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March 1, 2021

Finding your CMS match: Which approach is best for your organization?


Summary: DXP, content microservice, low-code — which is best? At the end of the day, it's about matching your digital strategy with an approach that will help you reach your goals.

When assessing your organization's content management system (CMS) needs, it’s easy to feel like you're lost in a sea of sameness. But you have many different options, each with its own pros and cons. Making the wrong choice can leave you either paying too much for a bundle of features you’ll never use or saving a few dollars now at the cost of missing key revenue opportunities later. Use this overview of the three major types of CMS to help you determine which one is the best fit for your organization.

Three types of CMS—and the pros and cons of each

Digital Experience Platforms (DXPs)

Think of DXPs as the all-in-one monolith option for CMS. Although content management is still “in the box” when it comes to DXPs, it is not the core focus. DXPs provide a wide range of features with the purpose of building, launching, analyzing and optimizing digital experiences, from beginning to end. That includes everything from building web pages and providing collaboration tools to creating visitor profiles that store behavioral data and using artificial intelligence to personalize experiences. Adobe Experience Cloud, Acquia (Drupal), Sitecore, Optimizely and Kentico Xperience are all examples of DXPs. 

DXP pros:

  • Have the broadest range of digital services bundled into one codebase
  • Are generally mature platforms (especially for the web channel) from well-established companies
  • Seek to provide a unified customer view and experience across all channels.

DXP cons:

  • Can be complicated to roll out
  • Have steep learning curves
  • Are more expensive than other CMS options

In other words, DXPs are often the most robust CMS options, but they also tend to have higher barriers to entry. If your needs are small and you won't be using many of the features provided by a DXP, there are probably more cost-effective options out there.

Content microservice or “Headless CMS”

As their name suggests, Content Microservices have one core focus: content. All things content. Creation, scheduling, delivery, analysis, optimization—this type of CMS approach can be a hub for your organization's content across multiple digital channels, not only your website’s content. These platforms don’t render web pages like DXPs (they don’t provide the “head”). Instead they make content available to all sorts of consumers via APIs that follow industry standards such as REST and GraphQL. This standardization allows them to plug into a broader digital landscape of other microservices—a digital experience “stack” where you can connect a Headless CMS with the other platforms you actually need and intend to use. Big players in this category include Contentful, Kentico Kontent and Contentstack. 

Content microservice Pros:

  • Are channel—and technology—agnostic (content can be built in any language for any channel)
  • Are properly “Software as a Service” (subscription-based)
  • Can be combined with services that exactly meet your needs (a digital experience "stack")
  • Focus on structuring your content to make it as reusable as possible (no more duplications)

Content microservice Cons:

  • Making your own "stack" is a pro, but it will require work to connect services together
  • This is still a young market, so platforms aren't yet as mature as the big DXPs

Although less robust than DXPs, Headless CMS does a better job of separating your content from how it's presented. You start with focusing on your content, then factor in your channels i.e. how that content should work on your website. The flexibility to connect with the services you need—when you need them—ensures your organization isn't prematurely investing in tools that won't provide value.

Low-code/No-code

These content management options are designed to require little to no development support. As a result, they are the least robust CMS option out there, but you can use them to build a templated website with very few bells and whistles. Low-code/no-code CMS platforms include Squarespace, GoDaddy, Wix, and Webflow.

Low-code/No-code pros:

  • Great for prototyping and testing a hypothesis before further investment
  • Designed to launch your idea fast
  • Pretty neat (AI, machine learning and ubiquitous “cloud everything” will accelerate this approach)

Low-code/No-code cons:

  • Mash together content with the presentation
  • Don’t have great accessibility and performance
  • Will need coding support for customization (defeats the DIY approach)

Low-code/no-code CMS options are built for individuals or organizations that have little-to-no coding support and need to launch an idea quickly. They sacrifice functionality for convenience, and are now moving beyond just websites and into apps and other channels.

Choosing the right CMS matters: Reason One can help you find the best fit

Every organization has unique needs, and there are many different CMS options that cater to those needs. Finding the right fit can make a huge difference in revenue and engagement, as well as your employees’ workload. Working with an experienced agency partner, like Reason One, can give you the tools and knowledge you need to choose a solution that works for you, not against you. Contact us today to see how we can help.