There are many ways to build a website, but unless you’re an advanced developer you likely won’t be able to create one from nothing. After all, putting together a website from the ground up requires hours of extensive coding (at the least).
That’s where Content Management Systems (CMSs) come in. These are software platforms that enable you to build a complete website without the use of programming. Even better, these platforms offer lots of features that website owners can use to improve the User Experience (UX) on their sites.
In this post, we’ll introduce CMSs, their purpose, and the many features they offer. We’ll then explore what you should look for in a CMS, and introduce some of the best options. Let’s get started!
What Is a CMS?
A Content Management System (CMS) is software that helps website owners manage the creation and delivery of digital content. Its most common features include web-based publishing, version control, and format management.
An example of a CMS would be WordPress, which enables website owners to create and publish content easily through a user-friendly interface. Other popular CMS platforms include Drupal and Joomla. While not technically full CMSs, website builders such as Squarespace and Wix offer some of the same functionality.
CMSs also lend themselves to collaboration. This means they allow for a number of users to work on the same site. In addition, you can often assign each user a specific role, which will determine what they are permitted to do.
How to Choose a CMS?
There are a lot of CMS platforms and website builders out there, so it can be hard to select the right one. The following three rules will help you choose the appropriate CMS for your site.
Know Your Needs
When picking a CMS for your website, you’ll first want to consider your needs. This will largely determine which platform is right for you.
In general, you’ll want to consider customizability, flexibility, scalability, and security. You need your CMS to be able to grow with your business, and keeping an eye on these qualities will ensure that you make the right choice.
You may think it’s safer to go ‘bigger’ than what you actually need. This means choosing a platform with advanced features and technology, even if you aren’t sure you’ll use them. However, this can lead to over-buying, which means you’re paying for features and services you aren’t taking advantage of.
The best way to combat over-buying is to consider how much traffic your site is likely to have in the beginning, and then to choose a platform that enables you to start small but offers scalability. You can then invest in additional features only if the need arises.
Describe Requirements with Usage Scenario
Another way to make a sound CMS choice is to describe your requirements by considering the most likely usage scenarios. This means listing out what you’ll be doing on your site – such as posting a weekly blog article or sending out an email newsletter – to determine exactly what you need from your CMS.
You can then compare the various CMS options based on the features they offer and how well they fulfill your requirements. In other words, whatever platform you opt for has to offer all the functionality you’ll need to run your site successfully.
Choosing the Best CMS for Your Site
Now, let’s introduce a few of the most popular CMS and website builder platforms. We’ll describe what each CMS has to offer, so you can make the best decision for your website.
WordPress is perhaps the most well-known CMS. In fact, this platform is used by 31.8% of all websites.
The pros to choosing WordPress are many, including its flexibility, customizability, and ease of installation and use. WordPress also offers thousands of add-on options in its Theme Directory and Plugin Directory, which enable you to customize your site’s look and functionality.
Best of all, WordPress is flexible enough to support a wide array of website types, including sites for enterprises, blogs, small businesses, and eCommerce stores.
Drupal is another popular option, although it’s a lot less pervasive than WordPress. It’s used on about 2% of sites across the web.
Drupal’s main pro and con are the same: its comparative complexity in features and functionality. This provides you with a huge degree of control and lots of customization potential for your site. On the other hand, you’ll need a knowledge of HTML and PHP to make significant changes to the platform, which isn’t ideal for beginners.
As such, Drupal is best for large and complex websites that require an incredibly customizable platform. It’s also well suited to businesses that have the budget to hire developers.
Next up, Squarespace is used by 1.3% of all websites. This is technically a website builder rather than a CMS, which means that your site will be hosted for you and managed online.
Squarespace has made a name for itself among first-time website owners who are looking for a simple solution. The platform offers hundreds of premade templates, which makes website creation quick. The drag-and-drop builder also makes it easy to customize the layout of your web pages, without the need for any coding.
This CMS can be used for almost any type of website. However, larger or more complex sites will benefit from a more customizable platform such as WordPress or Drupal.
Finally, Wix is another website builder that’s used on about 0.9% of all websites. It’s also one of the more specialized options, with a focus on eCommerce and small business sites
One of Wix’s greatest advantages is its drag-and-drop interface, which makes customization of your website easy even for beginners. There are also many add-ons, also known as ‘applications’, which can be used to add new features to your site quickly.
Overall, this solution is best for small businesses, e-commerce shops, and creatives who need a simple layout to display their products or work. As with Squarespace, if you’re looking for a more customizable platform, then Wix may not be for you.
As you can see, the platforms above offer a variety of features and are well suited to different groups of users. While no CMS is inherently ‘better’ than the rest, each of them does have a unique set of pros and cons, which can make the decision-making process easier for you.
WordPress as an Enterprise CMS
WordPress is one of the most versatile CMSs currently on the market, and this versatility extends to its use on enterprise websites. It’s used on big name sites including The New Yorker and BBC America, which only speaks to its incredible flexibility and functionality.
In addition, WordPress offers more in terms of industry support, reliability, and software integration than the other CMS platforms outlined above. Its status as an easy-to-use but extremely extendable platform further highlights its benefit to enterprise websites, and makes it stand out among its competitors. That’s why we highly recommend it for most users.
Using a CMS to Enhance the Digital Experience
Using a true CMS as the foundation for your site can improve the digital experience, as you’re able to offer more unique features to both your back-end users and your visitors.