Probably one of the most common questions I get is, “which content management system (CMS) should I use?” To me, that question is the same as someone asking me, “which tool should I use, a screwdriver or a sledgehammer?” Obviously, the answer to that question depends on what you’re trying to do – you choose the tool based on the project you are attempting to complete. CMS selection is the same – your selection should be based on your needs and what you are attempting to achieve.
Identifying Your Needs
The only thing consistent across all CMS platforms is that they are all different. At Informatics, we are technology agnostic – meaning we work with all types of technology and software. We don’t have a “go to” solution since every client’s needs are different. As such, our approach is requirements-based. We like to help our clients determine and prioritize their requirements first. Once that’s complete, we can make a recommendation.
So, what are examples of these requirements? Well, for some people, ease of use and WYSWIG (what you see is what you get) editing capabilities are most important. Others want to be able to edit on the page and prefer drag-and-drop capabilities. For some, the availability of many add-ons and modules is a top priority. Still others need an e-commerce system that easily integrates with QuickBooks. All these are possible – however there isn’t a single CMS that does all of these things extremely well. That’s why It is critical to prioritize your needs.
There are hundreds of CMS options. Each one has strengths and weaknesses for you to consider. In addition to features, the underlying architecture can be a consideration. These systems can be written with open-source code and are free to use or they can be commercial systems that are purchased or require some sort of annual fee. They also range on a spectrum from most simple (and least flexible) to most complex (and most flexible).
At the simple end are hosted platforms like SquareSpace and Wix. These are great for getting going very quickly and are simple to use; however, they are also somewhat limited in their functionality and are best suited to very simple websites.
Next comes WordPress which runs almost 60% of the world’s websites. While originally starting as a blog platform, it has been adopted as a full-fledged platform with the largest number of add-ons to extend the very basic out-of-the-box functionality. However, WordPress is often the target of hackers and requires constant updates to keep it (and its add-ons) secure.
Next up are the middle ground systems like Joomla, Concrete5 and Sitefinity. These offer strong functionality and extensibility while still being relatively intuitive and easy to use. We have worked extensively with Concrete5 and have found it to be a superior choice for this level of CMS.
At the other end of the spectrum are systems like Drupal. It is one of the most flexible but less intuitive platforms and often preferred by large academic and corporate organizations. By less intuitive, I mean that it requires extensive training to become proficient with it. However, with the right technical background, it can be modified to meet just about any requirement.
So, What Do I Recommend?
Short answer? It depends. When you set out to find the best CMS for your needs, start by identifying your priorities. Or simply reach out to us, and we can help you figure out which CMS is right for you.
- John Osako | Partner, COO