Which CMS is Right for Your Site?

Has it been several years – or maybe more – since your company website was updated? Maybe you've heard the term "CMS" tossed around and are wondering what it's all about. Many sites are being programmed using a CMS platform nowadays, and yours probably should be, too.

A CMS is a Content Management System. It's a centralized interface that easily allows changes, additions and maintenance to a website's content. The first CMS platform appeared in the late 1990s, as a way to make sites more flexible and to simplify coding.

These CMS platforms are being continually updated with new versions, so they have to be monitored for plugins and updates to get the most out of their functions. Most are free systems that any programmer can access.
WordPress, Drupal, Joomla logos
The Right Fit
It's important to find out exactly what functions you might need on your site before deciding which CMS would be the best fit. Are you mainly a blogger? Is your organization membership-based? Does your site require lots of custom functionality? Currently, the three most popular are WordPress, Drupal and Joomla. Here's our take on these top three CMS platforms:

•  WordPress is probably the best-known CMS platform, given its origin as blogging software. It has an easy interface, with themes and plugins that even non-programmers can install. Some drawbacks to Wordpress include a vulnerability to spam, and frequent fixes and patches that require updating.

When we choose WordPress for a client's site, we don't use the pre-made WordPress templates or 'skins', because clients want a custom design. Plus, WordPress templates often have functional limitations, and aren't easy to change. In other words, with templates you're stuck with functions and a layout that you might not want. Instead, we design a custom WordPress site with a unique look, layout and functions, implemented with the WordPress interface.

•  Drupal offers the ultimate control in programming functionality, including custom content types and the ability to create user profiles (for community- and membership-based sites). It's open-source and very flexible, a favorite of programmers.

However, Drupal is more complex and time-consuming to implement, and therefore more costly. It's a trade-off between flexibility and cost. Our company site, Young Design, is a Drupal site.

Joomla (the name means "all together" in Swahili) wants to appeal to everyone – sort of a hybrid between WordPress and Drupal. It's flexible, not too technical, and thus is a good choice for user-generated content sites. However, it has the reputation of being crash-prone when a site gets hit with a lot of traffic, and is vulnerable to security breaches.

Once we've developed a CMS site, we train our clients on how to use the backend to make content changes. Their changes are usually limited to certain sections of the site, leaving the site structure off-limits to maintain its integrity.

The training is fairly easy – easier if the client has some coding or blogging experience, but it's not absolutely necessary. We're on standby to help if they run into glitches or make mistakes in uploading files and can't find their way back. Enter web maintenance! (Find out why you need web maintenance.)

[Posted by Julie Young on May 22, 2013]