So you’ve decided to enter the exciting world of owning an online property. Good for you, you swanky go-getter. But now you have choices. And research! Lots and lots of, likely, conflicting and/or confusing research. But even if you’re an industry insider with all of the buzzwords at your disposal there’s still a good question to be answered. What CMS should you use?
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of Content Management Systems (CMSs) on the market. A few of them are great, a few of them are terrible, and most fall somewhere in between. Now going through an exhaustive list would be almost impossible. There are sites dedicated to the topic that still don’t have full reviews on every CMS.
There are various backend languages you could use but all things considered, unless you have a need to conform to a particular standard or corporate policy, you’re probably at least going to consider the tried and true LAMP stack. That’s Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP. There’s also ASP.NET and Java and Ruby on Rails available and a host of other less frequent options but those four covers about 99% of the Internet.
Your LAMP stack options are not lacking but for all intents and purposes you’re likely to choose between WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, and Magento. They’re the most common by market share and have the most robust communities supporting them. Each of them has their place in terms of complexity and flexibility. They’re each meant for different applications. I think that may throw some people off a little. Not every CMS is meant for everything.
For instance Magento is meant for ecommerce. Magento would make a considerably poor choice for a site that only needed blogging. Its admin interface has so many more options on the backend that would be unnecessary. Its API (Application Program Interface), which is used to customize functionality or extend the CMS, is more complex than is otherwise necessary.
Now Drupal and Joomla are, for all intents and purposes, both meant to fill the same niche. They’re what are known as CMFs or Content Management Frameworks. They’re meant to have a great deal of flexibility that allows them to adapt to an almost infinite range of application needs. Of the two I personally have a strong preference for Drupal as it has a much more stable architecture. Joomla, in my experience, was always a little wonky and frustrating but that’s beside the point. It should be noted that either of these, or at least Drupal, makes for a fine blogging platform. It’ll just be a little more complex than necessary since it’s also meant to handle other things.
Now WordPress is as much of a dedicated system as Magento. It’s meant for blogging. It was designed for blogging. The admin interface was meant for blogging. The software architecture and database schema were designed for blogging. The CMS has been forced to evolve in ways it was never meant to. WordPress is not meant o be a CMF by any stretch of the imagination. It is designed and properly utilized solely as a CMS dedicated to blogging. Particular the way WordPress handles data in the backend makes that painfully obvious.
And this is an issue I come across frequently. Clients who want a WordPress site… that they want to build an ecommerce site on top of. Sure, it can be done. There’s plenty of plugins to turn WordPress into a shopping-cart site but WordPress was never meant for that.
Here’s the thing. Websites and software are fundamentally tools. Sometimes they can be incredibly beautiful tools but tools they remain. Like any other tool they are best used for what they were intended for. Not every tool is for every job.
So that brings us to the question when to use WordPress? The answer is when you need a blog and little else.