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Do you remember back in the days of Web 1.0 before Google was really a verb and before Flickr lost the “˜e’? That was back when static web pages plagued the web. FrontPage and Dreamweaver were the common tools of webmasters all over. However, the world has changed. Programs are more so on the internet these days than they are on your computer. Sites like Facebook and MySpace try to add the most functionality to your online world making actual pieces of local software less and less appealing.

With that all being said, what is a “webmaster” to do when content and a clean interface are really what they want? Should they create an HTML page in Dreamweaver and update content directly on the page every time one of their writers submits an article to them? Theoretically they could but that would make their life more difficult than it really has to be. Instead they should turn to a Content Management System, or CMS.

Content Management Systems basically keep the content separate from the interface of the website while maintaining a clean look and endless possibilities. The next question becomes, what are my options and what should I use? In reality, there are very, very many options, but only some of the options really matter for personal users.

When I look for a CMS for a personal blog or website I look at a few key things:

    Functionality : What exactly can this CMS do for my website? What will it allow and not allow?

    Price : If it’s for my personal website, it’d better be FREE! Also, be wary of how the software is licensed and how you are entitled to use the software.

    Security : How fast are security vulnerabilities fixed? How many people contribute to bug fixes, etc.?

    Extensibility: This goes along with functionality. Does the CMS offer plug-ins or extensions? That is, can I add functionality and expand my site if I wish to do so in the future?

This article is going to focus on two major Content Management Systems that, in my opinion, are the only two that matter or have something to offer for everyone. You can, of course, dispute this in the comments. Let us know what CMS you use or favor.

WordPress

Wordpress The first CMS to highlight is called WordPress (which is what Make Use Of runs on). WordPress was started in 2003 and is released as free, open-source software, meaning it is developed for and by the community. WordPress is a very functional, extensible, and easy to use blogging content management system. With WordPress you can create just about anything from a family photo journal to large scale news site.

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At WordPress.org, you can find the open source software that you can run on your webhosting service. It takes a little bit of know how to set up but if you’re lucky, your webhost might have an auto-installer for it. For those of you that don’t have hosting or don’t want to get into the configuration and setup, WordPress.com gives you your own free WordPress blog. It is like a blogging social network of sorts. WordPress is very secure and reliable because of its large user base and development backing. It is extensible through thousands of plug-ins to use on your WordPress site. Your site can grow as you grow.

Drupal

Drupal The next CMS is Drupal. Drupal is an open source content management system framework which means you can build anything from a static two page site to a high traffic social network. With this huge pool of flexibility comes a much more advanced set up and configuration. It will take you longer to get your site ready but it may make more sense in the long run.

The latest version of Drupal 6.x, gives a very clean admin panel with status and error logs so you can track most errors and know when your installation is out of date. This applies to all of your modules (referred to as modules in the Drupal community), themes, and core. Drupal, like WordPress, is extremely extensible and secure. It also has a very large user base and developer base. Best of all, Drupal is my favorite price – free!

If you are developing a website or online platform, take into consideration WordPress’ ease of use and Drupal’s framework capacity. Check out their websites and real world examples, be sure they have themes or plug-ins that you do or may need later so you can be future-proof for whatever may happen in your website’s potential future. Good luck and may the best CMS win!

  1. Oleksandr (Nathan)
    January 4, 2010 at 7:05 am

    Hi i like your Article. I just wrote one myself about this same topic, please check it out here: http://bit.ly/8ZoFuz

    Also i would advise you to switch to Disqus Commenting system. It makes commenting much easier and obviously brings more people to live comments.

  2. ssnobben
    November 20, 2009 at 4:09 am

    If you should compare WordPress, Drupal and Joomla look and read this test cmswire.com/cms/web-cms/sxsw-web-content-management-system-showdown-update-2-004124.php also check all the website examples created there.

    Joomla is robust you can also check this app that is built upon Joomla framework a Twitter app with a lot! of users! my.peoplebrowsr.com/

  3. Jordan Garn
    June 26, 2009 at 10:46 am

    Rule of thumb, use WordPress for small websites or blogs. Use Drupal for bigger websites with community features and also Drupal is new with a lot of promise. Drupal also has a steeper learning curve and is geared to the more technical.

  4. Rayan
    May 23, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    Much rather use WordPress than Drupal. Especially since they started rolling out more and more features to let people use it as a CMS and not just a blog.

  5. erie
    December 3, 2008 at 4:29 am

    I always see see "expression engine is the best" comments on articles like this, and being a commercial product can't help but think it is a marketing strategy to create interest vs authentic support. This is why open source wins, there is no reason to fake interest since there is no profits to be made.

    Note that Drupal now has a paid "support" version unlike wordpress. I think this conflicts with OS because now Drupal, Inc. is now going to profit from all the work that developers contributed. I think fewer people will now want to work on Drupal knowing this fact.

    Also comparing drupal and WP, drupal's focus is the back-end while wordpress main strength is the front-end. Drupal is Microsoft (catering to devs) while WordPress is Google (Catering to noobs). A truly functional drupal site using drupal's strengths will require custom programming almost every time.

    The problem is drupal is not enterprise level like everyone says, as most enterprise level sites use custom solutions.

    In my opinion, a new website with CMS content should start with wordpress. It would permit a faster setup time. It is much easier to later move the site over to Drupal if and when the need may arise.

