How to Choose the Best CMS for Your Business Website?

There are few businesses, new or old, that don’t have a website. In a lot of cases, building a business and a website are two synchronous processes.

Creating a website these days means using a CMS simultaneously. Why you ask? It makes the development and administration process much easier.

Unless you’re a web developer with super powers, who is able to bend time and space, you’ll get a lot more done a lot quicker if you make the right choices in the initial phase of building a business website.

But what kind of other benefits does using a CMS to run your business website have? More importantly, how do you choose the one that’s right for your business? Which one will suit you best in the long haul?

All these questions will be answered in this article, along with others you probably haven’t asked yourself yet.

So today, we are going to give you this nice piece of educational material, to help you choose the best CMS for your business website! Also give your business that long lasting, powerful online presence it deserves.

Without further ado, let’s get down to it!

Why Is It Beneficial To Use a CMS?

A Content Management System is a platform that enables its user to build and manage a website in a more simplified way. With plenty of pre-made tools and pre-built elements, a large chunk of work is done for you.

A Webmaster or developer can spare plenty of money and time, just by using the right content management system. It’s like building a house with having the foundations laid out for you before you would even start working on it. Some CMS might even have a few pre built walls for your house as well.

Most of the content management systems are also free, but you will have to spend a bit of cash eventually. But when it comes to money, using a CMS is a very cost effective solution.

A CMS offers the necessary tools for giving your business that relevant online presence you’re looking for. It has most of the coding work pre done and plenty of built in marketing tools that will help spread your business’ message. Content management systems are all-in one packages for building killer business websites and webpages.

So, using a CMS is a great and very efficient solution for your business!

The main benefits are that, building a website’s business logic, design and functionality is easy for any type of user. Of course, someone with web development experience can get a lot more done and do it a lot more precisely and efficiently, but most content management systems can be easily learnt by anyone.

Once a website is set up by you or a developer, just about anyone can get the hang of the administrative tasks required for running a website. You can streamline your content production and easily publish articles or posts whenever you see fit.

You can always switch your websites design, content and images in a few minutes, with simple and straight forward processes, not touching even a bit of code.

What You Should Look For In a CMS?

As you might have already heard, there are a lot of content management systems out there. A lot of them are well renowned software, used by hundreds of thousands or even millions of users. It’s easy to get lost among all the great promises and deluxe features, but it really just comes down to simple requirements.

Reusable Content

Generating fresh, high quality content can be a time consuming process and it’s very efficient to make use of what you already have. Creating and managing your websites content should be an efficient process and has to avoid the risk of you creating duplicate content, because it brings Google to your door, with a penalty.

Design and Customization

One of the trickier parts of building a website with a CMS is designing and customizing it to make it look exactly the way you want it to. It shouldn’t put any limits on how your content can be displayed.

There are some seriously inflexible CMSs and there are developers who often don’t adopt the best design practices of a specific CMS and end up producing horrible code in the design process.

You’ll have to work with a content management system that is flexible enough to allow you to set the exact way you want to have your content presented and retrieved. You should be able to retrieve content in chronological order or any other order you might have in mind.

To put it more simply, flexibility in how a CMS handles a website design and displaying content, is the most important in any of them.

The Editor

Most CMSs have a great visual interface that lets you edit the website’s content and maybe even its design. Content is added and embedded into webpages through it and it allows basic formatting in text, color, typography and just about every content element you publish.

The editor is the most used feature of the entire system, so make sure you’re comfortable with using it. But be wary that having too much control through a WYSIWYG editor has its own set of dangers if they provide too much control. You’re probably going to have some content editors and content providers working on your website and that’s fine, but if they are allowed to change too much of a page’s design, they might end up messing up your whole website’s design. Content providers can use links, headings, lists and other elements to control how a piece of content should appear on the webpage.

Make sure that you choose an editor that doesn’t give content editors any control over your website’s appearance. The editor should also be able to handle any external sources such as links, various downloadable files and more.

