How To Evaluate Content Management Systems
Transforming into a digital-first business is becoming an imperative to stay competitive. That’s why it’s critical for your organization to master content management with software that lets you adapt to changing technology, stay agile, and deliver amazing customer experiences — both today and tomorrow.
Here are five critical factors to consider when choosing a content management system (CMS).
Customers are demanding personalized experiences
With digital technology, people have grown accustomed to convenience, choice, and immediate, personalized service. Consumers are now demanding more than a product. They want an experience where your organization knows who they are, what their history is with you, and what they might need.
Your CMS needs to be able to consolidate all their interactions with you — whether through your website, mobile apps, contact center, or in person — so you can anticipate their needs and offer them a direct path to getting what they want.
Globalization means you need content for multiple languages and countries
Globalization has made the world a smaller place for consumers, who can now easily get anything from virtually anywhere on the planet. But for businesses, marketing to international audiences brings its own set of challenges, like managing localized content in multiple languages.
A robust CMS will make a drastic difference in your ability to streamline workflows with translators and easily offer content in a language and tone that speaks to your customers.
Technology is constantly changing and becoming more complex
Advances in automation, personalization, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are fundamentally reshaping the marketing ecosystem. At the same time, people are incorporating more technology into their everyday lives, with voice assistants, wearables, and the Internet of Things (IoT).
With technology developing at a dizzying pace, you’ll want to look for a CMS that’s flexible enough to adapt right along with it. This way, you’ll be able to capture, analyze, and gain insights from the nearly boundless amount of data they produce.
Understanding data is key to connecting with customers
Every marketer today finds themselves with a huge amount of data at hand. Deciphering what that data is telling you, and using it to refine your digital content and marketing strategy, are key factors to successful campaigns.
A CMS with powerful analytics features will help you not only manage your data, but also make sense of it. You’ll be able to easily understand how your audience engages with your content, what’s motivating them, what their customer journey looks like, and most importantly, how to deliver the right message to them at the right time.
Matching content with context is now essential for e-commerce
Gone are the days of static websites and impersonal online purchase experiences. Great content experiences have become inextricably linked with the various ways companies sell and consumers buy products and services.
Your CMS needs to be able to account for how people are consuming content at each step of their customer journey, so you can deliver the right offers to them in the right context, right up to and through the transaction.
What You Should Know About the Most Popular Content Management Systems
While the three most popular CMSs have a lot in common, each offers distinct benefits. If you’re wondering how to best choose between them, here’s a rundown of the main information you need to know.
CMS #1: WordPress
WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world, currently powering over a quarter of the entire internet and claiming over half of the market share for content management systems. Because there are so many benefits of WordPress as a content management system, it is by far the most popular CMS today. WordPress is widely considered one of the easiest options for managing a website. And because of its vast popularity, the resources available for WordPress users are extensive.
To help avoid potential confusion, there are two versions of WordPress to be aware of: the WordPress hosting service (WordPress.com), and the content management system (WordPress.org). The former is a free and easy option for anyone starting a simple blog, but isn’t relevant for someone looking for a true CMS.
This CMS is the better option for anyone serious about starting a WordPress business website, an e-commerce store, or any website you hope to potentially monetize or build a personal brand on.
The Benefits of Choosing WordPress
This is probably the biggest benefit of going with the CMS that has the most users. That huge community of users comes with a massive trove of resources to help you learn how to get the most out of WordPress. WordPress provides a library of educational materials to help you learn the basics, but the WordPress community goes much further than that in supplying supplementary resources.
That includes a massive support forum where you can search all the past questions people have had about using WordPress. If the answer to a question you have isn’t there already, you can share it and get answers from one (or more) of the hundreds of experts in the community. In addition, there are many WordPress blogs focused specifically on this specific CMS when it comes to publishing tips, recommended themes and plugins, and suggested resources daily.
You can choose from thousands of themes.
When you’re building a website, the process is much easier if you can start from a design that gets the basic look and structure of your website into place. Anyone using WordPress can take advantage of that kind of design shortcut by using one of the thousands of available themes when getting starting.
There are nearly 4,000 free WordPress themes, and that’s just the beginning. Third-party designers have created tens of thousands of additional themes you can buy, many of them for affordable prices. And many of the available themes are responsive, so you can easily build a website that works well on mobile devices, a necessity in 2019.
Find a huge number of plugins and add-ons.
