Which Content Management System is the Best?
Over the years I have seen countless posts and articles: “This CMS Vs. That CMS”. The common flaw in these posts: a developer who prefers one or another typically writes them.
Everyone has the methods they prefer. Folks go to what is familiar to them, and what they can work with.
“It is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail” – Abraham Maslow
I’ve worked in dozens of different CMS options. The complexity that any CMS can offer makes it difficult to become a true expert in more than one or two. The methods, strategies, functions and intricacies can take years to master. The needs of projects run such a wide range. You may never uncover an amazing ability that a CMS has, because you just never needed it.
I am proficient in the most common CMS options, and I like to think I am a bright individual. If I am really honest, I can not say I am capable of objectively and expertly comparing any given set of CMS choices. The pool of potential users is way to deep. The needs of those users could never be accounted for whole hog.
“Which CMS is best?”
– “The one you like the best.”
I use a three question test to determine which CMS is right for any particular project. Most often I am asking these questions with the client. We collaboratively discuss our options, and come to a decision together.
- Can we efficiently use the CMS to do what we need to do?
- Do we like the user interface and user experience of the CMS?
- Does the quality of the things we can produce with the CMS match our desired quality standards?
So long as the answers to those questions are yes, then any CMS is just about as good as any other.
Can we efficiently use the CMS to do what we need to do?
There are dozens if not hundreds of content management systems, and they all do virtually the same tasks. The difference between them is the methods they use to solve the most common problems.
I highly recommend searching for a CMS solution that meets your specific needs. Do not try to bend a CMS to do what it is not intended to. There is likely a purpose built something for your specific needs.
Do we like the user interface and user experience of the CMS?
Every CMS has an admin area and this is typically where clients will decide if they like a CMS or not. All of the major CMS choices have an admin area that will have a learning curve. Some interfaces are more or less complicated or intuitive.
The better CMS options will allow a developer to tailor the back end to match the client’s UI / UX expectations. How easy or hard a CMS is to use, most often is reflective of the developers ability to properly architect a good website, and not the CMS itself.
When in doubt, try them out.
Any reasonable developer should be able to demo the options they can provide. Make a post, edit a page. Ask how they handle architecture or robust functionality. It is really important to ask to be shown the backend of sites.
I reccomend all developers create a series of sites. Each site should have a similar set of requirements, but a different CMS. You broaden your skill-set. You will also then have a series of demo sites to show clients; front-end and back-end.
Does the quality of the things we can produce with the CMS match our desired quality standards?
The quality of the final output of the CMS will fall solely on the person who implements the solution. As a parallel, consider the task of sending an email.
I generally have two readily available choices; my laptop and my phone.
I happen to use an android, so I have predictive text, and swipe. In the right hands, this technology can produce an email of phenomenal quality and at record speed.
Under my control, my phone is only good for short, informal emails. I expect a certain number of typos and I know I will not convey my entire thought process.
Not to say that I never send an email from my phone. Nor would I say sending emails from my phone is wrong. Nor is sending emails from my laptop always the best choice.
Regardless of the technology I choose, it is just a choice I have made. I weigh my abilities with the technology, the immediate and long term needs, and I consider the outcome I can expect.
The same is true for each and every CMS. To be fair, they are all amazing pieces of technology. The product someone can produce using that technology is the actual differentiator.
There is no best or worst CMS. There is only the CMS we prefer, and those we have not yet mastered.