Monday, August 8, 2005

More Users = Simpler CMS

I just read James Robertson's short article "More Users = Simpler CMS.". In it, James puts forth a proposition that if you are deploying a company wide CMS, it should be as simple as possible. This idea runs directly against the CMS buying behavior over the last couple of years where companies rolling out the large CMS implementations were looking for "industrial grade" software that had all the bells and whistles. Cross departmental software selection committees aggregated their feature wish lists to come up with selection criteria that favored products that had (or at least claimed to have) everything. And after all this, companies were surprised to find that the implemented solutions were difficult to use and required more training than was budgeted for.

I think the tide is changing from feature richness to simplicity and usability. A couple of other data points:

  • like ASP CMS solutions are gaining popularity
  • Oracle's ECM product has been designed for simplicity. In the words of Rich Buchheim, Oracle's senior director of product management: "From the user's perspective it's not different than using a desktop application or file server."
  • Leading CMS industry analyst Tony Byrne of CMS Watch sees usability as being one of the most important trends in content management: "In conference rooms around the world, authors are standing up and declaring, 'Our CMS tool sucks!' Many CMS vendors have noted this user backlash and now fall over themselves to tout products as "intuitive," "adaptive," or just plain "easy to use."

In the world of CMS, sometimes less is more. Maybe its the feature that the software does not have that will make it a success.