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July 1, 2017

How to Choose the Right CMS for Your Website – What you need to Know

In today’s world, there are numerous websites that exist across the whole world and each website varies in some ways compared to another.

Basically, you can categorize these websites in two simple ways. You could say those categories are the overall quality of the website and the ability to customize and scale. In short, making the website is one part of the job, while maintaining it is a different one.

Now, when it comes to maintaining a website, you realize it is quite important. Besides posting quality content there should also be a change in design.

For example, adding new features to the website could provide a better user experience. Maintaining a website isn’t quite easy, but if approached right, it’s an easy job. Keeping it up to date with various plugins and security updates requires a lot of effort and time, so one may think – what is the solution?

A platform called Content Management System or “CMS” for short provides the optimal solution for the issue. It reduces the overall hassle around the website to a minimum giving you more free time to put into something else, but is that really all it does?

Another simple answer, no. There are many Content Management Systems which in the core, provide the similar functionality, but each one of them provides different specific functionality for a different purpose. Which leads us to the question on how to chose the right CMS. In short terms, it really depends on the type of a website you want to build and personal preference.

How to Choose the right CMS

The most important thing for your website and yourself is to choose the right CMS. There are a lot of factors to put in consideration due to the fact that so many CMS exist.

I will factor all of the CMS as per personal experiences in the following categories: Quality, Ease of Use and Popularity. Where is the cost?

There are many CMS that cost a lot of money, up to $15,000! The price of a CMS doesn’t always match with the quality though. It is actually the opposite, believe it or not. Free and Open Source CMS have proven to be a better choice, mostly due to the massive community support and contribution.

This renders the category of cost irrelevant but doesn’t get me wrong because not all CMS are free but even that isn’t an issue as long as it is a quality CMS. Note, the basics of a CMS are free, while to get the extended functionality you will, in most cases have to pay some sort of a fee.

Common myths when choosing the right CMS

Picking a wrong CMS isn’t something unusual. After all, there’s quite a lot of choices to pick from so it makes it harder to understand which one is the best option for you. Interestingly, it is actually the opposite, meaning quite a lot of users pick the wrong one and it is quite common.

Mistakes could be easy to solve or really hard to the point where the whole project needs to be redone. Mistakes when choosing a CMS are actually quite common as well, but because of that, people have noted the most common misconceptions that could be easily avoided and resolved with just a few steps. The questions still stay the same, how?

Mistake #1 – Let someone else choose the right CMS for you

Probably the most common mistake people make is to let someone else choose the CMS instead of themselves. This is quite common, believe it or not, because, in reality, some people just want to get it over with. In the end, they do a terrible job at choosing the right cms, which ends up causing you a headache due to the wrong CMS.

Hiring someone who has a degree in I.T. will not change the fact that they don’t fully understand your business needs. Even if they do a good job, it still isn’t a guarantee that it will stay like that.

While if you choose the CMS and hire someone to work on your website, that is a different story. Even simply getting someone to make you the website and to maintain it still makes it a tough decision. In theory, this would save you a lot of time and effort but this will cost you a decent amount of money to complete the job.

To conclude it, picking your own CMS is quite important due to the fact that the person who will work on it is probably you. Do keep in mind, even in this case, exceptions exist. But this is the most common issue. DIY users just end up getting a random CMS due to the fact that one of their friends had a good experience with it. That is no guarantee it will work best for you.

Mistake #2 – Not doing the research before you choose the right CMS

Research is an important part if you want to choose the right CMS for your website. This means that no matter how hard the decision is, you should do your homework and invest some time to research. Failing to do some research might cost you more than you expect.

Whereas doing research will provide you with the knowledge and insights to make the right choice. Time spent researching is never wasted.

Mistake #3 – Choose the right CMS by price

This one is pretty obvious for most of the services and products online. High price doesn’t necessarily mean high quality. That brings us to the previous mistake which is research. Interestingly enough, all of these mistakes are actually linked together. This mistake could be easily avoided with some research if you invest a portion of your time.

A quality made CMS will never cost you thousands of dollars to buy. There are many examples of this so do not think if you buy a $15.000 CMS that you have any advantages in any way. Cheap or free CMS in most of the cases provide the same features and in many ways a much better quality than an expensive one. How is this possible though?

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People tend to use something that is cheap or free as they will save up money on it. Meaning a lot of people use and will use the cheap/free CMS and provide a lot of feedback regarding certain issues. The community will contribute and make them better in every new update.

Every CMS you encounter will have its flaws and strengths. However, if you research all of the CMS there are out there, you should come up to a conclusion that the free ones are usually a good choice as there is an enormous user community. The community is there to help you with any of the issues you encounter. Now, I’m not saying free CMS are the best ones, but if used right, they can be really powerful and useful.

