A Content Management System (CMS) is a system which allows you to add new content to your website, change how your pages look, categorize that content, and generally manage every aspect of your site without needing to dig into the code, markup, or database that powers your site.
Almost every large website online today is powered by a CMS, and with good reason. If you did not use a CMS to power your site, then every time you wanted to add content to your site you would have to open up a web design package, make the new page, update all the links on your other pages and then use FTP to upload the changes. If you wanted to alter the design of your website you would have to update every single page that you have already made. Imagine how time consuming and error-prone that would be. Content Management Systems take care of all that work for you.
There are many different CMS platforms to choose from. Some platforms are best for blogs, others are good for online stores or community-focused sites. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular platforms, and what kind of site they are best suited to.
WordPress is the most popular blogging platform in the world. It is free, open source, and incredibly easy to use. There are, quite literally, thousands of plugins and themes available for the system and many of them have been released into the community for free. It is easy to find developers and designers that know WordPress well, and the support offered by the community is second to none.
WordPress is an ideal platform for running your organization’s blog, or for running a paid membership site or an online magazine. In theory, you can use plugins to turn WordPress into a community site or an online store, too, however there are other CMS platforms that were designed from the ground up with those features in mind.
Joomla is another popular free and open source CMS. It is easy to install and configure, but the admin panel is a little more confusing than WordPress, and the range of plugins (or modules, as they are called in Joomla), while still impressive is smaller than the range available for WordPress.
Joomla is designed for running large websites. It is a high-performance CMS that can cope with fairly large websites, and it has good multimedia support too. Joomla is ideal for high-traffic websites that need more sophisticated content management options than the categories and tags associated with WordPress.
Drupal is a highly scalable, stable and high performance CMS that is perfect for building huge websites. Drupal requires some technical skill to install and configure, but once you have it working the way you want it, you will find that it never lets you down. Drupal’s community is smaller than the Joomla or WordPress communities, but if you can find someone who knows Drupal well you should have no problems with keeping your site running, even under high traffic loads.
Drupal’s best feature is its ACL management. If you need to configure multiple user groups and want to be sure that your site is always secure, Drupal is the way to go.
There are many other CMS platforms available, but Drupal, Joomla and WordPress are among the most popular. Other platforms to consider include DotNetNuke (which runs on ASP.Net, instead of the more traditional LAMP stack), and off-site blogging platforms such as TypePad.
This post was written by Crispin Jones for CWCS. CWCS are experts in managed hosting and cloud hosting.