Once you've decided that going with a Content Management System (CMS) is the best way to proceed with the development of your website, the big question becomes "which one"?
If you're working with a developer (which we recommend to most business owners) then the answer is most often "the one your developer recommends".
However, even when following the advice of your expert, it's important to have some understanding of the choices they're making and why you may want to agree (or not).
In general, content management systems are a lower cost web development solution compared to having a "full stack developer" custom code the entire website. In addition, they offer a more robust solution with more features and flexibility than typical "website builders".
Among CMS solutions, there are 3 dominant platforms to choose from. The "right" one for you depends entirely on the specific needs of your website.
- WordPress is widely considered to be the best choice for beginners because of it’s ease-of-use.
- Joomla is great for e-commerce or social networking websites, but requires a basic understanding of technical skills.
- Drupal is the most difficult to use, but is also the most powerful. It requires a solid understanding of HTML, CSS, and PHP.
The best known CMS is WordPress®
WordPress is the 500 lb. gorilla in the CMS space. It's widely considered to be the best choice for beginners because of it’s ease-of-use, and it works really well for small to medium sized websites, blogs, and e-commerce sites.
Most of the websites we host are in fact,WordPress sites, and at the time of this post WordPress is regarded to be the world’s most popular content management system - powering over 75 million websites and accounting for over 50% of CMS-based websites.
The main features that make WordPress so popular include
WordPress is totally free. It's an open source software package so, when you buy Hosted WordPress from us,what you're paying for is the hosting and the upkeep - not the software.
In addition, there are tens of thousands of free plug-ins and themes available for your use. This makes WordPress perfect for beginners, start-ups, or other low budget requirements for putting together your first website site because it keeps costs down.
It's easy to install
Most web hosting companies (like us, for example) offer instant, automated WordPress installs in their hosting environment. So, you can have a new website up-and-running in about five minutes!
We mentioned the tens of thousands of free themes, plug-ins, etc. There are also tens of thousands of "premium" customizations ranging in cost from about $20–100.
All told, WordPress has more plug-ins, themes and other custom options available than any other CMS. So, you can create a website that looks like an expensive custom build for less cost and effort than with other platforms.
Nothing is perfect, and with the number of options available it is almost inevitable that you will run into the occasional challenge in the care and maintenance of your website. Maybe you chose two plugins conflict with each other, or one that your theme can't support.
When you experience issues or have questions about your new WordPress site, you can easily reach out the millions of people already using and supporting it. The WordPress support forum includes helpful contributors who can answer any question you may have, often within minutes, and also for free.
Of course, WordPress isn't for everyone and does have it’s detractors. Complaints often voiced about WordPress include
WordPress is an easy-to-use framework specifically because it locks down the ability for most users to make significant visual edits, so you can’t make major structural website changes without the help of a designer and/or developer. For most users, this is for your own good. It's also the trade off for saving the cost of a fully "ground up" customized website.
The more a web server has to do, the longer it takes that server to respond. While it's true that a WordPress website may be marginally slower to respond than a fully custom site built by a full stack developer, the vast majority of "slow" websites are challenged by poor SEO practices, not a deployed CMS.
Joomla is the 2nd most popular CMS.
Joomla is powerful enough to run most websites with no problems, and requires just a little more technical knowledge than WordPress. Like WordPress, Joomla has lots of plug-ins and themes available for customizing your site.
A notable increase in flexibility while maintaining the ease-of-use that makes WordPress so popular is why Joomla is the perfect middle ground between WordPress and Drupal.
Reasons to choose Joomla include:
Like WordPress, Joomla is another free option you can use on our web servers. We don't sell "hosted Joomla!" the way we offer "Hosted WordPress" because the demand just isn't there.
It's easy to install
Right next to the automated WordPress install in the cPanel, there's a one-click install for Joomla.
Social networks can be a powerful asset for a website, and Joomla makes creating one easy. So if you know you want to publish a social networking website, then you may want to consider Joomla.
Joomla also makes setting up an online store quick and easy. While you can setup eCommerce shops with either WordPress or Drupal, it generally takes more effort and customization than with Joomla.
Still Not too Technical
Joomla is the middle ground between WordPress ease Drupal power (we'll get to that in a moment). Most "non-tech" people should be able to run a great Joomla site without needing technical support.
When you do require assistance, Joomla offers a great help portal for asking questions and getting technical support. While not as extensive or quite as fast as the WordPress community-based support pages, it's quicker and cheaper than Drupal’s tech support options.
Drupal is the Most Powerful CMS
Among the most powerful open sourced options available anywhere, using Drupal requires a basic knowledge of HTML, PHP, and other common web programming languages.
You don’t need to be an expert, per se - but being able to troubleshoot errors and identify code glitches will save you a great deal of frustration. For most people who intend to use Drupal as their CMS, we strongly recommend hiring a developer. Yes, this adds an expense, but in terms of cost / benefit you will come away much happier with the whole development process.
That said, reasons people choose to use Drupal include
Like WordPress and Joomla, Drupal is free software that you can run on our servers. Like Joomla, there's simply not enough demand to warrant us offering "hosted Drupal" as a service, but it's easy to install in your cPanel or Plesk hosting.
It's easy to install
Right next to the automated WordPress and Joomla install options in the cPanel, there's a one-click install for Drupal.
It's Technically Advanced
Drupal is the most technically advanced CMS of the three. Tech-savvy people who feel constrained using WordPress or Joomla tend to prefer Drupal as their CMS.
Being "less clunky" translates as running leaner (i.e. "less resource intensive") than the other options, so Drupal pages typically load a little more quickly and have faster response times than WordPress or Joomla.
Drupal also benefits from an array of widely available plug-ins, themes and other configurable options. You can also edit the root files directly, which is perfect for developers making extensive changes.
So the final decision on which CMS to use depends on how you want to balance trade offs between ease of use and powerful flexibility. If you're working with a developer, listen carefully to their advice and don't be afraid to ask questions. It's your website.
Note: We provide information about how to use certain third-party products as a courtesy. Channel Islands Hosting™ does not endorse or directly support third-party products, and we are not responsible for the functions or reliability of such products.