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What CMS is best for you

Website content management solutions have evolved into robust, stable, feature-rich, versatile and affordable on-line publishing systems. But they are not all the same, in fact, many aren't even playing in the same game. Choosing the right CMS depends on numerous unique business requirements.

What's right for your business starts with the answering of some basic questions.

  • How secure will it be?
  • Will it address your business needs?
  • Will it be intuitive and user-friendly?
  • Will it be flexible in terms of design and development?
  • Will it be scale-able to future requirements?
  • Will the platform be supported into the future?
  • Will the developer still be in business when you need help?
  • What level of developement do you need?
  • Is the technology current?
  • What will it cost to maintain?
  • Is the solution the right for your business?

The Trade-offs

As similar as the end product may be there is usually some kind of trade-offs to picking any one solution, they are worth investigating. Below you find a listing of some of the more popular systems along with some of their pros and cons.

ExpressionEngine

ExpressionEngine is a commercially available solution with a fantastic reputation for security, ease of use, flexibility. What you pay in licensing is easily absorbed by a decrease in development costs which means it is easily competitive with the many free software solutions such as WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal.

ExpressionEngine is perfect for simple small businesses or a complex enterprise level organisation. It can serve both purposes well. And a good developer can build in optimised simplicity and easy to follow instructions at the form field level.

Pros

  • Great solution for simple or very complicated site requirements
  • Easy to use for non-technical personnel, minimal html knowledge required
  • Not a cookie cutter solution, no design restrictions
  • Each publish page can be different and is based on a fill-in-the-blanks structure that can incorporate good SEO requirements
  • The CMS system is run on PHP, but pages are written in HTML
  • Because pages are HTML based, it integrates easily with other development processes
  • Excellent security track record
  • Supported by a well developed user community
  • Can handle high traffic
  • Stable system

Cons

  • License purchase required
  • Installation process is not automated
  • Most add-ons must be purchased, but are well supported

WordPress

WordPress has become a very popular website content solution, in fact, it represents about half of all the websites out there. It's so simple to install, that most website hosting companies offer and install it for you, for free - all you have to do is pick a template (in most cases for a cost), come up with the content, publish it and you’re done. WordPress is a pretty fantastic solution for many small businesses, it’s relatively easy to use, and you don’t have to be a fluent website coder to get it up and running.

Customization, however, is another issue, WordPress doesn’t always give you exactly what you want, which I would liken to trying to fit a full-sized fridge into a small compact car, it's doable but it potentially diminishes the integrity of the car. Customization requires PHP back-engineering that is awkward, sometimes coding intense and potentially costly.

Knowing whether WordPress is right for you really, depends on what you want regarding implementation speed and plugin requirements. In the long run, it’s probably worth running it by someone who knows its limitations before you pounce on it as a solution.

Pros

  • Lots of templates and plugins
  • Relatively user friendly
  • Good SEO capabilities
  • High market share, lots of WP developers
  • WYSIWYG text editing and code viewing

Cons

  • Blog, not a true CMS
  • Stability and support of plugins have been an issue
  • Security has been an issue
  • PHP knowledge required

Joomla

Joomla is another free open-source software platform. You can access hundreds of extensions, plugins, and modules to get the exact look you want for your website. It’s somewhat more complicated than WordPress, customization will require a developer to manage its deep levels, and it requires regular upkeep that may be beyond the capabilities of a casual coder.

Pros

  • Easy to install
  • Lots of plugins
  • Good community support
  • Lots of templates and extensions

Cons

  • Complexities that can be overwhelming to laymen users
  • Plugins compatibility issues
  • Limited customization
  • Security issues

Druple

Drupal was made for PHP developers, it is a free open source platform that is developer friendly. The script has a very specific coding environment that could be described as a programmer's platform than a simple CMS script.

Pros

  • Stable
  • Extendable
  • Large following of high-performing site

Cons

  • Higher development costs
  • PHP Knowledge required
  • Very technical oriented
  • Server load issues on bigger, more complicated web sites

Successful CMS websites

The success of your CMS website depends on a lot of variables. Unless you have a technical staff to support it, you want a stable, secure solution that simply manages the content, not the CMS process itself. There is always some kind of a trade off from one CMS system to anther, which is to be expected, all developers and users have unique needs that may be best fulfilled by a specific solution.

I've used all four content systems above, and I've had clients that have abandoned one system for another, because of some of the issues listed as cons above. Whether you are starting a new site, or upgrading an old one, it's worth talking to an expert first. You want to make sure the solution you choose, will actually meet your requirements.

Unless you need a complicated app or process development, you may want to stay clear of CMS solutions like Joomla and Drupal, they may be considerably more than you need. Wordpress will get you up and be running in almost no time at all, but customization requirements could be cost-prohibitive. ExpressionEngine site development will take a little longer to implement, but it's basically free of the CMS constraints and allows for total design and development freedom.

Teddrick.

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