July 17, 2017
CMS is short for Content Management System – and it’s easy to understand why many novices find the term confusing. Broken down, it sounds like a specialized tool, something you might use to store and organize materials before putting them online or saving reference materials. In reality, though, CMS platforms are everywhere. WordPress is a CMS and so is Drupal, and there are dozens of others. Once you understand that every website is dependent on CMS infrastructure, the importance of such tools becomes clear.
With that in mind, then, how do you know if you have the right CMS platform? Consider these 4 factors as you navigate this complex marketplace. The right host is the one designed for your niche, so stay outcome-focused as you assess your options. It’s all about results, after all.
For those who are relatively new to web design, the level of support available for a given CMS platform can be a big factor when selecting one for your own site. For example, WordPress is the most popular CMS because it’s used not only for business sites but also for many free, personal pages – it has over 24 million installations. Because so many people are using the platform, then, there are tons of support boards online, as well as a robust customer service team.
Compared to WordPress, a CMS like Drupal has only 1.3 million installs and Typo3 and Concrete5 follow Drupal at a distance with 500,000 and 140,000 installations, respectively. Though the users for these platforms are passionate about them, you’re far less likely to find beginner-friendly support for these systems.
Just like WordPress is ideal for personal and small business websites, some other industries have niche CMS platforms. For example, in 2015, all Australian government departments were made to migrate online. In doing so, it became clear that most of the sites were very similar. In order to save money and reduce redundancies, local firm Bliss Media helped the government streamline the process by developing govCMS, a single CMS platform that could be adapted for any Australian government site with both PaaS and SaaS options.
Of course, many other governments could likely make use of govCMS, not just those in Australia, but this was decidedly a targeted solution. If you ask around within your industry, you’re likely to find similar solutions exist.
Most CMS systems offer multiple hosting options, specifically designed so you can keep your system onsite and host it through your own servers, or you can just buy the software and run it remotely.
For most businesses, SaaS is a better option than on-site hosting because you aren’t responsible for server failures, the software is typically more flexible and always up to date, and the company takes care of the IT side of things. Even advanced web designers can benefit from SaaS – and these systems grow with your audience.
Finally, security is a top concern for web users today, so if you’re using a platform without proper protections, you’ll see your user base decline. Some CMS systems support security plugins, while others allow you to restrict different users access settings. Make sure to ask plenty of questions about your security options before settling on a CMS so that you don’t wind up facing a user privacy scandal.
There’s no single CMS system that’s right for everyone. Instead, it’s important that you understand exactly what your end goal is and pursue it through your choice of platform. Take your time and don’t jump into a decision just because you want to get your site built. This decision will impact your site’s performance in the long term. Thousands of organizations just like these use open source cms to run their websites because they are more often than not; easier to customize, typically more cost effective, easier to support and maintain, and usually integrate with 3rd party apps and software much better.
With open source software, you can keep your software up to date, never worry about obsolescence, and don’t have to keep learning how to use new programs because a developer doesn’t want to support its older products. Check out the infographic below to learn more about how open source software has changed the way people build websites.
Using the traditional monolitic approach whereby you build, manage and publish your website on a single server, there is a more distributed approach whereby you build your site on a Static Site Generator, publish the site on GIT repositories and host the site on a Content Delivery Network.
Choosing between a Git-based CMS or an API-driven CMS
With a Git-based CMS you can publish content every time you push changes to Git, allowing for a seamless development workflow. This approach is a bit difficult to scale with content that you want to publish across different platforms, but it will allow for you to have a purely static website. Since it runs on Git, you won’t have a problem finding an open source CMS to work with.
With an API-driven CMS, you’re creating content that will be strictly delivered via APIs. Although you won’t be able to keep track of content changes through Git, you’ll be able to scale your content through flexible APIs. But since you are working on a platform that hosts these APIs (server bandwidth ain’t cheap) these tend to not be open-sourced and rather pricey, but some offer freemium pricing models.
Or use WebriQ CMS, which in essence can be an API driven Git-based CMS.