The site is really using on one page ('index') and content is called in the url (like 'index.php?topic=cars&page=honda'). The index page then adds the appropriate file (like '/cars/') to the header, footer of the page, and other relevant sections, determined by index.php.

Non-technical users then only have to update or modify textual files while the index page handles formatting, and do not have to access a database.

This approach is probably very novice-like. Any comments or suggestions?


'Non-technical users' - I meant 'Non-technical company employees wanting to update/modify information on the Web site.' One of their requirements was that updates/modifications could only be done in files, transferred with ftp. So, OSS CMS apps with user/password required for updates/modifications would have been too much.

Poor Person's CMS: blosxom

blosxom is in the spirit of what you built with PHP, but still
offers some fairly powerfull features to uses who need
to do more than just upload new files.