A content management system, or CMS, is software used to create and manage digital content. There are dozens of CMS platforms to choose from, so which one works best for your organization?
The answer depends on your specific needs. We take a deeper look at these systems by exploring:
why a CMS is necessary
what a CMS does
comparing/contrasting a few of the most popular CMS
If you are a content marketer, then by definition you are creating content:
Content creation is an important part of any inbound marketing strategy. And whether that content is a blog, a website, or some combination thereof, there’s a good chance that you’re working with a content management system (CMS) to bring it into existence.
What is a CMS?
A content management system is, to put it simply, the application that you use to publish content to the web. It’s a functionality that every content marketer needs (or else they aren’t able to publish content!).
Without a CMS, you’d need to hand-code HTML just to publish a blog post, and nobody’s got time for that, especially if you’re responsible for creating 3 or 4 blog posts a week, promoting that content, analyzing its performance, plus everything else that you do.
What Does a CMS Do?
Though at their most basic every CMS does the same thing—publish content—it can be hard to know which CMS is really right for your needs as a content marketer. Maybe you already have a website built on WordPress, but you’re wondering about switching to Drupal. Or maybe you haven’t started up your website or blog yet and want to know now, before you get started, which one will best fit your needs (so that you don’t need to migrate your site to a new CMS later).
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A List of Popular CMS
When it comes to selecting the best CMS for your website, there are a number of options to choose from. Which is why it can be challenging to determine what platforms are the best, and quite frankly, where to even start with your selection process.
To help narrow your search, we’ve provided 20 CMS platforms you should consider for your operations. This list is by no means exhaustive, as there are dozens of different platforms, however, these are the current high ranking systems that other content creators are using.
- Silverstripe CMS
Pro Tip: Considering new platforms are created each year to enhance and grow CMS technology, it’s a great idea to periodically search for the latest updates. This allows your operations to continually adapt to the latest and best practices currently available.
CMS Pros and Cons: The Big Three
So now that you have a general idea of some popular platforms, it might be helpful to create a pros and cons list of your favorite platforms.
To help you get started, we’ve provided the pros and cons of some of three of the most popular, most powerful CMS systems out there.
For the purpose of this list, we’ve limited it to the systems you are most likely to be considering as a content marketer today.
For many content marketers, WordPress is the end all be all of content management systems. And it makes sense: As a CMS, WordPress powers nearly 27 percent of the internet. That’s a lot of websites! But is it right for your content marketing needs? For websites that will be simple and for which the user doesn’t have a lot of tech experience, WordPress has some clear advantages.
- The single most important “pro” of WordPress is that it is easy to use. You don’t need to know how to code or have an advanced degree to create a beautiful, effective website: All you need to do is pick a theme that works for you and get start playing around with it.
- An active community of users makes it easy for beginners to find help to common problems.
- WordPress plugins (most of them available for free) allow users to transform their sites from run-of-the-mill blogs into powerhouses of content. If you want some sort of functionality in your site that it doesn’t already have, make sure you check out the available plugins before you waste time and money developing an app that already exists!
- Branching off of the plugin discussion: WordPress has a lot of great SEO plugins that you can download and use to help your website perform better in search engines. Yoast and the All in One SEO Pack are two great examples.
- Being open-source, you can modify and distribute WordPress code without worrying about legality of licensing fees.
- WordPress is a low-cost or no-cost option, making it perfect for a lot of small businesses or non-profits who don’t want to spend a lot of money just to have an online presence.
- Themes are great and all, but if you want your website to be truly unique you will either need to know some basic coding or pay someone to customize your theme. The same holds true for customizing plugins. And this can get expensive.
- WordPress needs to be updated fairly frequently, and each update has the potential to “break” any plugins that you’re using. If your site is going to be heavily reliant on plugins to function, WordPress may not be the best fit for you.
- Because WordPress is open-source, nefarious individuals have access to the base code that it is built on. And this means that they can use that knowledge to hack your site more easily than they could in other systems. If security is a concern on your site (for example, you will be handling payment or other personal info), you’ll want to flesh out your security needs before signing onto any CMS.
