If you need a powerful and versatile CMS for your new website, there are several popular options you might want to look into. What you choose should largely depend on the purpose of your site, be it a blog, community portal, business site loaded with content, news magazine or online store. You might also be looking for something that’s right in the middle, with many of these features combined. Besides the idea behind your future website, you should also take into consideration your skills as a developer. Are you just starting out and are looking for a simple, straightforward interface, with easy-to-follow instructions and great community support? Or are you long past that level, and are looking for something that provides you with a complex, flexible system, loaded with features and possibilities, but not necessarily easy for an everyday user to understand? Do you require a platform that will let you sell your first product an hour after installation, or would you rather set up an informational site first, and add e-commerce features as you go?
Weigh all of these factors in before you make up your mind. Each one of the following content management systems provides a powerful platform for any webmaster, but some will work better for you than others, depending on how you answer the above questions. All of the CMS compared in this article are open-source, all run on PHP, and each one of them is very popular among its own user base.
WordPress has come a long way from its roots as a blogging platform to a dynamic CMS system used by millions of people around the world. All you need to do to check the growing popularity of WordPress over the years is take a look at Google Trends. It is far more popular than any of its competitors, and this was achieved partially thanks to its simplicity of use – a developer of pretty much any level can quickly install a WP-powered site and have it up and running in hours, with all the basic features one might need. Once you start delving deeper into WordPress, you will find a lot of add-ons, called plugins, which will help you expand the functionality of your site. Through them, you add e-commerce features, membership and newsletter signup forms, advanced comment systems, follow buttons, forums and much more. All that considered, you should still keep in mind the roots of WordPress as a blogging platform. This means that it works best for blogs, informational sites, news portals and anything else that revolves around content first and foremost.
A lot of developers try to load WordPress with features beyond what it was meant to do, but that often makes this CMS more complicated than some of its competitors, which were designed to handle a lot of features from the start. Problems arise when different plugins clash with each other, or when old plugins become incompatible with the new WP version. WordPress comes up with updates often, primarily because of security concerns. If you choose to stick around with the old version to ensure your plugins don’t get broken, you risk becoming vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Still, WP remains a great choice for the majority of beginning and mid-level developers; and even some more advanced users prefer it for its simplicity, its large selection of features and strong community support.
Drupal was designed to handle large sites with hundreds or even thousands of pages, which are feature-packed and carry large amounts of content. It can be used by smaller websites, too, but unless you are already working with Drupal for larger projects, enjoy learning new things or are an experienced developer, the learning curve involved might not make it worth it your time for a smaller project. Chances are that for a small to medium-sized site, you will not need the advanced flexibility and functionality Drupal has to offer. Even though its community is smaller than that of WordPress, it still offers a lot of support. The great thing about Drupal is that many of its developers, who get paid by companies to design add-ons, called modules, later release these programs to the community, adding on to a large selection of free, advanced features you can use on your site.
Drupal is so advanced that you can pretty much do anything you like with it, without running into any limitations. The only obstacle you might encounter is your lack of sufficient knowledge as a developer, but that can be overcome if you are willing to spend the time needed to learn the system. Unlike some of the WordPress plugins, Drupal modules are designed to fit together smoothly and have little to no compatibility issues. Drupal is great for enterprise sites and other projects that require advanced coding and high scalability. Every new release of the program makes Drupal a little easier to use, although it is still far from being as simple as WordPress and as accommodating to a developer of any level.
Joomla is known to stand somewhere in the middle between WordPress and Drupal in its simplicity of use and its potential. You can easily design e-commerce sites with it, as well as advanced sites with a lot of data, intranets and community sites for a lot of users. It doesn’t take as much time to learn as Drupal, although it will require you to read up on things if you have never used Joomla before, and generally needs more skill to operate that WordPress does, unless you load WordPress with multiple features. Investing some time into learning Joomla’s terminology and structure generally pays off, as it will give you an ability to design rather complex sites with it. Once you get used to it, Joomla will seem very user-friendly. It also has a lot of add-on tools, called extensions, to choose from. It has a strong developer community you can rely on, although, once again, not as large as that of