The CMS (Content Management System) you choose for your website depends on many factors, including the type of site you’d like to create. However, you also need to consider the price and key functionalities of the platform.
How to Choose the Right CMS
To help make this decision easier, we have looked at some of the leading platforms, compared them against some key factors and listed them in a handy comparison of CMS sheet.
We hope this sheet helps you find the right CMS for you.
The cost of the CMS you choose is a major factor. In most cases, the more features or, the more advanced components a platform has, the more you may expect to pay.
We classified the typical spend for each CMS into three categories:
- High End 🤑
- Mid Tier 💳
- Free or Low Cost 💸
As you might expect, those classified as high-end tend to be more specialised platforms. Mid-tier prices are a good middle ground and offer more technological solutions with a good degree of flexibility. The ones we have classed as free or low-cost are great for start-up businesses, and some may offer less flexibility and customisation.
The cost you are willing to pay depends on what you are looking for and how willing you are to compromise.
Ease of Use
How easy a platform is to use affects the time it takes for someone to learn the system. This is useful if you need to get a website live quickly or if you’re bringing someone new into the business and want them to be able to get up to speed in a timely manner.
We have classed the ease of use of a platform as follows:
- ✅ = Easy to learn
- ❌ = Can be difficult to learn.
Whether or not a developer or a development team is needed to make changes can significantly impact the overall cost.
We have tagged whether or not a developer is needed as:
- Yes = A developer may be needed to make specific changes
- No = Most users or system administrators should be able to make most of the changes that are needed.
If a piece of software or a program is open source, the original source code is made freely available and may be redistributed and modified by others. The advantages of this mean that the CMS may be more flexible, faster, more cost-effective and have shared maintenance. The disadvantages may mean that it is more difficult to use and come with compatibility issues.
We marked this in the sheet as:
- Yes = The CMS is open source.
- No = The source code is closed.
Some platforms offer hosting of your website as part of the set-up costs, and some are available as an add-on.
Here we look at whether or not this is possible:
- ✅ = Hosting is included in the initial price or as part of the set-up.
- ❌ = No hosting is included, and you must arrange your own hosting separately.
- ⚠️ = Hosting may be available as an additional add-on.
As well as hosting, some CMS’ may provide an SSL Certificate for your website as part of the configuration process.
We have determined this as follows:
- ✅ = An SSL Certificate is included or is available when setting up your website.
- ❌ = No SSL Certificate is included, and you must arrange your own SSL separately.
Blog (Out of the Box)
Whether or not you plan to set up a blog from the start of your project, chances are you may make to add one further down the line. The ability to add a blog out of the box will save you time as well as money.
We marked this as:
- = The CMS comes with the ability to add a blog as part of the out-of-the-box setup.
- = The CMS does not have the ability to set up a blog.
- = It is possible to set up a blog, but additional work may be required to do so.
Depending on what type of website you’re looking to create, you may have products to sell. For this, you will need eCommerce functionality. The ability or ease of adding or even using eCommerce features on your CMS will influence your choice. You can also use this spreadsheet as an eCommerce CMS comparison to find the best platform for you.
The classification here is as follows:
- ✅ = Users do have the ability to sell products through eCommerce features built into the platform.
- ❌ = There is no ability to add or use eCommerce functionality.
- ⚠️ = There are eCommerce features available, but additional work may be required to utilise them.
Customisation (Out of the Box)
Customisation refers to whether or not the platform allows you to easily customise the look of the website with your own branding or designs.
This is determined as:
- ✅ = The CMS makes it easy and straightforward to customise the design of your website as needed.
- ❌ = There is no ability to customise and change the look of your website.
- ⚠️ = It is possible to customise the look of your website, but additional work may be required to do so.
Advanced SEO Functionality
As we all know, there is much more to SEO than page titles and meta descriptions. Sometimes we need to modify canonical tags or make more advanced changes to the site.
Here we look at how easy it is to make these more technical changes:
- No = There is no ability to make advanced SEO changes, at least without the involvement of a developer.
- Built In = The CMS comes with the ability to make advanced SEO changes built into the platform.
- With Extensions = While there may not be the ability to make advanced changes built-in, it is possible through the use of plugins or other extensions.
Adding plugins to a website makes it possible to add additional features to the front end or make it easier for you to control certain aspects in the back end.
The ability to add plugins or extensions, or for these to even be available in the first place, differs from platform to platform.
- ✅ = Plugins are available and are easy to add.
- ❌ = Plugins are not available, and/or the CMS does not have the ability to add them.
- ⚠️ = Third-party plugins may be available, but additional work or resources is needed for them to be added.
We all want to be able to grow our websites; that’s the aim for most of us. And on some Content Management Systems, this is easier than others.
The ease of scaling or growing a website is as follows:
- ✅ = It is possible to grow and scale your website effectively.
- ⚠️ = There are limitations to how much you can scale a website.
A custom URL is a URL that you can customise beyond adding your domain name. It refers to the ability to call the /blog/ folder /magazine/ if you choose to do so or make any other changes to your URLs that you may need.
This section looks at how easy it is to change custom URLs:
- ✅ = It is straightforward to customise your URLs as needed.
- ❌ = It is not possible to customise your URLs into anything you want them to be.
- ⚠️ = It is possible to use a custom URL, but a developer or other tools may be needed to do this effectively.
301 Redirects (Out of the Box)
URLs can change or be removed for various reasons, and we may need a 301 or Permanent redirect to help manage these. As with most items on this list, it is easier to do this on some systems than others.
How easy is it to add 301 redirects:
- ✅ = The CMS has the capability to add redirects built into the system.
- ❌ = It is not possible to add redirects on this CMS.
- ⚠️ = It is possible to add redirects, but a plugin or another third-party tool may be needed to do this.
Automated Sitemaps (Out of the Box)
Automated XML Sitemaps are important for helping to get our content indexed. Non-automated sitemaps are ok, but it can be difficult or time-consuming to keep them up to date. Ideally, an XML sitemap should only contain indexable URLs with a 200-status code.
The ability for a CMS to have automated sitemaps out of the box means that the sitemap automatically updates as changes are made to the site and content is added or removed. We have classified this as:
- ✅ = The content management system does offer automated sitemaps by default.
- ❌ = There is no ability to add automated sitemaps on this CMS.
- ⚠️ = It is possible to use automated sitemaps through third-party plugins or other tools.
Robots.txt (Out of the Box)
A robots.txt file is important for helping us to manage the crawl budget. We can stop search engines from crawling certain areas of our websites with the hope or intention that they will focus on other areas instead.
The capacity for a CMS to use a robots.txt file out of the box means that site owners have control over what is included in this file and what folders or areas of the site would like crawled. We have ranked this as follows:
- ✅ = The CMS does come with an editable robots.txt file by default.
- ❌ = There is no ability to add or edit a robots.txt file on this CMS.
- ⚠️ = It is possible to manage your robots.txt file through third-party plugins or other tools.
Best For ... CMS
In this section, we recommend the type of websites that each CMS may be most suited for. This is based on the findings in the sheet and our own experience.
This doesn’t mean you can’t use your chosen CMS for another type of website, but it may be more manageable with one of the other options on the list.
Look at the full sheet above and use it to help you decide on your chosen content management system, and explore this spreadsheet as the ultimate CMS Performance Comparison guide.
If you think of any we have missed, please let us know, and we will update the sheet.