Building a Content Management System (CMS): Platforms, Launch Plan, Skills Needed

Building a Content Management System (CMS) - ScienceSoft

ScienceSoft has been delivering CMS solutions for 10+ years.

Building a Content Management System (CMS): summary

From-scratch or platform-based CMS implementation ensures effective creating, storing, organizing, modifying and publishing various content, including documents, digital media assets (e.g., photos, audio and video files), records (documents for legal purposes), and web content.

Building time: 2-6 months.

Implementation steps: CMS conceptualization and planning, UX and UI design, development, testing, data migration, user training, launch, and after-launch support.

Required team: A project manager, a business analyst, a UX/UI designer, front-end and back-end developers, QA and DevOps engineers.

CMS Building Plan

The CMS implementation process differs depending on a project’s scope and a solution’s specifics. Below, based on ScienceSoft’s 10-year experience in CMS development, we list steps showing how to build an enterprise-level content management system of your own.

Step 1. CMS conceptualization

Duration: 1 week

  • Analyzing an organization’s current information architecture, content management processes, and content types used.
  • Defining content management needs and CMS goals (e.g., an ability to easily manage dozens of websites simultaneously, faster content development and publishing, more efficient storage and management of large amounts of content, compliance with government or industry-specific regulations like GDPR or HIPAA).
  • Outlining the solution’s scope (e.g., customizable content templates, AI-based content personalization, built-in SEO tools, multi-language support).
  • Specifying future CMS users and their roles (e.g., content authors, content editors).

Step 2. CMS planning

Duration: 2-3 weeks

  • Deciding on a content governance strategy including content life cycle workflows, file naming conventions, metadata management, frequency of content updating, user roles and permissions, content retention/deletion, regulatory compliance.
  • Defining the core CMS features depending on the content management needs. For example, if you need CMS to manage websites used for selling products online, CMS will require dedicated built-in ecommerce functionality (e.g., product description pages, product recommendations, promotional banners, shipping and payment information) or should be integrated with an ecommerce solution.
  • Eliciting CMS technical requirements and creating a software specification.
  • Choosing a suitable platform (platform-based CMS implementation) or a tech stack (custom CMS development).
  • Planning CMS integrations (e.g., with CRM, intranet, ecommerce, marketing automation software).
  • Planning a CMS development project, including project duration and budget estimation, target CMS KPIs (e.g., +75% website development speed, +50% traffic volume on the website, +25% user engagement with the web content, +60% invoice processing speed).
  • Drawing up a business case, including cost-benefit analysis, NVP and ROI calculation, etc.

Step 3. CMS design

Duration: 3-4 weeks

  • Creating an information architecture, i.e., categorizing content to ensure easy content search.
  • Designing content management workflows (e.g., content approval, publishing) for each content type.
  • Creating personas and user journey maps.
  • Creating CMS prototypes.
  • Conducting usability testing of the prototypes.

ScienceSoft's best practice: To enable facilitated content search and collaboration on content, we reflect the organizational structure in a CMS solution, for example, by creating separate spaces for department- and team-based content management in CMS information architecture.

Step 4. Development

Duration: 2-6 months (depending on the project scope)

End-to-end CMS development in line with the chosen implementation approach:

  • Building a platform-based content management system. We recommend this option if typical CMS features (e.g., multi-type and multi-format content, structured storage, full-text content search, automated content approval and publishing workflows) can meet your content management needs.
  • CMS development from scratch. This option suits if you want a flexible and scalable CMS that will meet your specific content management needs (e.g., custom branding, integrations with legacy software).

ScienceSoft's best practice: To reduce CMS development risks, time and costs, we apply iterative development and introduce CI/CD (continuous integration and continuous delivery) pipelines.

Step 5. Testing and QA

Duration: 30% of development time

  • Creating a CMS test plan, test cases and checklists.
  • Conducting functional, performance, integration, and usability testing.
  • Fixing issues detected during testing (e.g., slow page response time, errors in content workflows).

ScienceSoft's best practice: We conduct testing in parallel with CMS development, which helps reduce the implementation time and ensure that no serious bugs will slip into production.

