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Top Content Management Systems (CMS) Print E-mail
Written by CodeMasterBill   
Sunday, 24 January 2010 14:35

"What's the best content management system?"

I often hear people say this, or read it in forums.  The other question people ask is,

"What is a CMS?"

Today I'll answer both of these questions.

According to Wikipedia a content management system(CMS) is

a collection of procedures used to manage work flow in a collaborative environment. These procedures can be manual or computer-based. The procedures are designed to:

  • Allow for a large number of people to contribute to and share stored data
  • Control access to data, based on user roles. User roles define what information each user can view or edit
  • Aid in easy storage and retrieval of data
  • Reduce repetitive duplicate input
  • Improve the ease of report writing
  • Improve communication between users

In a CMS, data can be defined as almost anything - documents, movies, pictures, phone numbers, scientific data, etc. CMSs are frequently used for storing, controlling, revising, semantically enriching, and publishing documentation. Content that is controlled is industry-specific. For example, entertainment content differs from the design documents for a fighter jet. There are various terms for systems (related processes) that do this. Examples include: Web Content Management, Digital Asset Management, Digital Records Management, Electronic Content Management (and others). Synchronization of intermediate steps, and collation into a final product are common goals of each.1

Which one is the best?

That's a complicated question, because it really depends on several factors:

  • How you plan to use of your website
  • Your anticipated future use of your website
  • Your technical skill level
  • Your personal preferences
  • And how much money you can afford to spend

So, I guess that the real question is "Which CMS is right for you?". Let's take a look at the top 4 CMSs and see if we can find an answer.  Three of these four are free and one is paid

WordPressWord Press

WordPress is a state-of-the-art semantic personal publishing platform with a focus on aesthetics, web standards, and usability.  The Best way to describe WordPress is simple and fully functional.  Setup is a snap — just 3 steps and 4 fields to fill in.  The administrative interface is intuitive and user friendly.  Originally used as a blogging platform, WordPress is quickly becoming a Web site CMS.  WordPress' default capabilities can be increased many fold (and new functions can be easily added) through its easy-to-use plugin architecture3 and the growing number of plug-ins that extend WordPress from being just a blogging platform.2 WordPress is also easy to update as newer versions come on line.

Recommendation: I would recommend WordPress for those just getting on the Web and wanting a blog site or a Web site that was purely informational.  This is also for those who do not need a lot of options for extending their Web site much beyond that of an informational Web site.2

Drupal CMS LogoDrupal

Drupal is a free software package that allows an individual or a community of users to easily publish, manage and organize a wide variety of content on a website. It is tied for third among popular CMSs. Tens of thousands of people and organizations are using Drupal to power scores of different web sites, including Community web portals, Discussion sites, Corporate web sites, Intranet applications, Personal web sites or blogs, Aficionado sites, E-commerce applications, Resource directories, Social Networking sites.

Drupal is ready to go from the moment you download it. It even has an easy-to-use web installer! The built-in functionality, combined with dozens of freely available add-on modules, will enable features such as Content Management Systems, Blogs, Collaborative authoring environments, Forums, Peer-to-peer networking, Newsletters, Podcasting, Picture galleries, File uploads and downloads, and much more.3

Recommendation: Drupal has the advantage of being either a blog site, portal site, forum or all of the above.  Drupal would be for anyone wishing to engage a community or expects to expand or incorporate more advanced features to include portals and forums dealing with multiple users  Drupal is very stable and has a host of community supporters.2

Joomla CMS Logo


Joomla! is tied for third with Drupal and is a very sophisticated and customizable CMS.  It is a powerful Open Source Content Management System for building professional web sites easily. Joomla! is often the system of choice for small business or home business users who want a professional looking site that's simple to deploy and use. It can deliver a robust enterprise-level Web site as well, empowered by endless extensibility for your publishing needs.3 Joomla! is different from the normal models for content management software. For a start, it's not complicated. Joomla! has been developed for everybody, and anybody can develop it further. Similarly to the Firefox browser, the core system can be extended via easily installable add-ons authored by the developer community. The comprehensive internationalization of Joomla! 1.5.x supports right to left languages (e.g. Hebrew or Arab) and extended character sets. Dozens of language packs can be separately downloaded.

One of the reasons that I chose Joomla! for my site is that I wanted to be able to expand my site to do a number of different things.  Joomla! has a huge array of developers that have produced thousands  of extensions and plugins in the few short years Joomla! has been developed.2

Recommendation: If your marketing plan includes the use of forums, newsletters, e-commerce or multiple signed in users, then you need the expandable capabilities of either Joomla or Drupal. Both have their trade-offs, but Joomla! is much easier when it comes to development.  Of course that is just my opinion.

ExpressionEngine CMS LogoExpressionEngine

ExpressionEngine (EE) is a flexible, feature-rich content management system that empowers thousands of individuals, organizations, and companies around the world to easily manage their website. If you’re tired of the limitations of your current CMS then take ExpressionEngine for a spin. Some sites that use EE include the Washington Chapter of the American Planners Association, Brad & Michael, Dury’s Gun Shop, Modern Living Supplies, Trevor Allen Photography, Orthopaedic of Central Virginia and Israel Center for Social & Economic Progress.4

Recommendations: ExpressionEngine is a commercial CMS, but I have maintained a couple of sites using it.  One advantage of EE is that it gives an organization an entire realm of ready made functions that can be accessed without having to install and modify for compatibility.  It is truly the leader of commercial CMSs.2


I am going to stop here.  There are a multitude of CMSs out there ranging from the simplistic to the complex.  Nevertheless, virtually anything that you want to do can be accomplished with a professional look and feel using one of the CMSs above.  Most people, regardless of their skill level, prefer to have a website designer update their site.  Even in this instance, a CMS can streamline work and save you money.

For more information, or help in getting your business on the World Wide Web, contact CodeMasterBill.


1 Wikipedia, "Content management system".

2 CodeMasterBill's personal experience.

3 CMS Matrix,

4 Spryestudios, "Top 12 Free Content Management Systems (CMS)" by Mike Smith.

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