Researching the best content management system (CMS) for your business can be a minefield. There is so much information out there from different CMS providers, along with clever marketeers who know exactly how to capture attention and promote their products as the most revolutionary, secure and superior. It’s no wonder many of our clients come to us confused and unsure of where to go.
In this article, we hope to clear up some of the myths and explain some of the most popular options out there, along with their benefits and costs.
What is a CMS?
In a nutshell, a CMS is a software application that is used to create and manage digital content. The main features for most include indexing, search and retrieval, format management, revision control and publishing. These systems essentially make it easy for anyone, from novice to computer genius, to manage content on a website.
For most organisations, the two essential functions you’ll need from any CMS is an easy-to-use editor interface and intelligent search capabilities. An easy-to-use editor interface helps you to easily navigate the system, meaning more people within your organisation can jump in the driver’s seat without the need for hours of training. And intelligent search is critical so that you can find all of your content and manage it, which saves a lot of time and doesn’t require substantial training just to navigate and find your own content.
What are the options?
There are loads of options on the market, but that doesn’t mean they’re all worth considering. As the years go by more competitors enter the market and it’s worth keeping an eye on them, but ultimately if you’re a business that depends on stability and security, you won’t want to go with lesser-known systems. For that reason, we are going to focus on the most popular content management systems currently out there.
Joomla is a free and open source web CMS that is built on an MVC (model view controller) framework. Joomla websites currently make up around 2.8 per cent of the internet, and it’s the only non-corporate backed CMS on the market. It’s community driven, meaning that developers help to improve the platform by creating extensions for it and sharing tips. There are currently more than 9,400 extensions available from the Joomla community.
Drupal is another free and open source web CMS. It is used by the White House and the Grammy Awards, so it comes with some super backing, but it is not an easy CMS to learn and there is no SEO management, no document indexing and it often needs custom work, therefore it isn’t ideal for businesses that want to manage their own CMS.
Wix is a simple to use CMS that allows anyone to create their own site. The drag and drop features make the build as easy as dragging designed features onto the page, giving it a very low barrier to entry. While Wix does offer a free trial, it does charge businesses; they have website plans and business plans available. The main downside for companies is that there are no extensions or custom build abilities, meaning that you’re stuck with whatever Wix is currently offering.
Weebly has customisable web page designs and a range of tools that focus on helping businesses to grow. Like Wix, there is a very easy drag and drop feature making Weebly very easy for anyone to use. The downside, like the others, is that there are no extensions, so the solution is based on what Weebly is currently offering. Pricing starts at £6.00 /month/user.
Craft is an open source CMS that is not designed for inexperienced users. It is more geared toward those who understand the back-end programming of websites, rather than content or marketing managers who need to regularly update the website. With that in mind, it lacks a lot of the functionality that many would expect, like bulk editing of posts, and simple navigation to manage pages and posts. On the other hand, if you can navigate it and are quite tech-savvy, then it can produce some nice results. Pricing is £150 one-time.
Squarespace is another very easy-to-use CMS. It has grown in popularity over the last decade and is said to have 1,000 new people sign up everyday. They publicise themselves as a one-stop solution for building websites. Squarespace features are comprehensive, with all the stuff you would expect, such as real-time editing, SEO management, pre-built templates, online store builder, drag and drop, and content import and export. The pricing is £9.00 /month/user.
WordPress is the world’s largest and most trusted CMS, which also happens to be free and open source. When it comes to features, there is really no CMS that can beat WordPress. It has been on the market for years and over that time has amassed a giant community of loyal supporters who continually help to improve the platform by designing plugins and sharing tips and tricks. To date, WordPress has 54,816 plugins; more than any other CMS on the market.
Full disclosure: we build all of our websites with WordPress and have done so for the last 10 years. This is because, quite frankly, after all these years, it’s still the best on the market. The CMS is free, and it’s the most popular on the web for many good reasons:
- Open Source – as an open source CMS, WordPress is developed and tested by different contributors, meaning there are always updates coming out, and it is not just WordPress that tells us how good they are, but the many many people that actively work on challenging the platform and pushing it to its limits.
- Flexibility – WordPress has a massive range of themes, making it an excellent solution for beginners, but it can also be custom built, meaning there are literally endless possibilities when it comes to the design of a new site. Thanks to their 50k+ plugins, even beginners can tweak their website in hundreds of thousands of ways to find a solution that fits them. WordPress can also be utilised as part of an internet hosting service, or it can be deployed on a local computer to act as its own web server. Here at Preface Studios, we use our own WordPress optimised hosting on the Google Cloud.
- Support – constant new releases and updates have enabled WordPress to build on its strength year after year. They release information about each of their updates and now have a support library including these, and thousands of FAQs covering every weird and wonderful enquiry that has ever come from a WordPress user. What’s more, they offer online customer support to answer questions and assist users when they don’t know where to find the answers.
- Reliability and security – whenever a new update is released, WordPress lets you know. Keeping versions up-to-date allows users to not only access to new features, but it also protects against hacking, improves performance and fixes bugs. Don’t just take our word for it, this peer-reviewed source code is trusted by the UK Government, CNN and Facebook.
We do really try not to be biased. This is why we are regularly looking into other CMS platforms to make sure what we offer our clients is the best CMS on the market. While there are many very good CMS platforms out there that will get the job done, there are none that currently beat WordPress on capability, flexibility, features and support.
Now you have all the necessary info, let’s get started. Please call the team at Preface Studios today for help with your bespoke WordPress website build or redesign.