Search

One of the most convenient features that can be used on a website is the search bar. Providing users with the ability to search through your website’s content and providing the same for your crew is a must have. Every second user starts their interaction with typing what they’re looking for into the search bar. The search function seems plain and simple but, they can often be inadequate. It might not be as functional as you would expect and there are other factors to consider in a search function, than whether it works or not.

  • It has to return results fast enough, even if there is a lot of data on your website.
  • It has to rank search results according to a specific criteria.
  • It has to do thorough indexing, looking through every section of each web page and maybe even files such as Ms. Office and PDF documents.
  • Has to do custom search. You and the user should be able to set some parameters that allows for a more precise and more specific search.
  • It has to refresh frequently enough, so that it takes into account any important changes that happen on your website.

Tracking Users

You’ll want to see how effectively your website accomplishes its goals and how your users like it. This requires some analytic tools and a way to gather user feedback. Users should be able to leave comments, give ratings and maybe even use chat. But you should be at least able to post forms and gather information and opinions from your users that way.

You should be using an efficient method for communicating with your users, no matter what kind of website you’re building.

A CMS doesn’t have to offer this right out of the box, but it should indeed be possible to use these features through plugins.

Do keep in mind that even once you have the necessary tools for gathering data, the flexibility of that feature is what makes using it worthwhile. You should be able to extract and use in multiple ways, such as easily copy pasting it, sending it in email or extracting it to various file formats like word documents, excel documents or.pdf documents.

User Management

If it’s a busy website, many people are going to be using it, including visitors and your staff. You’ll want to make this task as easy and as straight forward as possible.

Which is why you should consider, how you want to manage your users. Do you just want to add and delete user accounts or do you want to make changes to them if needed?

Another important aspect of user management is setting permissions. You’ll assign specific roles to each member of your staff and you won’t want a content provider to touch any of the functionality of the website. You’ll want to assign roles such as editor, content creator, reviser or proofreader and so on.

The most important thing for you to have control over is which user can edit what on your website. A good CMS has to support multiple roles and dynamically add or take away their permissions.

Integrated Best Practices

A CMS only gets better with added features. With integrated best SEO practices, most of the work you would otherwise do with on-page SEO is already done for you. You just have to define your keywords and you’re set to rank with your SEO friendly webpage.

There are also plenty of useful features such as, Geo Location Support, GZIP compression, XML sitemap generation, SEO friendly URLs and URL structure and more.

Most up to date content management systems will have all of these, but not every CMS will ensure that your website is completely optimized for SEO and that it loads fast enough as well.

Mobile friendliness and having plenty of responsive web designs is also very crucial.

Version Support

Making changes to your website, only to find out that you can’t revert them when you want to can be huge pain. This is also true when you post something by accident or break a function on your website.

For this reason, it’s important to have the option to revert your website to yesterday’s version or past week’s version. If not that, a CMS should at least provide you with the option to revert to the last saved version.

Good version support is not something that every CMS has, but it can usually be added with a plugin. You can also handle it through your web hosting provider.

How To Choose a CMS That Works For Your Business?

A CMS that works well for someone, might not work as well for you and your business.

The most important preparation you have to do is setting the exact requirements of your business.  You’ll have to take account of your resources, your team, your abilities, and your business’ requirements.

What Are Your Business Goals?

You might end up repeating yourself if you already have this figured out, but a bit of repetition will only enforce your goals.

What is the main thing you want to achieve by building a website? Do you want to create a strong online presence, to get your brand noticed by more people? Do you want to build an online store that sells your products? Maybe you want to do all of the above?

Your objectives are the core deciding factors of what works for you. For example, you’re going to use one type of CMS if you seek to build a brand and do plenty of online marketing and content marketing, or a completely different type of CMS if you’re looking to build a huge online store.

Create a project road map and define what kind of features and functions you will need along the way, to achieve your goals.

