You can pick your friends, you can pick your CMS, but you can't pick your friend's CMS.

A few weeks ago I was helping a friend look for a bike at a local shop. Anyone who knows me understands what it means when I go to a bike store. My wife does not let me go into bike stores on my own... so there's that.

A bike I can't afford, but can drool over.

A bike I can't afford, but can drool over.

So while I am waiting for my friend to show up, I am casually looking at the bikes that I would like to have. They are high end bikes, made of carbon fiber or aluminum and range from $1,300 to $4,000. I figure a 58cm carbon fiber frame, SRAM RED group set, aero rims a bit more aggressive setup and possibly disc brakes will do just fine for my next road bike. After all, my existing bike has over 7,000 miles on it and there is no hurt in looking at something to replace it some day right? 

When my friend showed up, we talked about his needs for a bike. As we spoke, we slowly walked away from the carbon fiber loveliness in the front of the store and strolled towards the bikes at the back of the shop.

My friend is a retired seventy-plus year old man, is fairly tall, has a replaced hip, and is on a strict budget. I asked him questions concerning what kind of riding he wanted to do, what type of gear he had already and what type of maintenance was he willing to do, if any, on the bike.

My friend's bike.

My friend's bike.

From that conversation, we determined he needed a low maintenance bike that fit his large frame and had relaxed positioning on the bike so that it didn't put unnecessary stress on his back or his hips. We purchased him a mid-grade recreational bike that would ride well around the city and the local parks he visits. No carbon, no racing setup, no multi-thousand dollar bike. What was good for me, was not good for my friend. And that's a good thing.

What you have may not be what they need

You may already have a website using one of any Content Management Systems (CMS) out there. You may have a Squarespace, Wordpress, Wix, Weebly, Drupal or other system managing your website. You have been using it for years and it works well for you and you think its the best thing since sliced bread.

Here's a scenario: A friend may come to ask you what you use for your website and you answer, "I use <preferred CMS here> and I think its great!". You recommend that CMS to your friend and then you wonder why they haven't called you in months. You see them at the local coffee shop sipping their latte and ask them why they haven't called and how has their website been coming along. 

They look you straight in the face and say, "The system you recommended was confusing, hard to learn and I don't have time to learn a complex system and now my site is not working properly, I've invested money into it and am frankly a bit put out by all of it."

What went wrong? Why didn't this system work for them when it was the best thing for your online enterprise? That's because the system that was recommended was not the best for them.  It would be like me taking my friend to the front of the bike shop and convincing him to buy a carbon fiber race bike that he didn't know how to ride or control. When a standard cruiser bike, without all the bells and whistles, would have been a better solution for him.


I hear story after story of people that were introduced to a web CMS and are 'stuck'. They don't know what to do with the system their friend set up for them and they come to Big Shifter often asking for help to get to the next level of managing their site. We also have customers that get sucked into the 'free' or 'inexpensive', do it yourself website solutions and don't know what to do once their site is up and running.

We are, of course, happy to oblige but I empathize with these folks as we try to fit the people to their system instead of having their system fitted to their needs.

At times, we will port their existing system over to something more simple, like Squarespace that satisfies a great deal of their requirements but isn't so hard to use which is what they wanted in the first place.

There are a lot of choices out there to manage a website. There are garbage systems that are 'easy' to use but produce bad code and thus bad websites. There are also top-end systems that produce flawless code, create beautiful websites, but are impossible to use. Both of these systems are useless to someone if the website they create doesn't suit the very needs of its owner!

Let Me Explain... no, there is too much, let me sum up

When trying to find a CMS that works for someone, there needs to be some time spent asking questions. This effort is simply called Discovery. I've written a blog post about discovery that details how its done.

We cannot make assumptions that what works for one person or organization, works for another. Everyone has different requirements that we have to take the time to find out. We can start by asking questions.

At Big Shifter, we'll take the time to find out what you need through our Discovery process. Our primary CMS solution is Squarespace because it satisfies most of our client's needs. But we do have experience in other CMS's and will recommend those systems IF they fit your needs. Contact us if you need help getting your website started for your organization.


Erik Kulvinskas Head shot

Erik Kulvinskas has over 2 decades of web development experience that started way back before front-ends, back-ends, 'dot-coms' and social media. He loves making things easier to understand and more efficient to use. He loves spending time with his family, cycling and volunteering. He enjoys empowering others to be their best and leading others by serving them.