Website Management Tools | Part 1: Content Management Systems

Content Management Systems

One of the most important website management tools you can use to manage your website is a content management system, more commonly referred to as its acronym “CMS”.

A CMS allows you to update, edit, manage, even completely re-brand your website with very little interaction with any type of code.

Most CMSs will say “no” code, but that’s unlikely in most scenarios, as you’ll likely want to make minor tweaks to something that might require you to edit some code (whether you do that yourself or work with a professional is up to you.)

Utilizing a CMS will allow you to do things like: add a blog post (like this one!), add a new page, build a contact form, add a photo gallery or video tour, sell products through eCommerce, and countless other tasks. All done very easily.

The question then becomes which CMS to use. You’ll hear lots of different opinions on which CMS is the “best”, and the answer will vary greatly depending on who you ask or what website you’re reading.

In Part 1 of our series on website management tools, we’ll talk about the popular CMSs, their pros and cons and why you may want to choose a particular CMS.

When you start learning about CMSs, you’ll hear WordPress mentioned and mentioned a lot. It’s the most popular CMS by a landslide, with over 31% of all sites built with a CMS utilizing WordPress.

Does this make it the best? Not necessarily. It’s just the most commonly used. We here at MJJ Designs like WordPress for its ease of use and customizability, but other people may prefer something else.

WordPress comes in two variants; hosted (via wordpress.com) and self-hosted (you can download the code from wordpress.org). Which you want to use is up to you, they’ll function the same way, though the hosted version comes with some limitations tied to your subscription plan.

Features:

  • Flexibility
  • Easy to publish anything
  • User Management
  • Media Management
  • Themeing
  • Plugins
  • Comment system built in
  • SEO optimized
  • Available in 70+ languages
  • Import content from other systems
  • Open Source
  • Huge active community offering support
  • Custom content types

Cost: Free to use, but requires a hosting account. Most plugins and themes are free, though some premium plugins and themes charge a one-time fee or are based on a subscription model.

Pros:

  • Easy to use.
  • Tons of available themes (both free and paid) to customize the look of your site.
  • Tons of available plugins (both free and paid) to add additional functionality to your site.
  • Actively developed, so there’s always new versions.
  • Mobile apps available for iOS and Android.
  • Web based, so no need to purchase software to use it.

Cons:

  • Can be the target of hackers
  • Frequent updates required to keep safe
  • It can make your website slow (if you use a lot of plugins or a poorly built theme, your site can slow down)

Overall, the pros outweigh the cons for most CMSs, including WordPress.

Is WordPress right for me?
WordPress is incredibly flexible, so there’s a good chance it can do what you want it to do, with very little customizations.

We recommend it for all of our clients and have yet to have someone come back and tell us it’s too hard or that they don’t like it.

If you pick WordPress for your project, you’ll likely have a great experience and a wonderful (and useful) website.

Drupal is the second most popular CMS behind WordPress, with around 3.5% of the CMS market share.

It offers many of the same features as WordPress and is only available in a self-hosted variety, meaning it requires you to have a hosting plan.

Features:

  • Mobile first – built for mobile devices over desktops
  • Themeing
  • Full HTML5 support
  • Available in multiple languages
  • Ease of use
  • Quick editing
  • JSON and XML support
  • Custom fields
  • Fast loading

Cost: Free to use, but requires a hosting account. Most add-ons and themes are free, though some premium add-ons and themes charge a one-time fee or are based on a subscription model.

Pros:

  • Easy to use.
  • Many available themes (both free and paid) to customize the look of your site.
  • Many available plugins (both free and paid) to add additional functionality to your site.
  • Actively developed, so there’s always new versions.
  • Mobile first approach to development
  • Web based, so no need to purchase software to use it.
  • Scales well for large or growing websites

Cons:

  • Not as widely used as WordPress, so options for themes and plugins are more sparse.
  • Learning curve. It can be tough to get the hang of.
  • Updates are cumbersome and can be complicated.
  • Resource intense if not configured properly.
  • Installation is complicated.

Overall, the pros outweigh the cons for most CMSs, including Drupal.

Is Drupal right for me?
If you’re working with a developer or have the time to dedicate to learning the ins and outs of a more complex CMS, Drupal may be the right choice for you.

