Web Theory

Top five things to know when choosing an open source Content Management System

If you are looking at getting your site up and running quickly, manage the site yourself without a need for a programmer and of course what to spend as little as possible then going in for a content management based web site is the answer for you.

There are many opensource Content Management Systems available so which one is right for you? This article lists the five most important aspects to consider when deciding on an open source content management system to use.

1. Evaluate a CMS for the suitability for your industry and your requirements?
There are a lot of ready off the shelf CMSs available for specific needs like

  • Joomla CMS with Mosets - Real estate
  • Moodle - Content management system for managing and editing courses for education and e-learning.
  • iSocial - CMS for social networking. It allows you to create your own Friendster and Orkut like sites.
  • OneCMS - content management system targeted towards gaming.

Search the web for the one suitable for your requirements. You can use most of the generic ones like Joomla, Drupal etc to construct web sites for varied purposes.

2. Are hosting services available for the chosen CMS?
Evaluate the hosting options available for the chosen CMS on the following aspects

  • Price
  • Ease of installation
  • Support
  • Up time
  • Process of applying updates / upgrades to the CMS.

3. What is the learning curve required to get used to working with the CMS?
The more user-friendly the CMS is the faster you will learn to use it. Hence the CMS should at least have the following so that you can get your site up and running quickly.

  • WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) kind of user interface.
  • Easy administration. You should easily be able to Upload and Modify pages / content / images.
  • Forums and support groups for the CMS.
  • Free templates and paid design services.
  • Free and commercial Plug In's, Add Ons, Components.
  • Availability of programmers to help you with customizations, Add On's .

4. How long has the CMS been in existence?
If the content management system (CMS) has been recently released chances are that it might take a little while to stabilize and get people to use it. The longer a CMS has been around it would be more stable and it would have a larger customer and support base. This will make it easier for you to get to know what people feel about the CMS and get feedback and support.

Another thing to look at is the frequency of the updates and / or upgrades for the CMS. This would give you an idea how active the community for the CMS is.

5. What Technology is the CMS based on?
Even with open source there are a lot of technologies available like PHP, Perl, Java, Python and many more. You need to see if the technology is suitable for you based on the hosting options, developer availability, and technology stability.

Basically answers to questions 2, 3 and 4 will help you with answering this question.

The following are some of the CMSs which are the finalists for the 2008 Open Source CMS Award Overall Winner

  • DotNetNuke
  • Drupal
  • Joomla!
  • Plone
  • TYPOlight

A wealth of information on various open source content management systems is available at OpensourceCMS . The opensourceCMS site has categorized the CMSs according to the suitability for various segments like e-learning, Portals, blogs etc.

I have personally used comparison matrix available at CMS Matrix to identify the most suitable CMS for the Client based on specific requirement criteria.

Now, that you have identified a CMS most suitable for your needs…….Go for it!


About the Author

Pooja Gupta is a Co-Founder of Fairdeal Software Consultants Pvt. Ltd, a software development company in India.



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