It’s never been easier to create your own website, or to start selling your products online. There is a wide range of Content Management Systems (CMS) for you to choose from, each offering its own unique set of features and functionality. You have probably already heard of many of the most well-known CMS, such as WordPress, Drupal and Squarespace, but there are other less well-known platforms that may be more suited to your needs.
To help you choose the best CMS for your purpose, we’ll explain what function a CMS serves, what features you should look out for, and concluding with a list of the best CMS on the market right now.
What is a CMS?
A Content Management System (CMS) is an application which allows you to create a website, and to manage, edit and update the content of that website with ease of use.
The best CMS are user-friendly and highly intuitive, allowing you to manage and make changes to your website, without any coding knowledge at all.
This is different from a website builder, which enables you to adjust the look and feel of your website using something like a drag-and-drop editor. A CMS on the other hand, allows you to control aspects of the design of your website, but with a greater focus on how content is managed in the backend.
A CMS is a fundamental requirement for managing a successful website. Many CMS come with built-in features and tools which enable you to manage crucial aspects of your website, such as SEO, blogging, mobile-page speed, and e-commerce shops. Other CMS platforms, such as WordPress, provide access to a wealth of additional features through the use of plugins and widgets.
While some CMS are more suited to certain types of websites, (Magento, for example, is an e-commerce CMS), the best platforms are highly customisable, meaning you can adjust your CMS to fit the purpose of your website or business.
Important CMS Features
We’ve covered the function of a Content Management System, and you should have a good idea of the purpose they serve. Now, in this section, we will take a look at some important CMS features.
Publishing Tools – Content is king online, so it’s crucial that the CMS you choose offers comprehensive tools for publishing content. If content is a particular focus for your website, you will want to ensure that you are able to publish a variety of different types of content on your CMS.
Customisation – It’s often the case that the best CMS offer a high level of customisation., allowing you to add in features that are important to your website, as well as removing those which are superfluous.
SEO Tools – Building the perfect website is only half the battle in the online world, you also have to ensure that the website ranks well for the search terms you want to appear for. This can be a difficult task, but it can be made much easier if your CMS includes built-in SEO tools to allow you to optimise each page for your target phrases. If your CMS doesn’t include this built-in functionality, you should be able to add in using external plugins or extensions.
Social Media Integration – Like it or loathe it, if you want to receive exposure for your website then you are going to have to engage with social media. Some important CMS social media features include social sharing buttons; as well as optimising your content to be shared on each platform.
Analytics – To succeed online, it’s crucial to monitor and learn from the engagement you receive through your website. To make the most from the traffic to your website, ensure that your CMS integrates with the daddy of all analytics tools, Google Analytics, allowing you to monitor the performance of your website from within your CMS.
What are the Best CMS?
Even if you don’t know what a CMS is, you’ve probably heard of WordPress. Launched in 2003, and based on PHP and MySQL, WordPress is a highly customisable CMS, allowing you to create anything from a food blog, to a fully functioning e-commerce website.
One of the big appeals of WordPress is the ability to upload third-party and custom-made themes. This means that you can create a stunningly designed website simply by purchasing and uploading a WordPress theme, without having to pay for an expensive website design project.
WordPress’s vast catalogue of plugins is also a big selling point. Plugins are essentially apps for your CMS which allow you to upgrade its functionality by installing plugins for features such as SEO, AMP and mobile-friendliness.
Next to WordPress, Squarespace is one of the most popular CMS. However, Squarespace differs significantly from WordPress in the fact that it isn’t an opensource CMS, preventing you from installing third-party software onto your CMS. This CMS is a self-contained platform, covering website design, content creation, and web hosting.
The big appeal with Squarespace is that allows you to build a website from the ground up, without any technical or web development experience. Squarespace also offers an e-commerce platform, allowing you to build and manage an online store within the CMS.
Joomla is in many respects very similar to WordPress, and is considered one of the best CMS platforms. This is another opensource CMS, which means you have access to a range of plugins, features and themes to make the most out of your website. It is also a user-focussed CMS, with a highly intuitive dashboard. Where Joomla claims to differ from WordPress is in the high level of security provided, which is included as standard, and doesn’t have to be bolted on with add-ons and plugins.
The Wix CMS leads the way in user-friendly, intuitive design, with an easy to use interface, WYSIWYG web builder, and a set of minimalist plugins. Wix offers user-friendly publishing tools which make it easy to manage your website content. The Wix CMS is also known for the responsiveness of its help and support system, meaning any issues you have as a customer should be resolved promptly.
Magnolia pitches itself as an all-in-one CMS, for companies who need a website that performs a variety of different functions. Based on Java, Magnolia integrates the major CMS features, such as e-commerce; content management; automation, analytics and social media. These features don’t have to be included all at once, but can be added in as and when they are required.
Magento is a specialist e-commerce CMS, providing a product focussed interface that can make it extremely powerful and effective for online retailers. The CMS includes features which are vital to e-commerce websites such as promotion features, analytics, reporting and customer service tools. Magento is perhaps not as user-friendly as some of the CMS on this list, and can require some technical knowledge, but if you run an e-commerce website, it is certainly a CMS that you should take into consideration.
So, which is the best CMS? Ultimately this will depend on the nature of your business, and the type of website you want to build. You will also want to consider and compare some of the features listed in this article, and ask yourself which are the most important to you and your business at this point in time. Armed with this information, you will be able to go out and choose the best CMS for your needs.
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