Way back in the early days of the web, before google became a verb and hotmail was a shiny new toy, websites were updated manually. Some poor unfortunate, sweetened by the illustrious title 'Webmaster', would manually update the year on the footer of all 97 pages on a given site.
Nowadays, most websites are powered by Content Management Systems (CMS) which allows changes to be made, pages to be added and images uploaded through a simple web interface. If you're considering a website you've must likely heard the term CMS and wondering about the pros and cons and, more specifically, what you should look for in a CMS.
First question, do you really need a CMS? The answer is most likely a resounding yes. Unless your website is a simple one page affair with basic contact details, you will want the ability to keep your site fresh with new content, informing your customers of recent developments etc. The real issue is finding a solution that best fits your needs.
Off the shelf
Wordpress is by far the most popular open source CMS available. In fact, almost 15% of websites are powered by Wordpress! Wordpress started as a simple blogging tool, but soon morphed into a more feature rich application that powers sites such as 10 Downing Street and Reader's Digest. Previous criticim of the program focused on lack of 'user-friendliness' however dramatic improvments have been made in the past couple of years.
- Open source. No licensing fees.
- Easily add and manage images and files.
- Rich eco system of free (and paid for) plugins, allowing you to integrate ecommerce and the like.
- Can become unwieldy if your website needs stretch beyond simple sites.
- Popularity comes at a price: Hackers love targetting older versions of Wordpress, with unpatched security updates. Be sure that whoever administers your site will ensure your installation is up to date.
Drupal is another well known name in the CMS marketplace. Unlike Wordpress' blogging beginnings Drupal has always strived to be a general purposed solution that allows for almost any kind of website to be created. The cost of this flexibility is that adding and updating content can be a little intimdating, particularly at first. Famous sites powered by Drupal include The White House and MIT
- Powerful. If you can imagine it, Drupal (probably) can do it.
- Strong social media foundation: register users, add forums etc.
- User interface can be daunting, particularly for new users.
- Third party add ons are not always kept up-to-date or well supported.
Joomla While Wordpress is a breeze to use and excels at the basics, Drupal is powerful and highly extendable, Joomla falls somewhere between the two. It's popularity has been on the wane in recent years and lacks the wealth of plugins of the previous two.
ExpressionEngine Unlike the previous offerings, Expression Engine is not open source and comes with a $300 price tag. This is not necessarily a bad thing as included in the price is professional support and a rock solid piece of software. EE is the first choice of many web industry professionals.
- Incredibly stable platform
- Flexible and very powerful
- Full time support staff
- Costs can build up, if buying third party extensions.
Made to measure
Here at Starfish, we believe that each client is unique and as such we offer tailored solutions to each project.
Over the past 6 years we have developed our own in-house Content Management System. Titled, simply, Starfish CMS.
For each project we customise and streamline the user interface, to best suit your workflow.
- Intuitive and easy to use administrator interface.
- Customised to your exact requirements and streamlined to your workflow.
- Built on open source components.
In a nutshell, Wordpress is a good choice for fairly simple sites. Drupal is a powerful solution for mid level websites. Commercial software such as Expression Engine has the benefit of full time support and a network of professionals to help you implement your site. Ultimately, though, if you want to focus on getting the most from your website Starfish CMS is a winning choice. Contact us for more information.