According to PC Magazine, a Content Management Systems (CMS) is “a software suite that is used to create and manage documents and web sites. The term is generally associated with web content, but systems are developed to maintain all kinds of information.
One of the features of a comprehensive Content Management System versus a basic web authoring program is its ability to update the entire site when global changes are made, eliminating the tedium of updating each page one at a time. The CMS may allow the web designer to manage the site from a single console, and it may also provide versioning, which keeps track of all the changes made to each web page so they can be rolled back if necessary.
The CMS accepts third-party plug-ins that provide functions such as banner advertising, shopping carts, blogs, wikis, newsletters, opinion polls, chat rooms and forums.”
As of 2016, the most popular open source CMS platforms continue to be WordPress, Joomla!, Magento and Drupal. “When a software program is open source, it means the program’s source code is freely available to the public. Unlike commercial software, open source programs can be modified and distributed by anyone and are often developed as a community rather than by a single organization. For this reason, the phrase “open source community” is commonly used to describe the developer of open source software development projects.”, explains TechTerms.com
But with all the options available which one should you pick for your project?
The answer is not simple and will require you to do some research on the different systems available. Here I offer you a synthesized guide, based on the most common questions I receive, as well as my own experience developing websites.
As a comparison, I have also included in the chart the Shopify platform. This is a commercial software that is becoming very popular among entrepreneurs to manage e-commerce websites and works as a Content Management System.
When taking this important decision consider the following aspects:
– Main use of the website. Do you need a corporate website that will be content oriented with the aim to promote your products or services and raise brand awareness? Are you a retailer looking to set up your first e-store? Are you a writer interested in developing a blog or a freelancer looking to promote your portfolio? Are you the manager of a membership-based association?
– The platform features and scalability to easily grow your website according to your business needs.
– How easy is it to administrate and maintain? Does it have a user friendly interface?
– Your budget: Cost varies from platform to platform. Cost can be significantly minor when working on open source platforms but this might require you to learn a little bit of html or have a website developer by your side.
– Technical knowledge: Are you a user with some or zero knowledge of programming/coding looking to create websites in short time, or are you looking for a simple “out of the box” solution? Do you have advance programming/coding knowledge?
– Extensions: Does the platform has all in one place or you need to add additional modules, plug-ins or apps every time you need to give your users new content or tools, for example, a calendar, events registration, pages in multiple languages, shipping providers integration (such as Canada Post, Purolator, FedEx, etc.)
Is the module that you require free or will you have to pay a fee to the app developer? Depending on the platform and the complexity of the module, some can cost $25 per month or more; whereas others require a single payment that can varies from $150 dollars or more.
See the complete chart here.