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Microsoft CMS vs Fog Creek CityDesk

I have played around a bit with Microsoft's Content Management Server and I can't get my head around the site design paradigm. I have used a lot of software in my time and cannot believe there is nothing intuitive about CMS. On the other hand, I can look at a CityDesk sit and know exactly what is happening very easily. This was something that troubled me when I first used CMS, and with the new version (2003), nothing has really improved at all. They have added the ability to use Asp .NET pages within your sites, but I still can't figure out how to design a site! What have been your experiences with content management applications and systems? Does anything really compare (usability wise) to CityDesk?

Monday, November 18, 2002

I have just tested 4 "heavy weighted" and very expensive CMS systems for my current employer (can't give the names, lets say these softwares competed with interwoven, which was not in our shortlist... MS CMS wasn't inside this test too.)

Of course, they overperform citydesk in term of number of features and they don't adress the same markets.

but comparison seems quite interesting all the same:

1- You can produce 90% of the final result accessible with these softwares inside the Citydesk simplicity, for "content oriented" sites. The 10% remaining are the less useful.

2- programmation languages for these heavyweighted products are too complex and difficult to learn for non progrrammers, as many webmasters are.

3- Noone of the people at these companies have never heard of "User Interface Design".

4- Most features included in High End CMS make the process harder to follow: especially, validation processes decrease the participation in content production.

5- Single webmasters who can manage all the skills necessary to make these consultingwares runnig are surely very scarce. These softwares require complete teams for the set up phase.

6- With some little (and a few bigger but not unaccessible) improvements, and keeping it's original simplicity, CD 2.0 or 3.0 may fill the larger part of the gap between these "terrificwares" and low cost CMS, and bring "very complex site building" to the rest of us.

Concerning server side low cost CMS, I've used one based on php my/sql  (open source and in french, named SPIP) - in some areas it take advantages of its server sided model, but it doesn't make the site design process simpler. And its Browser based UI is not very enjoyable to use.

vincent benard
Wednesday, November 20, 2002

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