Getting a website up and running can feel like a daunting task because there are so many different factors to consider. Right off the bat, you need to define what you actually want your site to accomplish. Will your site be informational with a goal of establishing leads? Maybe you want to sell products directly from your site. One very important detail that will ultimately help you make your decision is which content management system (from here on out referred to as a CMS) you feel most comfortable using while also having access to the kinds of features you need to successfully operate your site. With so many platforms out there for every kind of use it can be difficult deciding which one is right for your needs. Let’s take a look at four of the biggest CMS platforms most commonly used: WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and Magento.
WordPress is the most user friendly, especially for beginners, of the four main CMS platforms. Web hosting is pretty simple with WordPress because of its high adoption rate. Developers are familiar with it because so many of their customers request to use it. Because of WordPress’ simplicity, developers often find it constricting. But if you’re a business owner of hobbyist just looking to get a job done, this actually works in your favor. You want a CMS you can easily understand and make edits in so you can do things yourself quickly if you’d like to have that control. WordPress is also quite versatile allowing your site to scale as needed. If you’re just looking for a blogging platform, it’s perfect as is. If you need a storefront, there are easily installable plugins to transform it into one. In fact, WordPress has significantly more customization choices, including productivity plug-ins, than any other major CMS platform.
Joomla can probably be considered “intermediate” on the difficulty scale. It’s not as user friendly right out of the box like WordPress, but it isn’t so intimidating that only a computer science major can make heads or tails of it. Joomla is going to be attractive to people who want a lot of social networking integration (that is, having a custom made social aspect baked into the site) and aren’t afraid of tinkering a little bit. The community support isn’t as present as it is with WordPress, however. Popularity often produces better support.
Now we’re getting into the weeds a bit. Drupal is popular in many circles because of its power and speed relative to that power. It is open source, which if you are so philosophically inclined is a plus. It’s probably the most flexible CMS platform but the caveat is you’re going to need a background in programming to take full advantage of it. Having a working knowledge of HTML, CSS, and PHP are essentially prerequisites. If you’re not looking to build your CMS from the ground up as a passion project, Drupal may not be for you. Much like the following CMS, Drupal may require you to hire a developer which will increase your overhead. If you’re already living that Linux life, though, you’re probably already using Drupal.
Some might argue Magento isn’t technically a CMS platform but that seems like semantics. Can you post from it and create editorial content? Sure. Is that really what it’s for? Not quite. While not exclusively about content like WordPress is, Magento is a very powerful e-commerce solution if you’re looking to build an online store from scratch. It is similar to Drupal in that you’re going to need some programming know how. If programming isn’t your thing, there’s a good chance you would need to hire a developer to help create and update the site. There is a reason an e-commerce site running on Magento is often a kind of “hybrid site” with the content portion living on another platform and the actual shopping cart experience being on Magento. If the logistics of that sound like a nightmare, Magento may not be the best choice for you then.
Each CMS platform has its strengths and weaknesses. There is no perfect solution. However, when it comes to ease, cost of use, cheap hosting, and community support, it’s difficult to beat WordPress. With the right hosting company, your site can be easily scalable for more advanced functionality and the ability to handle a higher traffic volume. If your site isn’t actually selling products but is geared to be informational, WordPress is practically unbeatable. Bloggers have been relying on WordPress for over a decade thanks to its stability and ease of use. If you’ve been trying to figure out the most hassle free way to get a site off the ground, the above list of CMS platforms should help make that decision a bit easier.
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