What Is Your Budget?

As with a lot of other things in life, the more money you can spend, the simpler things get.

Before choosing a CMS, you should know how much money you are willing to spend on your website and allocate that money properly.

Once you have set your budget, you can look for content management systems that would provide you with the tools for building your website within your budget. Most of the CMSs are open source and free to use, so it’s not that you’ll have to buy a CMS for building your site. It’s the process of building your website that could end up costing you some money.

A lot of professional looking, premium website designs and plugins that offer functionality, are paid for. You might also have to pay for a web developer to help you with designing your website and fixing any bugs you might come across.

Proprietary or Open Source CMS

The differences between a proprietary and open source CMS are numerous and would deserve a separate article in itself, which we published too. But as far as our current concern takes us, the choice only depends on how much control you want to have.

You want to have as much control as possible, of course, but that will take more attention and more work as well. The core difference between an open source and a proprietary CMS is the level of control they provide.

An open source CMS is free to use and you can freely modify any of the code and features within it, thus having complete control over the system.

A proprietary CMS however, is built and managed by a company. You basically pay a fee every month or every year, for them to build and manage your website, while you only have to upload content and do the most fundamental tasks. The rest of the technical details, such as website design and updates are all taken care of by their support team. You can always call them to help you out and they will do most of the work for you.

It is important to note however, that your website probably won’t be your property and it is tightly tied to the particular company who’s CMS you’re using. Not every company does this, but it’s important for you to know whether it’s worth having a website this way or not. You might have to pay a monthly fee and have less control, but you require absolutely no web developer knowledge and the work you have to do is minimal.

Look At Its Basic Functionality

Sure, most content management systems offer the possibility for the user to create, edit webpages and add content to it. We tend to think that we can organize our pages and the way our content is arranged and listen in just about any CMS, but that’s not the case.

While some of the most popular CMSs will let you organize webpages right out of the box, a lot of them don’t offer these features. Also, you’ll probably want some content and elements to be laid out in a certain fashion.

So the most important thing to make sure of then, is that a CMS gives you all the functionality and control you want to have over your website.

Can You Or Your Team Use The System?

This is the first and most important thing to consider, because without this, there won’t be anyone to run your website. A lot of CMSs require developer skills and an understanding of HTML, CSS and even PHP when it comes to the website’s functions.

How well you or your crew understand these programming languages plays a major role when you have to decide which CMS you should use. Naturally, you will go for the one that you and your team can most easily and efficiently adopt.

But keep in mind that a CMS that’s too simple will not make use of any technically skilled person’s abilities, because it locks down a lot of tweaks that you could otherwise use.

How Far Do You Want It To Go?

Building a simple portfolio website or a website for marketing purposes is something that can be done quite efficiently with most content management systems. But if you’re looking to build an online store, an eCommerce website or any other website with a complex function, you’ll have to have a different setup. Also, if you want your online business to grow, your CMS has to be able to handle it too, without crashing.

For many businesses, their sudden growth led to their downfall, simply because they chose the wrong CMS. You have to some research to make sure that your website doesn’t crash on you, once it has a sudden rise in traffic as more users start pouring in.

Neither of us has the crystal ball that could foretell the future and almost every CMS promises to handle huge amounts of traffic. The real information can be found at forums and in other reviews, where people have tried and tested your perspective CMS and can confirm that it handled their business growth and continues to handle it even now.

So once again, make sure you find a CMS that matches your business goals.

Most Popular Content Management System

Here, we have laid out the content management systems that most companies use to run their websites.

One can’t even talk or think about content management systems without WordPress crossing their mind. About every fourth website is built with it and has more than 60 million people using it for business purposes. Plenty of websites have been created with WordPress even through the hour you’ve found this article.

WordPress started out as a blogging platform more than 16 years ago, but has since then outgrown itself to be a full-fledged content management system, capable of handling any kind of website.