Step 6. Data migration

Duration: 5-25 days

  • Creating a thorough data migration plan.
  • Defining the content eligible to migrate to CMS.
  • Checking the legacy content for errors and duplication, outdated or inconsistent data.
  • Conducting content migration without disruption of business processes.
  • Testing the transferred data and content for consistency.

Step 7. User training and CMS launch

Duration: 1-2 months (training)

  • Creating documentation on CMS use (including a style guide that describes the rules of content formatting) and handing it over to CMS users.
  • Conducting training sessions for CMS users on content creation, approval, publishing, and updating.
  • Conducting user acceptance testing.
  • Collecting user feedback and implementing relevant CMS improvements (e.g., in navigation, workflows).
  • Launching CMS to the production environment.

Step 8. After-launch CMS support

  • Fixing CMS bugs and performance issues.
  • Adjusting the solution to the changing business needs (e.g., changing the layout, creating custom CMS add-ins or plugins).
  • Monitoring and improving CMS compliance with government and industry-specific standards and regulations on data security (e.g., GDPR, HIPAA).

Consider Professional Services for CMS Building

With 32-year experience in software development, ScienceSoft advises on and implements robust CMS solutions for streamlined management of documents, records, media assets, and web content for corporate intranets and portals, ecommerce websites, and more.

CMS consulting

  • Analyzing content management needs, goals, content types and information architecture.
  • Eliciting technical requirements for a CMS solution.
  • Selecting an optimal feature set for CMS.
  • Advising on data migration to CMS and elaborating on a comprehensive CMS migration plan.
  • Recommending useful integrations for your CMS solution (e.g., CRM, intranet, ecommerce, marketing automation software).
  • Selecting a fitting CMS platform or an efficient tech stack for CMS development.
  • Creating a CMS implementation plan.
  • Elaborating on intuitive UX and modern UI.

Outsourced CMS implementation

  • Analyzing content management needs and eliciting technical CMS requirements.
  • Selecting an optimal feature set for CMS.
  • Choosing a CMS platform or a tech stack for CMS development.
  • Designing CMS user journeys, scenarios and prototypes.
  • End-to-end implementation of a CMS solution or a CMS module.
  • Content migration to CMS from legacy software.
  • Integrating a CMS solution with CRM, intranet, ecommerce, marketing automation software, etc.
  • CMS solution QA.
  • User training.
  • Continuous CMS support and evolution.

What Our Customers Say

ScienceSoft's team of five Java developers and one test engineer have been working hard to ensure our <CMS> product – Enonic XP – exceeds our customer's expectations.

ScienceSoft's experience in agile development ensured smooth project implementation and iterative development of Enonic XP. As a result, Enonic XP has evolved into an easy-to-use and scalable platform, which is crucial for our success.

Morten Øien Eriksen, CEO at Enonic, a provider of an innovative CMS platform

Project manager

  • Defining the scope, budget, timeframes, milestones and target KPIs of a CMS development project.
  • Managing resources for the project.
  • Facilitating and coordinating communication between all team members.
  • Supervising the project activities.
  • Tracking project milestones and deliverables.

Business analyst

  • Investigating content management needs, goals, and target users.
  • Suggesting the most relevant CMS features.
  • Mapping CMS features to technical requirements.
  • Organizing, specifying and documenting CMS requirements, including description of CMS modules, information architecture, user roles, integrations, etc.

UX/UI designer

  • Performing UX research.
  • Creating user journey maps and designing user interactions with CMS.
  • Building CMS prototypes.
  • Conducting CMS usability testing.

Back-end developer

  • Choosing a suitable platform or a tech stack for CMS based on technical requirements.
  • Developing and deploying a CMS solution.
  • Integrating the solution with CRM, intranet, or other tools.
  • Developing custom CMS add-ins or plugins for a platform-based CMS.

Front-end developer

  • Development of UI components of CMS.
  • Optimization of CMS front-end performance to improve user experience.

Test engineer

  • Designing a test plan for a CMS solution.
  • Selecting applicable testing tools.
  • Designing, executing, and maintaining test cases to ensure CMS operability and consistency with the specification.
  • Reporting defects to developers via relevant defect tracking tools.

DevOps engineer

  • Automating CMS development by introducing a CI/CD pipeline.
  • Monitoring CMS availability, performance, and security.

