When Should you Not Use a WCM System?

I recently picked up a copy of a book on Web Content Management with a certain “leading” brand of WCM software. Now, I shall skip who the book was by and even which software it is talking about, but I was happily flicking through and I came across the section “When should you not use a WCM system?.” Now, I was already a little shocked by this title, but then on second thoughts I would not use a WCM system to make a cup of tea or direct a light opera. But, in the context of a business website – and especially when written in a book about a WCM system – I just did not get why you would not use a WCM system.

After closer inspection of the reasons when not to use a WCM system, I found the reasons were:

  1. When most of the data on the website is fairly static and less prone to updates
  2. You have neither the time nor the money for training of the employees
  3. There is not much content to be displayed on the site

Now I *am* really shocked. Now in the section of “When you should use a WCM” it just describes the one reason why you should use a WCM system; “when you update content allot”.

From this point on I flicked back to the front of the book to see when it was published, I was thinking maybe 2000 or 1995 but no, 2006. Did we really think this way in 2006? It can’t be.

So, what are reasons to use a WCM system? And when not? I cannot think of any reason why you would not want to use a WCM of _some sort_. Maybe you do not want a massive WCM implementation when WordPress would do, a small WCM system maybe but WordPress still is a WCM System. A small scale WCM system won’t need massive training not like the larger players, will it?

OK, so when should you use a WCM system?  Here are some of my reasons that may be applied to one or more size of WCM system as I am not going to categorise them:

  1. When you have frequent updates to your website (OK, I was handed this one)
  2. When you want to use a single source of content for multiple channels (brand consistency)
  3. When you want to localise the same single source of content for multiple country websites (translation)
  4. When you want to manage content from a single location (maintainability)
  5. When you don’t want (your editors) to have to learn HTML
  6. When you want to seperate content from layout

Of course my list is not complete and leans towards large WCM implementations – it is my stomping ground afterall. So, I ask, are there more reasons why you would use a WCM system? Anyone?

4 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I actually pretty much agree with the book you read. I’ve seen too many brochure sites that cost huge amounts of money, while they consist of several dozens of static HTML pages. You could more effectively produce those with a good HTML WYSIWYG editor. It would even cover your #2, #4, #5 and maybe #6.

    You can, of course, very effectively argue against the wisdom of having such a static brochure site (as I would). Then it becomes a different matter.

  2. Interesting, but bear I mind I did say “a WCM of _some sort_”…

    Where would the threshold be to WCM or not to WCM? It is not pretty low these days?

  3. I also agree that there are cases when a CMS isn’t appropriate. By this I mean you don’t need any server side functionality at all. The site is static HTML generated with the tool of your choice (FrontPage? Contribute? Dreamweaver? Notepad?). Not an area I know much about.

    However, of the points mentioned in your book, the only one I agree with is the low content volume one. The training argument doesn’t hold water for me. If the tool is useful it will be cost effective to train them. And the frequency of change is crap too. If you have thousands of content items that never change, you still want a CMS so the HTML for each doesn’t repeat common elements (say headers or navigation elements). A smart HTML that used some componentisation technologies such as Server Side Includes might do the job though.

    Three other reasons I would add for not using a CMS would be:
    – none of the pages have a similar structure. In CMS land I mean every page type/content type/DCT would only have one or two instances
    – the site has a short lifespan. We do quite a few campaign or product laugh sites that are fully populated at launch and are switched after 3 or 6 months
    – the site might also end up on a CD or other dumb device that has no server side capability. In some cases here we might use a WCMS to create the site and then spider and store the static HTML. In other cases, it just isn’t worth it. These sites are often very RIA heavy.


  4. Thanks Julian. These are all good ‘micro’ reasons but the biggest one to smaller organisations is simply: saving time and money on having a web pro do it for you – which can amount to a small fortune. Notwithstanding that a degree of skill is still required to add content that is well written and laid out.
    Cheers, Craig

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