Does your client really need a content management system?

A client challenged us the other day, and it was intriguing. Our Web site redesign project scope of work clearly indicated that a content management system was not included in the budget. Our client never said he wanted it in all the preliminary scope conversations.

Suddenly he called and seemed adamant that he wanted a content management system. He said that his current understanding was that all sites now are published using a database.

We promised to assess and get back to him the next day. We probably spent about 12 man hours of due diligence to evaluate what we knew about the client’s business so far, evaluate what content publishing they currently do, forecast the frequency of their publishing, consider the stakeholders, and assess software and custom programming solutions. All of this was eventually distilled into a one page slide for the client.

We called the client and laid out for him the reasons why a Content Management System might not be right for him at this point and what we felt was the higher priority to invest his budget in.

Fifteen minutes later, he was enthusiastic, agreed with our recommendation, and said he appreciated how we thought carefully about his business and his business priorities, rather than trying to sell him on an expensive solutions that might not meet his needs.

Result: client was happy, we came across as concerned and professional, and the project is back on track.

Is a Content Management System right for your project? Here are some points to evaluate:

  • Flexibility — Once you commit, there is minimum flexibility after the system is in place. It can be costly to make changes in the future.
  • Templates — Consider your needs for the near future otherwise you won’t have the ability to easily modify style or layout.
  • SEO friendliness — Will the tool provide functionality to automatically generate code that is SEO friendly? What will you have to do manually? What wont you be able to do?
  • Work flow publishing — Carefully define how your team will process, review and publish new content and make edits to existing content. Try to be realistic.
  • Permissions — Define roles and capability for contributors, authors, editors, admins. Who has permission to do what and when.
  • Training — Users need to be trained, not just initially but everytime a new user joins the organization.
  • Expense — The more complex, the more time and money to develop initially. Also, consider long term costs to maintain, such as licensing and hosting.
  • Scalability — Think about your long term needs? What will happen in the future if you add new content sections, create language versions, create country versions, etc.?
  • Hosting — Will you have to change or upgrade your existing platform?

I hope you find this useful. Please post any additional suggestions.
Thank you.

Article: Basic Computer Classes Near Extinction

Interesting comment…

InformationWeek: Basic Computer Classes Near Extinction

“Because today’s students are already so tech-savvy, educators are using computers to teach other subjects instead of needing to teach basic computer literacy.”

“The days of basic computer classes are nearly over,” … “Today’s students already know how to operate computers. They blog; they text message; they have their own Web sites. We want to help students and teachers see technology as a means to improve learning and performance.”

“Sixty-three percent of teachers reported having “somewhat advanced” to “advanced” technology skills and three-fourths consider themselves competent or highly competent when using technology for student assessments, evaluations and developing critical thinking skills.”

Back around 1980-81, my elementary school began it’s computer science program. I think I was in 8th grade at the time. A teacher would go to computer class on Wednesday night and on Thursday morning try to teach us to program “For-Next” loops in BASIC on a Tandy TRS-80. We’d make the word “DOG” run down the page repeatedly, then step by increments of 1 to the right, then fill the entire screen with the word.

Now, at age 4, my kids started turning the computer on, loading CDs and running their favorite education games.

What was your first introduction to computers? Please post your comments. Thanks.

Love the brand, not just the product

I heard an interesting quote recently:
“Consumers want to fall in love with your brand, not only your product.”

The context is marketers often fail to take consumers to the next level of a relationship with the brand.

Apple is an often-cited example of how consumers fall in love with the entire brand. In recent years, the iPod has become responsible for introducing consumers to the brand, gaining trust and hooking them in. “Land and expand.” In a recent list of the most significant products by Apple in the past 30 years, a senior editor at made a great observation:

Apple Multi-Color Logo DecalThe Apple decal:
In addition to their primary purpose, certain places have been deemed worthy for the display of
hallowed images--the battered case of a well-loved guitar, the outside of 7th grader’s binder, and the rear window of just about any automobile. When was the last time a [Microsoft] Windows sticker adorned any of these spaces? Often passed over as nothing more than a tschochke slipped into the packaging of every new Macintosh, the Apple decal represents the spirit of and the enthusiasm for Apple and its products. It’s the rare company (and machine) that can boast the kind of loyalty that builds communities. –CHRISTOPHER BREEN

ADDENDUM: As luck should have it, hours after I posted this message I came across a similar themed article in USA Today. Check this out:
Automakers hope love for car equals love for brand

So how about your brand? Is there a reason to love it beyond one cool product?

What do you think? Please post your comments. Thanks.

The growing phenomenon of ‘Internet’

This is hysterical and sobering news report circa the early 1990s explaining what the Internet is.

This jem found on Throw away your tv. With just a computer and a phone, you can connect to INTERNET! Check out this documentary.

Thanks to Marty at the BloatedTrout blog for digging out this jem.

What I learned:
People spend about $200 a year to be part of this exclusive global community.

The journalist explains about “little signs known as emoticons” and how to turn your head sideways to read a smiley or frowny face.

“The Internet is becoming part of our life every day much much more.”

“The Internet is growing like an embryonic brain, at a rate of 10% per month.”

My first exposure to the Internet was around early 1995. A friend showed me the Disney Web page using Prodigy. I was not impressed at the time.

It wasn’t until late 1996 I started diving seriously into it and shifting my career path accordingly.

What do you think? What was your first experience online? Has the Internet exceeded your wildest expectations? Please post your comments. Thanks.


Instant Messaging when you can’t install software

Shhh. Don't tell.
Shhh! Don’t tell the IT guy!

Tip: Instant Messaging when you can’t install software. IM with your Web browser instead!

In recent years, company IT departments have cracked down on letting end users install software on company computers. It’s justified, since administrators are tasked to make sure the company complies with software licensing agreements. Also, giving employees too much freedom to install software eventually leads to computers that may experience decreased performance and lead to significant downtime for employee and administrator to fix. Not to mention the risk of introducing virus’ and other crap into the network.

If you really need AIM, and you can’t convince your company IT dept to install IM software, check out these apps that work in your Web browser:

  • Meebo
    Platforms: AOL/AIM, ICQ, Jabber, GTalk (Google Talk), Yahoo!, MSN
  • eMessenger
    Platforms: AOL/AIM, MSN, Yahoo!
  • AIM Express
    Platforms: AOL/AIM

Please let me know if you have any suggestions that don’t require admin privileges to install. Thanks.