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One of the most important decisions you’ll make when planning a website is which content management system (CMS) you’ll use. If you’re new to the world of web development, you may not realize all the benefits you get from using a CMS.
Content Management System vs. Web Builders
A Content Management System (or commonly referred to as a “CMS”) is basically what it sounds like: the system (in this case web software) that allows you create and manage the content on your website.
CMS are typically open source meaning you have 100% control over all aspects of the back end. Unlike webuilders (which we also review), with a CMS you’ll be more in the driver’s seat allowing you to:
- Select any host (learn more in our web hosting service reviews)
- Build the site offline and move it to any server
- Customize the design with templates and plugins (you can purchase and install from third-party sites)
- Do your own backups and handle security
The downside being, they require more technical expertise for the most part and can be more time-consuming to use with all the various aspects of the site to manage.
Is a CMS Right For Me?
If you’re willing to learn (or hire a specialist) they can be worthwhile in the long run to have more freedom and flexibility. A CMS is typically used for bigger named brands whereas web builders are good for startups and small businesses who don’t have the resources or budget to dedicate towards developing a DIY site.
There are a wide range of CSMs to choose from (including a free option) so we’ll help you find the best fit and find out if a CMS is right for your company.
The WordPress open source content management system is practically a household name and dominates the CMS industry worldwide. WordPress was originally designed to build blogs, but today it serves as the easiest-to-install and easiest-to-use content management system for websites of any size.
WordPress is the platform of choice for more than 20 million sites and holds 30+% of the market share worldwide. WordPress clearly dominates the CMS market. In fact, our very own site is built using WordPress which is one of the many reasons they’re our overall pick.
You can get a lot of advanced functionality out of WordPress if you’re willing to learn how to use plugins. There are thousands of free and paid themes, plugins and widgets available, thanks to the enormous popularity of this platform. The larger your website, especially if you use a lot of plugins, the greater the strain on the resources of your server or hosting service.
Joomla is another most popular CMS worldwide. The Joomla CMS system launched in 2005 as an offshoot of the Mambo web CMS project. Unlike WordPress, Joomla’s core includes comprehensive CMS functions without the need to add any extensions.
Its admin interface is intuitive, and setup is straightforward, but installation takes longer than WordPress. Joomla is the middle ground between WordPress and Drupal regarding the need for tech skills. The main drawback with Joomla is advanced functionality. There are considerably fewer extensions available than there are for WordPress and Drupal. With that said, Joomla is still a powerful platform for e-commerce and social networking sites.
Around since 2001, Drupal is the most powerful open source web content management system you’re going to find. This CMS is a developer’s dream compared to WordPress and Joomla, but it’s not for beginners who aren’t well versed in web coding.
Drupal’s latest versions 7.0 and 8.0, however, are a vast improvement toward being more user-friendly for non-developers. A huge plus with Drupal is its slim core, which eats up much fewer of your site’s resources. And this CMS even allows you to set up complex company portals with multi-domain structures.
Blogger is a free service owned by Google that lets you set up a simple website within minutes, and it’s the CMS of choice for more than 1 million websites worldwide. Most Blogger sites are hosted on the blogspot.com subdomain.
Like WordPress, Blogger gives you the ability to publish blog posts with intuitive WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) and basic HTML editing. You can also create and manage multiple blogs through one account.
Blogger, however, is limited in design, customization and functionality. You only get a few templates to choose from, and there aren’t that many third-party designs out there. But if all you need is a no-frills blog and don’t mind Google owning your site, then Blogger could be a great solution.
What Can A Content Management System Do For You?
Check out this brief video for an excellent rundown of how CMS platforms work.
We hope we’ve helped you narrow down your options. As you create a website, what else do you need to consider? You’ll need to register a URL which you can learn more in our reviews of the leading domain registrars. We also have a comprehensive web series where you can find out all aspects of building a site from scratch broken out into 5 steps.
What features are you looking for in a CMS platform?
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