Wix, Squarespace, or Drupal? The Best CMS You Can Choose

What Differentiates CMS Platforms and Choosing the Best For Your Business

The phrase “best CMS” is a pretty disputed concept. In your search for a new content management system, you'll come across countless articles with all-CAPS titles shouting their opinions about which is the best CMS.

So how do you know which CMS is the best for your brand?

This can be a tough question to answer. After all, they all support the basics of publishing content online. But because the feature sets between CMS platforms are nearly identical, finding the best CMS for your website isn’t about debating whether Joomla is better than CQ5. It’s about details like licensing, the developer community, adoption of the platform, and integrations—essentially, how complex your business requirements are.

Identifying Your Best CMS: Asking the Right Question

To simplify the decision making process, here are the questions we ask to measure what kind of customization ability our client’s CMS needs to have:

  1. How many integration points are required?
  2. How custom do you want to make the user experience?
  3. How widely adopted and mature are the platforms you’re considering?
  4. What extensions or modules are available to support features you are wanting?
  5. What is the security record of the platforms under consideration?
  6. Are there CMS your staff have already used and are familiar with? And what level of training is required to get staff up to speed on a new CMS?

Analyzing your business requirements and then finding a technological application can be difficult, so oftentimes we’re brought in to projects as consultants to help with this very decision.

Generally, the clients we work with have two different need states: those who just need a website up and running that they can use immediately (that doesn’t require any, or very little, complicated configuration) and those that need a custom website, built specifically to accommodate their unique business requirements.

CMS comparison

An Out-Of-The-Box CMS

A majority of the websites on the internet are made from a “turnkey” CMS platform—Wix, Blogger, Squarespace, GoDaddy, and Weebly, for example—that you can use to have a website up and running within a matter of minutes.

Many of these systems follow a SaaS (Software As A Service) model, catering to individuals and small businesses. These platforms can be beneficial for very small companies, bloggers, or others who just need a shingle out there. Although you’re limited in many ways by SaaS platforms, they’re popular for a reason. For businesses that don’t have the budget–or the need–for a complicated, integrated, fully branded, custom website, it makes the process of setting up your website a lot easier and less expensive.

When A SaaS CMS Is More Trouble Than It’s Worth

If you’re a medium to enterprise level business, or your website needs a number of integrations with other tools, or you need to create a custom experience for your customers, we don’t recommend a SaaS platform. A SaaS CMS absolves you from having to deal with hosting, code, or managing data. But if you want real control your website (and control of your brand and data), those are things you’ll need to have access to.

For businesses that need to create unique interaction points or integrate their websites with other marketing tools–CRM, email marketing–managing a SaaS CMS would be more of an unhelpful chore than an actual contribution to managing your brand.

The Benefits of a SaaS CMS

  • Good for businesses that need a website up and running very quickly
  • Quick and easy setup
  • Simple user interface for publishing and managing content
  • Easy to build with a stock theme, your website can look good and be up and running really quickly

The Cons of a SaaS CMS

  • Limited customization ability
  • Limited theming ability
  • Can’t possess your own data external to the service
  • Difficult to integrate with other digital tools

A Custom CMS

Open-source CMS platforms allow developers to be up to their elbows in the raw source code of the platform. For businesses that are looking for custom websites – custom web designs, navigation, interaction points – this is an enormous benefit. It allows you to create a fully branded web experience.

Before the CMS was created in the late 90’s, maintaining a custom website was a painfully complicated task. It took a lot of time to create and was difficult to manage, and any changes would have to be made through the one person who thoroughly knew your system, a “webmaster,” which also created huge bottlenecks. Now, however, the process of building and managing custom websites has changed to support faster updates. Having access to the source code means that developers don’t have to work from scratch to build your website, and what used to take years can now be done in weeks.

When We Do Recommend an Open-Source Platform

For businesses that want to integrate their website with other tools (an API integration with your CRM, for example) or design unique interaction points, a custom, open-source CMS is your best option. If you’re a larger company, you’ll likely need a more complicated website because there will be more integration points and unique business needs that your site needs to adapt to.

The Benefits of an Open-Source CMS

  • Unlimited customization
  • More advanced content management abilities
  • Easier integration
  • Unlimited web design options

The Cons of an Open-Source CMS

  • Setup requires a development team
  • Costs more to build and maintain than a SaaS CMS

Finding the Best CMS

Despite the usage statistics, there is no single CMS that fits all businesses. Finding the right CMS, the best CMS, for your web goals depends entirely on identifying your individual needs. When making your decision, this is the question you should be asking:

What do I need my website to do?

If you'd like more information about how our development agency evaluates CMS platforms, feel free to download our white paper: How to Evaluate Website Technology Platforms