If you’re looking to build a high-end website or a blog from the ground-up, one of the first things you’ll need to do is choose a CMS – short for a Content Management System. You’ve bought a domain and hosting for yourself, now the only thing that’s stopping you from setting stuff up and start putting content on your blog is a CMS.
A CMS, to put it simply, can be referred to as an ‘interface’ that lets you publish and edit content on your blog, as well as manage and run many different aspects of it, such as the interface.
For website owners and bloggers, three of the best, most popular CMS’s or website builders out there (aka. the ‘Big-3’) are Wordpress, Joomla and Drupal. All 3 of these are open-source CMS, and can be used free of cost. We’ll take a look at each one of these in this article, along with a list of pros and cons for each:
As of September 2012, Wordpress is by far and wide the most popular and commonly used CMS in the world, as you can see in the image here. Wordpress was released in 2003, and has since gone on to become the market leader as far as content management systems are concerned; and it is understandable why. It is easy to use, has great developer support, has great 3rd party support – including a large selection of themes and plugins to choose from, has a great cPanel that is easy to use for casual bloggers while being powerful enough from developers, and hence it remains the CMS-of-choice for a large number of webmasters out there. According to recent numbers, there are as many as 5.1 million websites on the internet using Wordpress – including websites such as NBC Sports and CNN!
- Very easy to install, some hosting service even offer ‘one-click’ installation solutions for Wordpress
- Very easy-to-use; everyday bloggers and non-technical bloggers can easily use it to build and manage their blogs/websites.
- Has great developer support
- Has a large number of themes and plugins (paid-for as well as free) to choose from.
- Is powerful enough for developers.
- Is extremely SEO-friendly.
- Is very mobile-friendly
- Might not offer the level of flexibility some developers or designers might be looking for.
- Less secure than Joomla or Drupal, many plugins and themes are said to be the cause of security loopholes that hackers have exploited easily (some even being high-profile incidents).
Joomla seems to be a popular choice in many African countries, and several South American, European and Asian countries. Joomla, like Wordpress is also quite easy to use – thanks in particular to some of the recent updates (version 3.0, at the time of writing). And these recent updates also means that Joomla now incorporates all the good things Wordpress and Drupal have to offer – the best of all worlds! It is not as complex or developer-oriented as Drupal, but at the same time it is more powerful, robust and flexible than Wordpress. If numbers on the internet are to be believed, Joomla is currently used by just under 2 million websites out there, including the likes of General Electronics, Harvard University, eBay and Pizza Hut. What many will like about Joomla is that there are in excess of 4000 themes available on the platform!
- Very customizable and flexible – suitable for both non-technical as well as advanced users.
- More powerful than Wordpress, while being easier to use than Drupal – provides a great middle-ground between the two.
- Easy-to-use UI.
- Has a powerful cPanel/administration-panel.
- Has a pretty great and active developer-support and third-party support community out there.
- Very secure.
- Ideal for ecommerce websites.
- Can be frustrating to use at times, especially from a developer’s point-of-view.
- Not as SEO-friendly as Wordpress.
- Development community not as strong as Wordpress.
Rounding off the list of the top-3 CMS is Drupal. Perhaps a tad surprisingly, Drupal is not the dominant CMS in any one of the regions in the CMS-map we looked at earlier. Its use seems to be more evenly-distributed rather than showing a clear dominance in one single region. Nonetheless, it is the third-most popular CMS in the world, with just under a million websites using it as their CMS (as per numbers on the internet), and is also the oldest CMS on this list, with its initial release dating back to early-2001. Drupal is usually considered to be the most powerful and developer-friendly CMS of the ‘big-3’, and allows users to build complex websites. Non-technical users or casual bloggers might need to hire someone with more expertise if they want to have a website-developed in Drupal. Having said that, Drupal allows you to create advanced, complex and extremely versatile websites, and organize content in a better manner than the other two. Popular website using Drupal include NASA, The White House, and MTV.
- Very powerful and quite flexible; much more so than Drupal or Wordpress
- Very developer-friendly
- Boasts the best developers-base available out there
- Has a great, very active and a reasonably-large development community
- Very secure; best of all 3 in terms of security
- Boasts amazing scalability – you can build large websites with Drupal
- Less user-friendly than any of the other two; Wordpress leaves Drupal in the dust when it comes to user-friendliness
- High learning curve
- Drupal-based websites have high development and maintenance costs
- You’ll need to make your own plugins almost every single time.
The purpose of this article was to present a fair comparison of all 3 content management systems. The one you use depends on your technical expertise, and the kind of website or blog that you’re looking to build. Casual bloggers should stick with Wordpress, advanced bloggers, developers and designers with the required expertise and looking to build a really versatile website should go for Drupal, while those looking for the best of both worlds might be better of sticking with Joomla.
What is your CMS-of-choice? Leave us a comment in the comments below.