Because of how popular the WordPress blogging platform is, a number of companies put resources toward developing plugins and other add-ons you can use to extend the functionality of the CMS and get your website working just how you want it to.
The WordPress plugin library includes over 45,000 plugins that offer features such as enhanced security, spam blocking, SEO (search engine optimization) functionality, and much more. Many popular WordPress plugins are free, and many of those that charge are low cost.
Most website software and services are compatible with WordPress.
When choosing your CMS, you want to make sure it will work seamlessly with any other tools you’ll be using for your website, such as your analytics, sales, or customer service software products. WordPress’s popularity ensures that every website service you can think of has good reason to make sure they’ll work well with the CMS giant, so the vast majority of products and services are compatible with WordPress. You can even find web hosting plans that are specifically optimized for WordPress websites, to make integration of your hosting and CMS easier.
You can optimize for SEO.
SEO is one of the most important components in making sure people can find your website. WordPress makes some basic aspects of optimizing your site for SEO easy, such as customizing your URLs. But you can also easily tap into more comprehensive SEO features with free SEO plugins such as Yoast and the All in One SEO Pack.
Create an online store with WordPress and WooCommerce.
On its own, WordPress doesn’t provide the main features you need to run an ecommerce store, but this is another need that’s easy to satisfy with plugins. In particular, WooCommerce for an online store provides all the basic functionality you need in its free version, and offers advanced features like memberships and recurring subscriptions as paid add ons.
CMS #2: Joomla
Joomla is the second most popular content management system. It falls in the middle between WordPress and Drupal in terms of ease of use and how flexible and customizable it is. Like WordPress, it’s open source, so it’s free to use and allows you a lot of freedom in how you use the CMS to build your website.
While its market share is smaller than WordPress’s, it still boasts over 2 million websites and has a sizable community of volunteers who help keep the CMS working and improving.
The Benefits of Choosing Joomla
Joomla shares some of the benefits it offers with WordPress, but has a few unique ones as well.
It’s relatively easy to use.
While Joomla is not as intuitive as WordPress is, it’s still easy enough for most beginners to figure out. But it requires more of a learning curve and you can expect to spend more time working on your website to get it where you want. That may be worth it, especially if you want more control over your website and consider that a higher priority than having a CMS that makes updates fast and easy.
It provides a lot of flexibility.
Joomla has a large library of extensions you can use to add functionality to your website. While the plugins you can use for WordPress similarly extend its functionality, Joomla is largely regarded as providing more flexibility and control to users that are willing to do a little more work to achieve what they want.
It offers a lot of educational resources.
While you may have to work harder to learn how to use Joomla, the CMS makes it easy with a large library of useful resources on getting started. They have a community blog, free video training classes, a community support forum, and even user groups that meet up in person in communities around the world.
You have lots of Joomla templates to choose from.
You won’t have as many options as with WordPress but even so, you can find thousands of themes for Joomla designed by professionals. Some are free, and many others are affordable.
One big selling point for websites with an international audience is that Joomla makes it easy to build out multilingual websites. They offer over 75 translation packs for languages from all over the world. If English isn’t your first language, or if part of your audience speaks a different language than you do, this is a valuable feature.
It’s good for SEO.
Like WordPress, Joomla offers a number of extensions that help users optimize websites for SEO. Different extensions can help you update all the relevant meta tags, clean up your canonical links, and generate meta descriptions for your pages.
It’s good for eCommerce.
Joomla is targeted by hackers less frequently than WordPress, but also has a smaller security team. On the whole, they’re probably a more secure option. And you can bolster your Joomla security with additional security extensions and by taking basic steps to protect yourself.
CMS #3: Drupal
The third most popular content management system, Drupal, is distinct from the others in being more for professional developers than it is for beginners. And even for developers, learning how to use Drupal specifically can take time. But the extra work that goes into learning Drupal can pay off in the ability to make more complex websites that are better for enterprise businesses or companies wanting to include advanced features on their websites.
That barrier to wide accessibility likely explains why it has a smaller share of the market, with a little less than 5% market share. But it’s still popular enough to make this list because it brings more power and flexibility to the table, making it a strong choice for certain types of websites.
The Benefits of Choosing Drupal
Drupal has a few distinct benefits that cause it to edge out the other options for some website owners.
It offers more flexibility and customization options.
