These days, having a powerful, user-friendly website is more than just a nice-to-have. It’s an absolute must for businesses, organizations and anyone aiming to make a mark online.
Think of your website as your digital storefront, the place where your brand shines and where you connect with your audience.
But building and managing a successful website is no cakewalk, because it goes way beyond slapping together a few web pages. You need a rock-solid foundation and the perfect content management system (CMS) to turn your vision into reality and reach your goals.
So it should go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: choosing the right CMS is a major decision that can’t be taken lightly.
A content management system (CMS) is a powerful tool that helps you create a website and manage its content,” explains MailChimp. “A CMS will not only help an organization’s website to stay online, but it will also allow for easy and consistent updating of the user-side portion of the website.”
However, with the sea of CMS platforms out there, each boasting about their features and strengths, it can be overwhelming. Because whatever you decide on will directly impact a whole lot of things like:
- The User Experience: When you’ve got a user-friendly CMS, managing content becomes a breeze. It’s easy for both content creators and site admins to keep things updated and running smoothly. In turn, this leads to better, fresher content, making your visitors happy with their experience on your site. And this is a good thing. “User experience is important because it tries to fulfill the user’s needs,” says UX Planet. “It aims to provide positive experiences that keep a user loyal to the product or brand. Additionally, a meaningful user experience allows you to define customer journeys on your product that are most conducive to business success.”
- Efficiency and Productivity: You’re busy. Like, really busy. So this is good for you to know: the right CMS can streamline your workflow and increase overall efficiency. It simplifies content creation and editing and publishing processes, enabling your team to work more productively. This is especially crucial for businesses and organizations that frequently update their websites with new content.
- SEO and Online Visibility: Search engine optimization (SEO) is essential for improving your website’s visibility in search engine results. SEO drives 1,000 per cent plus more traffic than organic social media,” explains Ahrefs. Some CMS platforms offer better built-in SEO features or have a wide range of plugins and extensions that can help optimize your website for search engines.
- Security and Updates: Websites can be targeted by cyber threats (globally, an estimated 30,000 websites are hacked each day) so it’s crucial to have a trustworthy CMS that offers regular security updates and patches. This helps shield your site from potential attacks and keeps your precious user data safe. Picking a reputable CMS with a solid security focus is a must to ensure your website’s protection.
- Customization and Design: A good CMS should allow you to customize the look and feel of your website to align with your brand identity. The ability to choose from various themes, templates and layouts is crucial for creating a visually appealing and unique website.
- Integration with Third-Party Tools: Many websites require integration with third-party tools or services, such as email marketing platforms, analytics tools, or e-commerce solutions. The right CMS should have compatible plugins or native integration options for these services.
- Long-term Sustainability: Your website is an essential asset, and the CMS you choose should have a sustainable development roadmap. Selecting a CMS with ongoing updates and active development ensures that your website remains viable and up-to-date in the long run.
Whether you are a budding entrepreneur, a seasoned web developer, or someone venturing into the online realm for the first time, we’re here to equip you with the knowledge and insights needed to unlock the true potential of your website. Together, we can take the first step towards building a website that truly stands out amidst the digital noise and leaves a lasting impression on your visitors.
Let’s look further into Content Management Systems:
Before Choosing a CMS, Make Sure You Understand Your Website’s Requirements
When you’re launching a new site, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of design possibilities and visual aesthetics. But remember, while you’re getting all starry-eyed over those eye-catching colour palettes and sleek layouts, your website also needs to do some heavy lifting to impress both humans and those finicky search engine algorithms!
And so, before diving into choosing a CMS, it’s essential to take a step back and understand your website’s unique requirements.
Begin by identifying your website’s purpose and goals. Maybe you’re an artist looking to showcase your portfolio. Or perhaps you’re a business owner looking to sell products, provide information, engage with an audience, or generate leads. No matter who you are and what you do, defining your website’s primary purpose sets the tone for its design, content and functionality.
Just as important, however, is outlining specific and measurable goals that will help you track your website’s performance and success. Are you aiming for increased website traffic, higher conversion rates, or improved user engagement? Knowing your goals empowers you to align your website strategy with your overall business objectives, ensuring that every element of your online presence serves a purpose and contributes to your ultimate success.
