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Umbraco vs. DotNetNuke vs. WordPress vs. SharePoint

5 questions to ask when selecting the best CMS for your project:

Question 1: What is your content?

This is possibly the most important question when planning a CMS implementation. It’s deceptively simple, but very important. Is your content made up of a few simple pages, or is it structured? Unless your project involves a very basic 5-10 page website, you will need to develop a content plan and content models. Most substantial websites are not made up of generic “pages”, but of multiple different types of content. These content types might include news stories, case studies, blog posts, videos, product or service descriptions, etc. Each of these content types will be composed of various fields, such as Title, Author, Date, Description, Images, etc, and may also feature further editorial quality controls, including word counts, mandatory fields, approval workflows and time-based publication scheduling.

Developing formal models of your content is a vital cornerstone of a successful project. Content models provide essential guidance to copywriters and designers, they also help with monitoring and evaluation of which content pieces are the most popular and successful.

We recommend that content models should be developed prior to and separately from any graphic design and UX work. This is particularly important if content might be repurposed across different channels, such as mobile apps.

WordPress and DotNetNuke are good for managing generic pages and simple websites can be set up very quickly using these tools. However, they have no built-in facility to define content types with specific fields. Umbraco implementations require more investment in planning and configuration, but allow for better control and easier management of content in the long run.

Question 2: Who will be managing your content and what skills will they need?

If content managers reject or abandon a CMS, it can have a serious impact on a business. Not only will there be potential re-implementation costs, but there will also be the consequent lost opportunities of audiences not being given the content they need.

A few years ago, websites were typically managed and maintained by IT departments and by people with specialist technical skills. Increasingly, this is no longer the case as content management systems have made great improvements to ease of use and no longer require extensive training or technical knowledge. Even so, we always recommend involving content managers in the CMS selection and implementation process and listening carefully to their feedback.

The quality of the user experience for content managers can vary a lot between different CMS implementations. Umbraco, DotNetNuke and SharePoint do very little “out-of-the-box”, the are all highly configurable and the effectiveness of the final system will depend very much on the skills and experience of the developers.

Question 3: Will the CMS integrate with existing systems?

Today, few enterprise websites exist in isolation. The majority are connected to other systems, such as customer relationship management software (e.g., Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Salesforce), email marketing (e.g., MailChimp) and ecommerce platforms. With the continuing rise of mobiles apps and responsive websites, CMS must now deliver content for mobile, responsive websites and ebooks in addition to traditional channels. It’s vital to understand how your chosen CMS will integrate with these existing business systems and what costs will be involved.

A huge number of businesses and organisations use Microsoft software. Many have IT teams with Microsoft skills. Umbraco, DotNetNuke and SharePoint are all based on Microsoft technology and are highly compatible with other Microsoft systems as well as with all major web standards. Software based on PHP and MySQL, such as WordPress and Drupal,  may be less compatible and harder (and more costly) to manage and maintain.

Get help with choosing the right CMS for web and mobile

   

Blueprint has a wealth of expertise in implementing web CMS, including large scale projects with Umbraco and DotNetNuke. If you would like an overview of either system, or to arrange a demo, then please get in touch. You can call our Manchester office on 0161 875 2390, email theteam@agidea.uk or use our contact form here. We'd love to here from you and learn more about your project.

Question 4: Will the CMS be mobile friendly?

Mobile internet usage is rapidly increasing, while desktop usage is declining. It’s vital to take a wider view of your content and ensure your selected CMS is capable of delivering content not only to a traditional website, but also to responsive web, mobile apps and even internet TV, ebooks and other emerging channels.

The most important factor in delivering content across multiple channels is how well the content is structured. In the words of Ann Rockley, a world-renowned expert in organising and presenting online information, “structure sets you free.” In other words, well organised content with defined types and fields, etc, is much easier to reuse and redeploy across different channels.

Umbraco stores and manages content in a structured format, making it easy to reuse the same content on desktop websites, responsive websites and mobile apps, etc. On the other hand, DotNetNuke and WordPress store content as generic, unstructured, pages, making it much harder to reuse.

Question 5: Will the CMS be future proof?

No technology is truly future proof. It’s the approach taken to implementation and project management that results in solutions that are “future proof”, or provide the highest return on investment during their lifetime. In fact, in agile software development, the process of delivering the solution is valued more highly than the end product software itself. This is true because an agile team is capable of delivering not just one, but repeated successes and continuous delivery.

While success is more likely to be determined by project approach than by selected software, some CMS do lend themselves to agile development and to accommodating changing business requirements better than others. If you need to introduce a new type of content - case studies, for example - this will be easier in a CMS that supports granular content modeling. With DotNetNuke or WordPress, introducing new content types will usually require database changes and complicated coding. In Umbraco, on the other hand, new content types can be configured via a simple user interface with no coding.

About Umbraco

Umbraco is an open source content management system built on Microsoft .NET technology. Umbraco has been around for over 10 years and is used by some of the biggest sites on the internet, including Microsoft, Vogue, Heinz, Costa and global infrastructure and public services giant Amey (the latter being a site developed by us). Umbraco is available in just one edition, which is free. Umbraco is very well suited to managing different types of structured content and to repurposing and delivering the same content across multiple channels, including mobile apps.

About DotNetNuke (aka DNN, Evoq Content)

DotNetNuke is one of the main rival systems to Umbraco. Like Umbraco, it is based on the Microsoft .NET platform and is also mature and well established. DNN has been a popular choice with IT departments when building intranets. DNN is available in a number of different editions. The basic edition is free, but several features are only available in the paid versions.

About WordPress

Built on PHP, WordPress is the most widely used CMS on the world wide web. WordPress is very good for quickly creating 5-10 page websites, simple landing pages and buying pre-built, off-the-shelf, templates. However, WordPress does not scale well for larger websites. People often complain of incompatible plugins and unmanageable “spaghetti” code when attempting to work with larger WordPress sites.  If a business has outgrown WordPress and requires a more scalable, easier to manage, enterprise solution, WordPress websites can be migrated to Umbraco.

About SharePoint

SharePoint is Microsoft’s platform for building intranets. SharePoint is an excellent system for building workflow applications and document management systems. However, it’s CMS capabilities are more limited and content managers often complain of “clunky” user experience when editing. For intranets requiring workflow and document management, SharePoint is the obvious choice, for intranets more focused on corporate news and communications, a CMS like Umbraco may be a better option.

About the author

Sam Flanagan, Hands-on CEO

I help organisations use technology to solve big challenges and seize new opportunities.

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