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.
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: http://www.cmsmatrix.org/matrix/cms-matrix. And tell us – which is your favorite CMS, and why?