Content Management Systems, or CMSs, are applications that allow you to create and deploy websites and manage web content without need for coding.
Since Content Management Systems are so closely linked to the content of your website, choosing the best CMS for your business needs is crucial for your site’s long-term success. Here is an overview of 8 popular CMSs to help you decide which one is best for you.
WordPress started out as a simple blogging platform, and as of 2015 it’s still considered the best CMS for creating basic websites and blogs. It’s open source and free to download. Since it is based on PHP, it integrates well with MySql and MariaDb databases.
One reason why WordPress remains the most popular CMS is because it is very easy to use. You don’t need to be a Nerd to design a slick-looking website and make regular updates to your site’s content. WordPress requires no programming knowledge, and is fast and easy to get up and running. Beginners will find WordPress truly amazing.
It also has an active – and helpful – user community that is very supportive of beginners. Someone in the online community will be willing and able to help you solve most problems you may encounter.
The community also provides thousands of plugins that transform WordPress into a truly powerful CMS. Most of these plugins are available for free, and cover almost every feature your website could need. Plugins save a lot of development time and money. Building customized website features is expensive! WordPress is often chosen by non-profit organizations and schools.
A comparison of Content Management Systems reveals drawbacks to every CMS, and WordPress is no exception. If you plan to modify any of your plugins, then you will need to know PHP. This can be a big drawback since many of the stock templates look the same. To develop a unique website, you will need to do some customization.
And WordPress requires a lot of plugins to function as a full-fledged CMS website. All this extra weight will strongly affect performance. If you expect high traffic volume on your website, then be prepared for your website performance to be a bit slow.
If you are planning to process or host sensitive information on your website – for example, if you plan to accept online payments – then be aware that WordPress has a lot of security holes. Generally, it is not a good choice for websites handling sensitive information.
Finally, while WordPress does work well with databases, it requires knowledge of SQL to do anything that is not straight out of the box like tables and graphics.
Drupal is another PHP-based CMS that is compatible with various databases including MySQL, Oracle, PostgreSQL, SQlite and Microsoft SQL Server. Like WordPress, Drupal is an open source CMS that can be downloaded and installed for free.
Drupal offers a comprehensive programming environment for developers and is more suitable for advanced users.
Drupal’s advanced menu management, poll management, and graphics modification tools allow you to create and manage complex websites with ease. And the Drupal framework works well for any type of website and content. Unlike WordPress, Drupal can be relied on for large commercial websites, and provides high-end security features.
A free CMS, Drupal has thousands of plugins and extensions that let you add even more functionality to your website. It also has strong support from developer communities, and offers well-defined documentation.
The major disadvantage of Drupal is that it is designed for advanced users. Installation and modification requires technical knowledge, and beginners will find it very difficult to work with Drupal. Extensive knowledge of PHP, HTML and CSS are required to work on even basic Drupal websites.
Drupal is also not backwards compatible, and therefore plugins and other code need to be rewritten for every upgrade.
Even though it is scalable, some plugins can end up consuming more server resources than on WordPress sites, making it sluggish if you are not able to troubleshoot the problem.
The open source CMS Joomla is the third most popular. In terms of ease of use, it is somewhere between WordPress and Drupal.
Joomla can be downloaded and installed quickly and easily and is also based on PHP. It offers thousands of free plugins to extend the functionality of your website and works with several major databases such as MySQL, PostgreSQl, MSSQL and SQLite.
Joomla is very good at improving SEO results as it generates SEO-friendly links in a scaleable system. It also offers advanced administration features and the easiest content management without any need for coding.
While Joomla is a very robust system, it lacks some of the more advanced features provided by Drupal. This makes Joomla less attractive for power users. Additionally, many of the more useful plugins for Joomla are only available as paid add-ons.
4. Expression Engine
Expression Engine is a proprietary CMS developed by Ellislab. It provides a comprehensive set of features similar to WordPress and Drupal – for a price. Expression Engine is built on a PHP framework and uses a MySql database. Web pages are created using a single document-type template.
Since it is proprietary, you may encounter a smaller support community than you find with that you find with source systems – but you do get official commercial support from the vendor. Many consider the security features of Expression Engine to be the best in the industry, and programmers using this CMS rate it highly in terms of flexibility, scalability and performance.
