If building a website for your business is on the horizon, you may be speculating 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 software, each developed and maintained by thousands of communities. Not only are all three free to download and use, but the open-source format means that the platform is continuously being enhanced to sustain new Internet technologies. With all of these systems, vital functions can be enhanced with an ever-expanding range of add-ons, contributed from their individual communities.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution here; it depends on your goals, budget, technical expertise and what you want your site to do. For a brochure-type site or a simple blog, WordPress could be the best choice (while very friendly for non-developers, it’s a flexible platform also able for very complex sites). For a complex, highly customized site needing scalability and complex content organization, Drupal might be the best option. For something in between that has a simpler learning curve, Joomla may be the answer.
When you have queries or need assistance, will you be able to find it easily? With all of these systems, the answer is yes. Each has dedicated, passionate developer and user communities, making it easy to find free support directly through their websites or through online forums or even books. Besides, paid support is easily obtainable from third-party sources, such as developers, consultants and designers. Each of these systems shows long-term sustainability and long life; support for them will go on to be readily available for the foreseeable future. The more time and effort you are willing and able to put in to a learning system, the more it will be able to do for you.
Drupal is a potent, developer-friendly tool for building complex sites. Like most powerful tools, it requires some proficiency and knowledge to operate.
Example Sites: Community Portal: Fast Company, Team Sugar
Installation: Drupal Installation Forum
Ease of Use: Drupal requires the most technical know-how of the three CMSs. However, it is also competent of producing the most advanced sites. With each release, it is becoming easier to use. If you’re incapable to commit to learning the software or can’t hire someone who knows it, it may not be the best choice.
Features: Known for its potent taxonomy and ability to tag, categorize and organize complex content.
Caching Plug-ins: Press flow – This is a downloadable version of Drupal that comes bundled with popular improvements in key areas, including performance and scalability.
Best Use Cases: For complex, superior and flexible sites; for sites that need complex data organization; for community platform sites with several users; for online stores
Joomla gives middle ground between the developer-oriented, extensive capabilities of Drupal and user-friendly but more complex site development options than WordPress offers.
• Social Networking: MTV Networks Quizilla,
• Education: Harvard University,
• Restaurant: IHOP
Installation: Joomla Installation Forum
Ease of Use: Less complex than Drupal, more complex than WordPress. Relatively simple installation and setup. With a moderately small investment of effort into understanding Joomla structure and terminology, you have the ability to create fairly complex sites.
Features: Intended to perform as a community platform, with strong social networking features.
Caching Plug-ins: Jot Cache gives page caching in the Joomla 1.5 search framework, resulting in fast page downloads. Also offers control over what content is cached and what is not. Additionally, page caching is supported by the System Cache Plug-in that comes with Joomla.
Best Use Cases: Joomla enables you to create a site with more content and structure flexibility than WordPress, but still with fairly easy, intuitive usage. Supports eCommerce, social networking and more.
WordPress began as an innovative, user-friendly blogging platform. With an ever-increasing range of themes, plugins and widgets, this CMS is broadly used for other website formats also.
• Social Networking: PlayStation Blog
• News Publishing: CNN Political Ticker
• Education/Research: NASA Ames Research Center
• News Publishing: The New York Observer
Installation: WordPress Installation Forum
Ease of Use: Technical experience is not necessary; it’s intuitive and simple to get a simple site set up quickly. It’s easy to paste text from a Microsoft Word document into a WordPress site, but not into Joomla and Drupal sites.
Features: Ease of use is a key advantage for experts and novices alike. It’s potent enough for web developers or designers to proficiently build sites for clients; then, with minimal instruction, clients can take over the site management. Known for an extensive selection of themes. Very user-friendly with great support and tutorials, making it great for non-technical users to quickly organize fairly simple sites.
Caching Plug-ins: WP-Super Cache: The Super Cache plug-in optimizes performance by generating static html files from database-driven content for faster load times.
Best Use Cases: Perfect for fairly simple web sites, such as everyday blogging and news sites; and anyone looking for an easy-to-manage site. Add-ons make it easy to expand the functionality of the site.