3 Easy, Cost Effective Content Management Systems

In my previous article, 7 Must-Dos Before You Build Your Website, I mentioned different options an entrepreneur can consider to build his website: either follow a low cost website-as-a-service platform, or invest in a platform which can scale with the business, a Content Management System (CMS).

Here I’ll look at 3 different Content Management Systems and explain which one is right for your business:

  1. Joomla
  2. Wordpress
  3. DotNetNuke (Community Edition)

Important Considerations

It’s important to understand why I chose these three platforms when there are so many others to consider e.g. Drupal, CMSMS, etc.

I chose the above three because they are all either cost effective or relatively easy to use, and are widely used worldwide as well as in the Middle East. While Drupal is a fantastic CMS, it does have a steep learning curve and would probably be harder to administer than the three I have chosen.  For a comprehensive CMS comparison, I recommend you read the 2011 Open Source CMS Market Share Report by water&stone.

1.   Joomla

One of the most widely known CMS platforms, Joomla (which means “all together” in Swahili) is an open source content management system. 

Used worldwide for all sorts of websites, from startups to university sites, Joomla’s strength lies in its wide developer community and available support.  Fairly easy to deploy and install, it can scale very well and supports multiple language websites.  It has over 8,200 extensions (some free, some commercial) which provide virtually any functionality you may need as a business.

That being said, for some users, Joomla may feel a bit hard to understand and administer, and as such, can have a slightly steep learning curve.

Joomla needs a PHP-based hosting environment to run.  If you are cash sensitive, are willing to learn, and are looking for a platform that can scale with your business, support e-commerce, multiple languages and so on, then Joomla may be the right platform for you.

According to BuiltWith.com, here are some notable websites in the region running on Joomla: Knowledge Village (Dubai), Dubai Media City.

2.   Wordpress

Wordpress started out originally as a blogging platform, and is now considered to be a CMS in its own right by many.  It is the platform of choice for any blogging or publishing kind of business; for instance, both Mashable and Techcrunch run on Wordpress. 

With over 17,000 plugins (some free, some commercial), not only is it fairly easy to use, but can be extended in terms of functionality.  It does not have a stepp learning curve like Joomla.  However, for some tech puritans, Wordpress may be seen as a platform that is intended for blogging more so than a fully fledged CMS.  If you are not that technical and are looking for a platform that you can manage with relative ease, can scale and grow with your business, then Wordpress is the right choice for you.

On the down side, Wordpress releases updates to its engine frequently, so it adds a level of necessary maintenance to your site, as you should be sure to patch up security holes.

According to BuiltWith.com, here are some notable websites in the region running on Wordpress: Yallastartup, N2V.

3.   DotNetNuke Community Edition

DotNetNuke, also known as DNN, is an open source web content management system, with over 8,000 modules or extensions.   As opposed to Joomla or Wordpress, DNN is a Microsoft .NET based platform.  This means it runs on Microsoft Windows hosting environments.  While this may prove slightly more expensive than Linux hosting plans (which are typically used for Joomla / Wordpress), DNN is probably the easiest to work with for non-techies, primarily because of its inline web page editor.  This means, if you login as administrator to the website you can edit the pages of your website the way your visitor sees them.  This makes for a very intuitive and easy to use interface.

Just like Joomla, DNN powers websites ranging from startups to enterprises and is the only one of the three CMS’s covered here that is backed up by a commercial organization, DotNetNuke Corporation.  It is highly scalable: it has a free version available (Community Edition) and 2 commercial versions available.  This means that if you wish to have the peace of mind of a supported CMS in the future, DotNetNuke Professional or Enterprise editions can just be an upgrade away.

Most DNN modules are commercial (even for the free edition of DNN), and this could mean that the investment to launch a website in DNN is more (albeit slightly more) expensive than Joomla or Wordpress, however, if you are not technical, and are looking for an easy to use CMS platform, that can scale with your business as it grows, and are not very cost sensitive, then DNN is the right choice for you.

According to BuiltWith.com, here are some notable websites in the region running on DotNetNuke: Burj Khalifa, Mall of the Emirates.

Comparative Table

Here is a table summarizing the key differences or common points of these 3 Content Management Systems:

1 Source: 2011 Open Source CMS Market Share Report, water&stone (2011)
2 Source: cmsmatrix.org comparative chart.

Whichever CMS you choose of the above three, make sure to define your business objectives and the way you operate internally as a team managing your website, and then make a decision based on how well the CMS meets these objectives, or constraints.

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