woman frustrated with website

1999 Called: They Want Your Website Back

A quick primer for the non-technical readers: A Content Management System (CMS) is the technology used to make a website that marketing people can edit easily, without knowing how to code.

How Websites Get Built

Longer-term readers of my newsletter will know that I've written at length about the state of the CMS technology. If you really want to get nerdy, you can read my white paper on building a Headless CMS directly in AWS, but suffice to say the technology used to power most websites today (WordPress, Drupal, Sitecore, Adobe, etc.) is really old. How old you ask? So old, that if you were still using your cellphone from around that time, it would look something like this:

Ericsson phone from 2001

  • There was no touch screen
  • There were no color cellphones
  • GPS was just being introduced

Indeed, full QWERTY keyboards were just beginning introduction. Blackberry circa 1999 looked like this:

A sweet looking Blackberry from 1999

What does this have to do with websites?

To be clear, I am not hating on cellphones. All of these phones were super cool at the time and were replacing older models. In many cases, they were breaking new ground with technologies that had never been available before, and they have lead to the amazing devices we now take for granted.

When it comes to Content Management Systems of the time, they were replacing ancient, incredibly expensive ERP systems designed by companies like SAP and Oracle — and they were doing it all powered by Open Source.

For a good fifteen years, things were amazing. In 2013 I wrote that “Open Source is the New Microsoft,” meaning people didn't get fired for choosing Open Source, when in the previous decade it had been a risky career move.

But the world has changed a lot since the year 2013, and even more since the early 2000s when all of these Content Management Systems and cellphones were designed.

Me with my baby daughter in 2002

My daughter was born in 2002 — the technology powering your website shouldn't be.

Your website probably sucks

If your website is built on a CMS designed in 2001, it's probably not very good. It wasn't designed with the Cloud in mind, and more importantly it's likely costing you more to maintain over the next three years than it would cost to replace.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that the entire Gartner Magic Quadrant for CMS is entirely wrong; none of the systems listed below would be anything I would recommend for a customer.

No alt text provided for this image

 

We've Done our Homework

This declaration comes not only based on twenty years of working with CMSs, but also on the heels of an exhaustive thirty-one CMS review for a customer looking to replace an <ahem> “older” CMS. Technical Product Manager, Dave Bellous, and CTO, Tony Rost, will be sharing that data in an upcoming blog, but this research is actually best suited for websites with special needs. These include:

  1. Massive user databases (measured in millions)
  2. Giant traffic spikes (think televised events)
  3. Significant user functionality (web applications)
  4. Global localization needs (multi-country, multi-language websites)

Other than that, some of the off-the-shelf CMS products are actually just fine. My go-to recommendations are generally Squarespace for very small businesses or individuals, and Hubspot for everyone else — up to and including simple marketing websites for large publicly traded companies. 

A Word on HubSpot

Much more than a simple CMS, Hubspot provides significant functionality levels on the marketing front (CRM, chatbots, analytics — even this email), making it an incredibly powerful platform. Anyone interested in learning more about Hubspot should check out their conference #INBOUND2020. It's virtual now, and we’ve found it incredibly valuable when we attended last year. We got a chance to connect with our Account Executive, Scott Rossow and not only learned a ton about the Hubspot ecosystem, but also sat in some super inspiring sessions. For our Director of Marketing and Brand, Corinna Gelster-Borgardt and I, it was truly eye-opening. This year Metal Toad returned as a full-fledged Solutions Partner.

What to do with your website

Now is a great time to rethink what your website is bringing to the table. Above all, there are four questions to ask:

  1. Can I be spending less on my website? (The answer is probably, yes)
  2. Can my website be easier to administer? (Again, probably, yes)
  3. Can my website bring more value to my customers?
  4. Can my website bring more value to my organization?
Date posted: September 3, 2020

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About the Author

Joaquin Lippincott, CEO

Joaquin is a 20+ year technology veteran helping to lead businesses in the move to the Cloud. He frequently speaks on panels about the future of tech ranging from IoT and Machine Learning to the latest innovation in the entertainment industry.  He has helped to modernize software for industry leaders like Sony, Daimler, Intel, the Golden Globes, Siemens Wind Power, ABC, NBC, DC Comics, Warner Brothers & the Linux Foundation.

As the CEO and Founder of Metal Toad, an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner, his primary job is to "get the right people in the room".  This one responsibility is cross-functional and includes both external business development functions as well as internal delegation and leadership development.

A UCLA alumni, he also serves in the community as a Board Member for the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce, and Stand for Children Oregon - a public education political advocacy group. As an outspoken advocate for entry-level job creation in tech he helped found the non-profit, P4TH, an organization dedicated to increasing the number of entry-level jobs in the tech industry, and is in the process of organizing an Advisory Board for the Bixel Exchange, a Los Angeles non-profit that provides almost 200 tech internships every year.

 

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