Mistake #4 – Every CMS is the same

This is another massive mistake users make when they choose the right CMS. While it is true that each CMS has something in common with each other, it doesn’t really mean that each one is the same. However, there are special occasions where two CMS are so similar that people can’t tell the difference, but that is quite rare to see. Each CMS excels at something that makes it unique.

For example, Drupal is a robust system that has tons of features. While WordPress is limited in many ways where you will need to add plugins in order to expand its functionality. Each CMS is unique and requires a certain amount of technical skills to use and maintain properly.

Mistake #5 – The simpler, the better

This is the probably one of the biggest mistakes you can make when you choose the right CMS. This is a common misconception, as an easy to use CMS usually lacks many features that other CMS have built in. While it is true, that a simple CMS is easier to learn and use for certain things.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be a good fit for every project. For example, what will you do when a CMS lacks a certain feature that you need when your business website grows? You could try to mess with the code of the CMS, if you are not technical you might break something.

You will probably need to hire a developer which will result costing you a lot of money and this might happen again. You might be forced to replace your current CMS with a new one, and if you have a tight budget this will be a nightmare.

To avoid these problems you have to plan out your steps very carefully. Whether it’s just a casual blog, corporate website or something inexplicably complex like a large scale online store, you still should consider future-proofing it. Sure there are some cases where future-proofing isn’t necessary, but it actually depends on your and your business needs. However, note the following: Future proofing might save you more time in the long term process.

Which One is the Best for Your Organisation?

Which CMS is the Best for Your Organisation

The right CMS varies from case to case, with each business and project having different demands. Keeping that in mind, you can read about few of them in the next paragraphs, and see what they are about. By simply going through a few of them you will have a much better understanding of what each has to offer and what that means to you.

1. WordPress

WordPress CMS

WordPress is one of the most popular CMS, besides being the most popular it is also the most used CMS at the moment. But that isn’t without a reason, WordPress, even though it has a lot of features, it is also extremely easy to use, providing you with a lot of free time in return.

For the past couple of years, 90% of my web development projects for my clients are websites built with WordPress. WordPress is free to use and provides a simple and easy way to build your website. In order to expand the functionality of WordPress, you would need to invest a small amount of money. One of the extras is premium themes which have proven to be quite popular amongst WordPress users.

However, WordPress excels at user-created content, as it started out as a blogging platform. There is an uncountable number of user-made themes, plugins which you could choose from. Some are free, some are not, but as usual, with proper research, you won’t waste a penny.

In short, WordPress is really easy to use with a bit of practice, but that isn’t the only reason why WordPress is a good CMS. WordPress comes with many quality features that will satisfy many users. It is a bit limited on a few things, but that doesn’t impact the overall quality as it is usable on almost every site with just a bit of adjustment. As far as I’ve seen, WordPress has a lot of popularity within users who run their blogs, meaning WordPress hosts a quite large amount of blogs on the internet.

As far as I’ve seen, WordPress has a lot of popularity within users who run their blogs, meaning WordPress hosts a quite large amount of blogs on the internet.

2. Drupal

Drupal CMS

Drupal with the constant updates has become an extremely powerful CMS. It is widely considered to be the best CMS currently, as it provides a user-friendly experience. Unlike other CMS, Drupal can be used on anything because it provides the tools to configure every aspect of the website. For example, WordPress simple design and layout is mostly used for blogs, while Drupal is used for everything. Drupal is a robust CMS, and it is mostly used for large websites and portals. But it can be used for anything you want it to be with enough effort and research.

Unlike other CMS that aim to be simple and fast, Drupal aims to be a quality CMS and it delivers on that note, but that comes with a side effect. In order to learn Drupal, you will need to set aside at least a whole month to get used to it. Once you learn it, you won’t regret it, as it will provide many features and abilities. Note, other CMS can incorporate the same features that Drupal has, but to do so, you would need to add such things manually. Drupal, just like WordPress lets the user create their own custom themes for their websites which is one of the key features every CMS should have. But to do this you have to know CSS.

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Once you learn it, you won’t regret it, as it will provide many features and abilities. Note, other CMS can incorporate the same features that Drupal has, but to do so, you would need to add such things manually. Drupal, just like WordPress lets the user create their own custom themes for their websites which is one of the key features every CMS should have. But to do this you have to know CSS.

In a nutshell, Drupal is very flexible with more features and possibilities than most of the CMS out there, but it takes the time to learn it as well as a basic understanding of HTML and CSS. It truly doesn’t matter what type of site you want to make on Drupal as it provides all the necessary components and even more.

