Content Management

CMS stands for Content Management System. We recommend that you use an open source CMS. This means that all the content in it is free and the software was developed in an open and collaborative way. We’ll discuss the top three along with some other options. There are also paid CMSs out there like Expression Engine by EllisLabs which costs around $100. When choosing your CMS you want to look at how much control you’ll have over the look of your website, the support you’ll receive when you need help, whether they have mobile web applications, how often they update, ease of use, and how many add-ons and design templates are available.

WordPress is the most popular platform for building blogs and many other kinds of websites. It is generally written in plain language and is known for it’s ease of use, even for people who’ve never built a website before.

Mobile: Apps created by WordPress for iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch), Windows Phone 7, Android, Blackberry and Nokia.
Support: Extensive FAQ section sorted by topics, active forums, email support contact form. (recently was down for a while, came back March 1, 2011).
Plugins: 13,362 plug-ins. Quality of plug-ins
Control: Depends on your tech knowledge. You can edit the CSS (Cascading style sheet) if you want. Some themes in WordPress are more customizable than others. If you have less knowledge about writing code you want to choose a theme that is more customizable. The alternative is picking a theme that you like just the way it is and don’t want to change.
Updates: WordPress is easy to update, it almost updates itself. A message will appear when you sign in that says a new version is available. All you do is push a button and everything else is done for you.
Ease: WordPress is very easy to setup and use. It is simple to figure out even if you’ve never built a website before. It is not as easy as some other CMSs to customize, and was designed to be usable without a lot of customization.
Design: 1,329 themes

Joomla! is often rated as the top CMS available. Unlike WordPress, Joomla! is just a CMS, they don’t have a free blogging platform. Depending on your website host there will most likely be a button that will download and install the CMS for you. One drawback to Joomla! is their documentation. Documentation is basically the instructions for how to use the site. An example is how to update. Joomla! recently updated to version 1.6 but their documentation only has instructions for updating 1.5.

Mobile: Joomla! has apps created by third parties  - like Jam! – that allow you to post on your website. You can also install an extension or  on your website that will allow you to view your administrative page from the Internet browser on a mobile device like a smart phone or tablet.
Support: Several different plans through third parties who can provide support. If you use Joomla! for your CMS you can host your website through CloudAccess and purchase the hosting and phone support for around $20 a month.
Plugins:  6945 extensions divided up by category.
Control: Joomla! offers a lot of control over the way your website will look, but less control over the code than Drupal.
Updates: When Joomla! has a new update you are sent an email with a link to an upgrade package. You download the package and then go through a series of steps that have you move some key folders. Joomla! has an instruction wiki (the documentation) where you can find most information you’ll need. There is also an extension called Admin Tools
Ease: Compared to other CMSs Joomla! is less user friendly, especially for beginners. If you have some experience with building websites, or have someone helping you build the website who had experience it will be much easier to use.

 

Drupal is known as the most powerful CMS around. It also is known for its large, helpful community of users.

Mobile: Can use mobile themes
Support: Ticketing system, Forums, Links to books
Plugins: 7492 Modules
Control: Drupal gives you tons of control over your website and can be great if you are more experienced with building websites, or know a little code.
Updates: Since Drupal depends so much on it’s modules, you’ll need to update these along with the software. Since you’ll be running so many modules, this can be an issue.
Ease: Drupal is an advanced CMS and will be much easier to use for someone with web developing experience. There is no WYSIWYG editor provided in the installation, but there are tons of plugins you can download to make it do what you want. A new user will have a steep learning curve. These are is good reviews with screen shots.
Design: 824 Themes. Drupal has a reputation of not looking as good as a WordPress or Joomla! site mainly because many of the themes are designed by web developers rather than designers.

For more information you can read this article that compares WordPress, Joomla and Drupal

LightCMS has fewer features than a full CMS like Joomla! but it can be easier to use if you are new to the technology. The website is easy to navigate and paid plans range in price from $20-$100 a month. With a free site you get 3 pages and 10 MB of storage. Comes with free cloud hosting. Signing up is very simple. Instead of a dashboard you look straight at what your website will look like and can add and delete elements and move boxes around.

 

Wix and other Flash based sites. These are better for static websites, such as a photography portfolio or store front website. They look nice, but are often difficult to update and you can get similar results using themes from other CMSs. If you are going to be updating with new articles several times a week we recommend against using Flash based website builders. WIth Flash your content is is stored in an image file. This can make it harder for search engines to find you.

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