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August 16, 2016

Web Development

WordPress, ExpressionEngine, Drupal, Craft? How do I choose the right content management system?

It is surprising to me when I hear from new clients who either have no ability to manage the content of their website, but have the desire and need to; or they are handcuffed to a specific developer or agency for monthly revisions.

Content management doesn’t have to be difficult. We’ve been working with various content management systems (CMS) since 2001 and they have gotten a heck of a lot better! There are so many options to choose from now. So how do you pick the right content management system? Here are a few helpful things to consider:

1. Ease-of-use
When managing your content, you shouldn’t have to know any HTML or write any code. When evaluating the right content management system for you, be sure to investigate the control panel and publishing interface. How easy is it to add new pages, manage images and media...etc. Managing content realistically should be at the same level of use as writing and creating a document in Microsoft Word.

2.  Access
Most content management systems are web-based applications that run behind  the publicly-accessible website. This allows you to access the site anywhere with an internet connection and a browser. Depending on your workflow - you may consider if you need a mobile-friendly CMS control panel so that you can edit and maintain the site on-the-go.

3. Security
One of the biggest factors to consider is the content management system’s security track record. Your website is one of your biggest marketing tools so be sure you invest in a CMS that has a proven history of security and offers frequent updates.

4. Maintenance
Following security, one of the other big factors to consider is maintenance after website launch. Will you need a developer to update the CMS every month as security flaws are exploited or is your CMS secure and only periodic updates are needed?

5. SEO
Your content management system should make it simple for you to control your search engine optimization. Your CMS should allow you to control key SEO metadata like keywords, titles, and descriptions.

6. Cost
Finally, one of the biggest questions we are asked is regarding open-source vs commercial (proprietary) content management systems. A free open source CMS is one where the code is freely available and any programmer can work within the framework. In contrast, a commercial or proprietary CMS has been developed by a company who controls the source and sells you a license. There are pro’s and cons to each approach but after years of experience our preference is for the commercial CMS and here’s why:

Which content management systems are our favorites? We’ve worked with Wordpress, Drupal, October, Statamic and others. However, we consistently use ExpressionEngine and CraftCMS as our go-to content management platforms. These systems allow us to provide rich content mangement experiences for clients with great built-in functionality - all at a lower cost than having our own CMS offering.

There are lots of other questions to consider, but hopefully this simple list helps point you in the right direction when considering a website redesign. It doesn’t have to be a difficult choice. Simply pick the right tool for your current needs and future goals. If you have questions about what system might be right for you, we’d love to talk with you. Drop us a line and let us know how we can help you.

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