Top 10 Things to Consider When Setting up Your Ektron CMS
Installing a CMS is child’s play for any IT system administrator worth her byte. However, the crunch comes when it comes to ensuring that the CMS adds value to the process, or furthers the task of content creation, editing, managing, and other admin tasks. So pay heed to the following to get the most out deploying the highly scalable and performance optimized Ektron CMS.
- 1. Have the End in Mind
Draw up specific goals, or visualize what exactly the content should achieve before setting up the CMS. Then, take stock of specific content management issues and problems, and finally set up a CMS to realize the desired ends. Common content related issues include poor or complex site structure, dated design, outdated content, and more. It is best to revamp the website and other digital assets to get rid of such stumbling blocks before installing the CMS, so that it can function optimally.
- 2. Decide on the Required Functionality
The required functionality in a CMS depends on the features of the website, and other digital assets it supports. For instance, if the website seeks user feedback, the CMS needs to either provide that as an in-built functionality, or allow a third-party plug-in for it. Similarly, hosting a community requires the CMS to support chat, forums, comments and ratings. Every organization would have different requirements, and setting up a CMS is often a matter of picking and choosing the required functionality or options out of sum available.
When picking and choosing functionality, do not fail to account for future needs. For instance, the functionality to structure and organize pages may not be required now, but it would surely be required when the organization grows.
- 3. Leverage the Power of Simplicity
Organizations have a tendency to go overboard when picking and choosing functionality. There are zillions of functionalities that sound and feel attractive, but which in actual practice would never be required – and would only serve to make the system more complex and unwieldy.
After ensuring that the CMS delivers on all the required essentials, look basically for value added features such as intuitive drag-and-drop functionality that empowers content authors add the required text, image, video, etc., without having to involve developers. The best approach is to use the CMS to build the framework from the ground up. Ektron PageBuilder, for instance, allows users to customize page layouts and add ‘widgets’ to any given page without having to involve web developers.
- 4. Ensure Seamless Integration
The CMS needs to integrate seamlessly with existing apps and other systems, especially the CRM suite. Without such integration, it would be difficult to pull in required information/ data from all silos and sources within the enterprise, and conversely, it will be difficult to put the gathered information to work.
A good example of seamless integration at work is that of Shippensburg University, which integrated Ektron and Ellucianto to streamline its content management processes. Chaos described the method of content creation and maintenane in the pre-Ektron days, with people using a myriad of applications ranging from Notepad to Dreamweaver for these tasks – leading to inconsistent branding, conflicting messages, and other ills. EKtron CMS offered an integrated content creation and editing environment, which helped the university do away with the hassles of having to produce and maintain content in two separate systems. It also offered great control over workflow and permissions.
- 5. Control the Workflow
The success of the CMS depends largely on how well the solution fits the day-to-day requirements of content authors and site administrators. It is therefore important to leverage the flexibility offered by the CMS to align the organizational flow with the workflow inside the CMS, upfront.
The possibilities of assigning roles and responsibilities are endless. For instance, authors may be able to submit their articles, but only an “editor” who reviews the article would have publishing rights. Similarly, the CMS can assign different editors to whet content, or make changes for different parts of a website. Assigning such controls, roles and permissions ensures consistent branding and design. For instance, giving too much power to content authors to customized pages may subvert the consistency of the design and the branding.
For best results, let the CMS mix design and content. Content providers may leverage the editor to mark up lists,headings, links and any other such elements, without specifying exactly how they should look.
- 6. Focus on Integration
Multinationals and others with offices spread in many locations always face the issue of ensuring consistency in their voice and design, leave alone accessing content from another locale. There are many approaches to go about overcoming this issue. One solution is to manage all content centrally through the CMS and then forward the required content to the specific portal or service.
Hendrix College developed a ‘Link Depot’ when installing their Ektron CMS, to control navigation and deliver `goal-oriented’ pages for external audiences.
- 7. Pay Heed to SEO
Content and SEO go hand in hand, and the CMS can drive digital marketing and SEO when done right. Therefore, having an SEO strategy in place before installing a CMS is critical.
Lesley University for instance, leveraged Ektron’s Marketer-Centric approach to launch new websites and campaigns quickly. The system sources content from all over the University and streamlines the SEO campaign by facilitating thirty super editors to undertake the actual SEO tasks within the CMS. The CMS makes it possible for marketers to combine content and widgets without code or dependency on IT staff.
- 8. Plan for Mobile Devices
Forrester Research estimates that one-third of the US adult population – which adds up to 112+ million people – will own a tablet by 2016. Companies who do not make plans for the mobile space, such as factor in responsive web design to cater to the mobile screens are asking for trouble. It is a good idea to make the content mobile ready, and let the CMS control the display of content, based on the device. The guiding principle is to apply rules so that the CMS delivers the right content to the right person at the right time, across all devices.
One good approach is to make sure that the CMS manages the content of the mobile site and the traditional site in parallel, and update it seamlessly. The Lesley University website, for instance, uses the EKtron CMS to simply navigate, make it touch friendly, and promote search to become a key component of the visitor experience.
- 9. Plan to Innovate
A CMS offers plenty of scope to innovate in the content space, and companies who fail to plan for the same lose out on major benefits.
There are literally infinite ways to drive innovation using a CMS, but all of it requires leveraging the flexibility offered by it. They include exploiting different ways to retrieve and present content, extracting user comments at will to display it in home page, and more. Ektron, by facilitating a seamless interaction between the database and the website, makes it very easy to deliver complex content specifically written for customized programs – offering a solid framework to launch content related innovation. This functionality, for instance, makes it possible for financial institutions to launch a news service on the website, to provide daily updates about the industry.
ShawConnect does exactly this. The company leverages the Ektron PageBuilder template to first configure, then curate, and finally publish customized variants of all channel pages on-the-go, showcasing local weather as well as TV listings, with real-time preview capabilities.
- 10. Simplify Things
The aim of installing CMS is to simplify things for the user, even when it makes possible complex things. The crux is designing the CMS so that the different stakeholders using the system get access to the required information, in the easiest possible way.
This can be done in many ways, such as:
- By simplifying file management, or placing all content on a single server to be managed by one administrator
- Through simplified account management
- By offering an easy interface to update content without requiring HTML, and more.
Selecting and setting up a CMS is basically an exercise in common sense. Nevertheless, it is a good idea to lean on some experts to navigate through the CMS selection process. Experts with expertise and experience can help in selecting the right functionality, set up the right workflow, ensure seamless integration with other systems, and do everything else to squeeze the maximum out of the CMS. As Ektron’s Premier Partner, we have extensive experience in getting the Ektron CMS to perform at its best. Do get in touch with us to know more: firstname.lastname@example.org
Image Credit: Peter Sejersen on Flickr