CMS alternatives checklist:

Updated: October 26, 2020

Understanding the key differences between web CMS & modern content management


If you’re still using a web CMS, some of your biggest headaches are likely caused by development roadblocks and platform limitations. Constant workarounds slow everyone in the organization down. How is a business supposed to transform into a modern, omnichannel organization when every product launch or content change faces delay after delay? You know where you need to be as an organization, but web CMSes won’t get you there.

Modern platforms are empowering organizations to move beyond talking about omnichannel only as a boardroom buzzword, and to actually deliver customer-driven experiences.

In this article, we’ll explore the various capabilities of a traditional web CMS compared to those of a modern, unified content infrastructure platform.

How does a web CMS compare to content infrastructure?

Empowering internal users


  • Web CMS: IT is responsible for managing, maintaining and updating servers and content delivery networks.
  • Content Infrastructure: Content is uploaded to the cloud and distributed globally in seconds through a CDN maintained by the platform provider, allowing IT to focus on core competencies.


  • Web CMS: Developers customize separate CMSes for different projects, products and channels, and are often needed to publish content changes and create new templates. Websites and apps are viewed as projects and once completed, the team moves onto the next project, leaving the content and design to grow stale.
  • Content infrastructure: Developers work with other stakeholders to implement a customized content model that can deliver content to any digital product or channel. An easy-to-use editorial interface empowers editors to publish content and spin up new pages across channels on their own. This frees developers to focus on creating new digital products, such as websites, apps and digital experiences.


  • Web CMS: Editorial workflows are disrupted by the development and IT work that is continuously required to publish content and keep various channels up to date. Content silos make it impossible to strategically leverage content assets across channels as part of a larger brand strategy.
  • Content infrastructure: Parallel workflows with IT and development teams mean editors don’t have to worry about content freezes. A unified content platform allows editors to organize content and design assets for use and reuse across channels, expanding their reach and improving brand consistency.

Backend infrastructure


  • Web CMS: All work flows from one team to the next in a series of handoffs. Each task must be completed before the next can begin, slowing the time to market.
  • Content Infrastructure: A highly customizable and agile platform encourages parallel workflows and productive collaboration among cross-functional teams. Editors can post updates and fresh content without needing to hand it off to developers. Developers are free to create new digital products that leverage existing content for faster time to market.


  • Web CMS: Many monolithic platforms and mega suites require specific developer expertise to implement and maintain. They come with predefined templates and rigid workflows that cannot be used by everyone in the company.
  • Content infrastructure: An API-first platform integrates smoothly with existing technology and workflows. Developers can use their preferred languages and get started quickly with SDKs and support from an active developer community. The editorial app can be customized to each team’s needs and preferences, making it a content solution that can be used enterprise wide.

Content model

  • Web CMS: Takes a page-centric approach. Each individual piece of content is created for a single intended destination (blog, social post, app). Copy, images, and design are tied together on a page and stored as a blob instead of in reusable chunks.
  • Content infrastructure: Takes a content-first approach that starts with a content model that organizes content into reusable components. These can be easily pieced together and deployed on any digital channel from a single unified hub.


  • Web CMS: Developers have to push live updates. Changing templates, adding functionality and creating new products requires significant lead time and testing, slowing everyone down.
  • Content infrastructure: The content and presentation layers are continually updated. Editors are able to publish updates and roll back changes in minutes and developers can quickly leverage content for us in new products and channels. The platform’s content delivery network (CDN) ensures that changes are delivered fast, globally.

Platform capabilities

Supported devices

  • Web CMS: Severely limited. A new CMS is typically needed to serve each new channel or device. This slows expansion into new markets and increases editorial workloads, as each channel is updated and managed through a separate platform.
  • Content infrastructure: Limitless. Build new digital products for campaign microsites, mobile apps, wearables, in-store digital displays, live-chat tools, etc. Ship content to all of those channels from a single content hub.


  • Web CMS: One to one. Each channel, product or geographic market has its own CMS. Increases redundancies and inconsistencies in information and user experience.
  • Content infrastructure: One to many. Content can be published to any channel or geographic location from a central hub. Increase the reach of each piece of content exponentially and ensure brand consistency.


  • Web CMS: The monolithic, out of the box platform is not inherently compatible with other systems. In order to create a tech stack, it must be highly customized with workarounds by the development team.
  • Content infrastructure: An API-first model is compatible with all other API-driven tech. You can select the right technology partners to build an agile omnichannel organization without time-consuming and glitchy workarounds.



  • Web CMS: Significant up-front investment sets high expectations to get a business’ money’s worth. A long implementation time and steep learning curve add to the investment cost.
  • Content infrastructure: Pay only for what you need; businesses can start small, prove value quickly and scale fast.


  • Web CMS: A long implementation time delays ROI, and legacy CMSes are slow and cumbersome to adapt to changing business and customer needs, losing value over the long-term.
  • Content infrastructure: A highly adaptable tool grows as the business grows, providing both immediate and long-term value.

Technical debt

  • Web CMS: Business decisions are made based on the limitations of the system. Limited languages and tools lead to compromises, workarounds, an unhappy team and unsatisfied management.
  • Content infrastructure: A highly customizable and adaptable platform means that the best channels, tools and languages can be chosen for every single project. Content is easily deployed to each new channel via APIs without compromising presentation or performance.
From too many CMSes to a single content hub
Learn how to modernize your enterprise content strategy
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