When setup properly, Drupal can be an excellent CMS. If you’re looking for something incredibly simple “out of the box”, Drupal is likely not the right choice for you.

Joomla is the third most popular CMS behind WordPress, with around 1.2% of the CMS market share.

It offers many of the same features as WordPress and is only available in a self-hosted variety, meaning it requires you to have a hosting plan.

Features:

  • Mobile first – built for mobile devices over desktops
  • Themeing
  • Plugins
  • User Management
  • Media Management
  • Contact Management
  • Banner Management
  • Built-in search
  • Web links
  • RSS
  • Menu Manager

Cost: Free to use, but requires a hosting account. Most add-ons and themes are free, though some premium add-ons and themes charge a one-time fee or are based on a subscription model.

Pros:

  • Easy to use.
  • Ability to monetize your content
  • Available in 70+ languages
  • Built-in video training classes
  • eCommerce friendly

Cons:

  • Not as widely used as WordPress, so options for themes and plugins are more sparse.
  • Not as developer friendly as WordPress
  • Not aesthetically pretty
  • Admin interface can be confusing
  • Resource intense
  • Compatibility issues on older browsers and devices

Overall, the pros outweigh the cons for most CMSs, including Drupal & WordPress.

Is Joomla right for me?
If you have time to learn the interface and extend its core functionality by adding additional add-ons, Joomla can be a great CMS to use.

Wix is a very simple to use CMS and website builder, completely hosted with wix.com.

It allows anyone to build and host a website without knowing any of the technical details behind the scenes.

You also have the benefit of not worrying about security, backups or software updates as they’re all handled by the Wix service and your subscription level.

Features:

  • Incredibly easy to use
  • 500+ professional templates to pick from
  • SEO
  • Mobile optimized
  • Apps to extend functionality
  • Unlimited fonts
  • Scroll effects
  • Media galleries

Cost: $11, $14, $19 or $29 per month, depending on the plan you choose.

Pros:

  • Drag and drop website builder
  • Built-in themes to pick from
  • Very fast loading websites
  • Excellent support
  • Free SSL support

Cons:

  • Lower end paid plans show Wix ads on your website
  • Limited editing capabilities
  • Limited design choices
  • Most apps are unhelpful
  • Limited SEO options
  • No data export
  • No built-in analytics
  • No automated mobile design

Is Wix right for me?
Wix is basic and simple and is sufficient for both new website owners and people who want a simple website that perhaps doesn’t get updated very often.

If your main goal is saving money in building your website, Wix is a great option, as it’s very low cost to entry to have a website that you can build and manage yourself, with very little know how.

SquareSpace is very similar to Wix, in that it’s a fully hosted solution, offering a website builder, built-in themes and functionalities.

It allows anyone to build and host a website without knowing any of the technical details behind the scenes.

You also have the benefit of not worrying about security, backups or software updates as they’re all handled by the SquareSpace service and your subscription level.

Features:

  • Templates built-in
  • Style Editor
  • Mobile views supported
  • TypeKit fonts included
  • Google Fonts included
  • Video backgrounds
  • Drag and Drop editor
  • Responsive image loader
  • Progressive image loading
  • CDN included
  • Getty Images
  • Lightbox built-in
  • Image SEO
  • Image galleries
  • Audio collections
  • Social media integration

Cost: $12 or $18 per month for a website. $26 or $40 for eCommerce stores, depending on the plan you choose.

Pros:

  • Built-in themes
  • eCommerce with customer logins
  • Great support
  • Easy to use
  • Everything in one platform
  • Fast websites
  • Security built-in
  • Export your data

Cons:

  • Few to no marketing tools
  • Apps to enhance functionality are limited and mostly outdated
  • Limited customizations
  • Expensive compared to other services
  • No mobile app or editor

Is SquareSpace right for me?
If you’re after an all in one platform that offers hosting, themes, apps and eCommerce in one spot, SquareSpace is perfect. It’ll offer you everything you want to get up and running on your own.

Their onboarding videos and guides are top notch, so even if you don’t know what you’re doing, you can get started pretty easily.

Summary

Whether you’re a code editing pro or a first timer, a CMS can (and will) save you time and effort in building and maintaining your website.

There are other CMSs available online, but we’ve focused solely on the most popular (and easiest to use) ones here.

Have a CMS that you love that we left out? Drop it in the comments and let us know why it’s your favorite!

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