As the website owner, you’ve likely already decided to use a CMS over a website builder and thought the hard part was over. Unfortunately, you are mistaken. Although choosing a CMS is a step in the right direction, you will also need to decide which platform you will use. With this decision, some factors that will become crucial for considerations are accessibility, ease of use, provision of extensions or add-ons, pricing, and availability of customer support. For first-time website owners, another feature worth noting is the availability of in-platform CMS web hosting, which may simplify the setup process.
This blog post lists some of our top picks using the factors listed above.
Experts have consistently recognized WordPress as the number one choice for the best CMS platform, powering over 40% of today’s websites.
WordPress offers significant flexibility to build any website a user might be interested in, from an online store to an auction site, even extending as far as a membership site. Anyone can use site styles to build a website without technical skills or other knowledge by using a block-style editor to design their pages. Although WordPress isn’t a website builder, users can still browse through thousands of themes, plugins, and many extras to make one’s website their own.
In terms of cost, WordPress is free to use on its own. What will cost users money is using a domain name and a hosting account, which may be around $20 a month total.
As a CMS, first-time users may find it daunting to set up their hosting and domain names, manage their security, and conduct regular backups. Fortunately, the internet is now full of many online tutorials that can ease some of these initial concerns.
Additionally, users may also run into complications regarding the sheer amount of flexibility, as too many options can be debilitating.
Drupal is next on the list, a highly flexible, open-source CMS platform. Drupal designers created the platform to appeal to marketers, agencies, and developers, ensuring that those with basic experience could still add content and create a site with a template. Also providing a foundation capable of handling heavy traffic, Drupal has since become the foundation for major websites, including many belonging to leading Universities, Pinterest and Unicef, among others.
Once a development team builds a website on Drupal, it is easy for team members with no technical knowledge to add content in various formats. Drupal also makes it easy for many users to access the website, offering customization abilities for user roles and permissions.
In contrast to WordPress, Drupal is known for being significantly more difficult for a beginner to figure out. Since designers created CMS with the developer in mind, a basic understanding of languages including HTML and CSS are requirements to take advantage of the platform’s full capability. Consequently, developers put countless hours into many of the best-designed websites on Drupal, an expense that is not always feasible for website owners.
Many industry experts recognize Joomla as the middle-ground between Drupal and WordPress, offering a beginner-friendly interface and significant versatility.
In comparison to other CMS offerings, Joomla offers significantly more out-of-the-box features. Therefore, those using the platform can use built-in functionality for hundreds of users, build pages in many languages and create content in several formats. Furthermore, many of the site’s settings, such as banners, menus, and SEO settings, can also be modified. The only caveat is that developers make these modifications in the backend, which not everyone can navigate.
As the previous section hints, Joomla is more complicated, presenting a steep learning curve for beginners.
On the eCommerce front, Magneto is another CMS platform worth noting. Owned by Adobe, Magneto offers online store owners significant flexibility to design the most advantageous site for their goals.
Magneto Open Source provides a high degree of flexibility to customize a website directly to an owner’s liking. Website creators can browse through and add on any of 3,800 apps that appeal to what they are hoping to achieve. The platform is free for download and use, similar to WordPress. As a result, users can expect to pay the same for domain registration and hosting.
The only caveat is that Magneto requires some time to understand and even more time to look through all the available out-of-the-box features and extensions. It is worth noting that this statement holds regardless of experience in website development.
While many premium applications are available, it is often at a higher cost than comparable platforms.
Contentful is what is known as a headless CMS. A headless CMS is not attached to a web page, instead of relying on an Application Programming Interface (also known as an API) to take data and display it as content. For this reason, Contentful has one of the largest learning curves for non-technical users.
Its headless nature makes Contentful adaptable to more digital platforms, varying from web browsers to mobile applications. The platform also provides flexibility for website owners to add a variety of different content types.
Contentful makes it more complicated for users to address the actual website layout. Furthermore, since the CMS is compatible with different platforms, some technical knowledge is necessary.
HubSpot CMS Hub
HubSpot CMS has emerged as a fully integrated content management system, created with the needs of marketers and business owners in mind. The CMS is built on the platform’s powerful CRM, giving users access to features such as marketing automation and other operational tools. For this reason, HubSpot CMS is a great choice for medium-sized businesses and enterprises seeking all-in-one offerings.
HubSpot CMS Hub Benefits
HubSpot excels in ease of use through its provision of a website builder. With drag-and-drop functionality and built-in tools for SEO, even those without any technical know-all can succeed with HubSpot as their CMS. The platform also offers differentiation with its smart content feature that enables users to personalize their website pages to target a subset of their audience.
HubSpot CMS Hub Drawbacks
The platform is not the perfect choice for any website owner, as there is no free version for use. Furthermore, HubSpot is not designed for e-commerce websites and provides no built-in features to support these efforts. However, website owners can access several integrations with known e-commerce platforms if this is their intention.