Drupal’s broad API and extensive library of modules makes it more versatile than the other two CMSs. If you know what you’re doing, or hire someone that does, you can do just about anything you could want to with Drupal. While both WordPress and Joomla allow a lot of options for customizing your website, they still present some limitations that aren’t a problem with Drupal.
It’s the most secure of the three.
Drupal is the top choice for enterprise businesses and government entities in part because it has the best security record of the three. The content management system’s security team keeps a close watch on the CMS and provides frequent security updates to patch up any vulnerabilities found. While you have ways to make the other two platforms more secure, if security is a top priority for your website, Drupal delivers the best.
It has a good community.
While the Drupal community isn’t as large as that of the other two CMSs, it’s full of skilled developers committed to the platform. And that community includes large companies that are willing to spend money improving the platform their websites depend on. The Drupal community is therefore skilled, devoted, and supportive.
It’s good for SEO.
Like the other CMSs, Drupal has modules you can add that provide all the most important features you need to optimize your pages for the search engines. Add ons like SEO Checklist and Pathauto help users customize pages in all the right places for on-site optimization.
It makes mobile-friendly websites easy.
Drupal’s well designed for enabling mobile-friendly websites. All Drupal themes in the current version are responsive. And Drupal automatically resizes images according to the device visitors view them on.
It’s more scalable.
Drupal makes it easier to build out your website over time with more functionality, and has the power to handle more pages and a higher number of visitors. For companies that expect large growth in the coming years, it’s a smart CMS to start with so your website can grow with you.
It’s a good platform for advanced features.
Websites that will have advanced features like community platforms or forums can benefit from Drupal, which is well suited for more complex websites. For simple sites, it may be overkill. But for larger and more complicated website plans, the CMS delivers what’s needed.
Which Web Content Management System is Right For Your Business?
So you know that your new website should have a CMS—they make updates quick and painless, allow you to add new pages easily, and generally make life (well, at least online) a heck of a lot easier. But which one is right for you? Here is a comparison among three of the heavy hitters in the world of content management systems—find out what fits you and your needs.
Drupal is for developers—users without coding experience will basically not be able to use it. There is a substantial learning curve to the program, but in the hands of a knowledgeable developer it is a powerful program that can be scaled to accommodate almost anything.
Pros: Highly flexible, a good option for building ecommerce stores and communities with multiple users, known for its powerful taxonomy and ability to tag, categorize and organize complex content. Drupal is known as the most secure CMS of the three, however Joomla and WordPress can be configured to be just as secure. Additionally, the Drupal developer community is very active, constantly creating modules (plug-ins) for almost anything your site might need.
Cons: Usability. If you are a Drupal developer or can hire a Drupal developer, the flexibility and scalability of Drupal may be appealing, but non-developers (or even developers who don’t have the time to dedicate to learning the software) will find the same functionality on a more user-friendly platform.
Joomla, like Drupal, is designed for developers, although it has a reputation for being somewhat easier to learn and use than Drupal. The average cost of set-up, customization and maintenance also falls somewhere in between: more than WordPress, less than Drupal.
Pros: Great for building dynamic sites—you can add templated areas that are fed by your content without being manually updated.
Cons: Again, this is a program for developers. If you choose to use Joomla for your business website, you will want to have access to a Joomla developer, either on your staff or at your web development company.
WordPress began as a blogging platform, but in the past few years it has become a highly popular platform for building complete, advanced websites. It can be used for basic applications by someone with no development experience, as well as leveraged by an experienced WordPress developer to build large, complex websites.
Pros: Highly user-friendly with many inexpensive themes available. A non-developer can create and launch a site easily, while WordPress’s wide array of add-ons and plugins (WordPress has the largest selection of plug-ins of the three) make almost any functionality possible in the hands of a developer.
Cons: Certain advanced functionalities may seem limited at first, but an experienced WordPress developer can achieve just about anything with applications and custom plugins. WordPress is sometimes criticized for security problems, but it is only vulnerable to hacking if the proper precautions are not taken. A quality WordPress developer will ensure that your admin passwords are strong and that the site is secure.
Need help with CMS development?
We currently build the majority of our websites in WordPress, because we believe in empowering our clients to manage their own sites. We don’t want you to have to pay us every time you need to make a simple update—we would rather build you a great site, train you on how to update it, and then let you run the show (of course, we ’re always here if you need help). Which CMS do you prefer and why? Tell us in the comments.
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