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The best and the worst CMS Systems

Most websites today are built around a CMS system. There are 2 major advantages for having your website built on one:

1)     Non-technical users can update content and edit the website

2)     Development and management of the website can become much easier

If you are interested in either of these benefits, then choosing the right platform is critical. While all CMS’ are created to solve the same problems, they are not all created equal, and some will cause you more headaches than others.

There are hundreds of systems to choose from, so making sure you know what you want from your website over the next few years will help you make the right choice. If you have lots of products to sell, choose a CMS built around ecommerce. If the majority of your website is going to be information based then choose a system that is more focussed around publishing. Integrating shopping carts into publishing websites, and vice versa, can become a costly nightmare that usually ends in poor implementation and poor user experience. You want to get longevity out of your website and proper planning and implementation will save you in the long run.

Top 3

1. Silverstripe

A relatively new player in the CMS game, Silverstripe has joined the ranks as one of the best in the business. A solid foundation built around a strong MVC programming architecture makes this software a dream to develop websites with. It also has a great backend system that makes life easier for the non-technical user. With a simple interface and all the tools you need (with none of the things you don’t) this system can certainly deliver results.

The good

  • Easy to use
  • Solid system core
  • All the functionally you need

The bad

  • Developer Community is still growing
  • Administration can be sluggish at times

2. Wordpress

Wordpress has been around a long time and has proven to be one of the best systems available. Having a large development community means there are always readily available plugins you can use to upgrade your website, saving development time and cost. Its backend administration area can be a little confusing at first, but after publishing your first few pages everything becomes much more clear.

The good

  • Easy to use
  • Large developer community

The bad

  • Tends to generate a lot of spam

3. OpenCart

Silverstripe and Wordpress are great publishing platforms, but if your website is ecommerce based, or you want to display a lot of products, including categories, then going to a proper ecommerce system like OpenCart will be a great benefit. OpenCart makes it very easy for users to manage all areas of an online store including users, invoicing, shipping, payment and specials. It also has a strong programming core and development community which makes updates a breeze.

The Good

  • Easy to Use
  • Strong development community
  • Great software features

The Bad

  • Default store setups have poor URL rewriting (SEO)

Bottom 3

1. Joomla!

I have been in web development for over 13 years and it still astounds me how confusing the Joomla! system is. Both for developers and users, this system is far too complicated. Simple changes to a website become a chore, basic updates to text can cause a ripple effect of layout errors. I believe the only reason this platform still exists is because it has been around for so long. It has a large pool of plugins which may seem tempting at first, but the generally poor architecture of the system almost always leads to headaches and poor implementations. In the end, a system that makes managing content harder goes against the fundamental reason it was created in the first place.

The Good

  • I cannot think of a good reason to use this system

The Bad

  • Poor core architecture
  • Poor security
  • Complicated to use

2. Joomla! + VirtueMart

The shopping cart plugin for Joomla!. When you start building highly technical plugins for a poorly developed CMS you really are setting yourself up for failure. While VirtueMart is certainly the best of a bad bunch it will never compare to a proper ecommerce system like OpenCart. The only reason this plugin exists is because so many websites have been built on Joomla! where they later decided they need a shopping cart. If you decide your website now needs a shopping cart, and your on Joomla! then build a new website. Build a new ecommerce website on a new platform, it may cost you more in the short term, but the user experience for both customers and administrators will give you the most reward in the long run.

3. Joomla!

I know it seems like I’m picking on Joomla! here, and I guess I am, but I think its important for people to understand that there are literally hundreds of other systems out there that could make their website run better, be safer and easier to use. It is my only hope that people who are considering a new website do not go down the Joomla! path. If you currently have Joomla! as a CMS system, then seriously consider the benefits of building  new website on a much more solid platform.