Consider the type of content you’ll be publishing. Maybe you’re hoping to regularly blog. (If you’re not, maybe reconsider. According to an article by Ahrefs, 80 per cent of bloggers report that blogging drives results.) Or perhaps you’ll be publishing events and webinars, or user-generated content. In the end, the type of content you’re publishing matters significantly when choosing a CMS because different CMS platforms excel in managing specific types of content.
You’ll also want to consider the technical expertise and the resources you have available to you. If you have limited technical knowledge (hey, we’re not all techies!), opting for a user-friendly CMS can save you from headaches and frustration during the setup and configuration process. It ensures a smoother implementation and gets your website up and running faster.
A Comparison of Popular CMS Platforms
From WordPress to Drupal, each platform out there has its own strengths and weaknesses. Understanding their distinct attributes is essential in finding the perfect CMS that aligns with your specific requirements and empowers you to create a website that achieves your goals with ease.
Let’s look at a few of the more popular platforms out there.
In the vast landscape of the internet, WordPress reigns supreme as the CMS of choice for a staggering number of websites. According to a HubSpot article, as of 2022, a whopping 43.2 per cent of all websites on the web embraced the power of WordPress. This figure had seen a significant uptick from 39.5 per cent in the previous year, solidifying its position as the go-to CMS for web development.
But WordPress’s popularity doesn’t stop there. It has earned the trust of prominent players in the business realm. Renowned Fortune 500 companies like eBay, General Motors (GM), and Reuters News have raised their banners high in WordPress’s camp, opting for this dynamic CMS to fuel their online presence. When giants like these make the switch, it’s a testament to the reliability and potential that WordPress brings to the table.
Here at 1dea, we joined the WordPress fan club with enthusiasm. We love its user-friendly interface, which allows users of all skill levels to navigate its waters with ease. Gone are the days of wrestling with complex code or tech jargon. We find that WordPress empowers anyone (even our most technically averse clients!) to manage and update their content effortlessly.
Content Management Systems like WordPress allow our clients to keep their web presence up-to-date and make sure their content is always relevant to their customer,” explains Holly Hamilton, 1dea Senior Graphic Designer. “WordPress is one of the most popular CMS platforms out there, which means it’s a tried and tested software with thousands of plugins, allowing for countless ways to tailor and customize sites to fit our clients’ needs. Part of our web process involves a one-on-one training session, meaning you’ll feel equipped with all the tools you need to manage your site.”
“[WordPress’] intuitive interface has been hailed as one of its main selling points,” explains ScalaHosting. “Indeed, it presents a much more manageable learning curve compared to other competitors like Joomla and Drupal. Novices get used to the dashboard quite quickly, and even people with website building experience can benefit from a user-friendly [Graphical User Interface] that allows them to tackle site administration jobs more efficiently.”
The treasure trove of plugins available in the WordPress universe is another trump card in its deck. With an extensive array of plugins at your disposal, you can customize your website to cater to every specific need and desire. From SEO optimization to e-commerce solutions, social media integration, and beyond, these plugins unlock a world of possibilities to enhance your website’s functionality and performance.
Our favourite plugin at 1dea has to be Elementor,” says Holly. “We love that it extends WordPress’ functionality to include direct on-page editing and the ability to drag and drop content. After our developers design a custom theme, our designers can iterate on the layouts they create to customize each page to perfectly suit the content. After a site hand-off, our clients can feel empowered to make changes to their site that wouldn’t be possible with a fully hard-coded WordPress page. This means that adjusting content, photos and text is more user-friendly than ever. We are also huge fans of Gravity Forms, which makes collecting form submissions and setting up email marketing funnels a breeze.”
Moreover, the sheer versatility of WordPress makes it a perfect fit for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Whether you’re a small startup, an established enterprise, or anything in between, WordPress has got you covered. It provides the flexibility to craft websites for various industries and purposes, from simple blogs and portfolios to complex e-commerce stores and enterprise websites.
Speaking of SEO, WordPress’s built-in features are a dream come true for website owners aiming to conquer the search engine battlefield. With its SEO-friendly elements, such as customizable permalinks, meta tags, and sitemaps, WordPress sets the stage for your website to climb the ranks in search engine results. So when it comes to claiming that coveted spot (no easy task) on the first page of Google, WordPress gives you a head start.
