How to Select a Content Management System (part 4)

This is part four of a four-part series on how to choose a content management system. It is directed toward end-users, but developers may find some tips here too. Feel free to leave your comments.

11. What options are there for tech support?

What happens when you have questions or something needs to be fixed? That’s where tech support comes into the picture.

Open-Source – A potential concern is whether the platform comes with support. Open-source platforms come with no support. The user, or the developer that they hire, must be knowledgeable in the operation of the platform to get the most benefit. Since there is no single vendor that creates the platform, tech support is usually handled ad-hoc through the user community. This happens by way of technical e-mail lists, forums, or knowledge databases. When questions arise, the user or developer must know how to sift through typically a very large volume of information to find the answer to the particular question they are faced with. If you are considering hiring a developer who will be using an open-source platform, make sure that the proposal specifies the level of tech support.

Commercial – With a commercial platform, the options are usually limited to the software vendor that created the platform. Levels of support range from free e-mail support, a limited amount of time or number of issues per month that are included at a fixed rate, to a full maintenance contract specifying response times and service levels. Telephone support may be (but is not always) an option. The most common type of commercial support is a paid plan in the form of “maintenance blocks” purchased through the vendor. The client is allocated so many minutes per block or month.

12. Who retains ownership of the site?

There are concerns of intellectual property with website content, and we certainly aren’t going to cover this in-depth here. Based in copyright law, the current generally-accepted practice is that the user owns their data (database, images, uploaded files, any templates or graphics that were provided for the development fee covered). This applies regardless of the platform used. You should get free access to your data and files.

The contract with the developer and hosting provider should clearly define who owns which content. It’s a hackneyed phrase, but you really should consult an intellectual property attorney for advice on ownership.

OK, so now make a choice!

Start with the CMS Matrix, look over the features, have a conversation with a developer, and you will begin to see a path take shape. The most important thing is to get started!

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