Are you wondering what CMS Software platform to use for building your website? Which CMS provides the easiest user interface? Or, is it the right choice to go with the most popular CMS just because it has more users than the competition or because it’s recommended so much online? These are great questions to have, and we’re here to analyze content management systems based on the facts.
Currently, over 64 million active websites use a content management system (CMS). With a CMS, users can create websites and manage their content without code website elements from scratch. However, creating a website on the wrong CMS platform will only make the process more difficult. There are many CMS options available, which means you might struggle to choose the best CMS for your needs.
We’ll walk through different criteria you can use to choose a CMS platform for your business. Then we’ll explore a variety of CMS systems so that you can find one that suits your unique needs and goals for creating a website.
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What Is a CMS Software?
A CMS is a software application that handles the basic infrastructure of creating websites. With a CMS, users can focus on the front-end areas of website building, such as customizing the website design and managing content.
There are multiple types of content management systems available. Three of the most popular ones are:
Open-source CMS – a community of developers, maintains the software instead of a single company owning it. As a result, third-party developers have access to the source code and can develop and improve the software’s functionalities.
Cloud CMS – a pre-built system accessible without having to download hardware or software. Users can manage web content safely over the cloud and have it be easily accessible from multiple devices.
Proprietary CMS – comes with a license fee as it is the legal property of a company, organization, or individual that created it. The cost can be a one-time initial payment, a monthly fee, or an annual charge.
How to Choose the Best CMS
There are lots of different CMS platforms out there, so which one should you pick? Before you choose a CMS platform comparison, here is what you should look for in a good CMS.
Check if the cost of the platform is suitable for your budget. Some CMS platforms are completely free. Others charge a monthly fee. Even with free CMS platforms, you’ll often need to pay for third-party extensions, designs, and/or web hosting services.
Try to find out as much as you can about the pricing before choosing your CMS, so you don’t have any nasty surprises.
Ease of use
Chooses a CMS that fits your skill level, as there are platforms with steeper learning curves than others. In addition, you want a CMS that makes it easy for you to create and edit content. This often means having a drag and drop interface to add different elements to your pages.
It should be quick and straightforward for you to make changes to the content on your site after publishing it.
Your CMS software should offer you plenty of website design templates to choose from. It should also allow you to easily customize those designs to your own requirements (ideally without writing code).
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A great CMS platform should have tools for you to export your data and move it elsewhere easily.
For instance, you may later decide to choose a different platform or a different hosting company. In addition, data portability makes it easier for you to move around with complete freedom.
Extensions and addons
Not all websites are the same. This is why no CMS platform can come with all the features that would fulfill the requirements for every website.
Extensions and addons fix that problem. You can install these separate software on your CMS software to extend its features and add new ones when needed. Think of them as apps for your CMS platform.
Help and support options
Although CMS platforms aim to make building a website as straightforward as possible, you still might have some questions. Find out what help and support are available if you get stuck.
Some CMS providers will have a handful of FAQs and a customer service team that’s painfully slow to respond. Others will have a big supportive community that can help you any time of the day or night.
You need a platform that will keep your content, your users, and your front-end visitors safe. When evaluating different solutions, consider what role the platform assumes and what role you’ll have to assume in protecting your site. For example, will you need to back up your site manually? Update the software? Install security add-ons? Purchase an SSL certificate?
With these things in mind, let’s take a look at the best CMS platforms to choose from.
It’s the world’s most popular CMS software, and it powers around 42% of all websites on the internet.
WordPress is open-source software known for its flexibility and scalability. Moreover, its gallery of over 58,000 WordPress plugins helps users create any website.
WordPress offers you the flexibility and freedom to build any website (online store, auction site, membership site, etc.).
It does not require any technical skills or coding knowledge. The WordPress block editor makes it really easy to create great-looking pages on your site.
You have complete freedom to make money online from your website in any way you want.
There are thousands of WordPress themes and plugins available, both paid and free. These let you add all sorts of useful extras to your sites, like contact forms, photo galleries, and much more.
WordPress is really well designed for search engine optimization (SEO). It’s easy to create SEO-friendly URLs, categories, and tags for your posts. You can also choose from plenty of SEO plugins to help you do more.
There’s a huge and supportive community around WordPress, as it’s an open-source CMS. You can join groups like the WPBeginner Engage Facebook group to help with any problems you run into.
WordPress offers a lot of extensibility, which makes it an ideal CMS platform for both beginners and developers alike.
