Ah, the click-bate title. This one especially targeted at the passionate CMS enthusiast.
In this article I will tackle CMSs. The good ones, the other ones and the eh.. popular ones.
Some ground knowledge
What is “content”?
Content is everything that goes on your website. This can be text, images, videos ect.
In a vanilla – non-CMS – website this can often be difficult to manage on a medium to large scale. Creating the need for CMS platforms.
What is a CMS?
I say necessarily because while many people are creating great looking websites using free or bought themes/skins and plugins/modules, if you want to make something custom for a client you are going to want to have some web skills.
How does it do it?
CMSs allow you to login to a back-end manager and add content through an easy to use GUI. Content is usually added through the use of WYSIWYG editors.
WYSIWYG – What You See Is What You Get
This content is stored away in a database which makes it easy to display and manage.
Is popular best?
Anyone with a bit of web knowledge will bring up WordPress as the best CMS to use – mainly because it’s the only one they know.
I have used and abused WordPress for a few years and have grown to enjoy it’s simplicity. Couple this with a wealth of third party plugins and it becomes a very capable CMS that can be used in a variety of different use cases. The question is, should you?
WordPress is great for what it was made for, blogging. You are busy seeing it in action right now. I love how easy WordPress makes it to smash out poorly written articles/rants like the many you see on this site.
That, however, is where my use cases for the platform end. Building eCommerce and other bespoke web solutions can be done using WordPress, but are often (like the language used to write the platform, PHP) hacky solutions – far from what the platform was built to facilitate.
It is no secret that WordPress has security issues and developers often make these issues worse.
There is another way
This might boggle the mind but WordPress is not the only CMS (say what!!??). There are many other platforms out there that do a great job. Examples being: Joomla, Drupal, Wix, Django, Magento and my homeboy DotNetNuke (see much longer list)
Each platform has it’s own strengths and weaknesses. These need to be kept in mind when deciding on which to use for your particular use-case. This comes down to a number of factors and making the wrong decision can impact both you and your client.
How to choose
In my honest opinion this is simple, horses for courses. I am going to break it down into a over simplified guide – it’s just the way I roll.
You need a blog.
Just flipping use WordPress. It’s lightweight, easy to use and you can’t go wrong. There are too many people too proud to admit that WordPress is a great CMS for simple websites and blogs. It is easy to get going and you can create a good looking free blog on wordpress.com in seconds.
You need an eCommerce site.
The obvious answer is Magento. Magento is the best and most popular eCommerce platform in the world. There are loads of ready-made integration providers for back end accounting systems like Pastel and if you need something custom there are thousands of developers around the world to help (Syncrony being one of them).
The only issue I have with Magento is that it is hectic to learn and will demand some time and patience to get fully familiar with it if you are doing it yourself.
An outside option for people in the .NET space is NOP commerce. NOP is an opensource eCommerce CMS. It is a great flexible option and is easily extensible.
Being build using the popular Asp.net MVC, finding a developer to work on your site won’t be hard either.
You need to build a big website
Commonly, large companies require large websites (you can have that one for free).
These websites often require integration with Windows based corporate systems. This is where DNN steps in. DNN or DotNetNuke is a highly popular .NET based CMS that makes it stupidly easy to create large, easy to maintain websites or intranet sites.
The US military uses DNN, so you have to believe that it is highly secure. With a large ecosystem of skins and modules and a friendly developer community, DNN can cater for just about your every need.
What isn’t catered for can be easily developed by any skilled ASP.NET developer (like me) using WebForms, MVC or SPA architectures.
I need a one page website
That is a lot of work!
Not always, there are loads of websites that provide paid or free templates. There a thousands of great looking vanilla websites that have been built using BootstrapJS. All the hard work is done for you, you just need to add the content.
There is no clear CMS to rule them all but not all CMSs are best for every use-case. I encourage you to look at your options before taking the jump into your next CMS based project. It is not always as easy as just going with what’s popular and you could save yourself a lot of time and effort by choosing what is best for you.