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How to Choose a Content Management System for a Local Municipality

Any CMS worth its salt will make it very easy for you to update content on your government website. But there are some other things you should look for to get the most out of your new CMS.

1) Automatic Navigation Menus

This automatically adds any new page to the correct place within your navigation, so it’s easy for your users to find. This new page will also automatically appear on your sitemap and also in your breadcrumb trail.

2) User Management & Content Approval Process

Since you want to put the power of editing content in the hands of the person who knows this information best, you also need to make sure that your users aren’t editing content they know nothing about.

With a content management system, a user must log in with a username and password and have permission to make changes to that particular page. So you can ensure that only someone in the HR department is updating job listings, and not updating the activities for the Recreation Department.

If there’s an approval process that needs to happen before content goes live, a good CMS will help with this too. This gives your content editors the ability to make updates, then send to a public information officer or marketing director for final review before the content is published.

3) Content Versioning

Need to know what content was on a particular page on a particular date? This is when content versioning comes in handy. Since a content management system is keeping track of your changes, the previous version is saved every time you edit a piece of content. You’ll always know when changes were made, who made them, and what those changes were.

4) Friendly URLs

Some content management systems may produce what is known as “unfriendly” URLs. These are webpage addresses that are unclear, such as:


Anyone who might look at that URL would have no idea what the page was about. In contrast, a “friendly” URL looks like this:


With that URL, it’s obvious to any user that the page contains your organization’s calendar. Friendly URLs are understandable to your visitors and will help you out with search engines such as Google.

5) Site Search

Now that you have all this content on your site and it is super useful to your website visitors, wouldn’t it be nice for these visitors to be able to search for specific pages and topics? Your CMS should index all your pages when any changes are made, so it’s easy for users to search for and find the information they need.

6) Custom Content Management

Every CMS will allow you to manage the text and pictures on a page. But what about more unique kinds of content? Be sure to search for a CMS that supports custom ways to manage content to match your internal processes and workflow.

7) Event Calendar

With day, week, month, or agenda views, a calendar feature in your content management system can allow you to promote events or meetings. If you have a lot of events and already know when everything is going to happen, you can input them for the entire year and just watch the events automatically come into view when the event is coming up and then disappear once they are over. More advanced calendar tools may allow you to create RSS or iCal feeds, input recurring events or even link to Google Maps page for the event’s location.

8) Form Builder

Your website’s primary job is to give information to people who are looking for it. But what if you could also use your website to collect data from your customers, register guests for an event or even collect payments for products or services? From contact forms to surveys to registration forms, many content management systems have a feature that allows you to design a form that meets your needs and starts collecting data. Using a form builder to get some of your key forms online can help you deliver information faster and make your customers’ lives easier.

9) Emergency Alerts

If your website provides emergency information to your users, such as outages, closures or unexpected delays, you want to make sure every visitor to your site sees that critical information. Some content management systems provide emergency alert notices that can pop up on the home page, and once dismissed, will never show up again. This gives you a way to make sure very important information is not overlooked.

10) Image Galleries

Instead of showing a lot of full-size photos on a single page, an image gallery or slider creates a beautiful, interactive way to share your photos on your site. Use these to showcase recent events, highlight members of your community or anything else you’d like to show off.

11) Video Embedding

With the popularity of videos skyrocketing, make sure your content management system has a way to easily embed videos that you uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo. This gives your website’s visitors a chance to see this great content without ever leaving your website.

12) Google Maps with Directions

Adding a map to your website should be easy. Add a map to your headquarters so people know how to find you or your next event’s location. With Google Maps, you can also easily provide your visitors with directions to your location.

Why You Need a Specialized Enterprise Content Management System for Government Modernization

Governments are bound by specific regulations pertaining to accessibility and data collection/handling. A key example of the former is section 508 of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires government and other websites covered under the Act to ensure information is easily accessible.

Some industries – like healthcare – face even more strict data protection & compliance guidelines. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) outline strict rules that have to be followed by a healthcare organization handling sensitive data.

HIPAA has several sets of rules around healthcare data security. Both the Privacy Rule and the Security Rule establishes “standards for the protection of individually identifiable health information” for anyone dealing with patient healthcare data. It’s very possible that other industries will face increased regulation, and governments are a likely next focus.

Other government-specific features you’ll need in your CMS:

  • Agenda and Council/Legislative Minutes
  • Council and Board Member Management
  • Staff Directories

Which is why, in most cases, an enterprise content management system is needed for government compliance. A developer with municipal website experience can work with the project team to customize the system and include the tools and features necessary to ensure that the website follows all relevant regulatory requirements.

Find the Enterprise Content Management System For Your Government or Municipality

Each government organization is different, needing to provide services and information unique to their constituency. For that reason, it’s important to identify the features that will serve your users best. More importantly, an enterprise content management system can ensure that your government website is compliant with all pertinent regulations.

And finally, making it easy to share content is a great way to deliver the best experience for your users.

If you need additional help finding a CMS or need help creating or redesigning your website, let us know. We’re happy to help.


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