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. Below is a summary of the results.

This survey was conducted January 24-31, 2003. Members of sigia-l, AIfIA, and the ia-cms list were invited to participate. A total of 64 responses were collected. Results will be addressed during the upcoming AIfIA Leadership Seminar at the ASIS&T IA Summit, and we'll share that analysis through one or more published articles.

1. What problems have you experienced when designing for or implementing content management software? (check all that apply)
 Response PercentResponse Total
 Difficult to evaluate vendors
 Commercial software too expensive
 Commercial software required too much time to implement
 Homegrown software too expensive
 Homegrown software required too much time to implement
 Didn't work as advertised
 Required too much customization
 Didn't allow enough customization
 Not flexible enough to accomodate my design
 Overall too complex
 Workflow didn't fit my needs
 Poor process for migrating old content
 Poor process for authoring content
 Poor process for editing content
 Poor process for managing content
 Poor process for publishing content
 Difficult to markup text
 Difficult to add media files
 Vendor didn't offer the right services or support
 Didn't support an important technology
 Didn't support an important feature or requirement
 Didn't like the hardware requirements
 Didn't like the software requirements
 Difficult to integrate with other systems
 Difficult to maintain system
 Other (please specify)
Total Respondents  63
(skipped this question)  1
2. Apart from hardware and software, what other problems have you experienced with content management systems? (check all that apply)
 Response PercentResponse Total
 Determining requirements
 Designing content components
 Combining content components on pages
 Creating a templated design
 Migrating old content
 Creating new content
 Structuring metadata
 Designing a workflow
 Creating a publishing schedule
 Finding skilled designers
 Finding skilled programmers
 Training authors and editors
 Maintaining content
 Overall project complexity
 Other (please specify)
Total Respondents  58
(skipped this question)  6
3. If you could only make one significant improvement to content management systems, what would it be?
 Total Respondents  
(skipped this question)  28

  • Make them smaller and less complex. Movable Type could be modified in small ways to make it more attractive to corporations.
  • Valid and clean HTML
  • Oh boy - I wouldn't know where to start. Maybe make them a bit more open to customization.
  • More flexibility in visual design.
  • Documentation should provide concrete ideas for how to structure project and make maximum use of features. In my case we're flying blind using EZ Publish which is open source and has little to no documentation.
  • more tools to support IA needs.
  • You do realize that this is like asking what one significant improvement I could make to the design of the Trabant... Easy integration with an externally built and maintained topic hierarchy and categorization system.
  • It should be more clear WHAT kind of content the system is designed to managed. We use a document management system to manage web content. It worked as far as getting from the old website to the new but is not flexible enough for web applications though it is robust enough to manage thousands and thousands of documents.. but we aren't managing documents we are managing a web site.
  • build it on the dreameweaver model
  • FLEXIBILITY: allow for an optimal balance of structure on the backend and creative freedom on the frontend
  • It's hard to identify just one! Flexibility and customizability are two inter-related items that come into play. Many people look to custom solutions because they need a specific user workflow and they want an intuitive easy-to-use user interface. The packaged solutions are limited and often aren't flexible enough to enable sufficient customization for the end users' needs. Packaged solutions forget that one size doesn't always fit all.
  • I'd like to see 1 2 or 3 high quality CMS become the overall prefered solution(s).
  • Improve the usability of the end-user interface. Very few keyboard short-cuts work and with a lot of repetitive cut-and-paste with content migration it's very difficult on the hands and arms.
  • Less greed from the software companies. Everyone seems to believe that they can charge a fortune for standard functionality.
  • write once read many. Being able to add an article to the system once and having it available for multiple targets (common web browsers smart phones et cetera).
  • make it allow for more flexible designs
  • Built-in support for hierarchical thesaurus. Includes maintaining thesaurus of terms as well as indexing.
  • Better more flexible authoring functionality
  • One single? Common for all projects? Vendors promise more then they can do; on time on budget. The software probably can but the developers/consultants/strategist rarely can back up the marketing peoples promises.
  • A more modular approach to the workflow. Within large enterprises individual departments and sections often have widely variant editorial and publishing processes. In my experience most CMS workflows assume a large centralized publishing model.
  • Greater integration with other applications
  • it would smell better
  • I'd like to see some of the reporting features be easier to implement and run. Seems like it's something we always leave to the end and never quite get done.
  • I'd like CMSs ensure a customization of/ or a direct control onto the markup automatically generated in order to allow accessibility implementations.
  • Skip the consultants who say 'anything is possible' and you already know that's not true. Make sure the CMS-developers work together with designers. No large CM systems but small specialized solutions that actually work!
  • Put as much money in the content itself as site owners put into the structure to manage it!
  • Keep it stupid simple
  • Easy way to integrate controlled vocab & thesauri into the content & into the workflow.
  • Bundle in (or allow for 'snap in') a more robust 'workflow' function (with better interface).
  • Scalable UI ie features can be removed/added as required by a particular user
  • Make the interface and manner in which multiple styles are applied to content more transparent for the end user (editor/author). There's too many problems with them trying to make a content piece look a certain way and it winding up totally wrong.
  • Internationalized Localized and supports multilingual content w/ workflow customization and modular / flexible design for a variety of systems. Data integrity w/ large data support capacity. Ability to define and script in own authoring rules / tools / content publishing standards / style standards / gloassaries / etc. Good APIs well documented and have integration strategies worked out and documented for a variety of systems DBs MTs CATs Controlled Systems etc.
  • To make them truly modular in the sense of letting the user define a way to build actual content.
  • Provide for smother migration of older content to standards compliant html that is typically in an older html version or may be in a proprietary html version.
  • Think enterprise not single content areas only.
  • Better user interfaces for content creation and management of workflow etc.