How to Choose Your CMS
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What to look for and where to start with a Content Management System…

By following these steps, you’ll find out what type of website you’re looking to build and be able to identify your specific requirements.

Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be able to assess each CMS on offer and decide for yourself which is the best fit for your business.

During the initial stages of the development of your website, the biggest decision you will make is choosing the right Content Management System (CMS). In principle, the decision is quite straight forward; If you want ecommerce, then choose osCommerce; If you want information management, then choose Drupal; If you want something a little easier to handle than Drupal, then choose Joomla!

BusinessWebFactory promote three content management systems because they each have their own strengths and they are three of the most popular open source content management systems available. Being open source CMS platforms, they each have large development communities that ensure that they are constantly updated and improved, providing managed upgrades and patches.

Joomla! is possibly the most popular CMS available. It is designed for business people looking to create a relatively small (less than 100 pages) information based website and has a large number of extensions or modules for you to tailor the platform to your exact requirements.

Drupal offers more sophistication and flexibility than Joomla!, and hence is slightly more difficult to configure and manage. Drupal gives you the scalability to manage larger websites (over 100 pages) and comes into its own when dealing with classification of information.

osCommerce is the leading open source ecommerce solution. osCommerce is orientated around categorisation and layout of product information, but recent add-on modules have given it powerful content management facilities.

Where to start

  1. How to find out what kind of website you want…
    In order to determine the kind of website you need, you must prepare a marketing strategy that reflects the goals in your business plan. Here at BusinessWebFactory, we strongly recommend you read all the pages within the Strategy Builder section. This will outline the different marketing strategies for you to employ and arm you with the necessary marketing skills to make the right decisions to achieve your business goals.
  2. How to identify your CMS requirements…
    In order to identify your requirements, you will need a comprehensive design. Here at BusinessWebFactory, we strongly recommend you read all the pages within the Web Design Essentials and Planning sections. This information will give your website a purpose and define exactly what you need to achieve this purpose. You will then be able to derive a list of abstract features.

    Using this list, you will then be able to plan and prioritise on their importance and difficulty. You can then determine how and when you intend to implement them.
  3. How to know how much time and effort you are prepared to give…
    Running your own website requires some level of technical aptitude and a high level of perseverance, determination and organisation skills. You should be fully aware of the work that will be required from you, know what the skills are required, and have the necessary support to help you fulfil your objectives.

    If you don’t have the time to do everything yourself, or have the technical abilities necessary to complete your website yourself, then consider delegating or contracting out the parts of the project that are not attractive to you or appear difficult.
  4. Product based or information based?
    If the purpose of your website is to present information on your large range of products, whether purely for information or available to buy online, then consider osCommerce. This CMS is designed specifically for handling product data and can accept product spreadsheet bulk upload as an efficient means of updating your product information.

    If the purpose of your website is to serve your prospects and customers by providing educational material, advice, publications and news, then consider Drupal. This CMS provides a powerful platform to hold and manage large amounts of information. Due to its modular nature, Drupal can be changed and extended without altering the core platform. This makes it extremely versatile and can be adapted to your exact requirements.

    Drupal however, has a steep learning curve and is not necessarily the most appropriate solution for a non-technical person. That’s why BusinessWebFactory also offers Joomla! as an alternative. Joomla! is a very easy to use and yet powerful CMS. It is designed for the non-technical business person but with the aptitude to learn.
  5. Review the tutorials available and decide on its difficulty
    Before deciding on one of the three CMS’s available, watch some of the tutorials to gauge your level of understanding and ability.

    If you are happy and confident to learn from the supplied tutorials and other internet resources, then you can tailor your solution on any platform.
  6. Maintenance issues
    In order to meet your objectives and keep your marketing strategies on target, you will need to measure the success of your website and make regular and necessary adjustments. You will also need to keep your website up to date with news, events, product updates, general content changes and possibly adding extensions and modules to meet your growing requirements.

    With Joomla!, the administration area is intuitive and relatively straight forward to perform most maintenance tasks. For small websites, this will provide the simplest and easiest platform to perform basic maintenance tasks.

    With Drupal, the content is classified using categories and tags. This provides a scalable platform to add content without worrying about linking it to menu items. This makes Drupal more appropriate for larger websites as content can be added and managed by appropriate classification.

    With osCommerce, the content is managed using simple static pages and provides basic editor facilities. The benefits of using osCommerce are for mass product updates update using the spreadsheet upload facility.
  7. SEO, usability and accessibility
    Visibility on the search engines is a very important aspect of your website. Of the three, Drupal is the clear leader in terms of generating SEO friendly HTML. If SEO is an important part of your marketing strategy, consider Drupal for your CMS.
Summary

If your main reason for having a website is to sell products and manage your e-shop through a tried and tested package with excellent components as standard, then choose OsCommerce.

If you want total control to be able to create anything from a simple - to an extremely complex website yet you have no technical knowledge, then choose Joomla.

If you want a user friendly platform that professional developers love and you have some technical aptitude for the more complex functions, then Drupal is an excellent choice.

Further Info

Read the Related articles and visit the Joomla, Drupal and/or creLoaded websites to further research the available platforms.