Which CMS to Publish Your Content?

In the dark days of yore if you wanted to build a website, particularly an interactive, database driven website you had to roll up your sleeves and get stuck in to raw HTML code as well as complicated CGI programming with languages such as Perl , which presented a rather high barrier to entry for many people. These days technology on the web has progressed and improved considerably and the rise of the CMS or Content Management System has enabled anyone to setup a dynamic site or web service with not much more than a few clicks.

Creating content on a CMS is typically done through a simple to use WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor which typically features an array of formating buttons to facilitate rapid content creation which also looks decent.

Some of the well known open-source CMS systems around these days are built with PHP and use MySQL (or PostgreSQL) for a database. Many web hosting companies provide one-click install of a range of CMS and other web applications through their server control panels. For those that don’t, installation is usually a matter of unzipping and uploading the CMS code with FTP to a directory on your web server and then viewing that directory with your web browser which will bring up the installation wizard. From there you just follow instructions, fill in some forms and in a few minutes you will have a functioning CMS ready for customizing to your specific requirements.

While there are many CMS applications to choose from and more appearing all the time, many of which are completely free and open source, there are a few which have been around for many years now and provide a mature and stable platform with millions of happy users. The likes of Joomla and Drupal are extremely popular and it is hard to say which is better as both are in active development and if one moves ahead in one area the other moves ahead in another area and new versions are constantly pushing the envelope. Which one you choose may depend on a number of factors such as availability of local support, plugins that offer specific features you need, personal preference of you or your developers or some other criteria.

Besides Joomla and Drupal there is also WordPress which is best known as a blogging platform but is actually a CMS in its own right. WordPress can be installed on your own server and customized just as with other CMS applications but it also can be used through wordpress.com which provides a hosted and managed blog system so you don’t have to install anything to use it but of course you are then somewhat limited when it comes to customizing.

Other CMS systems exist which have a different focus, such as Elgg which is a complete social network solution so you could run your own Facebook type system, customized to your specific needs.

One thing common to all good CMS systems is the ability to install plugins to easily add new features without having to start coding your own. Any popular CMS today should have hundreds or even thousands of plugins developed by the wider community so when choosing a CMS it is worth seeing if plugins exist already to add any feature you may need. Another advantage of the popular CMS applications is the large number of experienced developers you can hire to create custom mods should you so desire.

Besides plugin developers there are also many designers who specialize in creating themes for various CMS systems, many such themes are available for free or for a small fee (and could be used by many other people) but you can also get a fully custom theme designed and built.

When your business depends on content marketing, you need to choose a good CMS that does what you need because you’ll be stuck with it for a long time. Make sure to thoroughly investigate the options available before making your decision and then ensure you learn it well and configure it properly!

Which CMS is your favourite these days?

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