Vetting CMS Vendors At SHSMD? Start With Content First

Your healthcare marketing team has finally decided that the bandages holding together your organization’s clunky flagship website are getting weak. It’s time for a new site.

This situation isn’t anything new. I’m at SHSMD this week, and I’ve already talked with several healthcare marketing leaders who are looking for a new content management system. “We’ll work on the content after we get the new site up,” several have said.

Um … no.

Here’s a different order of operations: Start with the content. As you’re vetting potential CMS partners, get your content going in the right direction. Here are 3 reasons why:

1. Your New CMS Partner Will Ask You About Content—Or At Least They Should.

CMS vendors are primarily website developers and designers. They usually don’t create content. In fact, they’re going to ask you about your content—or at least they should. If you don’t have it ready for them, they’ll have to work with the old, stale content that you probably won’t keep, anyway.

That could mean disasters like broken links and typos creeping onto the new site. Or uploading bios for experts who no longer work at your organization. Healthcare is all about prevention, right? Let’s prevent these issues by getting the content in good shape first.

2. Revamping Your Content Could Take A While.

Here’s how healthcare organizations typically do it:

  1. Spend months vetting a CMS and making the case to senior leaders about the investment
  2. Spend another few months nailing down the design of the website
  3. Spend another few months having the website built and migrating old, stale content to the new site
  4. Then, setting out on the journey to revamp the content

Waste. Of. Time.

If your healthcare organization has thousands of pages of content that no one is managing, it could be months, maybe even a year, before you’ve completed a content audit and whittled your pages down to what’s actually relevant.

Then, there’s creating a content strategy, and either revising old content or creating fresh content for the new site.

Setting the direction for your content while looking for a CMS can save you time. Content development and website development can happen in tandem, especially if your content strategy clearly outlines the type of content to come.

3. You’ll Avoid The Worst Case Scenario.

Here’s what that looks like: Your team’s shiny, new, expensive website is live. It’s beautiful. It’s responsive.

Then, you start to look at content only to find out that most of your ideas cannot be executed. Your CMS can’t handle embedded video, responsive infographics, or quizzes. If it can, it requires one of your CMS vendor’s brainiacs to do it for you. That takes more time, costs extra money, and limits your ability to be relevant.

The last thing you want to do is spend money on a CMS only to find out that you’re stuck with text and still images for most of your content.

As you’re shopping for your CMS vendor, getting your content in order allows you to make a specific list of ingredients that your new CMS should have.

Here’s The Bottom Line …

Does all of your content has to be final, first? No. But at least hammer out the structure and flow of of the content on your new site before you start seriously vetting a CMS vendor. The CMS should serve the content. Not the other way around.