Which is the best content management system (CMS) for you?

Let’s have a look at 5 of the most popular CMS platforms and their pros and cons. We’ve also included links to sites using these platforms so you can take a look at them in action!

#1 WordPress

WordPress is a free open source CMS, so all you have to do is organize your own domain name and hosting and then download the wordpress files and you’re good to go. The basic advantage of WordPress over other CMS platforms is that it’s the most popular, so there’s tons of plugins that you can install to do basically anything you want it to.

Just don’t confuse wordpress.org with wordpress.com. The wordpress.org version is the full free version where you own your own site and can access all the extra plugins. The wordpress.com version is the limited free or paid version of WordPress where they host your site for you. It’s only really good for blogs, but you’d still be better off organizing your own hosting and using the free version from wordpress.org.

Pros:

  • Massive online community and is behind more websites than any other CMS
  • Thousands of plugins
  • User friendly – easy to install and use
  • Good for simple and advanced sites
  • Great for blogging
  • Free and also has lots of free plugins
  • Own your own website

Cons:

  • Can be vulnerable if theme or plugin developers aren’t up to date with security standards
  • Can get expensive paying for plugins and customization

Examples of sites powered by WordPress:

#2 Drupal

Drupal is also open source and free. The difference is that Drupal is aimed at those with more technical expertise and is definitely not as easy to navigate.

Drupal is great for those more experienced developers, but not so good for someone starting out. You can make more complex and impressive websites with Drupal. However, given the advanced technical expertise required to use Drupal, it probably isn’t the best tool to use if you’re going to hand over the site to a client, unless you plan to do most of the updates yourself.

Pros:

  • Has a large online community
  • Free to use and open source
  • More secure than other open source CMS platforms
  • Great for more advanced users who want to get more technical and add complexity to their sites
  • Own your own site

Cons:

  • Not so user friendly – difficult to install and use without more advanced technical experience
  • Not so easy to find the add-ons (they’re called modules)

Examples of sites powered by Drupal:

#3 Joomla

Joomla is also open source and free. It is fairly similar to WordPress in that it is easy to install and use. It does have an active community, but it isn’t as big. It is harder to find information and detailed training outside of the Joomla website.

Pros:

Cons:

  • Hasn’t got such a big online community
  • Harder to find plugins and add-ons to customize your site outside of Joomla’s main site (extensions.joomla.org).

Examples of sites powered by Joomla:

#4 Squarespace

Squarespace is not free. It costs around $12 per month to use. Unlike the first three, Squarespace is not open source. Basically, this means all the platform development is done by the Squarespace team and not contributed to by the online community.

This can be both a good thing and a bad thing – good because everything is coming from the same developer team so there’s little chance of an update breaking your site. Bad because it means development and updates happen more slowly than other open source websites where the online community can contribute and improve the site as they come across issues themselves.

Squarespace does take care of the hosting for you. This means you can’t shop around for your own hosting options. You’re paying for the convenience.

Pros:

  • Convenient – everything taken care of in one place
  • Lots of templates to choose from
  • Very secure
  • 24/7 customer support

Cons:

  • Not free – minimum $12 per month
  • Less flexibility with website design
  • Can’t shop around for cheaper hosting options
  • No real online community options – more just individuals using the service

Examples of sites made with Squarespace:

#5 Wix

Wix is similar to Squarespace in that it is not open source and everything is included under the one platform. Wix does have a free version, but you have to use their subdomain. Basically, this means that unless you pay, your site has to have ‘.wix.com’ at the end of your site. You also have to pay to make sure Wix ads aren’t shown on your site.

You can buy a domain name through Wix, and if you sign up with a premium plan, your domain name will be free for a year. If you’re interested in their pricing, click here.

Pros:

  • Easy to use for beginners with tons of nice looking templates
  • Has a free version
  • All in one platform
  • Secure with automatic backups
  • Support features

Cons:

  • Can’t shop around for cheaper hosting options
  • Not free – you have to pay a minimum $8.50 USD to remove Wix Ads from your site
  • It isn’t easy to switch between templates once started

Examples of sites made using Wix:

Final Words…

It’s up to you to decide which CMS platform works best for you. It’s always good to go with a popular platform because then you’re guaranteed to get updates and lots of new plugins and features. You want your site to be constantly evolving, so you want a platform that will support you long-term.

The free CMS platforms have a lot going for them – especially the FREE part. The only tricky bit is that you have to organize your own domain name and hosting, but there’s plenty of tutorials out there to help make this easier.

Choose something user-friendly and easy to hand over to a client for them to use. Even if something is free, it’s not worth the hassle if you have to spend days struggling over getting it to work properly. Remember, time is money.

Comment below and let us know which platform you prefer and why!

Lari

About the author: Hi, I'm Lari. I love to write content while my partner Morgan takes care of the development side of things. I hope that the stuff here is easy to understand and useful for people of any skill level. Feel free to drop a comment or reach out to us through our support page if you have any questions, feedback, or just want to say hi!

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