In-house

Pros:

  • Full control over the CMS development project.
  • Full understanding of specific content management needs.

Caution: The need to hire or train experts in CMS design and development.

Partially outsourced

Pros:

  • High degree of control over the CMS development project.
  • Highly qualified technical specialists available from a vendor (e.g., developers, testers).

Caution: Effective collaboration between an in-house team and outsourced specialists can be challenging.

Outsourced

Pros:

  • Access to professional expertise in custom and platform-based (e.g., SharePoint, WordPress, Pimcore, HubSpot, Joomla, Drupal) CMS development.
  • Advanced technologies, mature and cost-effective implementation methodologies (e.g., Agile, CI/CD).
  • Creative approach to CMS implementation, full understanding of enterprise content management needs.

Caution: High vendor risks.

Entrust CMS Development to Professionals!

Having 10-year experience in CMS development, ScienceSoft is ready to take over your CMS development project and deliver a CMS solution within 2-6 months, depending on the project scope.

CMS Platforms ScienceSoft Recommends

Below you’ll find a list of popular platforms ScienceSoft recommends for building CMS solutions due to their intuitive WYSIWYG content editors, rich workflow automation and digital asset management capabilities.

SharePoint

Rating: 4.2/5 by Capterra

Description

Used by: 200,000 organizations worldwide.

Strengths:

  • OOTB integration with Office 365.
  • Non-linear multi-step content approval workflows.
  • Search by titles, metadata, and full text; enterprise search.
  • Built-in media players.
  • Comprehensive security (data encryption, access control, versioning, audit trail, etc.).
  • Content retention/deletion and legal discovery.

Cautions:

  • Bulky and not user-friendly because of multiple OOTB features.

Best for

Document management and records management.

Pricing

$12.50-$57 user/month (including Office apps).

Pimcore

Rating: 4.8/5 by Capterra

Description

Used by: +100,000 organizations worldwide.

Strengths:

  • Convenient upload of new content.
  • Built-in image editor.
  • Built-in PIM and ecommerce functionality.

Cautions:

  • Poor choice of available plugins.
  • A steep learning curve for non-technical staff.

Best for

Media asset management, product information management, multichannel publishing, digital commerce.

Pricing

Open-source (Community Edition) and commercial subscriptions (Enterprise and Unlimited). The prices of commercial subscriptions are available upon request to a vendor.

WordPress

Rating: 4.6/5 by Capterra

Description

Used by: 35+ million users, 40% of the internet websites are based on WordPress.

Strengths:

  • Intuitive block editor.
  • Multiple paid and free themes and plugins.
  • Multi-language support (196 languages).
  • Audio files management.
  • Image editing.
  • SEO-friendly URLs.

Cautions:

  • Limited options for customization.
  • Many WordPress plugins have security loopholes and bugs.

Best for

Creating websites and blogs.

Pricing

Free, except for hosting ($3– $4/month) and domain registration ($9 – $15/year).

Need Help Choosing a CMS Platform for Your Project?

ScienceSoft’s team will recommend the most suitable platform based on your content management strategy and project budget.

Cost Factors

The cost of building a content management solution may be different depending on various factors:

  • Complexity of CMS features (e.g., AI-based content personalization, SEO tools, multi-language support).
  • CMS coverage (e.g., support of one website or dozens of multi-page websites).
  • Diversity of content types and overall amount of content.
  • Number and complexity of content management workflows.
  • Number and complexity of reports and dashboards on CMS usage (e.g., number of texts published, content downloads/uploads, executed workflows).
  • Number and complexity of integrations.
  • In-house or outsourced CMS implementation.

Need Cost Estimation for Your CMS Project?

ScienceSoft’s team is ready to calculate CMS implementation costs for you.

About ScienceSoft

About ScienceSoft

ScienceSoft is a global IT consulting and software development company headquartered in McKinney, Texas. We advise on and build custom and platform-based CMS solutions with a rich feature set to ensure prompt and cost-effective enterprise content management. Being ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 certified, we guarantee high-quality IT services and the security of our customers’ data. If you are interested in a CMS implementation, feel free to consider our CMS development offer.