Choosing the Best CMS For You

Choosing the Best CMS For You

One popular approach to building and managing websites among corporations and small businesses alike are content management systems (CMS), or software that provides tools for website authoring, collaboration and administration for users with little knowledge of programming languages. CMS’s can vary widely, but most provide the ability to quickly build websites, store content and other information in databases, and offer easy-to-use administration interfaces for less technical users. They provide a myriad of benefits over other methods of building websites, such as manually uploading files to a server or using a blogging platform (a simpler and more limited subset of CMS’s). CMS’s allow websites to feature dynamic content without the hassle of regularly updating files, offer customized design options, and provide a wider range of features (such as ecommerce or customer account areas).

Tip: Before starting your research, take a look at these five questions to ask when choosing a CMS to help narrow down your priorities.

Some of the most popular CMS options include WordPress Hosting, Joomla, and Drupal. All of these options are open source software that are free to download and use. Due to their open source nature and large user communities, each CMS will likely be continually improved over time and comes with an vast set of add-ons, plugins, and extensions. While any of these CMS’s are excellent choices, each offers something different to the prospective site builder. To help you make the choice that is best for you and your needs, we’ve detailed the primary benefits of each option below.

WordPress

WordPress.org

  • Most Popular CMS & Largest Support Community
  • Most Available Plugins & Themes
  • Easiest-to-Use Interface
  • Ideal for Any Size Website
  • Somewhat Limited Development Options
  • Free to Download

WordPress.org is the most popular CMS in the market, and as such it comes with the largest developer and user community. This community of users provides an incredible level of support and the most extensive list of available plugins and themes. WordPress began as a blogging platform, but has transitioned into popular use as an easy-to-use and simple CMS. It still maintains a simple blogging platform, WordPress.com, as a separate entity for users who don’t want to find their own web host or worry about downloading the WordPress.org software. WordPress.com is much more limited with the types of website you can build, however, which explains why WordPress.org is the more popular option for businesses. Of the three CMS’s in this blog post, WordPress.org requires the least amount of technical know-how to operate. While setting up a website through WordPress is intuitive and easy, it still provides developers with the ability to add or edit back-end code to create customized looks.

It’s worth noting that WordPress does come with limitations. If a website grows too large too quickly, it can require significant server resources to maintain. In addition, while WordPress has a powerful and easy-to-use interface, editing of its core framework often takes skilled developers, and is not generally recommended. Edits made to the WordPress core could prevent you from updating your site with the latest WordPress upgrade, making your site more vulnerable to attacks. In the end, WordPress is ideal for websites or blogs of all sizes, and the many add-ons make it easy to expand a website’s functionality as it grows – to a point. Websites that expect to quickly grow in traffic or complexity might find the WordPress framework somewhat limiting. Despite that barrier, some of WordPress’ more notable clients include large corporations like UPS, CNN, and Spotify. WordPress is free to download and offers many premium add-ons available for a fee.

Check out our other WordPress-related blog posts to learn about getting started with WordPress, our most recommended WordPress security tips, and our top WordPress security plugins and ecommerce plugins.

Drupal

Drupal

  • Most Powerful & Flexible CMS
  • Thousands of Add-ons Available
  • Ideal for Complex Sites with Multiple Users, Community Platforms, Ecommerce, & Multiple Content Types
  • Basic Knowledge of Programming Languages Required
  • Free to Download

As one of the most technical CMS’s in the market, Drupal is a powerful tool for developing the most complex websites, such as those with multiple users, community platforms, enterprise sites, ecommerce sites, and more. This CMS is the most flexible option, however it can often require a high-level of programming knowledge to take advantage of its flexibility. Developers should have at least a basic knowledge of HTML, CSS, PHP, and Javascript/JQuery in order to build and troubleshoot any site built with Drupal. The level of expertise needed to operate Drupal does come with benefits, however. Drupal can create more advanced websites and is perfect for websites that need to be flexible enough for: expanding site features in the future (such as ecommerce or a wiki), adding customized functionality, or handling complicated forms and workflows. In particular, users of Drupal have praised its flexible management, organization, and presentation of seeming unlimited content types. Examples of organizations that use Drupal include The White House, Turner Broadcasting, and The Weather Channel. Drupal is free to download and premium features are available to be purchased, but users that lack the technical know-how to build a Drupal site might find themselves paying for technical support.

Joomla

Joomla

  • Easier-to-Use Interface than Drupal
  • Offers More Power & Flexibility than WordPress
  • Thousands of Extensions Available
  • Ideal for Sites with Ecommerce or Built in Social Networking
  • Free to Download

Often discussed as the compromise between Drupal and WordPress, Joomla is easier to operate than Drupal, but offers more flexibility in site development than WordPress. Joomla websites can be quickly setup without significant support, but some technical know-how might be helpful. Despite Joomla’s relative ease-of-use, it is used to develop complex websites, such as those with ecommerce functionality or that require built in social networking. In fact, it was designed to perform as a community platform and features strong social networking features. It is extremely customizable and comes with a large selection of templates and styles, as well as a wide range of services and options that are available as off-the-shelf functionality. Business like Ikea, Citibank, and Harvard University utilized Joomla to build various parts of their online presence. Joomla is also free to download and provides a variety of premium features available for purchase.

Ghost

BONUS: Ghost

  • Simple Blogging Platform
  • Focuses on Publishing Content
  • Clean & Easy-to-Use Interface
  • Known for Its Split-Screen Editing
  • Free to Use

Ghost is a blogging platform that was created as a fork of WordPress, but has been recreated from scratch since its original creation. As mentioned above, blogging platforms are a subset of CMS’s, but are much more limited in their available features, designs, layout, and flexibility. While Ghost is not truly a CMS, we believe it deserves to be mentioned in this article because of its growing popularity. The main purpose behind Ghost was to create a beautifully designed, free, and open source platform that’s main focus is publishing content. Ghost uses node.js, which is both easier to scale and more consistent than the PHP that WordPress uses. It provides all the most important blogging features, such as SEO optimization, social sharing, and other essential features all available with the core install instead of via external plugins. One of the most lauded features is the split-screen editing, allowing users to see their content as it would be published while they are writing. It also provides an easy way to support multi-author blogs. While Ghost is not a CMS, it’s popularity as a blogging platform makes it ideal for many users who don’t need the complications of a traditional CMS.

Building a website means taking a lot of factors into consideration, including both current and future needs. Whether or not you need a lot flexibility and technical capability, need a fast and easy-to-use website capable of handling all of your data, or simply need an quick way to push out content, there will be a platform to suit your needs. All of these platforms can be utilized on our VPS or Dedicated hosting. Our always available Heroic Support® team can help you figure out which platform best fits your needs.