According to TechJury, while nearly 85,000 million-dollar companies chose to use Joomla in 2022, its market share is only about 2.7 per cent. This is about 20 times smaller than WordPress!
This all being said, a number of big players use this CMS, including CNN, Forbes, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon, mainly because it’s seen as having a user-friendly interface that allows users to manage and update content with ease. This comes with a caveat though. It has a steeper learning curve compared to some other CMS platforms, like WordPress. However, once users get familiar with its features, most find it pretty straightforward and intuitive.
Joomla is also great for robust content management, so if your business is keen on producing and organizing tons of content (gold star for you!), Joomla can be a game-changer. Whether you’re running a news website with a constant flow of articles, managing an extensive product catalog for your e-commerce store, or curating a knowledge base filled with valuable resources, Joomla’s hierarchical content organization system ensures efficient content management and easy navigation for your users.
It’s also boasting some pretty powerful extensions. Whether you need e-commerce capabilities, social networking, event management, or multilingual support, Joomla’s extensions marketplace has you covered. The Joomla Extensions Directory is easy to use. Take a look to get an idea of what extensions might best support you and your business.
Others still like Jooma because it’s known for its stability and reliability. It’s widely known as a trusted choice for websites that require consistent performance and minimal downtime.
And finally, the Joomla development team is vigilant about addressing security vulnerabilities promptly. Regular updates and security patches are released to keep websites secure and protected from potential threats.
But what about the downfalls? First and foremost is the steep learning curve. If you’re a beginner with limited technical knowledge, you may find yourself navigating through the Joomla jungle like a lost explorer without a GPS. With its developer-centric approach, you may also come across features that feel too complex and technical.
An open-source CMS that has garnered a dedicated community of developers, designers and enthusiasts over the years, Drupal is perhaps most well-known for its flexibility and scalability, making it an excellent choice for a wide range of websites, from simple blogs to complex enterprise-level platforms.
According to Enterprise Apps Today, in the year 2022, more than 1.7 websites were using Drupal.
Business owners find one of the key advantages to this content management system is its flexibility and customization. It allows for unique and tailored websites, applications and online stores.
It’s also highly scalable. It can handle websites of all sizes, from small businesses to larger enterprises. Planning to grow? (Of course you are!). You’ll love how Drupal can grow with your business, so you can rest easy knowing you won’t need to switch to another platform as you expand.
The vast number of plugins is also a serious draw. You can add functionality to your website without much coding, which is great to know if you’re lacking in that area of things.
There are, however, some drawbacks to be mindful of. Namely, the fact that this CMS comes with a pretty steep learning curve, so setting up and managing a Drupal website may take more technical work than you bargained for, especially when it comes to extensive customizations.
There’s also a development cost to be cognizant of. Because it’s so complex, building and maintaining a Drupal site can be hard on the ol’ wallet, especially if you need customizations or if you hire specialized developers. “Ask any web developer, they’ll say Drupal is flexible, scalable and feature-rich but in the same breath, they say that the platform is a tad complex!” explains Global Media Insight. So just keep this in mind while making your decision
Lastly, updating or graduating to the latest version of Drupal is not an easy undertaking and will likely require you to hire a developer to implement. It’s a far contrast to WordPress where an update is simply a click of a button.
Weebly – used by 45 million users worldwide – is a website builder that offers a user-friendly, drag-and-drop interface, allowing individuals and small businesses to create websites without extensive technical knowledge. So even if you’re a total beginner without coding experience, you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting your site off the ground. Plus, there are a ton of professionally-designed templates that can be easily customized to match various styles and purposes. And it’s affordable.
We know what you’re thinking. “Ah-ha! This is exactly what I’m looking for!” Not so fast!
While Weebly does have many great features, it’s essential to consider the potential drawbacks before jumping in headfirst. One of the main limitations of using a drag-and-drop website builder like Weebly is that it might not offer the same level of flexibility and customization as hand-coding or using a more advanced platform.
And then there are the ads.
Weebly places ads on free websites, and these cannot be removed unless you upgrade to a paid plan,” explains Forbes. “Weebly also doesn’t give you as much control over your website’s design as some other site builders.”
