Content Management Systems are all the rage in modern web design. To date, more than 50% of sites are built on one. It is easy to see why - most are simple enough to be picked up even by people who are not development experts, and the vast plugin and theme libraries of the market leaders saves an incredible amount of design and development time. While there are still a few holdouts who rage against the very idea of using a CMS, I like to think most people accept the fact that they are extremely valuable tools. The content management industry is aware of that too, of course - that is why there are so many different platforms currently on the market. Assuming you don’t want to go with WordPress by default, how do you choose between such a vast selection? Honestly, just pick the one you like the best. You read that right. The truth is that there is no ‘right’ choice when it comes to choosing a CMS. As the market has developed, the major platforms have largely fallen in line with one another in terms of functionality, usability, and power. Minor differences exist, of course - different learning curves, distinctive web development languages, different plugin architecture, and so on. But it ultimately comes down to personal preference. The best advice I can give here is that you try out a few different platforms, and see how you like each one. Beyond that, there are a few questions you can ask yourself, too:
- What level of development expertise do I have? While most CMS’ are relatively easy to use, there are some that are easier with a basic knowledge of programming.
- What does my site need to do? What plugins are available for each CMS that will help me do it? How well do they suit my requirements? Questions about whether you need an ecommerce store or to collect sensitive data can help you whittle down your options.
- What does my host support? Are they willing to extend support to another platform?
- How much backend work do I need to do? Is an out-of-the-box solution fine for my business, or will I need to make a lot of changes to the core CMS code?
- What does my budget look like? What can I afford? (Luckily the large, well known CMS platforms are all free!)
- How much community support do I want? Do I want easily-accessible documentation, and plenty of forums I can go to for advice?