Ektron CMS400: Great Bang for the Buck
Updated November 12, 2015

Ektron CMS400: Great Bang for the Buck

John Shea | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 6 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source

Software Version

Ektron Web CMS

Overall Satisfaction with Optimizely Content Cloud (formerly Episerver Content Cloud)

We use Ektron CMS400 for our organization's public-facing web site. It it used across the entire organization. Sometimes we use it for limited B2B and intranet purposes. As a smaller institution of higher education, financial resources are always a concern. Ektron CMS400 provides a wealth of power, flexibility, and features for an affordable price vs. the competition. Great bang for the buck. It addresses our business need for a central web content management system, including versioning, workflow, and permissions.
  • From a developer perspective, Ektron CMS400 is powerful and flexible. All the features and functionality of the system are accessible to the developer through a well documented API.
  • The system has had great backwards compatibility through numerous upgrade cycles. Security patches have been problem-free.
  • Ektron CMS400 is great for working with structured data. I feel this is a key strength. It is simple to build smart forms for authoring content with structured data. The data is then available in XML format as individual items or collections of items, and may be displayed or applied as desired.
  • The evolution of the product has focused on architecture and functionality that is of value in large distributed installations, but less so for smaller 1 or 2 server implementations.
  • Development of the back end authoring and administrative interface has lagged. It has received a cosmetic face lift over the years, but has received little attention in regards to ease-of-use and usability. To some degree, it has poor discoverability with many idiosyncratic UI conventions.
  • Our authors complain about learning and retaining the knowledge for using the authoring interface. In Ektron's usage model, it is a skilled role. We would prefer the authoring be more intuitive. I don't feel Ektron necessarily lags behind the competition in this area, but there is lots of room for improvement and differentiation here if they chose to make this a priority.
  • Ektron CMS400 has helped us to improve web publication speed, especially with forms.
  • The system has helped improve departmental content ownership and content maintenance.
  • Ektron has definitely helped us provide better customer service through fresher content, conversion of paper forms to web forms, and publishing of rich media assets.
Ektron offers great bang for the buck for cost sensitive organizations needing enterprise level cms features and functionality. The compromise occurs in the area of back end interface usability. It is a powerful tool for developers, but requires a significant learning curve for authors. Ektron is also powerful in regards to handling structured content. percussion did not meet our structured content needs. Cascade Server wasn't affordable. As an organization, we have been moving away from open-source and so Drupal and WordPress have not been good fits. (However, we have begun to seriously reconsider WordPress.) SharePoint, at this time, would require more development effort than we are prepared to perform in order to make it work as the cms for our public web site.
I think Ektron is good for enterprise use where bang for the buck is a priority and there is a commitment to having an on-staff web team: developer, cms administrator, and lead author (at a minimum). For small organization use, I question if it is the best value in terms of staffing required and overkill of functionality; open-source options may be a better fit in this case. Ektron is great when there is lots of structured content that needs to be managed, displayed, and/or repurposed. If you are working with mostly free-form content, and at a smaller organization, I think there are other better options.

Optimizely Content Cloud Feature Ratings

WYSIWYG editor
Code quality / cleanliness
Admin section
Page templates
Mobile optimization / responsive design
Publishing workflow
Form generator
Content taxonomy
SEO support
Bulk management
Availability / breadth of extensions
Community / comment management
Internationalization / multi-language
Role-based user permissions

Optimizely Content Cloud (formerly Episerver Content Cloud) Implementation

Using Optimizely Content Cloud (formerly Episerver Content Cloud)

Feel confident using
Difficult to use
Not well integrated
Slow to learn
  • Smart forms and handling structured content are a key strength of the system.
  • Ektron's developer API is powerful and comprehensive.
  • Web forms are easy for author to implement.
  • Authoring interface is not always intuitive, has a learning curve, and it remains difficult to insulate non-technical users from needing to know some HTML and CSS.
  • For authors, there is a confusing paradigm in the back end between two different types of content repositories.
  • Although web forms are easy for authors to implement, there are some idiosyncrasies in how submitted form data is handled in the back end. For instance, a submitted email form will never complete if there is an issue with connecting to the mail server. This should be asynchronous, and not the site visitor's problem.
Usability principles have been a part of modern web application development for some time now. Ektron lags behind in this area. It's not that the back end is terrible, but to me it does not reflect commitment, expertise, and a systematic approach to usability in Ektron's development process. There are too many UI idiosyncrasies and inconsistencies for my liking.