Ever since Microsoft added web content and experience management (WCM) capabilities to SharePoint in 2007, we've been answering inquiries about its suitability for public-facing web publishing and digital marketing scenarios.
In lieu of pat answers, over the years we've always evaluated SharePoint by the same criteria that we assess its best-of-breed competitors. (You can download a sample of that methodology here.) And in most dimensions it has come up short.
An Open Secret
SharePoint's WCM deficiencies have been well-known among industry insiders. Systems integration firms in particular have tended to stay away from SharePoint for public websites, even as they racked up huge revenues developing SharePoint-based intranet and collaboration applications for clients. Even some Microsoft employees (especially outside the USA) will secretly recommend other .NET-based WCM tools to their favored customers.
In the past few years, the chorus has gotten louder, even as Microsoft rolled out a major upgrade. We did a thorough scrub of web content and experience management services in SharePoint 2013 and found little to change directionally about our previous advice.
And yet, at RSG we continue to get inquiries, by phone, by email, in person, and on our webinars. "Should we use SharePoint for our public website?" Or the classic existential question: "Why don't we use what we've already licensed?"
When I share this with WCM industry veterans, they often respond in disbelief. They say things like, "You mean people are still considering SharePoint for WCM?"
Well yes they are. You can understand why. Many enterprises have made significant investments in SharePoint. It's lying around, and Redmond says it can do web experience management, so why not explore? Also, a truncated version now comes bundled with most SharePoint Online subscriptions.
Making Good Decisions
In the end, we recognize that you can't just blurt out to your colleagues that SharePoint is not the right fit. You want to make good decisions, and your peers expect thoughtful rationales.
Moreover, there are always nuances: if your "public websites" are primarily collaborative extranets, SharePoint might offer a good fit (though you should still test it head-to-head against collaboration technology competitors).
Our WCM product evaluation research compares SharePoint to 35 other vendors across 12 scenarios. And I can tell you that seven years after the advent of "MOSS 2007 Publishing Sites," SharePoint still comes up short for public-facing scenarios. But there's never any harm in in asking...