The right tool for the job

We often get the question “which content management system (CMS) do you recommend for [insert type of organization]?”

The answer is always “it depends”.

There are many factors that go into choosing the right CMS, but one of the most important things to consider is what is the core functionality it must be able to provide for your website and organization. Sounds like a simple question, but it is critical to think about both your needs for today and your needs down the road when selecting a CMS, as once you make your choice you likely will not want (or have the time) to switch.

In this article, we’ll explore two of the most common types of CMS systems: website builders and open-source systems.

If you know you are only going to need a basic online brochure or simple ecommerce site for your organization, there is a whole class of website builder content management systems such as SquarespaceWeebly and Wix that give you everything you need right out of the box. The advantage to using a service like this is that they make it easy and affordable to get up and running quickly, they usually produce nice looking results, and they are designed for novice users to manage. An important factor to consider is that extending functionality on frameworks like these can be tricky, and often require the use of “custom code block” widgets, in which one can insert arbitrary HTML / CSS / JavaScript into a page. This is where it is important to consider your feature wishlist against the features that each of the various systems offer.

Another type of CMS is the open source system such as Drupal and WordPress. Like Squarespace these systems can also come turnkey and many hosting providers even offer free installation / configuration of the systems with the purchase of a hosting plan. The advantage of using a system like these is that they are built to be modular and new functionality can be added at any time. This allows organizations to start-off with a basic site and then upgrade as their needs change. One thing to consider is that it can take more time and effort to set up these types of website and they often require the assistance of a professional to help configure any special requirements.

There is no “right” choice for every organization, and often the needs of an organization will change over time. The proper research and planning up front will save you many headaches in the future. Simply put, the answer to which CMS we recommend comes down to what you need your website to do, and thoroughly understanding that is the key.