WordPress lets you download all your content in XML format, making it easy to move to a different system in the future if you choose to do so.
You’ll need to set up your hosting and domain name, and you’ll be responsible for managing things like security and backups.
Because WordPress offers so many options and so much flexibility, it can sometimes feel a little daunting when you’re getting started. This is why many beginners use drag & drop page builder plugins for WordPress.
WordPress itself doesn’t cost anything. However, you’ll need a domain name (around $9 – $15 per year) and a hosting account with a web host that can run WordPress (normally from $7.99/month).
Joomla is an open-source CMS that power over 2% of all websites. Compared to other CMS platforms, Joomla’s core software offers more functionality right away, such as its multilingual features. However, the initial setup can be challenging for non-technical users.
Joomla offers a powerful content management system with unlimited design potential and options to make websites and online applications.
Manage a site with hundreds of sub-pages efficiently.
Use 2-factor authentication to avoid break-ins.
Web development terminology featured in the control panel is not beginner-friendly.
Lack of compatibility between different modules, extensions, and plugins.
Best for Joomla
Joomla is best for professional websites managed by multiple people. Take the official website of the international tennis player Roger Federer as an example. This website displays not only his portfolio but also a news platform and a shop.
Joomla itself is free, though you’ll need to pay for a domain name and web hosting that supports Joomla.
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You may find yourself paying for some extensions to add more functionality to your website. Depending on what you’re trying to achieve, you might even want to budget for getting help from a developer.
HubSpot CMS Hub
HubSpot CMS is one of the top CMS options to create a website without the need for constant updates and edits. It is a fully integrated content management system that is specifically designed for marketers and business owners.
It’s perfect for beginners since this platform’s user-friendly tools can help publish a website without technical knowledge. Its great integrated sales and marketing tools also help to increase reach and engagement.
Because it is built on top of HubSpot’s CRM platform, which includes all sorts of marketing automation, sales, service, and operations tools, CMS Hub is an ideal solution for growing businesses and large enterprises looking for an all-in-one system to manage their website.
HubSpot website builder is easy to use even if you have little to no technical skills. Their drag-and-drop editor, built-in SEO tools, and contact attribution all make it easy to create and optimize your web content.
They have smart content features to personalize your website page to specific visitors or larger segments.
There are serverless functions, flexible theme options, and command-line tools for developers, so you can make changes and customize assets faster.
CMS Hub comes with built-in security features — including a global CDN and Web Application Firewall along with a dedicated security team to keep your site safe from DDoS attacks, hackers, and other anomalies.
HubSpot CMS seamlessly integrates with their email marketing tool and sales CRM so that you can streamline your operational workflows.
There is no free version, but they do offer a free trial.
HubSpot CMS isn’t as well suited for e-commerce websites. The good news is that it easily integrates with WordPress and WooCommerce.
CMS Hub comes in three tiers: Starter, Professional, and Enterprise.
The Starter plan is $25/month and has all the features you need to build a fully functioning website. The higher tiers are better suited for building more complex web apps with dynamic personalization and internal processes.
The professional plan, costing $300/month, with a 10% discount if paid annually.
The enterprise plan, costing $900/month.
Many smart business owners use HubSpot’s free marketing tools while using WordPress as the CMS platform to build their websites.
Designed for professional web developers, its flexible API architecture supports different digital platforms. It’s the CMS behind some major websites, including The Economist’s site and several university sites. In addition, Drupal optimizes its built-in features for better performance and security. It’s also worth noting that Drupal’s websites get higher web traffic than other CMS software.
You can host a Drupal site on SiteGround. They offer free installation and can even help you transfer an existing Drupal site.
It’s easy to add content on Drupal. The custom content types are flexible and offer plenty of options.
There are lots of different modules available that you can add to your site.
Support is available via community support options similar to other popular platforms like Joomla and WordPress.
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User management is easy, with a built-in system to create new roles and specify their permissions.
With Drupal, it can be tricky to figure out how to change the appearance of your site or add extras. It’s definitely not as beginner-friendly as WordPress.
Most Drupal websites have a heavily customized theme created by a developer, which can be very expensive.
The pricing for Drupal depends on the web hosting and the domain name. Here are Hostinger’s Drupal hosting plans that offer both:
Premium Shared Hosting for $2.59/month.
Business Shared Hosting for $3.99/month.
