CI Chatter

Choosing the right content management system

There is a world full of literally thousands of content management systems, so how do you choose which is right for you? Well it’s not an easy thing to answer as it really does depend on the project. We’re going to look at some of the things to look at when deciding on your content management system.

Okay, so you want a website, but what is it? Is it a blog? A simple 3 page website? A full on eCommerce store? This is the very first and most important question as it defines what type of CMS you need.

If it is a blog, you’d likely choose WordPress which is the leader in open source blogging solutions. There are many more to choose from, but WordPress is the most widely supported with plug-ins, themes etc. Do not however use a solution like WordPress as a CMS for a non-blog site. There are many companies that push it as a CMS for things like online stores, websites etc. It’s not built for that and makes it very difficult to edit content when it’s built like that.

So if you are building a normal website what do you build on? Well this is a very difficult question to answer, there are so many solutions that are great to choose from, whether you choose a proprietary system or open source, and which system from which choice is entirely up to you. Proprietary systems can be more flexible if it is owned by the company you’re building the site with, meaning they can customise the system more to your needs making it easier for you to update. There are some brilliant proprietary solutions out there and we commonly have one we use here which is really simple to use and has sort a lot of praise from clients. However, sometimes people are looking for something more portable, something like an open source solution. Drupal is most likely the leader in the field at the moment with it’s latest version 7 release. Joomla was a common solution used a few years back but it is overly difficult to use for most people so Drupal has taken the forefront. An advantage of the open source solutions is they have so much power out of the box they can be set-up fairly quickly with loads of features. But for a lot of businesses all those featured can sometimes be overkill and end up cluttering the interface making them have a steep learning curve.

eCommerce is one of the easiest places to get the wrong CMS solution. Luckily there are some great solutions out there, but you really do need to know what your needs are prior to choosing an eCommerce solution. One of the key things to ask yourself is, what kind of reporting do you need and do you need your eCommerce solution to integrate with third party systems for accounting or other purposes? If you’re looking for a straight up, out of the box solution then Magento is likely the way to go. With various solutions to choose from Magento has some great eCommerce solutions you can theme up to look brilliant. The different versions range from community open source, to a new hosted platform all the way through to a jam packed enterprise solution used by some of the biggest companies in the world. On the flip side however, if you don’t need or want all the bells and whistles you can go with a custom built solution that just has the features you want, and is easily built on as you grow. Other advantages of a custom solution is they are often more lightweight so they can be more efficient than off-the-shelf solutions, and they can be integrated to third party solutions a lot easier than with the off-the-shelf solutions.

There is a lot to think about. Sometimes you may require something different to all the above as well. It’s a good idea to ask your web design agency what they recommend and do your research to decide what’s right for you.