The three most lauded over CMSs out there are WordPress, Joomla! and Drupal. Each system has its benefits and deficits, and the trick to using each one correctly is to use each one in the appropriate context for the right reasons.
We will look at the pros and cons of each system to help you decide which one will suit your websites needs best.
Until recently considered nothing but a blogging platform, WordPress has been gaining popularity for its CMS capabilities. The platform is as capable of running a page based static or semi-static website as it is of running a post-driven blog.
Wordpress is easy to use and easy to set up, so it is perfect for the less experienced web designers among you, or the end-users. Seeing as it is used mostly for blogging, it comes equipped with out-the-box features such as comment systems, trackback, and a pinging service. It is also the most widely used CMS with over 20 million WordPress blogs and websites on the internet. This in turn means there is a very large and helpful community of WordPress users and the CMS has an endless array of predominantly free plugins which are developed within the community to extend the CMSs functionality in countless different ways.
One of the problems with WordPress however is in scaling and performance. It is often not the best solution for very large and complex websites with thousands upon thousands of pages. WordPress is also less suited for large ecommerce websites, with less ecommerce integration options than many of its competitors. And whilst end-users will be delighted at the intuitive, easy to use backend; developers are oftentimes less thrilled about the CMSs adaptability on the development front and its reliance on third party plugins for advanced functionality.
If WordPress disappoints you on the development front, then your next best bet is to try Drupal. It lends itself to manipulation far more than WordPress, and is sometimes considered to be more like a development platform than a CMS.
This is not to say that Drupal is for developers exclusively, but rather that they will enjoy the advanced development functionality and flexibility it offers. Drupal is excellent for organizing vast amounts of different types of content and can be used for basic or highly advanced and complex website design as well as for single and multi user blogs or for social, community based websites. As far as customization and flexibility on just about any front are concerned, Drupal leads the pack amongst our three options.
With this however comes one of the CMSs primary problems it has a far greater learning curve and is generally a lot more difficult to use than its competitors. Whilst it is more often than not the preferred choice for developers, advanced webmasters and web designers, it is less suited to beginners and less technically skilled webmasters. Another issue is that backwards compatibility is not flawless for new Drupal versions, meaning that oftentimes it isnt easy to update to the latest version without a developer ironing out various small incompatibilities that come up during migration.
Joomla seems to fit into the niche between WordPress and Drupal, in that it is easy to use, offers flexibility and ease of manipulation, while maintaining an easy to use interface and functionality for creating visually exciting websites.
It is not quite as easy to use as WordPress, and does not offer the extreme flexibility that Drupal does, but these cons are weighed against the pro of Joomla not only being able to create visually stunning websites, but also its having a community of active users who are all friendly and willing to help out with tips and advice on website design.
Whilst Joomla! is more adaptable and flexible than WordPress, one of its problems is that the CMSs code is seen by many developers as spaghetti code in short its overly complex. This means that when customizations have to be made by developers for one reason or another, they are a lot more time-consuming and expensive.
Another thing to consider is that whilst Joomla! is capable of being used for any number of different types of websites, it is not the best solution where social, community based websites are concerned.
What you intend to do with your website will be the deciding factor of what CMS you choose. The functionality, flexibility and requirements of each of the reviewed CMSs differ significantly and an educated choice should be made after weighing all of these up. Alternatively, seek advice from an established web development company, as they will most likely have ample experience with the mainstream CMSs featured in this article.