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The super-fast CMS crash test

So you’ve come to this point - now that you have a few content management systems (CMS) that meet your needs and fit into the price limit, you are looking for your favorite. I suggest taking a simple “crash” test that will tell you more than you expect. This test should not take more than 20 minutes of your time. This will hugely save you from the pain and agony of using a poorly chosen CMS.

Demonstrate it

You've been offered a CMS to use. Ask whoever relevant to demonstrate on any live website that is running on that CMS, in person here and now and as quickly possible, these following steps:

  1. Create a webpage named "Our Company",
  2. Write one paragraph of any kind of dummy text (copy & paste will do),
  3. Insert a random image to the right of the text (preferably a smaller image)
  4. Attached a PDF file for download and placed a text link to it
  5. Set up three subpages (About us, Products and Contacts) for the "Our Company" webpage
  6. Add some text to each subpage (preferably different texts so you can differentiate the pages)
  7. Ensure that the links to the subpages work from the main page and placed them in that order.
  8. Publish all four pages and show them to you.

Bored? Not likely!

While the sales representative will work with the CMS that he knows, you should do these three things:

  • Track the time he'll need to complete the tasks.
  • In the meantime watch how easily the tasks are done, how many times he bumps into problems that will need to be fixed in the process and occasionally look at his hands as well.
  • Listen carefully to what he says (albeit even if he will mostly speak to himself).

The results

  • Whether and how quickly these basic common tasks are done by the system.
  • Ease of use of the system (assuming that the project is already operational beforehand and the user is experienced).
  • How much time is needed for an experienced user to fulfill these tasks.

Some practical advice

  • Print out the assignment so the presenter can think about the tasks and choose the order of the steps he'll make.
  • Prepare the image and PDF file he can use, so the tracked time isn't distorted. Or just deduct the time he spent searching for them.
  • Don't count in the time he'll be looking for a suitable website to show the features on or the time to log into the system.
  • Obviously don't include his reading of the task list into your tracked time.
  • If he fails (or misses) any of the tasks, make him repeat them but add in the time.
  • Don't take into account how the sites look graphic-wise. Just look out for everything mentioned in the tasks.

So, how did it go?

1 Everything achieved in less than 6 minutes. Excellent! Congratulations! You might have a winner there.
2 Completed under 11 minutes. Well done, that's a very good result.
3 Done under 16 minutes. Not bad.
4 More than 16 minutes or some of the tasks aren't realized. This isn't a CMS that will help you. Either that or the presenter doesn't know how to use it properly which isn't a very good sign either.
5 The test can't be realized since the company doesn't have any sample projects to show the features on. Or the sales representative doesn't have access or knowledge to show it to you. This isn't the supplier right for you, a one that is ready meet your requirements. If the supplier is also the author of the CMS, then that's even worse. If other companies offer the CMS as well, try contacting them and ask to demonstrate the system to you.


The super-fast CMS crash test


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