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Your CMS – Unlike The Earth – Could Be Flat

The CMS landscape has been evolving for several years, both in user-facing products and the underlying technologies. We have Squarespace that servers as an all-inclusive service to get your product to market. We have ambitious, up-and-coming traditional CMS frameworks that intend to dethrone WordPress. We have database query caching that speeds up the rendering of your pages by sidestepping your database each time the page is loaded. And one evolved solution we’re particularly interested in are the flat file CMS frameworks that have cropped up.*



Seventh Scout has had very little interaction with Squarespace. Makes sense, right? The easy conclusion to draw is that Squarespace directly competes with Digital Agencies and threatens their existence. We certainly thought that was true a few years ago.

The Concept
Use Squarespace to empower yourself to sidestep the expensive design process, challenging development cycles, and the knowledge gap with infinite possibilities. Three cheers for autonomy!

The Actual
Our exposure to Squarespace has involved clients coming to us and essentially saying, “We outgrew Squarespace. Can you move all our content to a more robust, malleable solution?”.

The Conclusion
It’s a great starter kit for small-to-medium businesses. So much so that many hosting companies are putting a lot of resources into offering “builders” that allow you to create your own website on their platform via WYSIWYG editors. There are definite growth and scalability limitations here.


Traditional CMS

WordPress and Joomla quickly come to mind when thinking about a traditional CMS. A qualified handful of next-generation CMS’s are poised to directly compete with and potentially dethrone these incumbents.

Promising Next-Gens
CMS frameworks such as Ghost, Medium, and Craft offer a refreshed perspective on what a CMS is and what good UI/UX should be with the same ease-of-use we expect from WordPress. Sort of “The CMS, rethought”.

The Actual
None of these CMS frameworks are an “apples to apples” comparison to each other, to be fair. They each solve content management problems in very different ways. Some are so inclusive that the payload is digital bloat. And some are so focused that they solve a specific problem but are feature-poor.


Flat-File CMS Frameworks

Seventh Scout believes that a key component to success of any kind is to use the right tool for the job. So, to be clear, we don’t necessarily believe that flat-file CMS’s are the big content management disrupter. But we firmly believe that they offer us tools to bend the way we think about traditional content management to work smarter and solve problems we frequently face when managing content.

Promising Flat-File CMS Frameworks
Seventh Scout are big fans of Kirby CMS, Pico CMS, Jekyll, Assemble, and Grav.

The Actual
We’ve used each of the CMS frameworks listed above for different clients, for different reasons, and in many different ways. Sometimes our clients need a simple marketing microsite and sometimes they need to be able to just toss some photos into Dropbox and have them magically appear on their website.

Consider this example for bending the way we think about traditional content management: Ever create a content-rich responsive email from scratch? Painful, right? We’ve used Jekyll in the past to hook into a WordPress data endpoint to 1) pull from a central content source that is managed by Marketing staff and 2) build a perfectly-coded, flat, responsive email file that can immediately be uploaded and sent via their email Marketing tool.

* We deliberately omitted some of the obvious or expected CMS frameworks because we have little-to-no experience with them or simply don’t care for them.

by Graham Lambertson

CMS, CMS Review, Flat-FIle CMS Frameworks, Wordpress

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