What is a CMS?
CMS is an acronym for Content Management System. Content management systems are platforms that help you edit, organize, and manage your website’s content. The first content management system was developed by AOL around 1992 and was called RAINMAN (Remote Automated Information Network Manager). It was the first system to allow content publishers to directly place their content in a live navigation hierarchy. Publishers needed some help from AOL employees to create folders, move menu items around, etc. but they could freely update the system themselves with articles and edit them.
Newer content management systems allow you to update everything from your website design to article categories yourself dynamically. Many of them also feature useful plugins to help you manipulate your website’s features and content as well as manage it with more ease. Most importantly, modern CMS platforms make it easy to manage your content, design, SEO, and more.
When Should I Use A CMS?
You should use a CMS if you are making constant changes to your website’s design or content, such as hosting a blog or an online store. Some CMS platforms also make website design a lot easier by featuring drag & drop editors to allow you to move elements around on the page, and they all feature large collections of web design templates you can use.
If you would like to have multiple users publish to your website, then there is another reason to use a CMS – most of them come preloaded to handle multiple users publishing to the same website. Another reason you may want to use a CMS is for their advanced template designs and plugins, which add enhanced website functionality without the need to learn any code.
You should also use a CMS if you have a large amount of website content to organize. Using a CMS means having total control over your website without having to dig in to a lot of code or rely on a website builder’s limited options. If this sounds good to you, then you should use a CMS.
When Should I Not Use A CMS?
You shouldn’t use a CMS if you do not make frequent changes to your website, like if it is a business landing page or a CV website. CMS platforms are overkill for these kinds of sites as well as other simple one to five page websites. Another reason not to use a CMS is if you don’t need any advanced features for your website.
CMS platforms also tend to have security vulnerabilities that can be difficult to patch up and or remove if you don’t know what you’re doing. These vulnerabilities can cost you if you are running an online store through a CMS platform and don’t know how to secure it properly.
Additionally, you may not want to use a CMS if you are not interested in learning how to work with web design or plugins, and just want to get a simple website up within minutes. Finally, if you are using a web designer to design your site, you may not need a CMS platform.
What Are The Best CMS Platforms?
WordPress was the first CMS platform to become really popular with the public over ten years ago. Since then it has grown in its customisation options and its ease of use. It is arguably one of the easiest to use CMS platforms available, and it is certainly (still) the most popular. There are over 13 million websites running WordPress today.
Drupal is known for its speed and simplicity in design. It is complicated to use for beginners, but web designers love it for its fast page rendering times and customization options. Built from the ground up with web designers in mind, Drupal is used mostly by major corporations to run their blogs and websites.
Joomla is like a hybrid of WordPress and Drupal rolled in to one. It is designed both with advanced web designers and beginners in mind, and has an easy to navigate menu system for beginners to use to build their websites. It is the third most popular CMS system next to Drupal and WordPress. Joomla, Drupal, and WordPress are also some of the oldest standing CMS platforms, having all came out around the same time frame.
Weebly is a newer open source CMS that focuses on making modern website design easy for anyone to accomplish. It has a block style point and click website builder that also includes HTML and CSS editing tools for advanced web designers. Unlike WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal, Weebly does not run as a stand alone system but is hosted through Weebly’s website.
What Are The Easiest To Use CMS Platforms?
Weebly is arguably the easiest CMS platform to use due to their self hosting and block style drag & drop editing process, as well as their beginner walkthrough in creating a new website. It makes for a web experience that is perfect for beginning web designers. It’s only downfall is the lack of plugins – users must depend on the available features on Weebly if they are not website design professionals that can manually add features through use of the HTML and CSS editor.
WordPress is the second easiest to use CMS platform, second only for their lack of a beginner walkthrough in creating a new website and having a little of a learning curve involved in setting up a new website and adding features through plugins. This should not intimidate you, though – WordPress is easily learned by any level of website designer, though advanced features may take some time to learn well enough to implement in your website.
Which CMS Platform Should I Choose?
Which CMS platform you should choose relies heavily on what features you want. More advanced CMS platforms require some learning curve to add on features, but are excellent in that they allow you to add on features with ease. Less advanced CMS platforms are easier to use, but may not allow you to add on extra features without facing a steep learning curve in getting to know HTML and CSS. Of course, you can always start out with an easier to use CMS platform, then move to a more advanced one once you have gotten the hang of using a simple CMS platform environment.
What Are The Best CMS Web Hosts?
WordPress Engine is a site dedicated to hosting WordPress websites, and it allows you to use WordPress without installing it yourself. It focuses on giving the best WordPress hosting experience possible, and comes with lots of useful features like automated backups and advanced SEO tools. This arguably one of the best WordPress hosting services around, though it can be a little pricey.
Weebly.com is the website that handles hosting of the Weebly CMS platform, and it is also one of the only websites that handles hosting Weebly. Because of Weebly’s focus on the user experience, Weebly.com is fast, responsive, and secure. If you’re looking to use Weebly, it is probably your best choice to stick with their official website for hosting.
BlueHost is a popular web host for WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, and Weebly. They feature affordable hosting that is fast, stable, and secure. They do daily backups on all of their plans, and their cheapest plan starts at a little over $6 a month. They use hard drive mirroring (hosting the same content on 3 different hard drive simultaneously) to ensure no data loss and constant uptime, and also use security measures to ensure no websites infect others with malware or hog bandwidth.
InMotion offers WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal hosting for only about $4 a month. They feature all SSD mirrored storage and fast 24/7 support through phone, chat, or email. They also offer free website migration, free malware scanning, daily backups, and free SSL. InMotion also offers a 90 day money back guarantee if you are not satisfied with their hosting.
DreamHost also offers WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal hosting for a slightly more expensive $8 a month. Like the other hosts listed here, they feature mirrored SSD hard drives and free SSL certificates, as well as daily backups. Something noteworthy about this host is that they offer hosting for free to non-profits. While their phone support is not available 24/7, their chat and email support is available any time of day or night and responds quickly to requests.