On top of all this, as your website grows and your needs evolve, you might encounter some limitations in terms of design and functionality. While the templates are professionally designed, they might not always perfectly align with your specific vision for the website. Customizing beyond the template’s constraints could require some technical know-how or additional workarounds.
Here are other drawbacks:
- Weebly is a hosted platform, which means your website and its content are stored on Weebly’s servers. While this makes the setup and maintenance process much more accessible, it also means you’re dependent on their infrastructure. If Weebly experiences any downtime or server issues, it could affect your site’s availability.
- Using a popular website builder like Weebly means that your website may look similar to other sites built on the same platform. This could lead to a lack of uniqueness and make it more challenging to stand out in a competitive online landscape.
- As your site grows and attracts more traffic, you might encounter limitations in terms of performance and loading speed. Advanced features or integrations might also be limited compared to what you can achieve with custom development.
- Weebly has poor mobile optimization. And in today’s world, when mobile Internet traffic sits at around 60 per cent, this is no bueno. Because according to Forbes, nearly nine out of 10 online users won’t revisit a website if they have had a negative experience on it. Are you willing to take that chance?
And finally, there are also SEO implications important to be aware of.
- While it does have basic SEO features, it offers limited technical SEO optimization.
- Weebly restricts header usage beyond H2, limiting your ability to effectively organize your content and make it easily scannable
- Even with a premium plan, you won’t have the option to install external software on your Weebly site, preventing seamless integration with content management services.
While Weebly is a fantastic choice for many individuals and small businesses, it’s important to weigh your specific needs and long-term goals against the platform’s capabilities. If you envision your website becoming more complex and requiring extensive customization or specific functionalities, it might be worth considering other options, such as WordPress.
With Wix and Squarespace, you don’t need to be a coding whiz to build a website. They’ve got user-friendly drag-and-drop tools that make it a breeze. Plus, they’ve got tons of templates and pre-designed stuff to make your site look slick.
You can also do all kinds of stuff with these platforms. Like add and edit content, pop in images, organize pages, and customize how it all looks. Plus, they’ve got SEO features, e-commerce options, and blogging tools.
People love Wix and Squarespace because they’re so easy to use, even if you’re not a tech genius. You can whip up a professional-looking website in no time.
With this all said, it’s important to keep in mind that they have some limits compared to more powerful CMS options like WordPress.
Here are a few we think you should consider:
- Limited Customization: While Wix and Squarespace offer some cool templates, you might feel a bit boxed in when trying to create a unique design. Customizing beyond the templates can be a bit tricky, and you might miss out on that extra “wow” factor.
- Dependency on the Platform: Picture this: you build your dream website on Wix or Squarespace, and boom, you’re totally relying on them. If they have a bad day and experience downtime, guess what? Your site’s in trouble too!
- SEO Limitations: Okay, so they’ve got some basic SEO stuff, but it’s not as fancy as some other platforms. Your site might not shine as bright in search engine rankings, and that’s not a good thing!
- Loading Speed: You know what’s annoying? Waiting forever for a website to load. Wix and Squarespace have both been said to be a little sluggish, which isn’t exactly the best first impression for your visitors. And when nearly 70 per cent of customers admit that page speed impacts their willingness to buy from an online retailer, that’s not a risk you want to take. Right?
- Costs can Add Up: Hold on to your wallet! Sure, they’ve got different plans, but some of the really cool features are hiding in the more expensive ones. Before you know it, you’re spending more than you planned.
- Limited E-commerce Features: If you’re dreaming of the ultimate online store, you might find Wix or Squarespace a bit limiting.
- Data Portability: If the day ever comes when you want to move your website to another platform, you might be in for a headache. Wix and Squarespace make it tough to “pack up all your stuff” and leave.
- Performance with Large Websites: Imagine your site’s booming with content and traffic. That’s a good thing. What’s not so good is that some users have said Wix and Squarespace can struggle a bit to keep up with all that action.
