Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The world's worst WCMS

I just read Philippe "@proops" Parker's tweet:

there's no "best" wcm, says @jarrodgingras, but is there a worst one? #fixwcm

My 140 character or less answer is "No" but I have more to say so I will elaborate here....

There is no worst WCMS. In fact, I would go so far as to say that every WCMS is (or at least was) the best WCMS for someone. The reason is this: every WCMS product was built to someone's specifications. Some WCMS development projects fail in their mission but we rarely see the products of those projects in the marketplace. What we do see are the products that delivered so well on their specification that somebody had the bright idea to get into the business of repeating that success for other organizations.

So every WCMS, at least at one point in its lifetime, was someone's best WCMS. But software is not static. It changes over time (at least it should) and it is quite possible that poor product management can make software worse. I see that as a very real problem for many of the software products in the marketplace. It takes discipline to avoid feature bloat that clutters the application and makes it less suitable for its best use. Software companies that look to competitors and potential customers for guidance are more vulnerable than companies that listen to their customers who are already using the software.

There is a great philosophy in software product management called "Make it suck less." The idea is that, rather than add new features to draw in new kinds of customers, make life better for people who already use your software. That is, don't ruin the software by trying to please everyone.

Sadly few companies take this approach and, as a result, the race to make worse software has a bigger, more competitive field than the race to make better software. Therefore, nobody is going to win the dubious distinction of the developer of the worst WCMS - its going to be a big tie.