If you’re looking to create a site for your online portfolio, business, or event, you’ve probably come across the term “CMS” in your research. A Content Management System is typically a web-based application that helps you create, manage, and publish digital content on the web.
The beauty of a good CMS is that even people with no previous technical know-how can create, manage, and publish their own content without needing to touch a line of code.
In this post, we’ll consider different solutions for your site, and why you might choose WordPress.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is the most easy-to-use website and blog creation tool around, as well as the most popular content management system (CMS).
If you’re new to WordPress, you might not be aware that it’s available on two different platforms: the WordPress.com hosted service and the powerful WordPress.org software download option.
WordPress.com is a free service that doesn’t require you to have separate hosting. Basic blogs and websites are free, and you can upgrade to take advantage of additional theme and customization options, remove ads, and get other features.
With all WordPress.com sites comes free automatic backups, free support, and security. However, there are limitations. E-commerce functionality is limited and it’s not possible to create a paid membership site, since it’s not possible to create different users. You also cannot upload your own themes or plugins, so it can be too restrictive for some users.
With WordPress.org, meanwhile, you gain access to the same software that runs WordPress.com, but you can download it for free and install it on your own server or on shared or VPS hosting such as Namecheap provides. This type of WordPress site is often referred to as ‘self-hosted’ WordPress.
While you do have to manage your own installation with a self-hosted WordPress site, security, and updates, running WordPress on your own hosting allows you considerably more flexibility. You can modify your themes however you like, add plugins that can significantly increase your site’s functionality, and even tweak the WordPress code itself (it’s open source so go crazy!).
WordPress vs. Other CMS Options
While WordPress is one content management system, there are a number of different CMS solutions available. Let’s take a look at the best content management systems and how they compare to each other.
While WordPress started as a blogging platform, it’s now used to power all kinds of non-blogging sites, from portfolios and fully-fledged social networks, to university sites, web directories, and basically anything you can think of. The combination of themes and plugins allows you to make nearly any kind of site you need.
WordPress.org includes thousands of free themes and an infinite supply of plugins which explains in part why this is a popular choice for people who want to make sites for themselves.
Although WordPress is probably the easiest CMS to use out there, there is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to getting familiar with the software. But thanks to a huge community of developers and tutorials available, you’ll find all the help you need.
The next most popular CMS is Joomla with around 6.1% of the CMS market share, according to a report by W3Techs. Their repertoire is impressive, with the websites of prominent organizations such as Harvard University and MTV being powered by this software. Joomla has over 200,000 contributors and an active development community, which makes information and support tutorials easy to find.
While there are add-ons and plugins available with Joomla, there are far fewer than with WordPress. An inconsistent user interface, fewer add-ons, and a lack of high-quality themes make Joomla pale in comparison to WordPress’ offerings.
Another popular CMS is Drupal. This software is used by MIT, The New York Observer, and many other high-value companies. Drupal is powerful, capable of building internal and external sites and includes stacks of tools to help with organizing content.
Drupal is an advanced content management system and can prove to be overkill for more basic sites since it comes with such a large number of features. Compared to WordPress and Joomla, Drupal is fairly complicated, especially the theme system. Drupal suffers from a lack of quality, free themes, so if you want your site to look good, you’ll probably have to purchase a theme.
With regards to support, Drupal has an extremely active online community that consists of forums and live events. The Drupal community constantly updates documentation, including everything you need to know about building sites, from installation to modules and more.
WordPress or a Site Builder?
There’s more than one way to build a website. We’ve discussed WordPress’ dominance in the CMS market, but there are alternative programs, known as website builders, that are less flexible but invariably easier to use.
Website builders include a visual editing interface. For example, Squarespace and Weebly let you drag and drop elements around your site, whereas a CMS like WordPress uses a form editor in place of a visual editor, meaning what you see on the form isn’t necessarily how the page will look. This will change in the near future, however, with the upcoming Gutenberg update for the WordPress editor.
A CMS like WordPress can seem a little overwhelming for non-technical people who might occasionally be expected to edit code for a theme or a plugin to work correctly. The main problem with website builders is their lack of flexibility, particularly when compared to the array of WordPress plugins available. Another concern for users of site builders is security. In many cases, you can’t assign user permissions based on specific roles, which can be a problem for sites with more than one user.
Conveniently, hosting is included with every site builder, which means you don’t need to organize it yourself, and if you buy a domain name with your site builder, it works without configuration. The upside of choosing WordPress (either the hosted version at WordPress.com or self hosting) is that you own your content and can export your site and move to another host if and when you choose. With a site builder, conversely, you will have to rebuild your site from scratch if you choose to leave.
We’ve just scratched the surface on why WordPress is dominating the CMS market. It’s quick to master and people enjoy the freedom and flexibility it affords them, not to mention it’s free. You won’t get stung with any hidden charges, which isn’t uncommon among alternative programs.
WordPress comes out top in most cases, including versatility. It is the one platform that lets you build every kind of website. It includes the most plugins and themes, and it has the largest community for online support.
If you’re ready for WordPress, you’ll love EasyWP, our managed WordPress hosting solution. We handle the hosting and the installation, so you can get your website up and running in a flash.