For a new modern website a Content Management System (CMS) is a must. A website CMS allows you to update content on your website without knowing HTML, CSS, PHP or any other web design elements. You can access your website via your browser and update its contents the way you work with your GMail or Yahoo or Hotmail applications.
What most clients ask for is a CMS recommendation for their future website. Expert opinion is highly sought after because most marketing folks do not have first-hand experience with more than one CMS.
CMS Evaluation and Recommendations
Our approach to any task is simple and always the same: provide the best quality at the best prices and make things work well in the long-term. Our approach ensures that future scalability of features and functionalities as well as support is easily attainable and that a website’s future is as “predictable” and scalable as possible. These were the reasons why we decided to specialize in open-source software in general, and Joomla CMS in particular.
There are many open-source Content Management Systems (CMSs) for websites, but the two leaders nowadays are Joomla and Drupal, with Wordpress still being predominantly used as a bloging platform. There is also a rising use of Sharepoint as a website CMS.
In our view, Sharepoint is not an appropriate CMS to build for websites. Sharepoint was designed to be an intranet document management system and when used for websites it presents a very high learning curve for users. Furthermore, Sharepoint requires the skills of an Architect and Business Analyst to set up a proper infrastructure – and this adds cost to the total cost of ownership (TOC) of the project. Customization of visual skins (templates) via Sharepoint requires more programming time as well. Overall, while any software can be adapted to do whatever is necessary, and so can Sharepoint be adapted to build websites, we do not recommend "forcing" software to do what it was not meant to do and hence, we do not recommend Sharepoint as a website CMS.
WordPress was designed to be a blogging platform and for simple websites. While its functionalities have been improving greatly and may one day become on par with Joomla and Drupal, as of now, it is safer to avoid using WordPress if more than static content is required and if scalability is important.
Improvements in WordPress require changes to the core, and hence, when version upgrades are implemented (which needs to happen much more often than with other CMSs), existing components often break.
The interface, while being famously simple, often becomes confusing when various functionalities are added into the site. The blogging features are always on the way. A lot of "simple" management ends up being done at the code level.
WordPress requires less training time, but in the long-term, its total cost of ownership is on par with Sharepoint. The available out-of-the-box extensions are numerous, but their features are not as granular and require manual programming and customization even for very simple things. We speculate that this is, perhaps, the main reason why so many web designers push WordPress to their clients – more customization generates more revenue.
Drupal is one of the best open-source website CMSs. It competes head to head with Joomla in all key areas: performance, speed, security, maturity, quality of extensions, etc. Even the infamous “difficult” user interface and admin flow of Drupal is gradually improving and might soon become history.
However, compared to Joomla, Drupal’s total cost of ownership is significantly higher. Drupal developers are also more expensive, 15-20% more expensive than Joomla developers, when all costs are factored in. Furthermore, quality of available templates is much lower and the development community is much smaller than that of Joomla. The number of extensions is also not as vast and as a result more specialized knowledge is required to source the right set of components and plugins to enable future scalability.
With Joomla, one can type a question in Google and find an answer to it with a screen shot to illustrate every step within seconds! Not so with Drupal, hence support needs to be purchased more often and even small tasks will require more time to learn. So the learning curve is rather high with Drupal and, again, more training and support will be required in the long term.
Overall, Drupal is a great CMS but the total cost of ownership as well as the still-not-so-easy interface makes it less attractive than its main competitor Joomla.
As of 2012, Joomla is officially considered the most popular open-source CMS. It is also the fastest growing one. Over 12 years old, Joomla is very mature and stable. It has the largest and strongest design community, offers the best templates, and the largest number of quality third-party extensions that often require no customization at all – all of which together allows for a fast development, cost-effective scalability, and minimum support.
Joomla has no technical or usability disadvantages if compared to any other CMS, and yet it offers the lowest cost of ownership the long-term.
The learning curve for new users is minimum. Training can be conducted in a swift and efficient way and usually takes 1.5 hr, and maintenance SLA required is usually one of the lowest.
We believe that Joomla is the best choice for 90% of websites. It offers the highest quality and the safest implementation of all types of requirements, even some very complex ones, and yet it bears no compromises in any aspect of the web design and development project. Joomla is exceptionally powerful, scalable and yet easy to use, and its total cost of ownership is the lowest.
Below is a CMS comparison table that summarizes the information we presented in this section. Note that rating is on the scale from 1 to 10 wherein:
- 10 stands for the best performance or the lowest required expenditures in time and/or cost, and
- 1 stands for the worst performance or the highest required expenditure in time and/or costs.
More stars means better performance
Note that for some items, such as, frequency of upgrades required, for example, more stars means better performance, which means "upgrades required less often". Likewise, for the architectural design skills item, fewer stars means worse performance, which means "more architectural design skills are required, hence higher costs".