Businesses and individuals who are considering setting up a standard blog, a corporate website or just a portfolio website need to now look beyond CSS and HTML pages.
Nowadays the best way to setup a website and keep it maintained is to purchase hosting and install a CMS or Content Management System of your choice. This just takes a few minutes to setup but enables you to upload and host some of the most professional looking and easy to manage pages ever. That said there are different ways in which your website may be served i.e. display images (your portfolio), run advertising, a technical support website and even an online magazine. Perhaps this is why despite WordPress being the most popular platform there are numerous others you should consider based on their own strengths.
Below we discuss 5 of the most popular and free to use content management systems for both businesses and individuals alike.
WordPress happens to be the most accessible and commonly used CMS today. A few big reasons for its success are quick and easy installation, plus a massive developer community which makes it a point to churn out the latest plug-ins and numerous updates / enhancements to the platform. Most of the plug-ins are free to download and use. Newbie and experienced users also get to choose from a huge library of both free and paid templates with very easy CSS and PHP file editing made possible via the system itself. This is why the platform has become popular with both personal bloggers and commercial websites alike. Thanks to the ability to easily add a shopping cart plug-in and SEO plug-in almost anyone has the power to sell their products online.
If you visited Joomla’s own main website you’ll soon discover that there are millions of websites running on the Joomla CMS platform. The reason for its success is very simple i.e. it’s very customizable which means that the platform can be customized to suit any purpose. The flexibility of the Joomla platform makes it ideal for anyone who wants to setup a website that is easy to maintain and upgrade. Perhaps this is why Joomla is the CMS of choice for both small and large businesses alike. And because the platform is free it is used by many non-profits and individuals alike.
One feature of the Joomla platform is its admin section which happens to be well designed with all the options from numerous templates, content blocks, feed styles, and menu management tools etc neatly lined up and categorized. This makes finding the functionality you want to add quick and easy, something that is ideal for people who are new to using content management systems.
Drupal is an open source and free CMS which is often considered as the best CMS for building new websites. Drupal is flexible and boasts of a number of tools which enables it to be used for both personal blogs and mega sized enterprise websites. That said like WordPress there are probably thousands of various modules which can be added in order to increase a site’s functionality.
Drupal remains to be one of the most flexible and used CMS platforms despite perceived failings in newer versions. These failings and their fixes are addressed at lengths on Drupal’s community forum. If you’re interested in developing for Drupal or building a website for this CMS then make sure to go through the forums. That said Drupal is not newbie friendly, if you are new to using a CMS you may want to start with something like Joomla or WordPress where things are more cut and dry.
While the majority of CMS platforms and solutions are written in PHP, DotNetNuke is the exception. DNN is one of the very few CMS systems which is designed and written in ASP.Net and so it is better suited for Windows servers. One reason why DNN is so popular is because many corporations tend to host their intranets on a Windows server, an environment best suited for this CMS.
Another big reason to opt for DotNetNuke is the fact that developers can easily customize web applications within the CMS itself thanks to open API implementation. For users, this means an easy to learn and use system. However, unlike the solutions mentioned above DotNetNuke is not free, but you could download a demo site and a limited trial. However, the good thing here is that a DNN platform is often backed by good customer support, in the event you do experience trouble you can speak to a professional over the phone or via email that will help you out.
Umbraco is another free to use ASP.Net platform. There is however, a paid for option which includes training and support for newbie users. That said even though open source licensing is very rare with ASP.Net and the fact that things need to be kept very simple for a web publisher it seems as though Umbarco pulls off the balance perfectly. This allows for both corporate websites like SanDisc, and Heinz to benefit from the true power of Umbarco while still allowing an individual or small business to benefit from its flexibility. Creating and uploading articles and images work a lot like they do in WordPress and Joomla, while administrators can access the system via a web server console. That said the clutter free layout is very popular with web editors who do not have web design or development experience.
Each content management system discussed above offers its own strengths while it tries to eliminate its inherent weaknesses. That said your choice of a CMS should mainly be based on exactly what functionality and flexibility you require with a website you’re planning on putting up. It also depends on your previous experience with content management systems.