Finding the right content management system (CMS) for a website takes a little research and effort on the part of the webmaster. Understanding what a CMS is, how it works, and what features are needed for each website will help the webmaster choose not only the best CMS but also the web hosting service that offers and supports that CMS.
In this article, we'll discuss some of the more popular CMSs typically supported by what we call budget shared host providers (such as BlueHost, iPage, GoDaddy,, 1&1, etc). Both BlueHost and iPage offer several “free” (open source) CMS software to choose from and we'll be using their offerings as example in this article. BlueHost does not provide a detailed list of all the content management systems they offer but they do mention a few: Moodle, Drupal, Joomla, and TikiWiki. In contrast iPage offers a list of the open source CMS software that they support: CMS Made Simple, Drupal, e107, Joomla, and Moodle.
Moodle, supported by both BlueHost and iPage, is touted as a Course Management System (CMS) on the Moodle website. The site explains the goal of the Moodle project as “giving educators the best tools to manage and promote learning.” Moodle can be used by schools of all sizes, from primary schools to large universities. Moodle stands for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment and supports numerous education modules like online chats, discussion forums, interactive quizzes, wikis, surveys, record keeping, and much more. Some of the pros of the Moodle CMS include restricted access courses for online course work, asynchronous courses allowing each student to progress through a course at his/her own rate, written communication, and the ability to track the learners’ activity. Moodle offers more than 600 modules which provide a ton of flexibility for using this CMS. Because it is an open-source program Moodle will always be adding new features and updating existing features. Using either BlueHost or iPage for an education website will allow the user to choose Moodle as their CMS.
Drupal is another open-source content management system started by Dries Buytaert in 1999. BlueHost and iPage both support the Drupal CMS allowing customers to use the Drupal system to build and manage a website. According to Drupal.org, Drupal has a community of more than 630,000 users and developers; the community not only works to provide the latest technology to the Drupal software but also provide support for anyone using the Drupal system. Drupal currently has 17,069 modules, 1,423 themes, 19,146 developers and 433 distributions. Drupal is used by some of the largest sites on the web: The Economist, Examiner.com and The White House. Drupal provides a flexible foundation with pre-configured installations to help every user easily setup a fully featured Drupal site. The Drupal website contains a lot of great training and resources and also provides a list of individuals that provide Drupal training. The Drupal system is built to meet the needs of users wanting a pre-built system that doesn’t require any programming while still providing a basic framework that a programmer can easily take and build on. The Drupal website does a great job of helping a webmaster learn about what Drupal offers to decide if this is the right CMS to meet his or her needs.
When comparing BlueHost vs iPage we found that Joomla is another CMS that is support by both of these web hosting service providers. The Joomla project was started in 2005 and has more than 200,000 users and developers contributing to the Joomla project. Joomla provides thousands of extensions and can be used for all types of websites from corporate websites, intranets and extranets or government applications to personal websites and school and church websites. The Joomla extensions make it possible for a great deal of variety in the functionality and features of every website. Developers can use the Joomla CMS for creating inventory control systems, application bridges, integrated ecommerce systems, complex business directories and much more. Joomla is based on the PHP and MySQL frameworks. Potentials Joomla users can visit Joomla.org to “test drive” or try out the Joomla service to see if it is the right fit for his or her website CMS.
CMS Made Simple
CMS Made Simple was started in 2004 and was built using PHP. The CMS Made Simple website says it is good for building small, semi-static websites (dozens to hundreds of pages). The focus of CMS Made Simple is to provide tools for corporate websites rather than building portals blogs, and article based content. Developers can visit CMSMadeSimple.org for more detailed about the learning curve and possible uses of the CMS Made Simple CMS.
The CMS e107 was designed to be easy to use with enough flexibility that a novice with no programming experience can successfully use it but powerful enough for professionals. On e107.org users will find an active community forum as well as an extensive wiki providing extensive resources for using themes, plugins, shortcodes, templates, and the e107 API.
In contrast BlueHost offers TikiWIki which iPage does not specifically list. TikiWiki is a CMS Groupware designed to provide the tools for collaboration, publishing, commerce, social networking, and more. Tools are available to help webmasters maintain websites, wikis, groupware, forums, blogs, or any other application that can be run from a web browser. Another open-source application, TikiWiki currently has 21.974 registered users and 300 developers.
Choosing the right CMS will take a bit of research. Making a list of the features and functions desired on a website can help narrow down the search and help you find the best CMS for each website. As your website continues to grow, also realize you may also want to reevaluate not only which CMS is right for you but also which hosting service is right for you, your site, and those visiting your site. Typically, many webmasters and site owners find that as their site grows in popularity they often find a need to move to more expensive hosting plans that supports more options for a larger audience. However, when you're starting a new site typically these budget plans will suffice just fine to meet your needs.