The growth of social networking sites (facebook, twitter) and social media platform (blogs, youtube, digg etc.) have pushed the content generation business to the peak. Every web site that you visit today has some form of content that is to be distributed to its users, such as written articles, music, videos, slides, photos and so on. Among them, blogs have become the most popular way of distributing information.
The needs of the content generation have encouraged many developers to create a framework which can support the needs of content distributors. This framework is known as the CMS (Content Management System). If you wanted to build a dynamic site in the past, which you could update with different articles and media on a daily basis, you would have to hire an expert to design the whole system from scratch. However, the situation is quite different today as we have many great free platforms which can be easily employed and that will satisfy the needs of an online business, or individual user.
There are many popular and well established frameworks such as Blogger, Drupal, WordPress and Joomla whereof each have their own kind of user clientele with a unique taste. But the innovation is a continuous process and there are many new promising CMS which could be an alternative option to the already existing frameworks.
Here are the ten most promising frameworks present on the Internet today:
MODx is one of the most loved PHP frameworks, much because of its flexibility and functionality. It is an Open Source PHP web application framework with a capable built-in CMS. It is also the first php framework to offer an API that fully supports web 2.0 Ajax technology.
Some of the prominent features of MODX are that it has an improved Rich Text editor, large browser support and provides an easy way to handle your SEO content. Overall it’s one of the best frameworks designed from a user end perspective.
2. Radiant CMS
Radiant CMS is especially popular for its clean look and feel. The framework is built using Ruby on Rails which means that it can be scaled as it’s being developed on a widely accepted framework. Further, developers can modify the framework because it is under the MIT License making it free for commercial and non-profit use.
It provides a good interface for developers to change the template or flow of the website speeding up the development process. Overall the system is very simple and provides a lot of flexibility to the developers, making it a great framework to scale up your projects. Another great thing about the Radiant CMS is that it offers a first-class extension/plug-in system for developers to tailor the site according to their needs.
SilverStripe is built in PHP on the Sapphire framework, which makes it more customizable than any other CMS on this list. It is a powerful CMS system with a strong support center as a comfortable backup. SilverStripe has multiple support platforms, such as general forums, Demo, blogs and other social platforms.
The learning curve of the system is said to be very sharp where the user can get around it within just an hour. The system does not even require the user to have any kind of prior HTML knowledge. Developers are given full flexibility to enhance the performance of the system and create an easy interface for the users. Though this might be a heavy duty platform for anyone just wanting to set up a simple blog, with careful optimization it can be the best investment.
Symphony, created by Overture, is a CMS designed for developers, utilizing XSLT and it will ensure great flexibility and customizability. In order to make sure that developers will understand the technology behind the system, they provide a huge resource of tutorials and screencasts about XSLT.
Symphony might not be a wise choice if you’re looking for something technically light as it requires a bit more expertise than in any of the other CMS frameworks. On the other hand, Symphony provides a lot of flexibility to deal with Web 2.0 features. This CMS is engineered around principles such as openness, simplicity, and standards-compliance. An approach such as this has resulted in a granular architecture that’s easy to customize at every level, and a clean, minimal core that’s high on efficiency and low on bloat.
TYPOlight is an open source content management system for people who want a professional internet presence that is easy to maintain. One of the key features is its high security standards which makes the site more secure than it would be on other platforms. Furthermore, the framework can be easily tailored towards SEO friendly websites.
The system can be expanded flexibly and inexpensively. Easy management of user rights, the Live Update Service, the modern CSS framework and many already integrated modules (news, calendar, forms, etc.) have made TYPOlight one of the most popular open source content management systems on the market.
6. Frog CMS
Frog is very similar to the Radiant CMS in its philosophy and interface and one could say that in a way it is basically a PHP-based version of Radiant CMS. It has most of the characteristics of the Radiant, such as a simple and clean interface, intuitive visualization of pages and content.
This CMS provides an easy way to change the template of the website per-page basis. It includes the requisite WYSIWYG editor, which is simplified and more in the style of WordPress. The Frog CMS also features reusable snippets for regularly-used bits of content.
Overall Frog is a good choice if you want something that is light-weight, fast and simple to work with. It is a well documented CMS and because it’s based on the popular PHP language it will be easy for most people to implement.
TextPattern really stands out in the crowd of CMS with its intuitive and easy to use tab interface. Textpattern has exploited the tab interface to its maximum to allow the user to easily find what he or she is looking for. The only drawback is that it doesn’t have the WYSIWYG editor. As with all the other CMS it is open source, and hence free to use. Its backend is highly flexible, allowing users to tune it according to any kind of website.
TextPattern provides the developers with a great way to develop well-structured and standard-complaint websites allowing user to quickly update the post with minimal effort. It also features a friendly community forum and support that can enhance your development process.
Expression Engine is one of the most elaborate frameworks and it provides virtually everything that a website could require. It has a long list of features which is undeniably the longest of all the ones listed here.
As it has one of the richest feature list, it’s unfortunately not free. It comes with a heavy price tag of $99.95 for personal license and $249.95 for a commercial license. The support and knowledgebase is great which can be useful for the developers.
Overall, ExpressionEngine is a corporate framework with enterprise solution and hence it’s good for any business website that is looking for extensive support and security but for a personal blog it may not be very feasible.
CushyCMS is a Content Management Systems (CMS) that is created to be simple. It’s free for unlimited users which makes it a good choice for many bloggers and small business websites. However, it also comes with a pricing scheme of $28/month if you need extra support.
