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What content management system should I use?

With so many content management systems (CMS) it can often become quite confusing weighing up the options on the table and making a decision on which CMS to use. So in this article I look into the considerations that I would recommend to help you get on your way to a successful new website.

If you’ve been speaking to web designers about your new website then chances are each one will be recommending a different system to use. And there are many. Some old, some new, some feature rich, some very basic and some focus on doing one particular thing (like ecommerce or blogging). The big three CMS’s are WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. With a market share of 60%, 8% and 6% respectively.

There are too many CMS’s to look into the specifics of each but if you want to compare features there are a few sites that can help with that, such as CMS Matrix and Wikipedia.

So what I would recommend are thinking about three things:

1) Determine your minimum set of KEY features

Do not get blinded by a long list of features. Chances are once you get your website up and running you will only login every so often to add some content. So what sounds like a feature you can’t do without will likely never be used. As an example, we often get asked for a multi-user group workflow, the idea being that certain user only access a part of the website content and new content is submitted for review / editing before it gets published. It’s rare this plan ever gets put into practice.

What is important is knowing what are the key features you will need now and in the medium to long term. For example if you will need to sell online then it’s probably wize to look for an ecommerce system rather than a ‘bolt on’ later. Or if you need a database approach (like recruitment or estate agent listings) then make this the priority.

2) Your staff’s experience / knowledge

Are your staff currently trained up or used to an existing system? If so it might be worth keeping with the system you already have to avoid the new learning curve and training costs. CMS’s evolve over time and it could be that an upgrade to the latest version, a restructure of the content and also improvement in the installation of your current CMS will work best for you.

Remember, problems on a website are rarely a limitation in the CMS but they way it has been implemented.

3) Your agency’s preference

Lastly, I would recommend trusting the web agency that you are going to be working with on the project. Agencies will typically have a couple of CMS’s they specialise in and they will be able to deliver the best solultion with a tool that they are confortable with. Asking an agency to use a CMS they do not have proven experience with is immediately adding an element of risk to the project.

In Summary

With so many content management systems available how do you choose which to use? Firstly, I’d recommend looking at the key purpose for the site any looking at whether any specific tools would be suitable. Second, what system are you currently using and can it be upgraded or implemented differently to fix any issues, this would avoid re-training of staff. Thirdly, if you have an agency that you want to use in mind then trust their recommendation to ensure they are not hindered in delivering a successful project.