May 2, 2010
There are a number of content management system (CMS) solutions out there that make managing your website or business easier. We often get questions about which CMS is the best or which ones we recommend, so we decided to pull together a list of our favorites as well as some other popular options. This is not a complete list of all CMS options (to see more try this list). If you are currently trying to decide on the best solution for you, we recommend you start here but then reach out to people/sites who are using various systems to learn the pros, cons and nuances of each.
WordPress is an open source content manage system built on PHP and MySQL founded by Matt Mullenweg. It offers users the ability to host their own site or use the WordPress.com hosted option. The host-it-yourself option offers users considerably more flexibility and has a significant developer community supporting it. WordPress offers a number of themes and there are many developers and designers creating new themes all the time, which can be purchased online. We love WordPress for the range of it’s use. You can set up a simple blog in minutes without having any technical knowledge. Alternatively, an experienced developer can utilize their framework to create a very robust website. It’s most basic options are free with premium a la carte options. It is a staple to the blogging and citizen journalism industry with sites like Anderson Cooper 360 at CNN, TechCrunch, GigaOm, All Facebook and TECH cocktail all leveraging the platform.
Movable Type is a publishing platform originally created by Ben Trott for his wife Mena Trott to help enable her personal blogging efforts when she became unemployed in 2001. The platform was a pioneer in the blogging space and their company, Six Apart, has developed a number of content platforms over the years. SixApart, like WordPress, also offers a simple-to-use hosted version of Moveable Type which is called Typepad. A number of well-known sites use SixApart solutions including Read Write Web, kottke.org, Washington Post and Major League Baseball.
Drupal is a content management system built on PHP and MySQL founded by Dries Buytaert. It has a large development community and offers lots of customizations and development flexibility. You can create pretty much any kind of Web-based product you want on Drupal including social networks and commerce sites, but you’ll need more technical knowledge to really make it work for you. We wouldn’t recommend it for a non-technical person who wants a basic blog.
Drupal comes with a number of modules built in but there are also hundreds that can be added to extend the functionality of your product offering. Drupal also offers a taxonomy module which is very popular and allows users to organize multiple levels of content types and categories. There are a number of free themes and plugins but if you want something custom you will either need to hack it together yourself of hire someone to develop it for you. There are many sites completely built on the Drupal framework along with those just using it for content management. Sites using Drupal include Look, the City of Athens, Proctor and Gamble, Intel and many more.
Joomla is an open source content management system similar to Drupal. It has a large developer community which has created over 3,200 extensions, providing the power to do just about anything you want. Joomla’s interface it relatively easy to to use with its drop down menus and other features. It offers a number of themes and extensions for free but there are also a number of themes and extensions for sale online. Some sites using Joomla include Palm webOSdev, Massachusetts Academy of Science and the South Carolina State Library among others.
Plone is an open source content management system founded by Alexander Limi, Alan Runyan, and Vidar Andersen and built on top of the Zope application server which is written in Python. The platform has been around since 1998 but was rolled into an open source foundation in 2004. Plone offers conformance, access control, internationalization, aggregation, user-generated content, micro-applications and active user groups. Some sites that use Plone include Akamai, Chicago History Museum and Columbia University.
Hippo is an open source content management system built in Java. It is highly standardized and extensible and offers a number of plugins. It also offers a flexible architecture that allows developers to easily add custom functionality. Current sites using Hippo include USC, HP and the Dutch National Government among others.
ExpressionEngine is a flexible, feature-rich content management system that empowers developers to easily manage their websites. It offers a free core version but then offers more feature rich versions for a price. A lot of agencies tend to use ExpressionEngine as a base to churn sites out faster for clients. Sites that currently use ExpressionEngine include Virginia Tech MBA, UC San Francisco and Jacksonville Orhopaedic Institute.
Alfresco is an open source, enterprise content management system led by by John Newton, founder of Documentum, and John Powell, former COO of Business Objects. It offers an enterprise level CMS comparable to Sharepoint but coupled with a document management solution similar to Documentum. Current customers include the Air Force, Toyota and Electronic Arts. Check out the full list of customers here.
TextPattern is a free, open source CMS that allows you to easily create, edit and publish content in a professional manner while staying true to Web standards. It offers a browser-based interface in over 40 languages, support and full range of features and plug-ins to extend and customize the platform to your liking. TextPattern claims you don’t need to know PHP to use the platform. Sites that use TextPattern include Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects, Mosman Library and The Rissington Podcast.
Radiant is an open source content management system built on Ruby on Rails by John W. Long and extended by Sean Cribbs. The content management system offers an elegant user interface with flexible templating with layouts, snippets, page parts, and a custom tagging language. It also offers its own unique extension/plugin system which can be used to extend the platform. The only site we could find online that publicly stated they were using Radiant CMS is the Westerville Public Library and it is not confirmed. But that does not mean there aren’t lots of sites using it.
If you are interested in learning more about content management systems, you might consider attending the CMS Expo Chicago in May coming up this week.
We know there are hundreds of other Web content management systems available but we could not cover them all in this article. If you want to provide a review of a system we left out, or feel strongly about a particular system we covered, please write your testimonial in the comments section of this article. The goal is to help people as they research which CMS is right for their particular needs.
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