It’s built from the ground up with ease of use in mind – for both content editors and designers. You do not need any technical expertise to implement the system -No PHP or ASP is required for this CMS. It’s such a simple CMS that it takes less than 3 minutes for a web designer to implement it. If you can add CSS classes to HTML tags then you can implement CushyCMS.
Further, it’s also a hosted CMS, so no installation or maintenance is needed. All of this makes it easy for its users but if you want more control over your data and its privacy then it’s probably not the best option. Important to mention is that it’s difficult to brand the site with this CMS and for this you have to pay extra. However, overall it is a good way to start a project that is simple and needs few features.
Concrete5 is yet another free open source project. It is tagged as a CMS for marketing purposes but also strong enough for Geeks. One fundamental difference, in comparison to the other CMS on this list, with Concrete5 is that you can edit a web page live by entering „edit mode“, which makes the regions and elements on the web page you are viewing, editable.
In addition to this, it has all the other functionalities such as WYSIWYG text editor and other drag and drop interface that allow the user to control the content easily. Concrete5 has its own analytics section that allows the user to gain insights of the site without any need of installing third party services such as for example Google Analytics.
Overall it’s a very intelligent system that stands by its word of providing COMPLETE control. Moreover, Concrete5 follows a MVC approach with a block-based architecture that gives developers a „playing with Lego“ experience. For anyone that has an intuitive instinct to design some great websites, Concrete5 could be a good choice.
Things to consider when choosing CMS
With such a huge list of CMS to choose from, it is a bit of hassle for anyone to come to the right conclusion in regards to picking product. The task of choosing platform becomes at least easier if you understand the project’s need and do not get obsessed by only looking at the features.
Here are the ten priorities that you need to know before you go on to choosing the right CMS for your project. Remember that the best ranked CMS system doesn’t have to be the best solution for your website; it all depends on your requirements.
1. Functionality and Purpose
One of the fundamental aspects of the project is to understand its functions and purpose. You must have a clear vision on what your website should do and not do. You need to ask yourself a lot of questions in order to clarify your needs. What kind of content will be put in the website? Does it have to have a media support such as videos and flash contents? Can you update a post via email or any other messaging system? Try to list as many of your requirements as possible and check them off once you’re certain it’s featured in the CMS.
There are many different kinds of blogs and websites on the Internet. Finding the right model for your project is first step towards choosing the right CMS.
2. The Editor
The blog editor is the main aspect of the CMS and it’s the place where the client will spend most of his/her time, hence making the usability of the editor one of the most important points. The inflexibility of the editor often undermines the other strong points of the CMS framework.
One of the most popular editors is the WYSIWYG editor. The WYSIWYG editor does not require any understanding of HTML, which makes it easy for the user to edit the content without any hassle. Simple functions such as making the text bold and changing its font and size is of great importance and very easy to do with WYSIWYG. The same goes for editing and positioning an image. A good editor is basically essential if you want a professional result.
3. Resource Management
Resource here means the images, videos and links that are used in the system. Most websites undermine the importance of resource management for the website, causing it to be cluttered and highly inefficient. Images and links that are used on the websites need to be monitored so that the website doesn’t have any broken links which is important not only from a user perspective but also from a SEO perspective.
Furthermore, user friendly resource monitoring interface allows the client to clearly access all the resources and monitor the total resources used by the project.
4. UI Design Customization
User Interface is the key to success for any website, therefore developers need to have the possibility of customizing easily. They need to have control over the look and feel of the website. This is a very important aspect in regards to the brand and for creating a unique website that will increase its user clientele.
Many CMSs allow you to apply predefined templates which aren’t really what you are looking for. Giving designers control to play with the space and design of the website is important. This can be the top priority for any business for whom the user interface plays an important role.
5. Customer Communication Management
Today’s websites are all about communicating with the customers. Content generated by the customers are highly regarded, therefore things such as user comments and feedbacks are very important. Many systems cannot handle these requirements properly.
Acknowledging the presence of customers, and allowing them to interact through forums, emails and other means need to be clarified at the beginning of the project so that the chosen CMS can handle all the requirements properly.
6. Multiple Role Support
Websites should be seen as a big system where management hierarchy is pretty important. There can for example be a security manager, a BUM, an editor and so on. Giving each one a complete access to the system is not essential, hence the CMS that you choose must be well equipped to handle multiple roles so that an editor is not given access to critical levels that are not necessary.
This is important if the website is going to be managed by a large team like a newspaper agency where many different faculties exist.
7. Multiple Platform Support
Today there are many kinds of platforms in terms of browsers and devices. Mobile phones and Smartphones are capable of rendering complex websites. This requires the CMS to be flexible enough to handle all the different platforms.
8. Adequate support and documentation
Adequate support and documentation is necessary to support the developers‘ community so that they can get the full advantage of the system. This is very important since an absence of support and documentation can cause the whole project to fail. Moreover, you need to check out the presence of different forums to see if there is enough support for the CMS you want to choose.
The scalability is related to the vision of the project. Often, people build their system from scratch so that they can make sure that the foundation is strong enough to support the future requirements of the project. So, depending on the needs of the project you need to choose a CMS platform which can handle scalability.
10. Compatible Data format
Many would not consider the data format to be a key issue when choosing a CMS. However, you might need to migrate your system to a different platform in the future. Therefore, if you use a system that is not compatible with other data structures it could become a problem.
Considering all the features and issues, it is also important to look at the system from a licensing, accessibility and security perspective. Make sure that you get return back from your investment and that you get your needs satisfied. We wish you all the best in choosing a CMS and we hope that we could help you at least a bit.