What's the Best Content Management System?

wordpress screenshot

Highly subjective, of course, but what’s the best content management system that you’ve used? I think that the best CMS is the one that gets out of the way, that allows anyone to easily write content for the web site. Someone should not have to learn HTML, or how servers operate, or spend days in training just to add a press release.

I’ve had the fortune/misfortune to work in multiple CMSes. Here are my impressions:

WordPress – Maybe not technically a CMS but so simple to use. WYSIWYG window, you click publish, that’s about it. I use it for my personal site, joeflood.com and also used it for a blog while I was at NOAA. I literally trained people in how to add content to the blog in fifteen minutes. My favorite. This is ideal for people looking for a simple platform to blog.

Google Sites – Again, maybe not exactly a CMS. Limited functionality but perfect for groups that just want to publish content. It’s very dumbed-down but it’s simplicity and lack of features makes it ideal for a no-fuss intranet.

Zope – I used this at the Nature Conservancy. At the time, I wasn’t a huge fan but, after exposure to much more complicated CMSes, it was better than I thought. Almost as easy as WordPress but key functions were locked down. Also, developers were needed for any design changes or to periodically reset it when it broke.

Plone – I’ve experimented with this and I like it. A lot of universities seem to use it.

Drupal – I write occasionally for a blog that uses it. I’m not sure about this one – seems slow but that may be just the way the site is set up. Drupal is the hot open-source CMS that everyone wants.

Vignette – Steep learning curve, whole new set of metaphors to learn, puzzling interface. Difficult for even experienced web folks to figure out.

No CMS – After using many CMSes, the simplicity of just HTML is really appealing. I managed NOAA Ocean Explorer which was all done in Dreamweaver. Thought this was crazy at the time. Now, not so sure. If you don’t like rules and don’t mind code, then No CMS is the choice for you.

Like I wrote yesterday, there is no perfect CMS. Consider your needs and choose wisely.

Author: Joe Flood

Joe Flood is a writer, photographer and web person from Washington, DC. The author of several novels, Joe won the City Paper Fiction Competition in 2020. In his free time, he enjoys wandering about the city taking photos.

4 thoughts on “What's the Best Content Management System?”

  1. Joe,

    Sorry to be late to the party, just ran across your blog; a link to your post “The Software Is Wrong, Not the People” was posted in WP’s “Other WordPress News” widget.

    Weighing in on this, I was a long-time Joomla user until a client (www.clubsolutionsmagazine.com), whose site I was tasked with redesigning and was having much difficulty, recommended I check out WordPress. Changed my life and has blown up my business. While I’m still a huge fan of Joomla’s finely tuned user management component, WordPress’ benefits vastly overwhelm that one wee shortcoming.

    And yeah, it’s insanely huge and paradigm-shifting for me to hear a developer say of his platform, “you’re not wrong, we are.” That just changed my thinking on a lot of things. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Agreed – I thought it was mind-blowing too, which is why I wrote about it. Usually developers tell you how you should adapt to their software.

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