While Wix and Squarespace can be fantastic solutions for many, considering these drawbacks is crucial to make an informed decision that best suits your website’s specific needs and future goals. So, take the time to weigh the pros and cons.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a CMS
With all this information at your disposal, you might be contemplating your next steps and asking yourself, “Where do I go from here?“
Let’s explore a checklist that’ll help guide you in choosing a CMS that perfectly complements your goals and aspirations for your website. Refer to it as you narrow down your decision. And make sure you tick all the boxes!
- Define Your Website’s Purpose and Goals. We know, we touched on this before, but it bears repeating! It’s essential to have a clear understanding of your website’s purpose and objectives. Are you planning to launch a blog, an e-commerce platform, a portfolio site, or a corporate website? Knowing your website’s purpose will help you narrow down the CMS choices that cater to specific functionalities and industries
- Consider User-Friendliness. Be honest with yourself. Are you and your team tech-savvy individuals, well-versed in the technical aspects of website management? Or do you find yourselves occasionally struggling in that department? If you lean towards the latter, make sure you opt for a CMS that offers an intuitive interface, streamlining content creation, editing, and publishing processes. Believe us, a straightforward user experience will work wonders. It will not only save you valuable time but also minimize the learning curve for everyone involved in managing the website. As a business owner, you already face enough challenges – why add one more to the mix? Choosing a user-friendly CMS will undoubtedly spare you unnecessary headaches and allow you to focus on what truly matters: growing your business.
- Evaluate Scalability and Flexibility. You have big dreams for your business, right? That means you need to think big when it comes to your website, too. As your website grows, you’ll want a CMS that can scale with your business. Consider your future requirements and choose a CMS that offers the flexibility to expand and accommodate additional features and content. A scalable CMS will save you from the hassle of migrating to a new platform down the line. And boy oh boy, do some ever make it a hassle.
- Examine Available Themes and Templates. Website design plays a crucial role in attracting and retaining visitors. Check the availability of themes and templates provided by the CMS or through third-party sources. A CMS with a diverse collection of visually appealing and responsive themes can make the design process more efficient and cost-effective.
- Ensure Mobile Responsiveness. In the mobile-driven era, having a mobile-responsive website is non-negotiable. Your CMS should support responsive design, ensuring that your website looks and functions well on various devices, including smartphones and tablets. And to be frank, some just…don’t. So make sure you do your research.
- Review the Plugin and Extension Ecosystem. Plugins and extensions are like magical add-ons for your CMS. They give your website extra powers and features without needing to create them from scratch. It’s a bit like adding new apps to your phone to make it do cool things. When you’re choosing a CMS, it’s important to see if it has a lot of these plugins available. A thriving plugin ecosystem means there are many of these handy add-ons ready to use. By using plugins, you can make your website do amazing things and save a ton of time and effort. Instead of writing complex code yourself, you can simply plug in the features you need and voilà! Your website becomes even more powerful.
- Security and Updates. When it comes to websites and the Internet, safety is incredibly important. You want to make sure that the CMS you pick takes security seriously. That means they regularly update their software to fix any potential security issues that could cause problems. It’s like locking the doors of your house to keep intruders out. Also, check if the CMS has a history of quickly fixing security problems and has a strong group of people who work on keeping things safe.
- Analyze Performance and Speed. Website loading speed significantly impacts user experience and SEO rankings. Evaluate the performance of websites built on the CMS candidates you’re considering. A speedy and optimized CMS will help your website deliver a seamless user experience.
- Your budget. Cost is a critical factor in any decision-making process. While some CMS platforms are free to use, others come with licensing fees or premium features. Consider not only the initial cost but also ongoing expenses, including hosting, domain registration, themes, and plugins.
It’s Time to Unlock Your Site’s Success With a Content Management System That Empowers Your Brand and Engages Your Audience
And there you have it! Choosing the right CMS for your website is undoubtedly a major decision, but don’t let it overwhelm you. Remember, even though building a website goes beyond just slapping a few web pages together, it’s also an exciting journey where your brand gets to shine and connect with your audience.
So, as you embark on this adventure, keep in mind the tips and insights we’ve shared. From understanding your website’s purpose and goals to evaluating scalability, user-friendliness, and mobile responsiveness, every factor plays a vital role in finding the perfect CMS match.
Here’s to your website’s success and an exciting journey in the vast realm of the Internet! Happy website building!