CMS is an acronym that stands for Content Management System. These systems are used to help make the process of maintaining a website easier. Some of them are much better at this task than others.
Some of the more popular CMS packages include:
- WordPress – The most popular CMS that started life as a humbel blogging platform and has since grown into a powerful and easy to use system for managing web content.
- Joomla – Joomla is very similar to WordPress in many ways, but didn’t start out as a blogging platform. It’s a better choice when security and e-commerce are matters of utmost concern.
- Drupal – This is one of the oldest content management systems, but it’s also very powerful. It has a more steep learning curve than either Joomla or WordPress, which has certainly been a factor in those two overtaking Drupal.
- ModX – This one has probably the steepest learning curve, and is aimed mainly at professional web designers rather than casual users. The advantage of ModX if you’re prepared to invest the time to learn it, is that it gives you the most freedom and flexibility. In fact, you can do absolutely anything in ModX without any restrictions. But if something goes wrong, you have to find a ModX expert to help.
Which one you decide to use will depend on many factors. Certainly if you are not an expert programmer and don’t feel comfortable working with PHP and HTML code, then ModX is probably not for you. If you need strong security, SEO, and e-commerce, then Drupal is worth considering.
Joomla will give you the same, but without built-in SEO ability (but you can extend the basic Joomla installation to provide SEO functions). If you don’t need strong security and you’re willing to put up with a few quirks for the sake of gaining an easy to use system, then WordPress could be an ideal choice.
In the past, WordPress was often recommended as a “one click install solution”, but nowadays nearly all CMS software can be installed by the same simple scripting methods. Most hosting providers offer these installation scripts as part of their default service, but some also have dedicated WordPress hosting packages (or more rarely, one of the other CMS types). These can cost slightly more than regular hosting, but don’t require much in the way of technical ability for you to get up and running quickly.
The reason why CMS software is so popular is mainly because it allows you to build sophisticated websites relatively easily, which you can do through the use of tools called plug-ins or extensions. These reside in repositories specific to each CMS, and allow you to quickly add features like a datepicker control or a clock simply by adding it into your template as a plug-in.
Learning to use a CMS-even one of the easier ones-does take time, but it is time you won’t regret spending, because it will make maintaining your website much easier once you become familiar with how to use the software.