How to choose the right CMS for your business
Finding the right content management system for your business is a bit like looking for the perfect kitchen. Get it right, and you’ll have a workspace that enhances your house by an order of magnitude, creating an optimal, functional environment and a central hub. Get it wrong, though, and you’ll end up with something that doesn’t really work properly, leaving you with an expensive problem.
Without specialist knowledge, working out what’s what from the large array of different content management options currently available can be a confounding task. At Modular, we create bespoke websites and content management systems for businesses and organisations.
Over the course of numerous client projects spread across many years, we’ve learnt that offering expert advice in a clear and straightforward way is one of the most important aspects of good customer service. To make it easier to understand how to choose the right kind of content management for your business, we’ve highlighted some of the key content management platforms, explained what they do (and don’t do), who they’re good for, and what business applications they’re best suited to.
Squarespace and Wix
Squarespace and Wix are two of the most popular all-in-one content management and hosting systems currently available. Via both of these platforms, a user without specialist software engineering skills can build and update a website, host it on the World Wide Web, register custom domain names, sell products, track their site’s analytics, and incorporate other technologies like video or podcast channels (in the case of Squarespace) within the architecture of the website.
For very good reasons, Squarespace and Wix have come to dominate the personal business website sector; they both offer an outstanding and affordable package for individuals and small business owners who are happy to build their own site in a ‘What You See Is What You Get’ (WYSIWIG) format. Together, Squarespace and Wix power over 50% of websites that are created with a purpose-made web builder tool. Whilst they offer similar levels of website functionality, they’re actually a bit different. Squarespace is more design-oriented, and has a variety of features that will appeal to those wanting to curate a particular look and feel to their site; for this reason, Squarespace has a loyal following amongst photographers, artists, musicians, writers, actors, and other freelance creatives. Wix, on the other hand, uses a technology known as an unstructured page editor, which appears less organised but allows the user and website owner more freedom to customise the site. With Wix, any element can be moved anywhere on the page, unlike Squarespace in which content blocks can be moved only where the page editor allows them to go.
Despite this fundamental difference, both Squarespace and Wix are ideal content management tools for small start-ups and personal businesses that don’t require a huge amount of functionality within their site’s architecture. For a simple, non-interactive site, they’re both excellent CMS options and represent very good value for money since hosting is included in their all-in-one annual subscription fees.
The next stage of content management system sophistication above Squarespace and Wix is WordPress. Whilst it started out as a simple blogging tool, WordPress has become one of the leading content management platforms in the world, powering over 40% of the world’s websites, including those of many leading media brands such as The New Yorker, Facebook, Disney, and Time Magazine. WordPress itself is free, open-source software; however, to use it you will need a domain name and a web hosting service as well.
WordPress offers a content management resource that allows for frequent publishing, fast editing, and excellent builder functionality. It’s highly flexible and extensible, and it’s easy for any developer to modify. It is therefore used by many bigger companies and organisations worldwide. Crucially, it allows for a vast number of plug-ins to be installed, which are extra pieces of software that create additional functionality to a website. Some of the most popular WordPress plug-ins include WPForms, a contact form plug-in; MonsterInsights, a Google Analytics plug-in; All-in-One SEO (AIOSEO), a search engine optimisation plug-in; Constant Contact, an email marketing list builder plug-in; and OptinMonster, an e-commerce optimisation plug-in that does various clever things including helping the recovery of abandoned cart sales. There are tens of thousands of other WordPress plug-ins, offering all kinds of additional functionality to the platform.
Enterprise level content management systems: Umbraco & Drupal
Beyond WordPress, there are many other open-source content management platforms that give website owners a highly customisable, flexible resource with which to build, edit and maintain a bespoke site. One of the leading lights here is Umbraco, a fast-growing .NET content management system that’s used by over 700,000 sites worldwide. Umbraco has actually existed for over two decades since it was first developed by Niels Hartvig in 2000, but is now gaining traction as a content management platform for the World Wide Web and also for corporate intranets (internal company networks). Umbraco is deployed on Microsoft-based infrastructure, so works well on systems running the Windows operating system.
There are many other options for businesses looking to upgrade to a fully-functional content management system that’s perfectly integrated into all their core operations. Drupal, for example, is a powerful and popular open-source back-end and database management system that’s used by some 14% of the biggest 10,000 websites worldwide. Another popular content management system, Strapi, enables web developers to build projects quickly by providing a purpose-built application programming interface (or API), and giving them the freedom to use their favourite tools. Content teams often use Strapi to autonomously manage different types of content and distribute it from one CMS to any additional channel including other websites, mobile apps, or even individual connected devices.
The proverbial question ‘how long is a piece of string’ can easily be applied to the world of content management applications. This is a dynamic and perpetually-evolving area of computer science, information architecture, and user experience design. As the technology that powers the World Wide Web evolves, the digital systems that businesses and consumers use respond to that change. Digital technology is never static; like a river in spate, it’s constantly surging forward and shifting course as the current moves on.
It’s therefore worth considering your content management needs carefully in order to choose the right kind of CMS for your business. If you’re a small start-up or a sole trader running your own business that offers a small range of services, then a basic site created and hosted via Wix or Squarespace will likely be all you need. If you’re running a bigger business that requires a more sophisticated site with multiple channels of content, proper e-commerce functionality, and involves different user journeys, then a WordPress-based site will almost certainly be a better option.
If the requirements for your website are even more demanding again, perhaps with high bandwidth functions such as complex interactivity, video, animation, 3-D graphics, augmented reality (AR), or the use of very large databases and high processing requirements, then it might be worth looking beyond WordPress and considering a bespoke content management system build incorporating applications such as Umbraco, Drupal, Strapi, and others.
Why not give Emma a call on 07584 652 285 or drop her an email firstname.lastname@example.org to talk through your needs in more detail? All the best projects start with a great conversation, after all.