What is a CMS?

what is a cms

CMS stands for “Content Management System”. Three of the top CMS are WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. On the most basic level, these three programs can help you publish a simple blog. At a more advanced level, they can run your online store, schedule events, manage your image library, and more.

These content management systems are open source software – which means they can be downloaded and installed for free. You will still have to pay for services like a domain name registration and web hosting. You may also need to hire a web designer or programmer if you can’t find exactly what you are looking for in the existing themes and plug-ins.

What you need to know about Word Press:

WordPress is by far the most popular way to build a website. About 65% of CMS websites are built using WordPress. One of the reasons WordPress is so popular is that it is very easy to use. It also has a huge community with lots of support if you run into trouble. WordPress developers are easy to find and often charge less than developers working with Joomla or Drupal.

On the downside. With 65% of websites running WordPress the software is a huge target for hackers. It’s important to make sure you stay on top of any updates and you will need to install plug-ins to fight comment spam and manage other security concerns.

What you need to know about Joomla:

Joomla comes in second with just over 3% of CMS websites. Joomla is only a little more difficult to use than WordPress. It is designed with more content management than blogging in mind. While you can blog using Joomla, it is more likely to be your first choice if you are planning to run a community site or a group blog. Joomla has more built in features like forums and admin for multiple user accounts.

What you need to know about Drupal:

Drupal runs about 2.5% of CMS websites. It is the most flexible of the CMS software mentioned here. If you want to do something completely different, then Drupal is likely to be your tool of choice.

Unfortunately, it’s also fairly difficult to use without add-ons and you may need a developer to set up your site initially to make sure that you have the tools you need to make adding content easier. Drupal developers are among the highest paid.

About the author


Karen Freeman-Smith currently makes a full-time living from a small portfolio of websites. She has 25+ years of experience in programming and web development for companies like Lockheed Martin, PBS, Daimler and many others. She has a BS in IT with a minor in Business Systems Analysis. Karen lives near Portland, OR with her partner, two grown children (in and out of the basement), and a cats: Havoc and Shiva.

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