Top 5 content management systems

Building a professional looking website needn’t require expensive web developers or expensive software that can run into thousands of dollars. Many new to the internet have successfully created their website from the ground up with very little experience. One of the easiest ways to do this is with a content management system.

What exactly is a content management system? Exactly what their name implies, CMS for short allows you to manage all the content on your website, from articles, links and products pages you name it. They take out all the nitty-gritty work of creating a webpage, and streamline it into one easy to use package!

However, there are literally hundreds of CMS options to choose from on the internet, most of them are offered completely free of charge and are built on open source platforms. Choosing the right one for you can be an extremely daunting task, as the success of your website lies in you picking the right tool! I’ve listed the top 5 content management systems below in no particular order as each has their own unique features and abilities dependant on what your needs are.

Wordpress

WordPress Backend

The backend to WordPresses content management system.

Probably the most well known, WordPress has been at the start of the blogging revolution. Ease of use with its intuitive user interface is one of the main benefits to newcomers of the online publishing world. Anyone with basic computer skills can get a copy of WordPress up and running on their server in just a couple clicks thanks to its incredibly easy installation scripts. WordPress also caters for the advanced user, allowing complete control over everything. From changing the design to implementing plugins to provide new functionality.

WordPress’ key strength lies in blogging, however due to its flexibility; it is a very powerful tool for a range of scenarios. WordPress can just as easily be used for building personal websites to large corporate websites. Social networks are also easily maintained using the multi-version of WordPress. There isn’t really anything you can fault WordPress on, there is a huge following and an extremely helpful community, and you won’t run into any problems using it.

Durpal

Drupal Backend

Drupal content management backend

If you are a real geek, you more than likely have heard of Drupal. It is not merely marketed as a blogging platform like WordPress is, however it is a fully fledged content management system. You can use Drupal to serve up many types of content. Although quite daunting, the default installation comes with many optional modules. These can provide your website were certain functionality like forums, blogs, shopping carts etc. There are so many different branches of Drupal; it makes it very easy to replicate popular sites. One flavor of Drupal, allows you to make a Digg clone which is called Drigg! The disadvantages of Drupal, are that it is much harder to setup than WordPress. Drupals backend isn’t the most intuitive for new comers either. The pure flexibility and features that are available with Drupal make it a very powerful tool to use, however this requires quite a steep learning curve to take advantage of everything.

Joomla!

Joomla Backend

Joomla content management backend

Like Drupal, Joomla! takes on more than just the blogging platform. Its sole aim is to provide you with a complete content management system. There are two camps in Joomla! Those that hate it, and those that love it, and the ones that love it do really feel strongly about it! One of Joomla!’s advantages is its ease of installation. You can have a basic website up and running in a few minutes. The one thing I personally don’t like about Joomla! , is its backend. It’s not clear cut and intuitive but it does get the job done.Like most other content management systems, most of its features lie in its extensions, and thanks to Joomla! being around for so long, there are literally thousands to choose from. The Joomla! community is vast and growing daily, and are constantly helping newbies, fixing bugs, adding new features, and making sure Joomla! stays up-to-date. They are the reason Joomla! is what it is today.

ExpressionEngine

ExpressionEngine Backend

ExpressionEngine content management backend

Unlike the three CMSes mentioned above, Expression Engine actually requires a license. There is a personal core version which can be used on a testing server, but in the end you will be spending around $99 to $250 for a license. You may be wondering why that’s so steep. ExpressionEngine provides you with one of the most elegant content management systems available. Simplicity ironically is the most complex thing to achieve, but ExpressionEngine seem to have succeeded in this department. Their backend is so intuitive, it requires very little thought to determine what does what. ExpressionEngine provides the less technically inclined user with an excellent platform for building their website. There is less flexibility than Drupal or Joomla! but its sheer ease of use puts it in a class of its own. Due to its price, it may not be the best choice for a personal blog as there are other options which cater for this market for free. However if you are looking at building a professional website with flexibility and complete ease of use, you can’t go wrong with ExpressionEngine.

TextPattern

TextPattern Backend

TextPattern content management backend

TextPattern is one of the simplest content management systems around, it is extremely popular with professional bloggers. TextPattern doesn’t pretend that it can do everything, and there aren’t thousands of extensions to choose from. Its main goal is to provide you with a streamlined interface for adding and editing content on your website, and produces clean and standards compliant XHTML code. TextPattern does this by not providing a rich text or WYSIWYG editor; you enter text with a simple market that then gets coertnverted into HTML. TextPattern is the minimalists approach to creating websites, and if you require all your code to be neat and perfectly formatted, TextPattern is for you.

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