9 Must-Have CMS Features Your Small Business Website Needs

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To keep up with the need to regularly publish, small business owners having a CMS that includes various must-have features has become a given.

Staying competitive and relevant now requires small businesses to maintain a reliable and strong online presence. IT-savvy leaders across an increasing number of smaller businesses are investing significant resources in the latest content management system (CMS) technology. The CMS you select will have a huge impact on your digital experiences and business outcomes.

The ideal CMS ties all the tools together in one tech stack. For instance, a popular CMS such as WordPress offers user engagement tools such as WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editing with drag-and-drop, the ability to create blogs and RSS feeds, forms, KPI reporting, and much more. An API-first CMS is also a great asset when it comes to avoiding/reducing data silos. Such a CMS offers marketers and developers structured data that’s ready to be presented through the framework or language chosen. Your content team needs little support from IT staff to keep the site running smoothly.

If your enterprise considers online channels to be central to business strategy you should consider investing in a suitable CMS.

But how do you decide which one is best for your business? Each of the popular content management systems available today — WordPress, Webflow, Joomla, and Drupal among others — offer useful features. New and smaller businesses often find it challenging to make this decision as they are crunched on budget and have limited resources and skills to manage the platform. Listed below are the top nine features every small business should look for when investing in a CMS.

1. User-Friendliness

Most small businesses lack the technical skills needed to work with open-source platforms. People with little experience with HTML, CSS, or PHP need a platform that helps them easily navigate the backend.

User-friendliness is one of the primary must-have CMS features to be considered. WordPress tops the list when it comes to this feature. The admin interface of this CMS is incredibly user-friendly, even for novices. This makes WordPress a great platform whether it’s for internal use or pitching to enterprise clients.

Though they offer several features, Drupal and Joomla are not as user-friendly as WordPress. For instance, developers often find it challenging to locate extensions and templates from Joomla’s admin area. No wonder most small businesses switch from Joomla or Drupal to WordPress for the latter’s quick editing and plugin compatibility.

Whether you are building a new business website or migrating to another CMS, make sure the platform you opt for is easy to use, accessible to multiple plugins, customizable to your business needs, intuitive, and secure.

2. Scalability

All small businesses and startups need a CMS that can scale with an increase in demand. In other words, another must-have CMS feature is the ability to grow with and support the expansion of your business.

Imagine where your business will be five years from now. Will you be adding multiple product lines? Are there any features or software to integrate? Making a list of all such must-haves will help you choose a suitable platform for your business website.

Your CMS should be built with core web technologies for handling the sudden burst of traffic all SMBs hope to experience. The ideal CMS will be able to manage this spurt without taking your website down.

Whether it’s database tuning, web server optimization, or advanced caching strategies, your CMS should be capable of achieving all of it without you having to reinvent the wheel when operating at an enterprise level.

3. SEO Tools

If you want to improve your brand visibility and generate leads for your business, SEO tools are a must-have CMS feature. Search engine optimization brings qualified leads to your website that can be nurtured and converted into loyal customers.

But SEO isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, especially if you lack the resources in the form of a full-fledged team of search professionals. That being the case, small businesses must typically invest in a CMS that makes on-page SEO easy.

For instance, WordPress’s Yoast SEO plugin makes optimization easy, enabling small business websites to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). Ask these questions to help you make an informed decision.

  • Does the CMS automatically create SEO-friendly URLs?
  • Does it add meta descriptions and alt tags?
  • What are the advanced SEO features it offers?
  • Does it offer recommendations for improving online performance?
  • If these features aren’t built-in, is it compatible with SEO plugins?

4. Multisite and Multilingual Functionality

Choosing a CMS that supports multisite and multilingual functionality means your team will spend less time and resources in managing complex requirements, enabling them to focus on other profit-generating tasks.

The CMS you select should allow you to enable multilingual solutions. With this feature, your team can effortlessly manage every aspect of translating and deploying content. If you do business in other countries, this capability needs to be one of your must-have CMS features.

5. A Wide Selection of Add-Ons and Plugins

A CMS should have plenty of available add-ons and plugins. When you have a plethora of such add-ons at your disposal, it’s much easier to customize your website to your business needs.

Plugins and add-ons help expand the core functionality of the framework, allowing you to create a flexible and awesome website. Choose a platform that offers a robust selection of relevant plugins.

6. Responsive Themes

We live in a world that’s well above the mobile tipping point. Native support for a responsive website design is a must.

Very few content management systems offer a wide variety of responsive themes as WordPress does. The platform’s admin and default themes allow front-end developers to either base their design on these themes or roll their solutions. Be sure to choose a CMS that allows you to apply responsive themes to your website with a few clicks.

Without getting into the technical “nitty gritty,” it’s helpful to know that many developers are now moving over to the PHP 8 programming language, which was officially launched at the end of 2020. PHP 8 is proving to be 18.47% faster than PHP 7.4 and will handle 50% more page requests than its predecessor.

This new iteration is finding praise primarily for its Just-in-time (JIT) compiler, which allows CPU-intensive processes to run much faster, so it would be helpful to choose a CMS that is programmed in PHP 8. Early tests in WordPress, for example, show that JIT-run processes boost overall calculation speed.

7. Social Media Integration

With more than half of the world’s population on social media, no business, small or big, can afford to ignore social channels. Social media is more than a platform for boosting awareness. It helps SMBs connect with and engage their audience.

A CMS with social media integration can empower you to leverage the power of social and know the pulse of your audience. It also ensures that your website and social page work together to create a cohesive experience for all.

When deciding on a CMS, make sure you ask the following questions. This will allow you to check whether the CMS has social media integration.

  • Is the platform optimized for various social channels?
  • Does the CMS allow you to add social media sharing buttons throughout the website?
  • Are you able to schedule social media posts?
  • Does it include social media analytics on the dashboard?
  • If the CMS doesn’t have these features built-in, does it allow you to use a relevant add-on or plugin?

8. Robust Security

The Verizon 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report reveals that 28% of all data breaches in 2020 involved small businesses. Small businesses are often a prime target for hackers as their website or CMS lacks sophisticated cybersecurity. This allows hackers to easily get their hands on sensitive data or financial resources.

As a part of your firm’s security strategy, opt for a CMS that’s equipped with the ability to safeguard your sensitive information. Look for features such as Web Application Firewall, automatic updates, SSL certificate, and content delivery network (CDN). These help in keeping customer data safe and ensure that the website runs smoothly.

9. Customer Support

Finally, an ideal CMS should offer adequate customer support. A few free CMS platforms rely on their huge community for resolving issues. They typically have a huge forum that addresses FAQs and share easy tutorials that answer day-to-day issues.

Though this type of support is a nice-to-have feature, it’s a must-have CMS feature to have an efficient customer support team that can guide you through an emergency like a website crash. Most small businesses do not have a robust in-house IT team. You may not want to wait around for a helpful response from a free support mechanism, either. Pick a CMS that offers live support.

Look Before You Leap: Don’t Compromise on CMS Must-Have Features

An effective CMS enables businesses with little or no coding expertise to create, manage, and edit the content on their website. But with a sea of options available today, choosing a suitable CMS isn’t an easy task. Use the list of must-have features to compare the top platforms and choose a CMS that best suits your business needs and gives you maximum returns.

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Lucy Manole is a creative content writer and strategist at Marketing Digest. She specializes in writing about digital marketing, technology, entrepreneurship, and education. When she is not writing or editing, she spends time reading books, cooking and traveling.