Choose the Right CMS WordPress, Drupal, Joomla!

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Choose the Right CMS WordPress, Drupal, Joomla! Powered By Docstoc
					So you want to build a website. You essentially have two options: build
it from the ground up with tedious HTML code, or look into a content
management system (CMS). A CMS is a web application that allows you to
create, manage, and edit your website. If you wanted to add an
announcement, post an update, or edit the site in any way, a CMS allows
you to do so without going into the code yourself or needing to contact
the web developer to do it for you. A CMS makes your life
simpler.Consider the FollowingThere are hundreds of CMSs out there, so
before you go choosing one blindly, you first need to consider a few
things.What is the purpose of your site? Is this a website for your
business? A blog? An e-commerce site? A portfolio? This matters because
each of these sites calls for different features and each CMS fulfills a
different niche. Consider what your site's needs are and search for a CMS
based on these criteria because each CMS does something well, better than
another CMS.Who are you? Are you an end-user, designer, developer, or
marketer? The answer to this question can also help determine the
appropriate CMS for you. CMSs vary in flexibility, which correlates with
usability. On one extreme, there are rigid CMSs. These do a few things
very well, are easy to learn, easy to use, and easy to activate. This
would be most ideal for an end-user or a novice who's creating a website
for the first time. On the other side of the spectrum, are flexible CMSs.
These allow you to do a lot more on your site, but have a steep learning
curve and require much more training. This software is a better fit for
developers who like to mess around with coding. On this spectrum,
designers and marketers fall somewhere in the middle with CMSs made with
them in mind. Generally, the more a CMS can do, the more work and
expertise it requires. Flexibility and power are sacrificed when
usability is gained. Deciding what your role is and where you fall along
this spectrum will help narrow your search for a CMS.The Key ThreeThe key
three in CMSs are WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla. All three are written in
PHP. All three are open-source. All three have large, supportive, and
strong communities.PHPAsk a professional, and they'll admit that PHP
isn't the most elegant of languages. However, so many people have taken
to developing in PHP because it has the best applications that allow for
truly dynamic websites. For the ease of use and high quality of websites,
there's a reason why the key three are all developed in PHP. (Read here
to find out more about the allure of PHP.)Open-SourceOpen-source = free.
The codes for all three CMSs are available to everyone and anyone is free
to contribute to its development. There are proprietary CMSs available,
but you'd have to pay a pretty penny for the licensing rights. Unless you
own a high profile commercial company, there's no need for this. Open-
source projects have a lot of potential because philosophically, people
are developing for development's sake, rather than out of monetary
motivation. The community is interested in seeing where the technology
can grow - new themes, plugins, and modules are always being contributed.
This can perhaps explain why sites created on these three CMSs are so
much more dynamic.Supportive CommunitiesWhen choosing a CMS, it's a good
idea to go with what's popular. The most popular CMSs have the most users
and thereby the largest communities. With more people comes more support
and dialogue about the CMS in the form of tutorials, forums, blogs,
camps, and cons. This makes your life simpler when launching and
maintaining your site.Other than these three factors that the key three
have in common, there's a lot that separates them.WordPressWordPress
started out as a blogging platform and still excels as such. If all you
want is a blog, look no further and use WordPress. If you are a novice
and trying out this website thing for the first time, WordPress would be
an ideal starting point also. It's extremely user-friendly; managing
comments, emails, and posts is easy and intuitive. It's also the easiest
of any CMS to install. Many webhosts now have a one-click set up if you
want to host a WordPress site. Additionally, the WordPress community has
created hundreds of beautiful themes, templates, and plugins readily
available for you to download and use.Remember however, with this great
usability comes a rigid platform. WordPress does have its limits, being
the least flexible of the three CMSs. But don't discredit it too much.
Developers have been expanding its capabilities by adding more features
and plugins. You can now use your WordPress as a static site and there
are plugins available that allow you to do more (such as some newly
available e-commerce plugins). Another potential drawback is that
updating to new versions of WordPress can sometimes cause your site to
crash. So before you go updating, a good rule of thumb is to always back
up your files.DrupalMoving to the other side of the spectrum, we have
Drupal. Drupal is geared for developers. It's the most flexible and
powerful of the key three CMSs. There are many more possibilities; sites
can be more dynamic and interactive when created with Drupal. The
flexibility and power offered by this CMS has been duly noted as many
more enterprise class and high profile users are now designing their
sites with Drupal (The White House, FedEx, Popular Science, MTV UK, Nike,
Ford, Discover Channel, Adobe).The major drawback of Drupal is that a
site can only go as far as your skills. Because of its flexibility in
options and modules, the software has a steep learning curve and is just
not as usable. There are also criticisms of Drupal's lackluster themes.
Perhaps it's because Drupal primarily attracts developers (rather than
designers). If you want a nicer, more aesthetically pleasing theme, you'd
either have to hire a designer or do it yourself, whereas both WordPress
and Joomla have good themes ready on hand.Joomla!If you've hit a ceiling
with WordPress and your site just isn't doing enough to meet your needs,
but you're not quite ready to take on the complexities of Drupal,
consider Joomla. On this figurative spectrum, Joomla sits somewhere in
the middle. It's sometimes referred to as "the designer's CMS." Joomla is
more flexible than WordPress and is more user-friendly than Drupal.
Joomla also has many beautiful themes available and can create dynamic
and elegant sites.Joomla seems to be a polarizing CMS - people either
love or hate it. Perhaps it's because it doesn't do all that seasoned
developers want it to do (in which case they should just use Drupal) and
it may be too tech-heavy for others (in which case they should stick to
WordPress or bear the learning curve). Being middle-of-the-road will
dissatisfy people on either side.Decision TimeAfter reading about the key
three CMSs, you have a good sense of your options. In common, the three
are all PHP and open-source. Because they're the most popular, they all
have an equally large and supportive community. However, each of these
CMSs offers something different. Noting these differences, you now have
to consider what kind of site you want to create, what your skills are,
and how much time and effort you want to invest into your site.
Regardless of what you choose, a CMS will make your website creation
experience much more pleasant than if you were coding from scratch.

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