Drupal is much less popular amongst your average website owner than WordPress, but it is extremely popular amongst developers. Why the discrepancy? To be frank, in Drupal you can do almost anything right out of the box, which is just something that you can’t say about WordPress. But while WordPress is user-friendly (anyone can use WordPress), Drupal can be pretty difficult to get the hang of. For websites that will be complicated and dev-heavy, Drupal has some clear advantages.
- You can do literally almost anything in Drupal. Thanks to modules (sort of like plugins in WordPress), Drupal comes with a lot of amazing features out of the box that would need to be hand-coded in WordPress.
- As far as security goes, Drupal is considered very secure. It’s so secure, that it was used to host the Obama administration’s version of whitehouse.gov.
- Like WordPress, using Drupal is free or low-cost, though you’ll need to pay a hosting fee.
- Drupal allows for many different kinds of content, which makes it a great CMS for a website that is expected to be complex (text, video, images, polls, databases, etc.).
- Like WordPress, Drupal has a large community of users who can offer support.
- Learning how to navigate the program and actually use it effectively can be a challenge, especially for people who are not coders/developer or tech-junkies. If you are not technologically savvy, Drupal likely is not the right choice for your website or blog. Drupal 7 has made strides in the ease-of-use situation, but is still nowhere near as easy to use as WordPress.
- Major Drupal updates can wreak havoc on your site if they are not handled correctly.
- Depending on your system, Drupal can be a slow CMS to operate on. It has a bit of a reputation of being a resource hog.
- If you plan to work with a developer to customize/run your site, just know that it will be harder to find a Drupal developer than it will be to find a WordPress developer. They exists, they’re just rarer.
HubSpot may have built its reputation as a top-notch marketing and sales automation software, but its CMS is quickly gaining ground on WordPress and Drupal. Why? Quite simply, because it takes everything good about HubSpot (automation, analytics, etc.) and wraps it up in an easy-to-use content management system. For websites that are focused on marketing and lead generation/nurturing, the HubSpot CMS has clear advantages.
- The HubSpot CMS is relatively easy-to-use. Thanks to a drag-and-drop functionality, you can easily create content and customize your website even without extensive coding knowledge or developing skills.
- Built-in SEO recommendations will help your pages rank for search.
- Because it is integrated with HubSpot, your site can be built in such a way that content is personalized for your website visitors depending on any number of factors. This personalization to content, CTAs, forms, landing pages, and even HTML allow you to offer a better, more unique experience for every visitor, encouraging them to convert on your site.
- HubSpot integration means that you have built-in marketing automation, lead management, analytics, and social media tools to help your content perform at its peak.
- It comes with SSL, making your site very secure (which is a factor that Google has begun taking into account).
- Designs are automatically responsive, meaning that you don’t have to worry about finding a theme that will work as well for mobile as it does for desktop.
- Compared to WordPress and Drupal, the HubSpot CMS is fairly expensive. It starts at around $200 per month for the most basic package and gets more expensive as your website grows. If you don’t have a large budget, you might need to look elsewhere.
- You don’t have access to server-side code, which means you have a bit less control over your site. That’s the trade-off for the ease-of-of use.
- It’s relatively new, especially compared to WordPress. That means that as a service it is still working out a lot of bugs when it comes to user needs and expectations.
- HubSpot uses its own scripting language (HubL [pronounced “hubble”]). So if you want to customize your site you’ll need to find a HubSpot agency partner who works in this language. HubL developers are not as common as WordPress, which is managed in HTML, so it can be somewhat expensive to find a good developer for your HubSpot website.
Choosing the Best CMS for Your Website
Just as with any other tech decision out there (Mac or PC? Apple or Android? Salesforce or HubSpot?), there is no overwhelmingly “right” answer across the board. The right CMS for you will be the system that gives you the power to control your content marketing plan and schedule without overwhelming you with a learning curve that you’ll never be able to crawl out from under.
Drupal is undoubtedly powerful, but is all that control needed for the average content marketer? No. The HubSpot CMS can help you do some really amazing things, but does the average blogger need its capabilities? Definitely not. Finding the right CMS for your needs is all about finding a balance. Usually it is a trade off between ease-of-use and intuitiveness vs. power and control. What matters most to you?