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If you’re looking to set up a website that you can keep updated it’s important to get the right Content Management System (CMS) in place. Depending on your needs and your expertise you may well find what you’re looking for from one of the four most popular systems.
WordPress is by far the most popular content management system today. According to W3Techs, almost a quarter of all websites and 59% of websites with a CMS use WordPress.
The greatest benefit of using WordPress is the flexibility it offers. It can be used to create simple blogs, content-rich websites, e-commerce stores, forums and more. Because it’s open source, people can add their own tweaks to improve sites and there is a wide range of templates and plugins to help customise and improve your site.
WordPress is fairly easy to pick up. Pages and articles can be added, edited and formatted easily and with more than 31,000 free plugins to choose from it’s simple to add functionality to a site. Because it’s so widely used there are plenty of resources online to help if you get stuck, including the official help files and sites like WPBeginner.
Behind WordPress in usage is Joomla, with around 7% of all CMS sites and 3% of the total web. Joomla isn’t as intuitive as WordPress but for those who are tech savvy the system can be learned quite easily, with many tutorials online to help overcome small problems. Once you know how to use Joomla you can make sites that are a bit more powerful than those on WordPress but still aren’t too hard to manage. If you’re creating a social media site or e-commerce store there are lots of benefits to using Joomla and plenty of community help available for each.
Of the three most popular sites, Joomla has the fewest number of free themes and plugins, meaning you may have to do a lot of the work yourself.
The third most popular CMS at the moment is Drupal, with 2% of the web and 5% of CMS-enabled sites. It is the hardest of the three to learn, often requiring a lot of web experience and knowledge, but it’s capable of creating more complex sites than either Joomla or WordPress. It’s not usually recommended for small businesses setting up their own sites, but for bigger organisations that want a more advanced website and are happy to pay someone else to make and look after the site, it can have huge benefits.
While WordPress and Joomla come with standard admin systems, to make edits easily to a Drupal site a system needs to be created or installed. As there’s no official choice, ease of use will vary from program to program.
Rounding off the top four is Magento, a CMS that powers more than 1% of the entire internet and around 3% of sites with a content management system. Like WordPress and Drupal, Magento has been increasing in popularity recently.
Magento is purely for e-commerce sites as it lets you set up an online store and cart system. The community version of Magento is free but the enterprise edition, which has more features and functionality, has a fee to use.
Many people talk about a steep learning curve when beginning to use Magento but once you get over the initial hurdles it can be straight forward to use and update. For businesses expecting to make sales in multiple countries, Magento is a great choice as it offers multiple languages and currencies.
As a guideline, some say that unless you’re expecting to make at least $1m a year in sales then Magento is not the right choice for you. Unless you’re tech savvy it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to set things up yourself and the company only gives support to those with the paid option – which costs more than US$14,000/year. Because of the size of the software you’ll also need a dedicated server to handle things smoothly.
While each CMS has its benefits, for small businesses that don’t have a dedicated IT specialist or a huge budget for web development, WordPress seems to be the best choice.