Back in the late 90’s a website would be a collection of static pages, mostly, hand crafted one at a time. If you wanted a website you had to build it, then fill it with content. Almost all web sites now a days are built off of a CMS (content management system). You may not recognize that name, but you’ve probably heard of WordPress which is a very robust blogging CMS.
The main reason that you should use a CMS when creating a website is separating site design/creation and content from each other. The CMS allows for a unified design, easy page creation, and management of your pages; then all you have to worry about is adding your content. However, not all CMS’s are the same when it comes to dealing with your content. One might be better with blogs while another is better for sites that have a lot of pages with static information on them.
Below is a list of the top 10 CMS that you can install on your own host. It isn’t so much in order of 10 being the “worst” and 1 being the “best”, but rather, 10 great CMS’s in no particular order, and what kind of site they are good at making. With that, lets dive in.
WordPress is probably one of the most well known since they have both a hosted and self-hosted options. WordPress is free and open source, so you can install it on your own host without issue. WordPress started out as just a blogging platform, but over the years it’s plugins have added so many features you can practically do anything with it. But at the end of the day, it does blogging the best. If you site is mainly a blog with support pages, this might be the best choice.
Strength: Easy content editing
If your website is content heavy, meaning a lot of pages with static information, that needs to change or be added to frequently, Concrete 5 is the choice for you. Concrete 5 is a free and open source platform as well, though you may have to purchase some of the plugins if you need additional functionality. Concrete 5 is best if you want a simple CMS that allows for easy edits of content, and even tweaking the design. Their theming system is simple to create and edit, while everyone else’s tend to require a programming degree.
Joomla has been around for many years as the go to “everything and the kitchen sink” type of CMS. Unlink WordPress sites which all have a similar look even when using different themes, Joomla sites look nothing alike since a user can change absolutely everything about the site. With that power comes complexity. Joomla is powerful because you can make it do almost anything, but that means there is a lot of setup and tweaking to get it up and running. If your site needs something more than a blog or a page with some text and a YouTube video, Joomla may be your solution, but I’d recommend picking up a book or doing a lot of online reading first.
Drupal is cut from the same cloth as Joomla. If you search for the best CMS online you will typically see one or the other in the various top 10 lists. That is because they are pretty much the same in what type of sites they are used for, just different in execution. In my opinion, Drupal is a bit more flexible and capable than Joomla, but I don’t want to start a flame war. In addition to being free and open source, Drupal’s plugins tend to be the same, whereas, Joomla has a lot of paid plugins.
Strength: Simplicity Flexibility
Textpattern is a CMS that is filling the space between something like Concrete 5 and Drupal. Easy to install and just use, but a lot of tools for customization and tweaking. If you want to just install it, and add content you can do that. But if you need to create your own design, or tweak one you downloaded, you can do that too. The kind of person who would probably gravate to this platform is the one who, if has enough time, would create their own design and possibly hand code their pages but may not be a developer who can build their own CMS. Textpattern exposes the code for the pages, while making the CMS easy to use.
Now that you have an idea of what kind of CMS’s that are out there, and you’ve picked the [best web host](internal link) it’s time to make a choice and get your web creation skills on by building the website that will show off your goods to the rest of the world.