With so many content management system (CMS) options, choosing one to build your website with can be overwhelming. Read on to understand more about the role of CMS in the digital landscape, the top four CMS platforms in the world, along with their strengths and their ideal users!
What Is a Content Management System (CMS)?
A content management system (CMS) is a software application where users can build and manage a website without having to code it from scratch or know how to code at all. There are two common features to a CMS: a content management application (CMA) and a content delivery application (CDA).
Combined, these two handle all of your website’s infrastructure in the back end, and allow your marketing team to create, edit and publish digital content with a user-friendly interface.
How do you use a Content Management System (CMS)?
Now, there’s no need to code from scratch. Users can just open up their CMS content editor and manage your digital assets with drag-and-drop modules. For more robust changes, like installing extensions, your admin panel can steer you to the right section.
All this means you can build a functional website and get it up and running in no time at all. Day-to-day document management is just as easy, with no need for additional training.
What Should you look for in a CMS?
There are all kinds of CMS options out there, and each has benefits and drawbacks. Some are more suited to eCommerce and online stores, while others are better for bloggers.
Start by making a list: What business problems are you trying to solve? Do you have any specific goals or requirements you need to hit with your website?
It’s best to choose a CMS that directly addresses the digital experience that you specifically need, instead of relying on what’s popular out there.
Which CMS Platform is Right for Me?
The key to choosing the right CMS platform is to answer the question: “Which platform is best for the specific needs, goals, or requirements of the website that I’m creating?”
There are several CMS platforms out there, but this guide will focus on four: WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and Shopify, ranked in order of most popular across the world (Source: W3Techs). Let’s begin!
If you’ve ever attempted to build a website you’ve heard about WordPress, the world’s most popular content management system. There are over 450 million WordPress sites out there; that’s nearly one-third of the world’s websites, ranging from small businesses to major corporations like Sony, the New York Post, and NBC.
- WordPress is free to access, download, and use by anyone.
- The platform is designed to have the flexibility to build any kind of website, whether it’s a membership site, online store, or corporate headquarters
- Originally designed for blogging and other content creation, WordPress comes with numerous features, including thousands of free ready-made templates, themes, and plug-ins. These allow you to add useful additions like photo galleries, contact forms, and more.
- WordPress sites can be installed and running within minutes without coding or other technical knowledge. The WordPress block editor makes it easy to create pages. All you need is a domain need and a web hosting account.
- Generally, sites made with WordPress rank highly for keywords, thanks to constant updates, tools, and plug-ins designed to boost search engine optimization (SEO). Creating SEO-friendly URLs, categories, and tags for your posts is a breeze, and you have the option to choose a number of SEO plug-ins to boost your optimization even more.
- Since WordPress is a designated free and open-source, customer support is only available through forums run by community members. The WordPress community makes changes to the source files and keeps WordPress secure, but they aren’t available for direct questions
- WordPress users have the option to download all their content in XML format, which allows for a far easier move to another system in the future if needed.
Content-rich industries like news and media
- Influencer blogs
- Educational portals
- Businesses exploring income streams beyond just product sales
Joomla! is an open-source content management system that powers 3.0% of all the world’s websites. First released in 2025, some of the most popular websites that use Joomla include Harvard University, IKEA, and the Guggenheim Museum (Source: Cloud Ways).
- Joomla! is free to use, though you’ll still need web hosting and a domain name.
- If you find that your site is routinely getting visitors from across the world, Joomla’s ability to offer your custom content in several languages will be key to your company’s digital success.
- While there aren’t thousands of Joomla extensions and themes like WordPress, there are plenty of themes that are often more secure and stable due to strict auditing by the Joomla community.
- Joomla offers several one-click installation options, much like WordPress.
- Joomla is known to sometimes have compatibility issues when there are several different modules and extensions installed. There can be some compatibility issues if you have a lot of different extensions and modules installed.
- Joomla also stands out for those companies who are looking for a social networking component, membership sites, forums, or other interactive elements. (Source: Website Setup).
- International and multilingual businesses
- Multi-user environments such as university sites.
- Online Forums
- Extensive product catalogs
Drupal is a flexible content management software and the third most popular content management system (CMS). Some of the world’s most influential businesses and organizations run their websites using Drupal, including General Electric, eBay, and The Economist.
- Drupal is open-source software, which means it’s fully accessible for use by anyone.
- Over the past years, over one million developers and users have assembled into a community that can quickly respond to any questions you might have about using Drupal.
- Whatever form your website is to take, whether it’s a blog, an eCommerce site, or something else entirely. Drupal was specifically designed to be an ‘economic starting point.’ Its ability to scale and flexibility is a definite draw for growing companies!
- Drupal enforces quality code, which offers higher quality websites and better digital experiences for your users.
- It’s relatively easy to add content on Drupal, with plenty of modules available. What can be tricky is changing the overall appearance of the website, or adding extras. Most websites that use Drupal are using a custom code theme that was created by a developer, which can be expensive.
- Businesses looking to customize every aspect of the user experience
- Companies in need of high-security measures
- Professions with basic knowledge of HTML and other web coding languages.
An ECommerce platform, Shopify is a content management system software where you can build an online marketplace and receive payment. Shopify is used by several famous brands like Pepsi, Redbull, and Tesla Motors. (Source: Shopify)
- The process of launching an online store is comparatively easy, with a clean admin panel, user-friendly features, and third-party integrations throughout the platform.
- Shopify offers extensive video guides and documentation to assist you through the building and managing process.
- When you’re dealing with sensitive customer financial information, built-in security features are incredibly important. Shopify offers ongoing service maintenance and upgrades to ensure quick loading times and secure transactions.
- A key feature of Shopify is customer support. Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, you can get in touch via phone, email, or webchat.
- All of Shopify’s themes are fully optimized for mobile experience.
- ECommerce stores
- Beginners and small business owners
- Multichannel sales business
- Companies using a dropshipping provider such as Rakuten, Amazon Fulfillment or Shipwire
- Online store owners interested in connecting with marketplaces like Amazon, Walmart, and eBay
Get Content Management Solutions with the Experts at Elevato
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