Blog/Which CMS is right for me – WordPress, Joomla, Drupal & more
2nd February 2021
Introduction to content management systems (CMS)
A content management system (CMS) is a web application that allows you to manage the content on your website – whether it be images, text, posts, pages, styling and some functionality – without having to edit the code of your site – WordPress, Joomla and Drupal are among the most popular.
This allows people not trained in web design or development to manage their site easily and in any location without the need to pay someone to do it for them, giving site owners the option to be self-sufficient.
While some CMS describe themselves as a ‘blogging platform’, the truth is they have developed into much more than that, and off the shelf CMS are now commonly used to wholly manage websites of all sizes.
Because of the popularity of CMS there are now a plethora of free options, and with a range of free (and paid for) add-ons, so which one is the right one for you?
The most popular option is without a doubt WordPress. Over a third of CMS websites are built using WordPress, and because of its popularity it has an enormous number of contributors building themes – allowing you to switch on a pre-built look and feel of your site – and plugins, which give you the option of ‘plugging-in’ bits of functionality that make your site work better and allow users to do more.
WordPress’ core system is free, as are many of its themes and plugins but many of the better and most supported add-ons are either paid for or have a ‘premium’ option which will cost you a few quid.
One downside with WordPress is that if you’re trying to get your site to do something specific you might need a number of plugins to work hand-in-hand and not only do they not always get along, but each plugin comes with a size penalty that can make your site sluggish and load slowly if you’re not careful.
Next up is Joomla. Joomla is not as popular (both among users and contributors) as WordPress, and as such there aren’t as many off-the-shelf options in terms of styling or functionality as there are with WordPress.
It also isn’t as beginner-friendly as WordPress, and can be quite daunting to anyone without knowledge of building or managing a website.
On the plus side, Joomla gives you multilingual support, has a greater breadth of advance user management options and allows unique templates for each page type.
Also, some popular features need to be implemented manually, and makes Joomla – when combined with the extra advanced features it gives you – more attractive to users with at least some development experience, and may be more appropriate for larger sites.
Drupal is a very flexible CMS that gives you a lot of control over your users’ permissions and access. It’s not as popular as its two main competitors WordPress and Joomla, but it’s considered to be the most secure of the three making it the top choice among some people in the industry.
Additionally, Drupal’s taxonomy (ie how content is structured) is a good deal more sophisticated than in either WordPress or Joomla.
But while Drupal scores highly for taxonomy and increased security, they’re often more of a priority for seasoned web builders, whereas ease-of-use is more pressing for those without web skills, and that’s where it compares less well against WordPress.
WordPress, Joomla and Drupal have around a 2/3rds market share of CMS powered website, but there are others, including Serendipity (better suited to smaller sites), Typo3 (designed for enterprise level sites), Dotclear (best for ease of use) and a number of others.
Which CMS is best?
Well, it depends on what your site is for, the size of your site, your priorities and your level of experience. Personal preference is also a major factor (some people like coffee, some like tea).
Many business owners’ strengths lie in areas other than building and managing a website and so I find that most people’s priority is simplicity and easy of use, and for this WordPress is top choice.
With its bolt-on styling and functionality it also allows quick and simple deployment of tools that will improve your site without the need for any coding and so it makes you a great deal more self sufficient.
However, if you have an enterprise site, you have decent experience in building and maintaining sites and security is a top priority, then you might feel differently.
If you’d like a CMS website built on any of these platforms, we have experience of design and developing in WordPress, Joomla and Drupal (and others), so please do get in touch. We’d be happy to give you bespoke advice on which is best for you.