When it comes time to build a new website, picking the right CMS (content management system) is usually the most important decision you'll need to make. Why? If you want Google to rank your site highly, you need fresh, regularly updated and managed content. If you want regularly updated and managed content, you need a CMS that the average person (aka an individual with little to no web design or development experience) can actually use with relative ease.
Maintaining larger sites is already a mammoth task. Doing so on a CMS that is difficult to use or lacks necessary functionality will only make it that much more difficult. And making the right choice the first time matters, because switching your site from one CMS to another after its built is a massive web development pain - and pricey.
The best CMS option is typically one that is SEO-friendly, intuitive, meets the latest web accessibility standards, is flexible enough to scale to your future needs and offers a solid ROI. As a top St. Louis web consulting agency, we frequently advise clients on which CMS will meet their needs.
With the largest market share and around 75 million websites running on it, WordPress is far and away the most popular modern CMS. Think of it as the iPhone of CMS. The majority of people use it, it's designed to be user-friendly and it's constantly iterating and improving itself.
WordPress is an Open Source platform, meaning that hundreds of thousands of developers around the world can contribute to improving it. (There's a misconception that Open Source platforms are inherently lacking security, but this is mostly a myth.)
With thousands of free themes and plugins, it's also a cost-effective option for smaller businesses looking to keep their web budget down. Keep in mind that for larger corporate operations, these free options won't meet your technology or security needs and investing in custom enterprise WordPress design and development is going to be necessary for success.
Popular sites built on WordPress
For many brands in the 21st century, online sales contribute to the bulk of their revenue. If your business falls into this category, you're going to want to choose a CMS that has a laser-focus on eCommerce. Magento is one such platform. There are good reasons that it's widely and internationally used by leading big-name brands. The launch of Magento 2 brought about a lot of enhancements that make this CMS an excellent option for any brand looking to build a large online retail presence.
Popular sites built on Magento
Squarespace is one of the more well-known brands in website building. It competes with other non-developer audience targeted CMS options like Wix and Weebly but offers more customization and code access. If the other CMS options on this list are like building a house from the ground up, Squarespace is like leasing a really nice condo. You get to control the decor and furniture, they handle the infrastructure, plumbing, security, etc. Like a condo, it's convenient and less work, but you sacrifice a lot of control.
Popular sites built on Squarespace
Joomla is the second biggest agent in the market after WordPress, although its share of the market falls far below that CMS giant. It's more challenging to use than WordPress but since it's also an Open Source platform, there's plenty of valuable documentation from the community-supported online handbooks and user forums that can assist non-tech experts.
Popular sites built on Joomla
All of these CMS options are free to use - with the exception of Squarespace and enterprise versions of the others - but unless you have a server of your own you'll still need to pay for the hosting and domain name. Additional expenses come with premium or custom-developed plugins, themes and extensions.
It's possible for someone with a little bit of tech experience and a lot of time to invest to build a decent site on most CMS platforms. But as a general rule, custom-developed sites are going to give you a much better result and offer a sizable ROI. As with most things in life, web product development is best left to specialized experts if you want something truly outstanding. What really matters when choosing a CMS is that your team can navigate the user interface, add and manage content without enlisting a developer's assistance and that it meets your business' needs.
Need help picking the right CMS and developing a functional, beautiful website for your business? Let Integrity's web consultants help.
Looking for a WordPress alternative? Integrity has done the work for you. Depending on your needs, here’s what our lead developer recommends.
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