What is a Content Management System (CMS)?
A Content Management System (CMS) is an application using which you can create, update and delete your content. Now this is a very loose description, and any web application where you upload content and manage it, falls under this definition. So, to narrow down the definition- a CMS is a web application using which you can easily publish content on your website. It is the backbone software based on which you create a website.
What are the most popular Content Management Systems?
If creating a website for your business is on the horizon, you may be wondering which content management system (CMS) is the best choice for you. Here’s a look at three of the most widely-used ones. All three are open-source, each developed and maintained by a community of thousands. Not only are all three free to download and use, but the open-source format means that the platform is continuously being improved to support new technologies. With all of these systems, basic functions can be enhanced ad infinitum with an ever-expanding array of add-ons, contributed from their respective communities.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, it depends on your goals, technical expertise, budget and what you need your site to do. For a simple blog or brochure-type site, WordPress could be the best choice (while very friendly for non-developers, it’s a flexible platform also capable of very complex sites). For a complex, highly customized site requiring scalability and complex content organization, Drupal might be the right choice. For something in between that has an easier learning curve, Joomla may be the answer.
1) Drupal: Drupal is the granddaddy of CMS systems on this list – it was first released in early 2001. Like WordPress and Joomla, Drupal too is open-source and based on PHP-MySQL. Drupal is extremely powerful and developer-friendly, which has made it a popular choice for feature rich, data-intensive websites like Whitehouse.gov and Data.gov.uk.
Advantages of Drupal:
• Extremely Flexible: Want a simple blog with a static front page? Drupal can handle that. Want a powerful backend that can support hundreds of thousands of pages and millions of users every month? Sure, Drupal can do that as well. The software is powerful and flexible – little wonder why it’s a favorite among developers.
• Developer Friendly: The basic Drupal installation is fairly bare-bones. Developers are encouraged to create their own solutions. While this doesn’t make it very friendly for non-tech users, it promises a range of possibilities for developers.
• Strong SEO Capabilities: Drupal was designed from the ground-up to be search engine friendly.
• Enterprise Friendly: Strong version control and ACL capabilities make Drupal the CMS of choice for enterprise customers. The software can also handle hundreds of thousands of pages of content with ease.
• Stability: Drupal scales effortlessly and is stable even when serving thousands of users simultaneously.
Disadvantages of Drupal:
• Steep Learning Curve: Moving from WordPress to Drupal can feel like walking from your car into a Boeing 747 cockpit – everything is just so complicated! Unless you have strong coding capabilities and like to read tons of technical papers, you’ll find Drupal extremely difficult to use for regular use.
• Lack of Free Plugins: Plugins in Drupal are called ‘modules’. Because of its enterprise-first roots, most good modules are not free.
• Lack of Themes: A barebones Drupal installation looks like a desert after a drought. The lack of themes doesn’t make things any better. You will have to find a good designer if you want your website to look anything other than a sad relic from 2002 when using Drupal.
2) Joomla: Joomla is an open-source content management software forked from Mambo. It is one of the most popular CMS solutions in the world and boasts over 30m downloads to date. Joomla powers such noteworthy sites as Cloud.com, Linux.com, etc.
Advantages of Joomla:
• User-Friendly: Joomla isn’t WordPress, but it’s still relatively easy to use. Those new to publishing will find its UI polished, flexible and powerful, although there is still a slight learning curve involved in figuring everything out.
• Strong Developer Community: Like WordPress, Joomla too has a strong developer community. The plugin library (called ‘extensions’ in Joomla) is large with a ton of free to use, open source plugins.
• Extension Variability: Joomla extensions are divided into five categories – components, plugins, templates, modules and languages. Each of these differs in function, power and capability. Components, for example, work as ‘mini-apps’ that can change the Joomla installation altogether. Modules, on the other hand, add minor capabilities like dynamic content, RSS feeds, and search function to a web page.
• Strong Content Management Capabilities: Unlike WordPress, Joomla was originally designed as an enterprise-grade CMS. This makes it far more capable at handling a large volume of articles than WordPress.
Disadvantages of Joomla:
• Some Learning Involved: You can’t jump right into a Joomla installation and start hammering out new posts if you’re not familiar with the software. The learning curve isn’t steep, but it can be enough to intimidate casual users.
• Lacks SEO Capabilities: Making WordPress SEO friendly is as easy as installing a free plugin. With Joomla, you’ll need a ton of work to get to the same level of search engine friendliness. Unless you have the budget to hire a SEO expert, you might want to look at alternative solutions.
• Limited ACL Support: ACL (Access Control List) refers to a list of permissions that can be granted to specific users for specific pages. ACL is a vital component of any enterprise-grade CMS solution. Joomla started supporting ACL only after version 1.6. ACL support is still limited in the stable v2.5.1 release, making it unsuitable for enterprise customers.
3) WordPress: New York Times, CNN, Forbes and Reuters – the list of WordPress.com clients reads like publishing dream-team. More than 68 million websites use WordPress, making it the world’s favorite blogging software. It is flexible enough to power fortune 500 company blogs as well as sporadically updated personal journals.
Advantages of WordPress:
• Multiple Authors: WordPress was built from the ground-up to accommodate multiple authors – a crucial feature for any serious publication.
• Huge Plugin Library: WordPress’ is the poster-child of the open-source developer community, which has developed hundreds of thousands of plugins for it. There are few things WordPress can’t do with its extensive library of plugins.
• User-Friendly: WordPress’ UI is easy to use and highly intuitive, even for first-time bloggers. You can drop a theme, add a few plugins, and start blogging within minutes.
• Strong SEO Capabilities: With plugins like All in One SEO, you can start blogging straight away without worrying about on-page SEO.
• Easy Customization: WordPress’ theming system is designed for easy-customization. Anyone with a little grasp of HTML and CSS can customize WordPress themes to fit his/her needs.
• Flexibility: WordPress can be made to do virtually anything – run an e-commerce store, host a video site, serve as a portfolio or work as a company blog – thanks to plugins and customized themes.
Disadvantages of WordPress:
• Security: As the category leading software with millions of installations, WordPress is often the target of hackers. The software itself isn’t very secure out of the box and you will have to install third-party plugins to boost your WordPress installation’s security.
• Incompatibility with Older Plugins: The WordPress team constantly releases new updates to fix security loopholes and patch problems. These updates are often incompatible with older plugins. If your site relies on older plugins, you may have to hold off on updating (which makes your site all the more susceptible to hack attacks).
• Limited Design Options: Even though WordPress is infinitely customizable, most WordPress installations still look like WordPress installations. Although recent updates and improvements in plugins/themes have rectified this problem somewhat, WordPress is still hampered by limited design options.
• Limited Content Management Capabilities: WordPress was originally designed as a blogging platform. This has affected its ability to handle large amounts of content. If you plan to publish hundreds of blog posts per week (not uncommon for large publishers), you may find the default WordPress backend a little underwhelming for such high content volume.