3. Magento

Magento eCommerce

Magento is just awesome, it provides everything you need to build amazing eCommerce solutions. It is a CMS but it is targeted at certain types of websites, eCommerce sites, and online shops. That doesn’t mean it isn’t easy to use. It is fairly easy to learn and use. The main advantage Magento has over the other CMS is that it has features specifically built for the eCommerce business niche.

If you wish to make an online shop then go with Magento as it provides all the features you need and it’s fairly easy to learn and use.

4. Silverstripe

SilverStripe CMS

SilverStripe provides a great user interface, proving its overall quality. It is slowly being adjusted to the point where it is able to rival with Drupal in a few fields. But it is still limited in some aspects, unlike Drupal. The main strength of Silverstripe is the fact that you can use it on almost every site without any issues. Unlike Drupal, it doesn’t require much hassle and learning which provides a much user-friendly experience.

Unlike Drupal, it doesn’t require much hassle and learning which provides a much user-friendly experience.

In short, Silverstripe is easy to use, provides a wide range of features that let you make almost any type of a website in a quick time span. It’s the simplistic version of Drupal, with the only flaw being that a few features are missing.

5. Joomla

Joomla CMS

It is hard for me to be objective on this one. For years I was in love with Joomla. This is the first CMS I started using, actually, I was one of the first users of the Mambo CMS even before Joomla existed. Joomla is a fork of Mambo CMS, and it was developed by a group of former Mambo CMS developers. Man, so many memories…

Joomla is a famous CMS and special in many ways. It isn’t overly complex and it isn’t as simple as WordPress. It provides a nice balance in many ways. It doesn’t limit the user but it does require the use of HTML and  CSS or at least some knowledge. It has many unique features compared to other CMS and the updates are quite frequent. But as many other CMS, it requires a lot of extensions to build larger websites.

Joomla! is more robust and powerful than WordPress but has fewer features than Drupal. It could be placed in between those two CMS. Joomla is great if you wish to build middle size websites and platforms if you need something simpler use WordPress and for large sites, it is better to use Drupal.The biggest problem of Joomla is although it has a large number of extensions, a huge number of them are commercial.

6. Radiant CMS

Radiant CMS

Divi WordPress Theme

This is quite possibly the most special CMS as it isn’t based on PHP but rather on Ruby on Rails, which makes it a unique CMS at the moment. It is similar to Silverstripe in many ways. It is elegant and easy to use but bit hard to setup. It has all the regular features a CMS has and offers a flexible layout style.

Radiant CMS is easy to use, it is unique as it is based on Ruby, but it doesn’t differ much compared to other CMS, meaning it’s mostly a choice of style.

Conclusion

In this article, I’ve tried to cover only the best known CMS. They are numbered in a completely random order. There are many more CMS out there, free and commercial, built for eCommerce, eLearning, enterprise platforms, document management, blogging, website builders and much more.

You can check out others CMS too, like:

  1. Moto CMS

  2. SQUARESPACE

  3. WIX

  4. TYPO3

  5. CONTAO

  6. ALFRESCO

  7. CushyCMS

  8. TextPattern

  9. ExpressionEngine

  10. Moodle

  11. PrestaShop

With so many CMS it’s still hard to decide which one is the best as it mostly depends on what type of a website you want to create and your business needs. For example, if you wish to create a basic blog use WordPress as it will save you a lot of time compared to Drupal, but if you want to make something complex, then switch to Drupal.

If you need an eLearning platform go with Moodle if you need a DMS use Alfresco, for eCommerce go with Magento or PrestaShop.

With that, I end this topic with one advice.

Do your research before going into business.

I hope this article proved useful to you as I did gain some insightful information while researching some of these things as well. If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me an e-mail or just send me a comment.

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Salim Šabić
Salim Šabić
Hi, my name is Salim Šabić. Thanks for visiting my website. How can I help You? WHAT I DO: I help you grow your business online by developing and optimizing amazing business websites and applications. I can help you promote your business and reach more customers online easy! I am a certified web developer and eLearning consultant offering over 10 years of experience on both client and server sides.

5 Comments

  1. alanz says:

    That’s what I was looking for. Great tnx for the useful article. I checked which CMS is used on my fav websites at cms check service and decided to try Magento. Now I can say that I’m completely satisfied with its work.

  2. Great article! Useful info for CMS developers as well as for beginners

  3. What a great article Salim. I got a new knowledge about CMS look for.

    It’s really helping me to create my blog to the nice one.

    Regards
    http://Www.aulaandika.com

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