Magento has long provided an enterprise CMS for eCommerce functionality. The CMS software focuses on security, SEO, and customization to optimize all types of eCommerce sites. As it caters to bigger online stores, the platform is powerful enough to feature a high number of products and orders. It also features an expansive extensions marketplace and a global partner library for building sites and improving those designs.
Magento is highly customizable, with lots of third-party extensions available that you can use to add extra features.
With Magento, you can handle lots of products and customers. As a result, it lets your business grow easily, without your site slowing down. (You’ll likely need to upgrade your hosting plan, though.)
Some huge name brands are using Magento, including Nike, Ford, and Coca-Cola.
You can connect different payment gateways to Magento. It also comes with certain options, like PayPal, cash on delivery, and bank transfer already built-in.
If you’re just starting in eCommerce, Magento might seem overwhelming.
Finding good developers for Magento projects can be tricky, and it can be costly to hire them.
The support available can vary, particularly if you’re using Magento Open Source and relying on online forums for help.
Magento Commerce isn’t cheap. In fact, it’s so pricy that the Magento website doesn’t even tell you what it costs.
Prices start at around $22,000/year, putting it outside the budget of many new businesses. If you want a powerful eCommerce CMS platform for an established business, though, it could be an option to consider.
TYPO3 is a free, open-source CMS platform that has been around even longer than Blogger. It was originally released in 1998. It’s an enterprise CMS, which means it’s useful for intranet sites (internal company sites) and websites.
Typo3 caters to enterprise-level websites as it offers great scalability. What makes it unique is that it separates the web front-end from the administration interface. As a result, it is harder for hackers to disrupt the websites’ properties.
TYPO3 can handle huge websites, including ones that have multiple websites in different languages. So it’s a good option for large international companies.
Because it’s open-source, TYPO3 can be extended however you want if you’re willing to hire a developer to work for you.
You can easily modify the access rights of different individuals and groups who work on your site.
Over 6,000 extensions and applications can add to your TYPO3 site to include new features.
There aren’t all that many themes available, so you’ll likely have to hire someone to create one for you.
You’ll need a pretty high degree of technical expertise to get TYPO3 up and to run and maintain it.
Typo3 is free, although users need to purchase web hosting services and a custom domain.
You may have seen one of Wix’s many television or YouTube ads. It’s definitely one of the most popular DIY builders on this list, but it has also improved over the years to include advanced developer tools and options to build full-fledged online stores. In addition, Wix is a popular CMS platform, though it has some limitations.
With that said, Wix is beginner-friendly, and it might be worth considering. It offers a free plan, too.
Wix’s drag and drop interface makes it really easy to create pages that look just how you want. Then, you can select any part of your page and start editing it.
There are lots of pre-made templates you can choose from in Wix. These are fully responsive, so they look great on mobiles and computers.
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You can add lots of apps to your site from the Wix App Market. These work like WordPress’s plugins to give your site new features.
Once you’ve chosen a template on Wix, you can’t change it to a different one. This could mean that you get stuck with a layout that’s not quite right for your site.
You can’t run an eCommerce store on Wix unless you upgrade to a paid plan, and even then, you can only accept payments using PayPal or Authorize.net.
Wix doesn’t allow you to download your data and export it easily. For example, you can download your blog posts (though not your images) to move them, but if you have any pages on your site, you’ll need to copy and paste these manually. We have full instructions on how to move your Wix site to WordPress.
If you’re using the free plan, you’ll have a Wix-branded domain name and ads on your site. The ads make money for Wix, not you.
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You can use Wix for free if you’re happy with a Wix-branded domain name and ads running on your site. The paid plans offer more flexibility and start from $13 per month (paid upfront annually).
If you want to take online payments, you’ll need to pay $23/month or more (again, upfront annually).
PrestaShop is another popular CMS platform for small to medium-sized eCommerce businesses. Its active community and broad set of features make it a highly flexible online store management platform. Its comprehensive interface also helps to enter and monitor products easily.
Access to user-friendly eCommerce features for users of all skill levels to create a professional online store.
There is a broad selection of themes and modules for customization.
Lack of scalability to grow into a bigger eCommerce store.
It relies on extensions and plugins, which can be costly.
PrestaShop is an excellent platform for small to medium-sized eCommerce businesses. For example, Harry Fay, a niche jewelry store in the United Kingdom, sells rings and wedding bands online.
The PrestaShop software is free, but it still needs hosting and a domain name.