It is one of the most user-friendly CMSs and has simple, drag and drop tools for building a website. You can simply add a new design and change it with a few clicks. There are an unparalleled number of themes and plugins available for this CMS, which makes it incredibly flexible and customizable.

It is the most popular CMS for a reason and you can build just about any website with it, whatever you have envisioned. You can even add various functions through the use of short codes and numerous plugins.

Although, it is important to mention that there are some better options if you intend to build a large enterprise level online store. But that applies for only a small percentage of people.

Otherwise, WordPress is an easy to use, straight forward solution for building and managing your business website.

If you want to build an online store or an eCommerce site, you’ll require some additional plugins to turn WordPress into a full-fledged eCommerce platform.

It’s great for building:

  • A portfolio website
  • A blog
  • A news website
  • An informative website
  • A membership website
  • A video collection site

If you want to publish a steady stream of content, WordPress is a great way to go about it.

Drupal is an open source website and an application building platform. It is a touch more complex than WordPress and for that reason it’s best for people with web development background. It is still among the most user-friendly content management systems, but it takes some getting used to. Understanding Drupal’s script and framework allows you to create the most unique websites and applications.

The most famous feature of Drupal is that it offers nearly an endless amount of possibilities. You can modify anything and customize your website to suit your requirements perfectly. It does have a steep learning curve and the fastest way to build a website with it is with the help of a web developer, who has experience with using the system.

Drupal is excellent for building:

  • Informative Websites
  • Applications
  • News Websites
  • Blogs
  • Social Networking Sites
  • Online Stores
  • Portfolio Websites
  • Forums
  • eCommerce Sites

You can build everything you require for your business, down to the slightest detail, but it isn’t as user friendly as WordPress, so you’ll require some professional help if you want to make the development process efficient.

If you have set out to use Drupal, you’ll definitely be able to build an outstanding business logic and a powerful website from scratch.

Magento is a full-fledged website development platform and CMS that was built for eCommerce. It can handle the smallest online businesses and even the most massive enterprise level websites with tens of thousands of products.

Magento provides all the tools necessary for running and administrating an online business, helping you gather and analyze every bit of data along the way. It has a very intuitive interface and plenty of search engine optimization tools. You can download themes to create its design the way you want it and plugins to add the extra features you require.

It is the best option for a large eCommerce website, but only if you’re willing to invest some money and manpower or if you have web development knowledge. Even Magento’s installation process is hard for a non-tech savvy person, so I wouldn’t recommend you to use it if you don’t know much about coding.

But if you have yourself a developer who will build your site, you’ll have yourself a truly formidable eCommerce site once he or she is finished.

Joomla! is a user friendly content management system that is excellent for building medium and large websites. Its code is more complex than WordPress’ which gives it more functionality and power, letting you scale your website as your business and requirements grow larger.

Joomla! offers front-end content editing and efficient content management right out of the box. Websites built with it are stable, while editing and updating content on them can be done very flexibly.

People who don’t have much web development knowledge can use Joomla! very easily, without ever touching any of the code. While those with web development skills will be able to tweak the system to make the adjustments their website requires.

Websites built with it are fully responsive and have the best SEO practices among other goodies.

Joomla! is great for building:

  • Informative websites
  • eCommerce websites
  • Small Business websites
  • Corporate websites
  • Portfolio websites
  • Blogs
  • News Letter sites

Wrapping Up

Once you’ve made your objectives and requirements clear, it’s much easier to choose a CMS that will help you fulfill them. There are some other factors that we haven’t laid out and you would argue that they matter. We didn’t say this is a perfect guide, but you can make use of the tips.

The most important thing is for you to know what your priorities are and what kind of CMS would you use most efficiently!

I hope that you have enjoyed reading through this article and that we’ll see you again soon enough!

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David Cross

David is the chief editor at WebHostingMedia right from the beginning. He has a great passion for building and managing websites and creating helpful content. He is also interested in programming - currently learning python.