Popular Content Management

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Wednesday, 27 April 2011 18:23

If you are faced with the need to create or upgrade a website for your business you will discover that there are a lot of different options. Out of the literally thousands of available website solutions you will find that there are only two fundamental types: static and dynamic.

A static website is a website that is designed and created by a website designer and is usually programmed using a static language like HTML or XHTML. Once the website is online, any changes that are needed require a designer or developer, or someone who knows how to access, create, edit and delete the pages of code that comprise the site.

A dynamic website is one that, although may require some technical knowledge to design and setup, can be modified and updated easily without any specialized web design or development training. A dynamic website typically consists of a Content Management System or CMS. A CMS is usually built using a server-side script such as PHP or ASP. This script or program logic stores and retrieves both the web design and the web content from a database. An administrative interface allows you to update content directly to the database without ever having to look at a line of HTML code.

There are several advantages to using a CMS beyond the ability to easily update content. Many have built in features for creating menus and maintaining blogs as well as hundreds of available add-ons for things like events calendars, on-line polls and customizable contact forms. Such features allow for a level of interactivity between your website and your clients not available from a static HTML based site. Another plus is that there is a wide-variety of highly flexible Open-source Content Management Systems available to download, customize and use free of charge.

A CMS is suitable for all types and sizes of businesses, and it can be used for all types of content, including text, documents, sound, video and more. The ease of use, flexibility and wide variety of interactive features available has resulted in Content Management Systems enjoying great popularity and growth over the past several years. More and more, businesses are choosing a CMS as the basis for their website.

With over 1,700 commercial and Open-source CMS products available it’s hard to know for sure which one would be the best fit for your organization so here is a brief overview of the three most popular Open-source Content Management Systems available: WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. Each is free to download and use and the open-source format allows their platforms to be continuously improved by their respective developer communities to support an ever expanding collection of new applications and emerging internet technologies.

Unfortunately, no CMS will provide a one size fits all solution for any given business. The selection of a content management system will depend upon a variety of things including your goals, technical expertise, budget and what you need your site to do.

WordPress could be your best choice if you are looking for a simple website design or blog. It is very friendly for non-developers but has a flexible platform also capable of creating complex sites.

Drupal allows you to develop complex, highly customized sites and complex content organization that is also scalable but does requires a fairly high level of technical expertise.

For something in between, Joomla might be your choice. It combines the initial ease of use of WordPress but also a complex set of available add-ins without any need for program development skills.

See the following table for a more detailed comparison of the various products. Still not sure? Why not download each of the free platforms and do a trial run for yourself?

WordPress Drupal Joomla
Homepage www.wordpress.org www.drupal.org.org www.joomla.org
About WordPress began as an innovative, easy-to-use blogging platform. With an ever-increasing repertoire of themes, plugins and widgets, this CMS is widely used for other website formats also. Drupal is a powerful, developer-friendly tool for building complex sites. Like most powerful tools, it requires some expertise and experience to operate. Joomla offers middle ground between the developer-oriented, extensive capabilities of Drupal and user-friendly but more complex site development options than WordPress offers.
Ease of Use Technical experience is not necessary; it's intuitive and easy 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. Drupal requires the most technical expertise of the three CMSs. However, it also is capable of producing the most advanced sites. With each release, it is becoming easier to use. If you're unable to commit to learning the software or can't hire someone who knows it, it may not be the best choice. Less complex than Drupal, more complex than WordPress. Relatively uncomplicated installation and setup. With a relatively small investment of effort into understanding Joomla's structure and terminology, you have the ability to create fairly complex sites.
Features Very user-friendly with great support and tutorials, making it great for non-technical users to quickly deploy fairly simple sites Known for its powerful taxonomy and ability to tag, categorize and organize complex content.Designed to perform as a community platform, with strong social networking features. Ease of use is a key benefit for experts and novices alike. It's powerful enough for web developers or designers to efficiently build sites for clients; then, with minimal instruction, clients can take over the site management. Known for an extensive selection of themes.
Best Use Cases Ideal 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. For complex, advanced and versatile sites; for sites that require complex data organization; for community platform sites with multiple users; for online stores. Joomla allows you to build a site with more content and structure flexibility than WordPress offers, but still with fairly easy, intuitive usage. Supports E-commerce, social networking and more.

~ Steve Barnes

Related links:
Interactive comparison matrix for all available CMS products