A CMS choice is an often overlooked element in the stack of products for your online platform. But which CMS should you be using? A simple Google-search for the word CMS gives you roughly 400 million results, so allow us to shine some light on the subject of Content Management Systems.
Content Management Systems come in so many shapes and forms, it can be hard to find the perfect suit for your needs. Let's start by defining what a CMS actually is. In short a CMS is a visual interface in which you can manage all dynamic content and settings of your website. Content can be anything from the line-up of an event, to the order of the news articles on your homepage, from the short URL of your landing page to the YouTube-video in your header. It depends on the platform and CMS to what extent you can manage content and settings.
Which CMS'es are there?
There are many CMS'es, so for the sake of brevity we'll define a few categories before we dive into specific CMS'es. This is by no means a complete list, but in general at Bravoure we use these categories:
Non-PHP Content Management Systems.
Open source Content Management Systems.
Custom built Content Management Systems.
Commercial Content Management Systems.
CMS as a service.
Non-PHP Content Management Systems
At Bravoure we develop in the PHP language, making it easy for us to define a category of non-PHP CMS'es. Big names in this category include Sitecore, Umbraco and Django.
Open source Content Management Systems
Although the numbers vary for each usage statistics research, it's safe to say open source CMS'es are by far the most used on the web today. These CMS'es are created by communities, everybody can add their own submissions not only for the CMS itself, but also for its plugins. Big names here are Wordpress, Drupal and Joomla.
Custom built Content Management Systems
At Bravoure we have been using a custom built CMS for years. The advantage was we could always easily add our own features the way we wanted. The downside was we always spend quite some time on adding those features. Another downside to custom built CMS'es is maintenance.
Commercial Content Management Systems
Although it might seem weird with huge communities, one of the downsides of open source CMS'es is the lack of support. Often you'd rely on plugins which are written when maintainers need these functionalities. When they don't they often abandon plugins, rendering a potentially useful plugin useless. This is the big advantage of commercial CMS'es as the owners make money from the product, they're not likely to abandon it. On of our favourite is Craft CMS.
CMS as a service
New kid on the block for this list are CMS as a service providers, or Cloud CMS'es or Headless CMS'es. You could argue they fall in the same category as commercial CMS'es as they share the same main advantage of being a commercial product which generates money for the owner. Another big advantage of these CMS'es is the low level of maintenance. At Bravoure we believe in the future of this category, but currently it has two main drawbacks: the products are either too immature, or too expensive. A few names of Content Management Systems which fall in this category are Prismic, Contentful and Built.io.
No really, which CMS'es are there?
We have divided the types of CMS'es into categories, but there's still a lot to choose from. If you are starting a new website or content platform, for now we would skip the first and the last category for obvious reasons. We're not big fans of Joomla even though we haven't seriously used it recently. We have been using a custom built CMS for years and even though our developers love custom like any other developer, the maintenance aspect is just becoming too much of a hassle. This leaves us with three choices: Wordpress, Drupal and Craft CMS.
The CMS we prefer at Bravoure
We have used Drupal recently, but we actually decided to use Craft CMS as our preferred CMS. It ticked quite a few of the boxes on our wishlist and our clients tend to love the user friendly interface. With a one-time investment of $300 it isn't as cheap as Drupal, but it's a price most people are willing to pay. The way it handles content types and blocks of content is exactly the way we want to use a CMS as clients can create entirely different pages themselves. Craft CMS does suffer from some UX-problems (example: the 'Save' button is at an odd location), but overall it's one of the most user friendly CMS'es we've encountered. Craft CMS allows us to create a rough setup of a website quickly and spend valuable time on the front of the website, rather than in the Content Management System.
And what about Wordpress?
Ah, good old Wordpress. Reason for so much debate. You can't get around its ease of use and wide adaptation rate. Even so, we prefer Craft CMS. Wordpress suffers from three main problems in our opinion. First of all there's always this hint of security issues, rightful or not. Wordpress is powering roughly twenty percent of the web, which makes it an attractive prey for people meaning harm. Secondly there's the downside all open source CMS'es suffer from, abandonment rate of plugins. Clients have specific wishes and if those wishes cannot be fulfilled with available plugins, we will have to create our own, which means we're spending time on things we do not want to spend time on. Lastly there's the architecture issue. At Bravoure we prefer to use decoupled (a separate back-end and front-end) software to stay as open as possible. Decoupling Wordpress while keeping a fast and reliable website is not something that’s feasible.
We use a different CMS, does that mean you cannot help us?
We can still help you with your website or content platform. We have built Jello in a decoupled way, theoretically any CMS is interchangeable. We still prefer Craft CMS, but understand not everybody does. Contact us to see what we can do for you.