Adobe Business Catalyst is ending: what you need to do

Adobe recently announced that they’re shutting down their Business Catalyst content management system (CMS). They are no longer allowing new trial sites and will stop hosting all existing sites from March 26, 2020.

In the digital space, a decision like this is referred to as “end of life”. That’s because your site and all your data will literally be removed beyond a system’s end-of-life date.

BuiltWith notes that this Adobe decision will affect 11,045 websites with the “.com.au” domain extension. If you’re one of these Business Catalyst sites, you have some decisions to make and I recommend you make them very soon.

What are my options?

There are plenty of CMS platforms available, from the widely popular and open-source WordPress (which now powers 30 per cent of the web) to Adobe’s new acquisition (Magento). The right one for you will depend on your requirements, what accessible features you were using with Business Catalyst and what you expect from your new platform.

Let’s first look at some of the features of Business Catalyst that originally made it so appealing:

● In-built modules

These provide users with the ability to deliver email newsletters, monitor analytics, use a customer relationship management (CRM) system, manage events , and launch e-commerce facilities. It means not having to use third-party solutions like email service providers MailChimp or Campaign Monitor.

● It’s less of a security target

Business Catalyst is a smaller platform, so it’s less of a target for cyberattacks compared to WordPress which is often a target due to its widespread use.

● It’s a full-featured website-hosting platform

Business Catalyst sites are hosted by Adobe, so no need to source yet another third-party provider.

To me, the big decision is between native vs. external solutions. While security is a concern, all precautions should be taken by all website owners no matter what platform they’re using.

Built-in vs. third-party solutions

Business Catalyst fans rave about having the functionality available within their CMS and all their data in one centralised location. However, I can make an argument that those positives are in fact negatives. Consider this:

  • Data in the one location makes it vulnerable.
  • A lot of functionality that you don’t need means a bloated website.
  • One source working on all those different product features means less product updates and less desire to offer industry-leading features.

Depending on where you stand, you could look at one of the following platforms:

  • If you want built-in functionality and self-hosted websites, consider Squarespace and Wix for a more basic site build. If you need e-commerce, look at Shopify.
  • If you don’t want to have built-in functionality and are happy to source specialist solutions for your email newsletters or CRM, then I encourage you to investigate WordPress.
  • Another option is either Joomla or Drupal – both have e-commerce platforms available to install. Or if you want a dedicated e-commerce platform, consider Magento (Adobe’s new acquisition).

When should I get started?

Whether you’re looking to replicate your existing site or developing a new website, you need to give yourself plenty of lead time. The process will be less extensive for smaller sites, but no matter what the size of your site, I strongly encourage you to start work on it at least six months prior to your deadline. So by September or October this year you should have decided on your new platform, found your developer and have commenced the project .

In other words, start addressing the issue now. Do your research. Identify the right platform for you. Get some expert advice and find the right developer or agency to do the job.

Quentin Aisbett, Digital Strategist, OnQ Marketing

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