LOCAL BUSINESS

Which CMS Platform is right for your business?

Mike Watson – Brantford, ON

3rd June 2019

Managing a website for your small business can feel like a full-time job.

Between updates, technical issues, adding content and tackling SEO, there are a number of pitfalls that a part-time web administrator might fall into.

While it is true that many businesses would benefit from handing off tasks associated with keeping their website running smoothly, choosing the right CMS for your needs will drastically reduce the time, knowledge and overall investment of energy needed to run your site (or at least parts of your site) effectively.

I prefer WordPress in almost all instances due to it’s incredible flexibility.

Photograph CCO Public Domain.

“So what exactly is a CMS?”

CMS stands for Content Management System.

It is typically a base platform from which entire websites can be built, managed, maintained and updated from using a graphical interface. They account for approximately 56% of all websites that are active today and are favoured by many developers for their quick-build times, robust governance, ease of use & focus on delivering content. While some are specialist platforms that concentrate on supporting specific types of websites such as e-commerce, others are all-rounders that can (in the right developer’s hands) handle any type of website build.

“So which CMS is right for my small business?”

The answer to this question depends on a range of factors. What do you want to achieve with your website? How much are you willing to invest? How much administration and development do you intend to do yourself?

Below I have detailed a selection of the standout CMS platforms in use today to help you decide which CMS is right to support your business online. While this list is nowhere near exhaustive, it should be a good basis for learning about the world of CMS to an absolute beginner.

1. WordPress

Without a doubt the heavyweight in the category, WordPress powers over 34% of websites on the planet, and accounts for over 60% of all CMS-based websites.

The use of powerful “themes” allows for those with little technical knowledge to install a good-looking (if not spectacular) website base from which to build from in minutes, and with such a large user and developer base to draw upon, 100s of thousands of “Plugin” extensions that can provide your site with complex functionality at the click of a button. That’s right – no coding required! Everything from social media integration, contact form creation and even e-commerce integration can be added to your WordPress website with a few clicks and some simple configuration. Adding an experienced WordPress developer into the mix can take that site from pretty good to jaw-on-the-floor fantastic

WordPress made a name for itself originally as a blogging platform, and so features easy-to-use content creation & posting is still a core feature. The platform has become far more than just blogging however, with major corporations and startups alike choosing WordPress for all kinds of sites; including Sony, BBC & The New Yorker.

For a small business owner, having a website that brings more value to your business than it costs to develop, run & maintain is imperative, and this is where the combined strength of WordPress’ class-leading platform and plugin ecosystem really delivers. Basic tasks and adding content can be self-managed with just a little practise, while an experienced web developer can keep your site running smoothly or add new features in a cost-efficient manner.

For nearly every small business, WordPress is the best CMS for the job.

2. Joomla

Joomla has the second highest market share of any CMS, however at just 2.8% of websites worldwide, the drop off in popularity from WordPress is significant – and in my mind – entirely justified.

Like WordPress, Joomla is an open source platform that encourages the development of extensions and added features that are simple to instal and manage. You can install pre-made or custom themes that manage the overall look and feel of your site, as well as post content and articles in their own distinct administrative section. While this sounds like a carbon copy of WordPress, Joomla has some serious pitfalls that make it difficult to recommend, especially to those with no technical or coding experience.

From a user interface & experience point of view, Joomla is cumbersome to navigate and work with. While this may be overcome with time and practise, the lack of choice for extensions and plugins also makes Joomla-based websites more costly to develop in many instances; with custom code needing to fill the gap left by the far larger, more vibrant and competitive options available to WordPress. SEO also tends to perform less well on Joomla-based sites, and so without offering distinct advantages over WordPress in other areas, is difficult to recommend over WordPress for any niche or purpose.

3. Shopify

Shopify is a rapidly growing e-commerce focused platform that is currently powering approximately 2.8% of CMS-based websites. While WordPress and Joomla are self-hosted and free to use, Shopify is a managed solution that requires the user to pay subscription fees as well as transaction fees.

While I typically suggest to most clients that WordPress is more powerful and cheaper than Shopify for e-commerce when used with an integration partner such as WooCommerce, the managed solution that Shopify provides excels at keeping your online storefront simple to manage. Despite the ease of use, WordPress continues to be my go-to-installation for e-commerce and online retail due to the lack of subscription or transaction costs, which over time could add up to thousands in vendor fees that are totally avoidable. Other e-commerce focused CMS platforms such as Magneto can be a good alternative, however like Joomla, simply cannot compete with the sheer flexibility and choice that the dominant WordPress platform offers.

If you own a small business and are looking to begin your online journey, or perhaps restart an old site, WordPress is almost always your best option.

Before you begin, get in touch to find out the most efficient way to reach your goals. I would love to hear from you!

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Mike Watson ~ Web Design & SEO

I specialize in building Custom Wordpress Websites that support and drive growth for your business or non-profit.

Based in beautiful Brantford, Ontario and serving clients in Paris, St. George, Woodstock, Simcoe & Cambridge.

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