Getting your business online (Part 2): Which Content Management System is right for my website?

Allison, 99designs’ Community Content Coordinator, works on a post for our Designer Blog using WordPress.

(Read the first part of our “Getting your business online.” series) Once you have your awesome website design in hand – you can launch a website design contest here – your next step is to choose a Content Management System (CMS, for short). You’ll then work with a developer to make your site functional.  (We partner with two web development companies worth checking out if you don’t have already have a web developer in mind to work with: Xhtmlized and PSD2HTML.)

A CMS is a behind-the-scenes online platform that keeps track of your website content and provides you with tools that make editing and creating website content fast and easy. A good CMS is easy to navigate and also gives you plenty of flexibility to do what you want to your website.

Now, there are two main types of websites: those that sell products, and those that don’t. Informational websites are sites that do not sell products: personal or professional blogs, news sites, product or service review sites, or our favorite Ryan Gosling fan sites, to name just a few. eCommerce websites are those in which items or services are sold, and they typically include a product page.  If you’ve ever booked a hotel or plane ticket, patronized Amazon or eBay, or launched a contest on 99designs, you’re familiar with the idea.

When it comes to choosing the best CMS for you, there are tons of options to choose from, and the best match will vary depending on the type of website you’re looking to start. This post will briefly go over the very best and most popular CMS options. Don’t forget that most of these sites are free to use and have demos available – play around with them before making a selection!


WordPress is a free, open source CMS that caters to novices and professionals alike. It’s by far the easiest CMS to manage and set up. If you do not know the first thing about developing a website or the computer programming language required to create a site, WordPress makes it simple to set up a website, customize it, and edit content. There are lots of widgets and plug-ins to choose from, making a website easily controllable for folks with no knowledge of coding. They also have an extensive help section that is simple to navigate.


Joomla (which means “all together” in Swahili) is an open source, free CMS. Joomla offers extensive features and is more flexible than WordPress to customize and add extras. Joomla’s admin panel allows the website owner to do virtually anything, but here’s the downside: the panel layout used to manage content can be pretty confusing, and caters to designers and developers instead of first-time website owners. It’s not recommended unless you have a web developer on staff or have a firm grasp on a coding language. Joomla! can be used to run your informational or e-commerce site.


ExpressionEngine, used by many high profile companies, provides a fairly straightforward way to manage content and day-to-day fixes for people with limited coding skills. The downside: this CMS offers limited online support and the software necessary to use it runs from $100-300. ExpressionEngine can be used to run your informational or eCommerce site.


Drupal is a free, open source platform to run your website. It has recently been made more user-friendly for non-developers, but its largest community base is made up of developers. If you have a web developer on staff, they will likely prefer this CMS. Drupal can be used to run your informational or eCommerce site.

CMS Made Simple

Like wordpress, CMS Made Simple is a great website to have if you do not have a developer on staff. It’s a very easy open source CMS to manage, free to use, and easy to start. They have an extremely helpful FAQ and network of forums to problem solve, as well as a demo administrative page if you want to see how it works! CMS Made Simple can be used for informational or eCommerce sites.


This is a great CMS dedicated to eCommerce websites. On the administrative end, Magento is very flexible, offering extra options and add-ons, and it’s clean and easy to use. One helpful extension or add-on is the ability to integrate blogs from WordPress or Drupal to your Magento eCommerce site. Compared to other CMS options, though, this one can be a little trickier to set up and it isn’t free: it costs about $25 a month.


Shopify simplifies the eCommerce site creation process because it is a website host and CMS all in one. It’s a fantastic resource for business owners just getting their eCommerce sites off the ground, and those who don’t have a developer on staff. Fees start at $29 a month and up, and the site charges users a transaction fee  of  1 – 2% for all purchases made.

This is just a taste of the many CMS options out there. Do your own research and comparisions here: And tell us – which is your favorite CMS, and why?


  1. Hi

    Joomla? XD

    Reply June 26, 2012 at 6:47 pm
  2. Lidija SKOLNIJA

    You can try also anaZana. provides an all-in-one solution, and helps a small business owner to setup an e-shop and start e-commerce in minutes with no fee. AnaZana provides two options: “Do-it-yourself” or “Get-it-done-for-you” by anaZana webmaster. This solution is good also for graphic designers, who develop info or eCommerce website for their customers. You can start it FREE of charge, and later upgrade. Most popular solution among anaZana users is for $7/monthly. More here:

    Reply June 26, 2012 at 7:59 pm
  3. Manuel

    Mi pregunta: es posible cambiar de CMS cuando ya desarrolle una web en una de ellas?

    Reply June 26, 2012 at 10:02 pm
    • nestor

      Mi pregunta: es posible cambiar de CMS cuando ya desarrolle una web en una de ellas?

      Si, es posible cambiar en especial el contenido ya que este esta en la base de datos y el diseño/html tiene que ser de nuevo moldeado al nuevo CMS.
      requiere paciencia y tiempo.

      Reply August 31, 2012 at 9:12 pm
    • free online ticketing australia

      I use wordpress and joomla for my clients, but shortly I will convert the joomla-based site to WordPress. It just makes my client life’s easier.

      Reply April 25, 2013 at 10:48 pm
    • shagor

      I use wordpress and joomla for my clients, but shortly I will convert the joomla-based site to WordPress. It just makes my client life’s easier.
      free online ticketing australia

      Reply April 25, 2013 at 10:50 pm
  4. Petia

    Very helpful article.Thank you.

    Reply June 26, 2012 at 11:35 pm
  5. mymensingh

    molly u r great. thx for u post

    Reply June 27, 2012 at 12:40 am
  6. Joanna


    Reply June 27, 2012 at 12:39 pm
  7. imatest

    Great article covering the options. Next you need to put the website somewhere. If you’re looking for hosting, you can sign up for Windows Azure and get 10 websites for free for the first year…see It has a gallery where you can create sites based on Joomla, WordPress, Orchard, DotNetNuke, as well as many other CMS engines and be up and running in less than 5 minutes…

    Reply July 25, 2012 at 9:59 pm
  8. Cha

    I use wordpress and joomla for my clients, but shortly I will convert the joomla-based site to WordPress. It just makes my client life’s easier.

    Thank you for the post. Cheers

    Reply November 23, 2012 at 4:29 am
  9. Sassie Porche

    Nice blog!
    But if you are still looking for a partner for your CMS I can highly suggest HTML Guys. They can do the conversion from PSD to HTML, PSD to WordPress, HTML to WordPress and also PSD to Email. They also offer a good price that you will not hesitate to try. You can try to visit their website

    Reply February 5, 2013 at 10:05 pm
  10. Malessa

    My clients have found WordPress very hard to use. Here is a even better, easy to use free CMS –

    Allows “in context” editing – so you can view your website in browser, go to the page you want to edit, then click “edit” and edit the text on screen. So easy to use for end users.

    Reply June 18, 2013 at 5:52 pm
  11. 12512;&

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    Reply October 25, 2013 at 12:02 am
  12. カードケース 大人気

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    Reply October 29, 2013 at 5:00 pm
  13. Bettina

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    Reply November 22, 2013 at 9:24 pm
  14. Gloria

    I am really impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your blog.
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    Reply December 5, 2013 at 4:38 am
  15. Ben

    I prefer custom made CMS. A good programmer should involved in web development team. Learn and adopt only useful part from any other CMS, then build your own. That is the very best CMS for you.

    Reply December 6, 2013 at 1:10 am

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