One of the most common questions I am asked is, “What Content Management System (CMS) should I use for my website??. The short answer is, that there is no short answer and there’s certainly no simple one!

Choosing a CMS really comes down to what it is you need to achieve with your website and what it is that you need to be in control of. There are hundreds of CMSs to choose from, all with their own individual capabilities and functionality. For some, a simple basic CMS will be enough to manage their brochure ware type website, but others require more flexibility and functionality.

A lot of web developers will be able to guide you toward the CMS that they feel suits your requirements best. But in a lot of cases, the web developer will usually suggest a CMS he/she is most comfortable using.

What is a Content Management System (CMS)?

A Content Management System is basically a piece of software that allows non-technical users to manage their website and its content. Through a CMS, website owners have the ability to add text, upload images, videos and documents to their website at their leisure without the intervention of a web designer. A CMS takes away the technical knowledge required to update and manage a website by creating an easy to use interface. With some CMS’s, it can be as easy to create a new webpage on your website as it is to create a new Word document.

Content Management Systems were born in the mid 1990s when web designers, bored with the laborious task of updating massive content heavy websites, decided it was time for change. They went about creating simple systems to help maintain the websites they created for their clients. Originally these systems were built for in-house use only and it was only a matter of time before they realised that there was a market for such a product.

Nowadays, it’s common practice for web design companies to install Content Management Systems (CMS) on all websites they develop. Even if you haven’t request a CMS from your web designer, it’s quite possible they have installed one already… mainly for their own sanity!

Paid vs Free

The first major decision you will be faced with when deciding what CMS you should use is whether you should buy one or use one of the many freely available open source CMS’s.

In the Open Source arena, there are hundreds of free CMS’s . Being free obviously has massive benefits, but it also brings its problems too. Because the software and its core code are freely available, it’s more susceptible to security and hacking holes. For this reason, choosing a CMS that is regularly updated and patched regularly is of key importance.

Generally speaking, CMS’s developed in-house by web development companies will occur an annual license fee. Developers of “off-the-shelf? CMS’s are likely to charge you a one off fee for its use and offer you free updates for one year.

Cost

You shouldn’t assume that because you have chosen to use a free CMS, there will be no costs involved in getting up and running. The simple fact is that there will still be costs associated with getting it integrated with your website. Your web developer is likely charge you for the time it takes to install and integrate the CMS with your website design.

If you have chosen a commercial CMS, some companies may waive the integration fee, but you will still have to pay to get a design capable of working with the CMS itself.

It’s really worth researching the cabilities and functionality of all available CMSs before deciding on which one to you use for your website. Here is small list of some of the most popular CMSs.

Recommended Content Management Systems

Typo3
An enterprise level CMS that offers full flexibility and expendability.  Typo3 is freely available to download and use under the GPL License agreement. Typo3 has a good choice of enterprise extensions and plugins available.

www.typo3.com

Technology: PHP, MySQL, Oracle, Postgres

€FREE (GPL License)

Joomla
Joomla is an award winning content management system. Favoured by a lot of developers for it’s easy installation and management capabilities. Joomla’s biggest downfall is probably its popularity. The fact that so many people use it, makes it more prone to abuse from malicious coders.

www.joomla.com

Technology: PHP, MySQL

Cost: FREE (GPL License)

WordPress
Favoured by bloggers as the tool of choice, it is now fast becoming a popular tool for managing smaller websites.

A huge collection of third party plugins are freely available.

www.wordpress.org

Technology: PHP, MySQL

Cost: FREE (GPL License)

Expression Engine
An affordable Content Management System that is feature rich and flexible.

www.expressionengine.com

Technology: PHP, MySQL

From €250.00

Kentico CMS
Kentico is another flexible solution and favoured by developers who are used to developing Microsoft ASP.NET applications.

www.kentico.com

Technology: ASP.NET, SQL

From €1,990.00

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