Using a content management system (CMS) is an excellent option for the individual or business building a website. A CMS allows the user (or several users) to maintain consistent formatting and structure when publishing digital content, minimizing the need for hard coding.
However, with the array of available options, choosing a content management system (CMS) can be a challenge. The most popular systems of 2013, WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla, are all free and open source, and each has different advantages.
WordPress is far and away the most popular content management system, with 50.07 percent of the top 100,000 websites using the platform. WordPress was originally started in 2003 as a blogging software, but it has since expanded to become a robust tool for building static websites. The software is built with PHP on a MySQL database, and is widely noted for its ease of use and installation.
The software can be visually customized using “themes” that dictate the appearance of the site. Themes can be downloaded free, purchased from developers, or customized by the user.
WordPress is used widely for both personal and business use; of the top 100,000 websites that use WordPress, 25.36 percent of the sites are categorized as “other,” and 16.71 percent are businesses. There is an extensive library of free and premium plug-ins built by third-party developers, allowing the user to build fairly sophisticated websites with minimal coding.
Plug-ins can support a wide variety of functionality, and can integrate a WordPress website with services such as e-commerce, social media, search engine optimization, and email marketing. With such a large community of users, WordPress users can receive high-quality, free support. Notable WordPress users include the New York Times, Forbes, GM, and eBay.
Drupal is the second most popular CMS system, making up 17.07 percent of the top 100,000 websites. Drupal’s framework is built in PHP and runs on a MySQL, PostgreSQL, or SQLite database. Drupal is a very sophisticated platform and gives programmers the opportunity to achieve a high level of functionality. As such, Drupal is considered to be less user-friendly than WordPress, requiring a lengthy installation and considerable knowledge of coding. Drupal can also be customized using visual themes and modules, which allow the user to capitalize on code that has already been developed. Drupal is typically used for larger, more advanced websites, including many prominent business and government sites. Well-known Drupal websites include PopularScience.com, Economist.com, WhiteHouse.gov, and LetsMove.gov. In addition, Drupal is used for many corporate and government intranets, including AOL Corporate.
Finally, Joomla! is the third most popular CMS platform of 2013, used on 6.44 percent of the top 100,000 websites. Joomla! is also built with PHP and using MySQL databases. Joomla! is considered to be between WordPress and Drupal as far as complexity. Like WordPress, Joomla! is easy to install and is accessible to users without advanced coding skills. The framework is used for a variety of kinds of websites. Of the top 100,000 websites using Joomla!, 21.95 percent are business websites and 19.86 percent fall into the “Other” category. Like WordPress and Drupal, Joomla! can be visually managed using themes and features a large library of extensions for user customization and functionality. Notable Joomla! users include IHOP, Harvard University, and the intranet for Citibank.