Choosing the Best Content Management System for Digital Publishers

What to look for in a content management system, from Haven Nexus to WordPress to Joomla to eZ …


Your content management system is, simply stated, the system used to manage the content on your website … but it’s so much more than just that. Choosing a CMS is one of the most important decisions publishers make today.

When it comes to choosing the best CMS for your digital publishing business, you can find advice from vendors, marketers, editors, sales people, technology experts, web developers, and even consultants. Although there are many choices, publishers need to stay focused on their goals when selecting a system.

Publishers are interested in growing their audience, developing relationships with new prospects, engaging their subscribers with great content, and, of course, selling more subscriptions and/or supporting sponsors. Plus, publishers need to stay flexible to adjust to the ever-changing digital marketplace, so the system needs to move and pivot without too much work. Achieving these goals takes a coordinated approach, using a well-thought-out strategy, and a suite of tools of which the CMS is the center.


Although there are several hosted choices, we recommend that publishers consider open source solutions. WordPress is trusted by some of the biggest brands in the world. It’s easy to edit and change, and is inherently Google-friendly – an important factor to bring more potential subscribers to your website.

03-whether-you-call-the-position-an-audience-development-editor-an-online-editor-or-a-managing-editor-this-audience-development-job-description-attracts-the-right-candidatesMequoda recommends that your CMS be able to support a Portal of free content designed to drive traffic. Portals are a popular choice for publishers because they are a profitable model on their own, and can build and feed an audience for affiliated premium subscription websites. Portals are specifically designed for organic SEO marketing, email marketing list building, lead generation and building engagement and loyalty. It’s a Mequoda best practice to build a portal for every subscription website we create.

Portal websites generate value from both the users and the sponsors. The content is free to users and sponsors pay for that content with advertising. The most well-known of the portal websites is – but it’s more than just a portal. Yahoo News, one of many different website models under the collective Yahoo name, is our choice for a mass media mentor site. This portal aggregates news content from outside sources and, of course, drives traffic to Yahoo’s other sites, many of which represent different website business models.

By contrast, Mequoda Gold Members, National Association of Plan Advisors and Ceramic Arts Daily are the quintessential niche portal examples. All content is free, and the portal serves, as it always does in Mequoda systems, to drive traffic and promote premium websites and products.

Most publishers interested in launching a portal website are not looking to create anything remotely near the size of Rather, they tend to post bylined content derived from the publisher’s own publications and other inside sources to supplement bits of relevant content pulled or syndicated from outside sources, including contributors and other subscription websites.

The outside sources may receive compensation from the publisher or may simply be looking to generate increased traffic through links back to their own websites.

A portal is also designed to maximize online advertising inventory. To do that, the most successful portals treat registered and unregistered users differently. For the unregistered user, a significant portion of the website page template is allocated to converting visitors into registered users.

01-how-to-sell-magazine-subscriptions-online-without-blow-in-cardsFor example, a Mequoda best practice is to serve these users a pop-up floater offering a free report on a topic related to the search term that brought the user to the site, in exchange for registration and an email address.

Once a user has registered, the portal morphs to display content that is personalized for the user. Personalized content enhances user satisfaction and increases page views and time spent — the key advertising conversion rates that drive website revenue for the many information marketers who use their advertising inventory to sell their own products.

State of the art portal subscription websites offer users email newsletters, blogs, email alerts and RSS feeds that are all designed to directly and indirectly generate more page views and website revenue.

Mequoda’s content management system: Haven Core

Our base for the Haven Nexus Content Management System is called Haven Core and it’s built from the WordPress kernel, a popular choice for many publishers. We chose to build our system on the WordPress kernel because of its flexibility and reliability. It features an easy interface for users, and is detailed and complex for developers. Some of the biggest brands run their web sites on WordPress and we know it can meet the needs of the vast majority of publishers.

We have made many custom changes on top of the WordPress kernel to build our Haven Core product. With an open source code, we’ve been free to take control and make the changes we know will benefit our member clients, are easily replicated, and can be built upon to meet the future needs of our member clients.

Using Haven Core enables us to put all of our clients on the same codebase, and publishers can choose to use, or not use, different modules that can add functionality to meet their specific needs. Our member websites are not built from scratch every time, and little time is wasted on compatibility trial and error. Mequoda itself spends a significant amount of money each year enhancing the system.

Because we use the same codebase for all of our clients, everyone benefits from these improvements.  In addition, our member clients also benefit from the enhancements we are implementing for our other member clients.

Every major upgrade or improvement contributes to the optimization of all the client websites.

01-when-a-great-niche-publishing-strategy-spurs-growthHaven Core comes “out of the box” with the major features that you need. For instance, the flexibility of the Haven Core theme system means we can build a beautiful website quickly. In addition, other features such as built-in commenting automatically provide a space to engage your audience.

The user interface is easy and intuitive to anyone who already creates digital documents. Operators can manage their content to create drafts, schedule publication and edit posts without learning a complex new system. In addition, operators can easily upload images and media using a drag and drop system.

We can also take advantage of the extensive plugins already developed by the WordPress community to add features quickly. We’ve customized many of these to specifically meet the needs of our publisher clients, including modules to incorporate SEO, social networking, forums, directories and calendars more effectively.

Another distinct advantage to an open source solution is that all your user data is yours forever. Hosted services come and go, and sometimes take your data with them. With Haven Nexus, all of your assets stay under your control.

For example, data on your users will always be yours. The Haven Profile Manager allows operators to view users by email address and display all associated website activity. The database also contains subscribe data, shopping cart orders, subscription orders, unsubscribes, and downloads for the user.

Other à la carte content managements tools

02-3-traits-a-magazine-consultant-should-have-before-you-hireAs stated previously, there are tons of articles and plenty of advice about choosing the right CMS for your business. In some respects, you must consider all the same factors you do when considering any other digital service – functionality, integration, flexibility, customization, user interface and, of course, costs.

To run your website, you might choose an open source solution such as WordPress, eZ or Joomla. To keep track of what your customers are doing, you might be using a system like Salesforce IQ or a WordPress plugin like UkuuPeople. Or, you might go with a CMS software service such as ePublishing or iProduction.

Remember that many CMS installations fail due to internal barriers rather than external ones. Doing it yourself means getting staff buy-in and doing the training all on your own as well. If you buy an outside service, keep your future flexibility in mind, and remember to consider the possible integration issues with all the other technology solutions you’ve already bought into.

Haven Nexus is built with efficiency in mind

Haven Nexus CXMS is a state of the art SaaS content management, content marketing, and content publishing tool – built, owned, and maintained by Mequoda – to enable all the functionality that multiplatform publishing businesses need to be successful and profitable.

Unlike retrofitted websites with disparate systems that make customer service and reporting more difficult, Haven Nexus gives you a complete, central database that informs your marketing decisions and helps you maximize the lifetime value of each subscriber. We manage all the infrastructure, so you never have to look under the hood.

We’ve even identified the best partners so you don’t have to research software, email, hosting, and other functions on your own, or take stabs in the dark. When you put your system management into the hands of the industry’s only strategy-centric provider, your organization reaps the benefits of stress-free technology, content-focused implementation and ongoing profitability.

Schedule a 30-minute complimentary consult with Mequoda’s founder Don Nicholas to learn more about Haven Nexus.


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