So, you've decided to build your website with a content management system. Great choice! Leveraging a strong CMS will save you huge amounts of time and money. But your next choice is also crucial. Which CMS should you use?
There are hundreds, probably thousands, of CMSs out there. Guess what? I can narrow your choice to three: Joomla, WordPress, or Drupal. These three CMSs have huge communities, lots of quality plugins, and plenty of professional developers if you need them.
Plus, they're open source -- and that means freedom. Don't get sidetracked by an expensive, proprietary CMS that will lock you into a single company. Choose one of the Big Three: Joomla, WordPress or Drupal.
One of the best ways to decide among the Big Three is to see them in action on live websites. Many big, famous websites run WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal -- but they take care to hide it. No problem. Learn how to identify a site's CMS, and you'll realize just how powerful a CMS can be.
Once you realize you want one of the Big Three, you still need to decide which one to use. If your site will be fairly simple, you can probably get along with any of them.
But Joomla, WordPress, and Drupal do have important differences. If you want anything more complicated than a few pages, you'll want to make this decision carefully. Learn the pros and cons of Joomla, WordPress, and Drupal. Once you know the details, the choice might make itself.
On the other hand, gathering details can itself be difficult. There are plenty of other reviews out there that compare Joomla, WordPress, and Drupal. Some are helpful, but others suffer from a certain ... oversimplification. Keep a few points in mind as you read reviews, and you'll filter out most of the noise.
One point to remember is that almost anyone writing a review has a preference. If the reviewer works with CMSs all the time, they're going to have a favorite.
I'm no exception, and my favorite is Drupal. Drupal offers amazing power and flexibility. Plus, it can be extremely easy to maintain.
At the same time, I try to balance my preference by being clear about the disadvantages. Drupal's not for everyone, and it's also not for every project. I'll use another CMS myself if it's a better fit for the website.
Bottom line: if you're contemplating a big, complex site, consider Drupal. Don't get intimidated by rumors of a steep learning curve. Drupal could be an excellent investment.
Finally, no rundown of CMS options is complete without a quick look at your last option: no CMS. Back in the 90s, building a website usually meant writing each page by hand in HTML. The pages were "static" -- they didn't change. If you wanted to change anything, you had to edit the pages by hand.
Editing lots of pages by hand can get tedious pretty fast. People basically invented CMSs so they wouldn't have to do this anymore.
However, CMSs have to be maintained to stay secure. Static HTML pages, on the other hand, can sit unattended for years. If you have a small site, and it won't change much, static HTML can still be a smart choice.