A Content Management System (CMS) provides a straightforward way to maintain a web site, allowing site owners to include interactive features such as article publishing, file uploads and sharing, forums and blogs with a minimum of coding. And a good CMS will also allow extensive customization to the site’s layout and appearance, so it doesn’t end up looking like thousands of other sites built on top of the same code base. Keep reading to find out how you can get a good one without spending a fortune.
Commercial CMSes such as Immediacy - used by the BBC - and Ingeniux can cost many thousands of dollars, but it isn't necessary to spend anything to bring the advantages of a CMS to a web site. An open-source CMS can offer similar site maintenance capabilities at a fraction of the cost.
The main difficulty is in selecting a system that will meet the site's specific requirements, as the choice is extensive and each has its own strengths and features. To give an idea of the sheer scale of the available choice, the CMS comparison site CMS Matrix lists almost 200 CMS projects that have been released under the terms of the GNU GPL.
A second major consideration when choosing a system is the technology on which it is built, including any third-party technologies on which it depends. These will have implications for the management, maintenance and support of the CMS itself, as well as the hardware and software environments within which it will run.
In this article I will outline the various factors to be considered when selecting a system, and compare a selection of different solutions in order to provide the information necessary to select a CMS that will meet your needs.