Expression Engine only has 22 add-on modules and far fewer plugins than most community supported CMSs. But the core features they do provide are complete and useful.
Another major disadvantage for many users is that Expression Engine is rather expensive; it’s not recommended for small or simple websites. It also doesn’t provide interactive demos before you purchase, so it is difficult to get a feel for this CMS before you lay out some cash.
As a result, this CMS is used mostly by experts in the industry who want to build large, scalable websites. The cost of licensing may be quite high for a single website, but for large corporations Expression Engine may be a smart investment.
Typo3 provides over one thousand extensions that let you build a rich website with complex functionality. It prides itself on being highly scalable. This makes Typo3 perfect for anything from a simple company page to a large news site. It supports multiple content types, and the script’s internal language allows for the creation of both static and dynamic content. There’s also strong community support for this CMS, which will help you get started with the basics.
Typo3 has a steep learning curve and is not recommended for beginners. Most people agree that it is not as straightforward as WordPress or Joomla. Even seasoned programmers will require some time to get used to it.
SilverStripe has powerful content authoring tools that let you schedule publications, establish your own content approval process, and set different permission levels for different parts of the site. Free and open source, SilverStripe has a growing development community and a well-documented code base.
On the downside, SilverStripe also has a steep learning curve, and offers fewer plugins and high-quality themes than most other CMS choices, although their development team is working hard to change this.
LightCMS is quick and easy to use. It provides tools for eCommerce, blogs, analytics and several other capabilities. Most notably, you don’t need to download any software to use LightCMS, since it works as a cloud-based or hosted service.
LightCMS offers two way to create websites; either by using a pre-built template or by creating your own template.
LightCMS lacks a built-in export option, so it is not very helpful if you want to migrate at some point to a full-featured CMS. It is best for simple sites that need to be created quickly by someone with very limited knowledge of website creation. It does not have complex features.
Pricing is based on the number of products and pages you have on your site. The most basic account costs $19 per month and includes 10 pages. For $99 per month, you can have unlimited pages and products.
Cushy is a hosted CMS that is available in both free and paid versions. The free version does not allow you to brand your site, and offers a limited WYSIWYG editor. The paid version gives you extra flexibility for a monthly fee of $28, and includes an unlimited number of websites.
The distinctive feature of CushyCMS is that it allows anyone you designate to edit your content directly on the site. You can design a website and set permission levels and client access through your CushyCMS account.
As for add-ons, Cushy told me that they “do not have any add-ons as everything you need is built directly into the website creation tools.” This simplifies their website creation interface, allowing you to quickly come up with feature-filled websites in just a few minutes.
CushyCMS is easy to get started with, but many useful features are available only with the paid version of the WYSIWYG editor. This means that unless you are using it for multiple sites, Cushy CMS may turn out to be quite expensive.
|Free||Yes||Yes||Yes||$300 Plus||Yes||Yes||$20-100/month||Yes or Pro $28/month|
|No Coding knowledge needed||Yes||No||Yes||No||No||No||Yes||Yes|
Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list; there are many more CMSs available. Some are designed for a single purpose – such as Moodle for managing educational content – or the Magento CMS that is extensively used for managing content for eCommerce sites.
Besides functionality and features, there are several other factors such as licensing, accessibility, security, training, hosting, support, web analytics and SEO that you need to consider when selecting a CMS.
You may also have to factor in the cost and employee training that may be required for working with the CMS. It is a good practice to try out your CMS before you make a final decision. However, evaluating a CMS can take a lot of time. Therefore, you should start by filtering based on your most pressing requirements.
|Cost||Yes||Yes||Yes||$300 Plus||Yes||Yes||$20-100/month||Yes or Pro $28/month|
All of these top Content Management Systems have been on the market for a pretty long time already. One already has more than a half of the market, and another claims only one percent market share. But don’t make your final decision based purely on popularity. Each of these CMSs has its own merits.
When choosing a CMS, make sure to consider your future growth. A CMS is a long-term commitment, so you want a Content Management System that can grow with you and your company. If you’re looking to launch a new site – or to migrate to a new CMS – then feel free to ask us Nerds any questions you may have!