By: Nicole Serrano|
13 Feb 2019
Managing a website these days is more than just the texts and graphics; it needs constant modification and revision to ensure it engages with your users and keeps up with the trends. As such, these things are made feasible with the use of a Content Management System.
This article will be giving an overview of the top 3 most popular open source Content Management Systems and the requirements to look out for in choosing a CMS software.
Defining Content Management System
A Content Management System (CMS) is a software that handles the creation and modification of digital content, allowing users without any technical knowledge to manage their own website.
Not to be confused with website builders like Wix and Weebly that are drag-and-drop editors, a CMS is more customisable in setting up your website. There’s also a variety of themes and tools to choose from as you create your very own website.
There are numerous CMS platforms that can be a perfect fit for your website. Essentially, choosing one is similar to picking what type of fuel to load inside your car. Whether you choose to run on Diesel or Petrol, you’ll still be driving the same four-wheel automobile. Nevertheless, they all serve the same purpose: a platform for your business’ website.
Open Source vs. Proprietary Software
You might have encountered these two terms without knowing the difference. Proprietary Software is a CMS platform that is usually associated with a private company that involves a paid license. It is more customisable, wherein the source code is not available to all users. On the other hand, Open Source’s source code is freely available on the internet which means there are no licensing costs. Ideally, the latter is more attractive for companies with an economic perspective. Hence, we will be tackling Open Source CMS platforms in this article.
To know more about the benefits of both software, read this article by Steve Millidge of DZone.
The 3 Most Popular Open Source CMS Platforms
Currently, WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal have been dominating the market with professional, easy-to-use and cost-effective solutions since 2010. Each of them has its own unique features with different functions and applications.
According to W3Techs, WordPress is the most popular and most-used open source CMS taking over 59.9% of market shares and has around 18 million installations worldwide. It was formerly used and known as a blogging platform, but because of the free extensions and templates available online, it has now been regarded as a full-fledged Content Management System.
It is easy to use and can be customised using the thousands of themes and plugins readily available for download on the internet. It also has a powerful editor that allows you to format and publish content, as well as make changes to your web page design.
This software’s large and vibrant community benefits users when they are looking for a specific theme, widget or if they need advice or support from others in troubleshooting.
Because of its cost-effectivity and low-effort basic installation, WordPress has become the ultimate choice for simple websites with an intuitive web interface.
Joomla! has an approximate of 7% market share with an estimate of 2.5 million installations worldwide. According to Brian Jackson on Kinsta, Joomla! was at the same level of WordPress back in 2004 but was only dominated in 2010 when WordPress became more popular.
Related article: Joomla vs. WordPress
Joomla! may not be as beginner-friendly like WordPress but it is said to be more flexible with its other features. It is ideal for custom post types and provides advanced user management options.
What most differentiates this system from WordPress is its more complex functions that can be used without the need to install extensions. For example, it has multilingual support where you can add more languages to your site without the need to install anything else.
Available extensions aren’t that many compared to its competitors, but this makes it ideal for those who have programming experience and can implement features manually.
The third most popular in the list, Drupal is said to have a 4% market share in websites using CMS. What used to be originally developed to serve as a student community solution is now also a full-fledged CMS platform. Similar to Joomla!, Drupal also has a flexible system that makes it great for custom posts. The software is easy to install and customisation can be done with its modular layout.
Its main focus is in social publishing and community projects, making it dynamic for user-generated content. Its basic module has community functions like weblogs, forums, and tag clouds.
Drupal may be a bit more complex compared to WordPress and Joomla! and may require the user to have an ample web development experience to work around the functions and extensions. However, it is renowned for its uncompromised security.
Here are some of the most important and basic factors to consider in choosing the appropriate CMS platform for your business.
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Top 5 Factors to Consider in Choosing a CMS Platform
1. Installation and Implementation
Primarily, the installation of the CMS software is the first thing you’ll need to do. WordPress and Joomla! takes pride in their one-click, five-minute installation that can be done using a wizard or a set-up assistant. With Drupal, it may require additional modules with its other functions.
The open source systems we’ve mentioned here are all based on the PHP language. Hence, it is advised that users have basic knowledge on PHP but as for being user-friendly, WordPress takes the trophy with its low effort basic installation and intuitive user interface. Additional features can be installed using plugins.
2. User Management System
User management is a feature in a CMS that handles the administration of user access to the different functions of the site. It serves as a security essential that allows users to control the website – whether it is to add content, edit previous works, monitor statistics and so on. Managing user identities is important in securing and monitoring those with access to particular information or selected parts of the site as they fulfil their job.
All the CMS mentioned here have reliable multiple user systems that support basic functions and access to various resources.
3. Search Engine Optimisation
It is known that getting a high ranking in search engines is essential. When it comes to SEO, WordPress tops the two other mentioned CMS platforms because it initially started as a blogging site. Because of this, it has already begun with an SEO-friendly framework that comes with SEO plugins.
It is vital for the URL to be customisable so that search engines can easily interpret the content inside. The meta information is also important because this serves as a preview of the site that appears in search engine results; it can encourage potential visitors to click and visit the site.
Apart from this, having a mobile responsive site also affects how search engines rank you in SRPs. Living in a digital age where most of your viewers are using their smartphones and tablets, it has become a requirement to adopt a mobile fluid layout on all websites. Fortunately, all CMS mentioned have a responsive design but not all have plugins that come for free.
To know more about the importance of Responsive Web Design for SEO, read this article.
4. Operation and Content Publication
There are many factors to consider when it comes to the functions and features of a good CMS. From groundwork up to the final output, a good CMS needs to be reliable and manageable even to those users with no background in programming.
To ensure that visitors can navigate around the website, a search function must be present including a tagging system that can categorise the content inside the website. Content taxonomy is important because it keeps everything organised.
Other features to look out for include audio and video importers, spellcheckers, analytics, basic SEO tools, and more.
It’s important to note what is the main focus of your site in order to determine the functions you’ll need, to ensure a smooth flowing operation.
It should come without saying that security is a top priority in all websites. As because these three are the most popular CMS, systems are continuously being developed to ensure that everything meets the strict security standards.
For WordPress, there are third-party security plugins available that are updated frequently to ensure the site’s safety and security. They also have a paid security VIP treatment wherein there is a dedicated team assigned for every site to do an in-depth check on the site’s vulnerabilities to resolve any issues. The same can be said for Joomla!, but there are also documentation provided that instruct users to implement security measures in the most effective way.
Drupal has the strongest reputation when it comes to handling security issues. It has a bigger group of dedicated individuals handling the security aspect of Drupal projects, making this the preferred choice for government sites handling highly sensitive data.
Read more about ramping up your website’s security in this article.
In order to identify what CMS is most suitable for your project, there should be a clear understanding of the content you want to showcase and the individual requirements that go along with it. Compare and contrast to know what is most appropriate for your business. It is inevitable that each has its own pros and cons so you need to make a smart and informed decision that works for you the best.