What are Content Management Systems?

Content Management Systems (CMS) are website builders that allow for the easy construction of websites. Typically, these site builders will include various ways to organise users, media and copy.

Most people use a content management system to save them on development costs. This saving comes from using built-in plugins, apps, themes and designs that do not require coding expertise. However, the simplicity often comes with an associated cost.

Creating a content management system that can handle all possible requirements necessitates a large code repository. The downside to content management systems is a slow website with very few bespoke features out of the box.

What are the Best Content Management Systems?

There are vast numbers of content management systems that are available online. However, some are more common than others. For example, WordPress is the most commonly used CMS for a range of different purposes.

Here is a list of the six most commonly used Content Management Systems:

  • WordPress
  • Squarespace
  • Magento
  • Shopify
  • WooCommerce
  • PrestaShop

Below you will find these broken up into platforms that are great for blogging and those that are great for running an online shop.

Blogging Content Management Systems

The following content management systems are the best for blogging. Each includes extensive features that make it easy to write blogs, share content, and build your website without effort.

1. WordPress

Wordpress is by far the most popular out of all the content management systems on this list. It comes packed with an excellent user-interface, decent performance, lots of customisation and vast support from the community.

There are thousands of themes that are available for free; however, there’s an extremely competitive market for paid designs. Thanks to how competitive this market is, the prices are as little as $49 for great looking websites.

The platform is open-source and completely free, with your choice of hosting providers. Either choose to host it yourself privately, or do it from the WordPress servers. Generally, it’s always more cost-effective to host the website away from WordPress.

Most hosting providers install WordPress for free and are significantly cheaper than WordPress’ plans. Providers such as Sitegrounds also include free SSL encryption and easy to set up with your choice of Content Distribution Networks.

Content Management Systems - Wordpress

2. Squarespace

Squarespace is often considered the rival and younger brother of WordPress. It boasts many of the same features but comes in a straightforward design. Like all content management systems, this comes at a cost.

Overall, the price of Squarespace is a lot higher than WordPress. It also has a smaller community, so there aren’t many customizable features that you can add-on. For me, this was enough to avoid it altogether.

However, if you’re looking for a website builder that is more simple than WordPress, and don’t mind forking out a little bit more each month – then it’s a great option for most beginners.

Content Management Systems - Squarespace

eCommerce Content Management Systems

Setting up an eCommerce website can be somewhat tricky if you go for a custom build. Instead, using one of these content management systems should make it much more straightforward.

Most of these platforms also include a blog feature too, but the primary purpose and support are around product catalogues. Thus, you will only want to use these platforms if you’re looking to sell products.

3. Magento

Magento remains one of the most powerful and customizable eCommerce platforms that are available. It comes in two main varieties, Magento 1 and Magento 2.

While Magento 1 has been around for longer and included fewer bugs, it is also very confusing to navigate. As long as you have a developer that is familiar with the platform – you should be fine.

Magento 2, on the other hand, includes more bugs than its predecessor. However, the backend is much more accessible to your staff. It also includes many features that were not available in the previous version by default.

Both versions are functional and come with a great dashboard. I prefer to work with Magento 2, but some issues creep in from time-to-time.

Content Management Systems - Magento

4. Shopify

Shopify is an excellent alternative to Magento for small businesses. The platform is very tidy and easy to understand. It is perfect for companies that are looking to expand their business but not quite ready for the heavy lifting that Magento requires.

The downside to a platform like Shopify is the simplicity. Much like how Apple created an operating system that cannot break – it does this by not giving you much control.

You will not have problems creating products, categories, prices or sales; however, that’s just about all you can do. Some basic SEO features such as changing the robots.txt or sitemap.xml are off-limits to Shopify users.

Content Management Systems - Shopify

5. WooCommerce

WooCommerce is an extension to WordPress that adds eCommerce functionality to your blog. It can be somewhat confusing to get used to, but it does the trick.

While you will benefit from the huge WordPress community and all the plugins or themes, it comes at the cost of performance. Typically, WooCommerce adds a significant overhead to your load time due to additional CSS, Javascript, and PHP files.

I would personally caution users away from WooCommerce. Instead, you should focus on either using Shopify of PrestaShop. However, for more prominent retailers then you will want to either use Magento or custom build.

Content Management Systems - WooCommerce

6. PrestaShop

Much less common than Magento and Shopify is PrestaShop. The upside to using this platform is that it’s open-source and completely free to use. However, this means it’s relatively basic and lagging behind the other major platforms.

If you’re a small business and working on a tight budget, then this might be the solution you need. However, it’s usually worth spending the little bit of money to get Shopify instead if you can afford it.

Content Management Systems - Prestashop