  6. Devicepedia
    October 31, 2008 at 4:22 am

    Ive already used wp for making blogs, i want to try drupal, can some one give me a basic tutorials for drupal, thanks.

  7. Freelocale
    August 5, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    People should be sharing more free things like this. Its what keeps the Internet buzzin'.

  8. Jburn
    July 14, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    I have used both Drupal and WordPress on my joannareyburn.com website. I'm currently using Drupal 5 because of the extendability and modules. What I really want to know is, who creates an easier, more accessible mobile website? I've got a pet project that needs a mobile site, but I would really like to run it with either Drupal or WordPress in a way that is almost fully functional from Blackberry and iPhone. Any ideas?

  9. FreelanceVenue
    July 6, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    I would recommend WORDPRESS all the way! It's a great platform to work with, and the plugins to add more features to it are endless.

    WordPress is the best!

  10. Robin Berry
    June 11, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    Thanks for the information.

  11. Robin Berry
    June 11, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    I agree

  12. frank
    June 9, 2008 at 9:41 am

    Great Information blog ! Thank you for keeping up the good work. I look forward to returning to your blog, and learning more from you !

  13. Mohammad Akram
    June 9, 2008 at 3:17 am

    I personally use drupal and with an autoinstaller, it is very easy to set up and use

  14. Scott Frangos
    June 8, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    Hi -

    Good article. We use WordPress exclusively as a CMS solution for clients, and I have also worked with Drupal, JOOMLA, and a handful of others. There's a good article series on using WordPress as a CMS here. I prefer WordPress for ease of use (as you noted), and it's thousands of plugins which add just about any type of extensibility you might want.
    - Scott

  15. Neil
    June 8, 2008 at 10:50 am
    • blaszta
      June 8, 2008 at 11:35 pm

      wow.. quite useful application!
      Thx Neil!

  16. Binyamin
    June 8, 2008 at 5:28 am

    Good article, I ever told in my blog why I prefer Drupal here on my blog

  17. alifaan
    June 7, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    I think own web host and WP is the secret of nice and easy organized blog/site.

  18. Mackenzie
    June 7, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    A warning for people thinking of WordPress.com: they charge if you want any access to your template at all. There are about 10 or 15 templates to choose from, but if you want to add another sidebar or change the colors or anything, you have to pay. It also can't take Digg. If you want to customize, and you think you might hit Digg or /., go for paid hosting.

    • Nick Volpe
      June 7, 2008 at 4:01 pm

      Yes, I agree Mackenzie. If you really want total control over your site, you should invest in your own web hosting provider.

  19. Network_Punk
    June 7, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    What about Expression Engine?

    I'm starting to build a site with it and have found it's much more scalable than wordpress and easier to build than drupal =)

    • Nick Volpe
      June 7, 2008 at 3:58 pm

      To be honest, I have never heard of this. Is it related to Microsoft's Expression line or something totally different? Thanks for the suggestion!

      • Network_Punk
        June 7, 2008 at 4:21 pm

        Nope, I think it was previously called pMachine, or has replaced it.

        It looks pretty robust, their showcase gallery shows off what can be done with the engine. There's also some video tutorials that show how to get started making pages.

        http://expressionengine.com/showcase/

    • Travis Quinnelly
      June 7, 2008 at 6:03 pm

      Expression Engine is nice. But not free. We love free!

      • Aibek
        June 8, 2008 at 5:03 am

        :-)

      • Network_Punk
        June 8, 2008 at 10:20 am

        Actually they do provide a free version, however it's unsupported and alcks some of the more desirable features (Like membership)

        • Victor
          November 18, 2008 at 12:36 pm

          Yes, Expression Engine might have a free version, but it is not Free.

          Don't you understand? Let me make myself a bit more clear.

          Please, let nobody be offended by what I am about to say and call me a racist (or anything like that), it is not my intention. I am just making a point here with an issue that is bound to raise emotions.

          [2 LINES OF TEXT WERE REMOVED BY MODERATOR]

          A few grams of coke might be free the first time, but once you are hooked, it will be very hard for you to make yourself Free from it.

          Check out the gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html Free Software Definition. Free Software is about Freedom, not price.

          You can charge a LOT of money for Free Software. You can charge for support, setup, training, etc.

          You can also sell advertisement space on your website, affiliate with others who write ebooks or other info products, make your own, get people to assist to in person seminars (and pay $10k per head). You could do a thousand different things to make money.

          You could do it like MySQL, RedHat, WordPress, Joomla, Ubuntu, or counless others.

          It is not necessary to resort to mafia-like tactics to make money (the drug dealers), no way.

  20. darkkosmos
    June 7, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    Erm.. Joomla?!

    • Lethann
      June 7, 2008 at 3:50 pm

      Joomla is nice, but it's very heavy. If you're system is even a wee bit slow it can seriously choke up. I put it on my own personal server for a friend of mine and it nearly crashed the server more than once.

      But, it's free and highly customizable, lots of plugins for it.

    • Nick Volpe
      June 7, 2008 at 3:57 pm

      I personally don't find Joomla as robust as WordPress or Drupal and I find it hard to recommend it to others and that is why I did not include it. That's just my opinion, though.

    • Aibek
      June 8, 2008 at 5:02 am

      I haven't used Joomla myself but a friend of mine had some experience with it. Based on on my experience dealing / troubleshooting with him I wasn't impressed. It needs to grow a bit more.

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