So, what CMS or Web Solution should you choose?

A highly relevant question. Well at least if you're out there looking for a web solution for your company, enterprise or ... just for fun. There are many great solutions available, from general public license or free, to the rather expensive. By the way, CMS means Content Mangement System, and this blog will be about some free/open source based ones. However and this is well worth considering, it's not enough to be looking at or judging by initial costs alone. While it seems sensible to to choose something that is for free, there are no (or seldom any) free lunches!

So in essence what I am getting at is this, unless you're a completely do it yourself person, both with regards to programming (or know enough to be modifying existing programming/code), web design, web content styling and so forth, you will need .... or should better consider to get some help. At least at the early stages of building a new web settlement. Sometimes its a better, and far more cost effective/sensible use of time to get assistance than to do it yourself.

Get someone with expertise, competence and experience to help you push (or pull) your web project through its initial phases. Yeah ok, I am one of those but there are plenty of us around. Perhaps you have some good acquaintances to ask for help? Naturally, it all depends on what your aim is. If you run your own business and plan to increase or define your web presence, think long(er) term. I've seen it over and over again, lifecycle management and long term development isn't always given needed attention. Which again may lead to... increased costs, lower performance and pay-off or exposure.

What code type, platform or framwork

Over the years I've worked with solutions built on Microsoft and IBM products, codebase, servers or standards. And as much (if not more) using open source (PHP/mySQL based) and Linux solutions. I have to say, now assuming you don't have a gazillion to spend, consider to use a Open source solution. Also consider an afforable, web/publicly availble web supplier or web hotel package that suits your needs. UNLESS.. you have specific requirements and requisites around and about subtle integration into existing architecture. And/or your demand for security extends beyond the average. If this is the case well... then an open solution might STILL cover your needs!

Solutions/platforms I can recommend for CMS/eCommerce:

  • Drupal: Been around for more than 10yrs, rock solid, acknowledged code quality, lots of supplements both with rgds to design as well as plugins. Somewhat "nerdy" when coming out of the box but harbors customization options that literally makes it possible to tailor with even the smallest details in mind. Drupal permits use of WYSIWYG editors, you can even get it with page templates ready to be used, Social network integration solutions in plenty, got eCommerce capabilities with UberCart plugin. Drupal is scalable to the suit even very large concepts and/or high demand needs. One of my personal favorites. Great support for development, new services, integration, mobile or responsive design.
  • Joomla: one of the most used CMS'es around, have earned a somewhat unfair reputation for being flimsy and insecure code-wise. Much of its bad reputation stems from earlier days, but also due to the fact that many people without any concept of security whatsoever have used it. There also used to be (and still is) some more suspect applications around for it. Plus, as is the case with EVERY single solution to be used on the web, if you don't update it regularly (!) with the latest fixes and patches well.. you might just be asking for trouble. Joomla comes with thousands of applications or plugins, and also got eCommerce capabilities with Virtuemart. There are many many many sub suppliers around that delivers great web design skins/solutions for this platform.
  • WordPress: Today perhaps one of the most used Open source CMS systems, first for blogging and easy to use website but now today got much more elaborate architecture. There's almost not a thing you cannot get for WordPress, and that which does not exist, you can get someone to develop. WordPress also got, like the two others, eCommerce extension possibilities with plugins like WP e-commerce. But there are others, see this list for options. WordPress got one of the largest developer communities around and has a good reputation. Less Nerdy than Drupal, and with a better reputation than Joomla although, like I said above, Joomla got lots of its baggage from earlier days. Mobile support is excellent.
  • eZPublish: Maybe less known or used than the above but a seriously well written platform. Excellent code base and not quite as free to use as the others. Limitations or license policies are triggered if you are using the platform for commercial purposes. I started worked with eZ Systems products back in early 2000, at that time there weren't too many (good) alternatives around. Impeccable code base, business and service logic, lots of additional modules and features. The only downside (if indeed such it is) would be that it is supported by a smaller community of developers. But.. some will regard this an upside rather than a downside. eZ Publish have been chosen by everything from private enterprises/companies to public institutions worldwide.

Some final words

This wasn't meant to be an elaborate, deep study or evaluation document. And there are many many more solutions out there that have not gotten any attention here. This must not be confused with they're not worth using or testing. To some extent platforms that's gotten less attention or publicity may offer as much, if not more of what you need. I have however pointed at a place to begin looking. For an extensive list of Content Management solutions, check out this Wiki page. You will find stuff there that isn't, strictly speaking, only CMS.

All that said, if asked about what I'd recommend the answer might very well be ..... Drupal .... BUT... if you go for this platform mind the fact that it might require some assistance to get past the initial nerdy stages. Drupal can be tailored to meet almost any demands, and set up to suit users with no or limited web skills. Publishing content based on custom defined templates to suit your specific needs is, as mentioned before, fully possible. All it takes is a little bit of tweaking done by someone who knows the platform. This however, is something I'll save for a later blog!

Thank you for your attention!

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