If you have a great idea, run a business, or just simply want to get information out there, you need to be online to get the word out. Whether you’re aiming to run a successful website, make a lot of money, or create a helpful website, it’s so important to make the right choice at the start of your endeavor regarding what kind of tools you use to manage your digital content.
There are many reasons why your business needs a good CMS, so you want to choose a service that works for the kind of content you’re trying to create. It can also be difficult to switch to another management system later, and depending on what you’ve already created, it might not even be possible.
Okay, so that makes sense, but how to you choose the right one? You may have some experience working with digital content, but chances are, whatever you’re working on now is going to be different than anything you’ve done before. And the truth is, there isn’t one right answer to the question: “Which CMS is right for my business?”
All companies and websites are different, and you need to know what features to look for based on what type of website you want to run. That’s where we come in.
What is covered in this article:
We’re going to start out by directly comparing the top CMS websites. If you want to start with the more basic concepts about what a CMS does, go here first.
CMS comparison table: price, backup options, speed, performance, and more
This table can help you compare specific features you’re interested, to help you choose the right CMS for business use.
|Pricing||Free: $0||Free: $0||Personal: $12/month||Depends on individual website||Free: $0||Free||Depends on individual business|
|Personal: $4/month||Connect Domain: $5/month||Business: $18/month||Connect: $4/month|
|Premium: $9/month||Combo: $10/month||Basic Online Store: $26/month||Starter: $8/month|
|Business: $25/month||Unlimited: $14/month||Advanced Online Store: $40/month||Pro: $12/month|
|eCommerce: $17/month||Business: $25/month|
|No tech experience required?||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||No||No|
|Speed and performance||4 / 5||2.5 / 5||2.5 / 5||3 / 5||2.5 / 5||5 / 5||5 / 5|
Now you know the basics about each site, here are detailed reviews of each of the best CMS platforms available for businesses of any size. These reviews will help you get a feel for which CMS best suits your business.
7 best CMS for business websites
WordPress.com has been well-established as the best CMS for a website, and continues to optimize and expand on its services, making it more and more popular. Allegedly, it is responsible for powering 30% of the content on the Internet! WordPress began as a haven for bloggers, making managing your blog posts, scheduling them, integrating other media, and everything you could need – easier than on any other site. In addition to all of these great blogging tools, WordPress now offers CMS options, both free and paid, that can help bring all of your content into one place. Its interface is incredibly easy to use, and most people can work with it intuitively with very little (or no) computer training.
Best unique feature: The sheer number of options available to you for the type of site you want to create: personal blog or website, photo blog, business website, portfolio, government website, magazine or news site, online community, or website network.
Best for: Almost anyone – WordPress lets you choose what kind of site to create with more than just templates, making it practical for virtually any kind of endeavor, be it personal or for business.
Wix.com became popular as one of the best CMS tools because, essentially, anyone can use it. But that doesn’t mean it’s not good for business. You can see many examples of professionals making use of Wix on their website, and why its features work – primarily for small business ventures.
Wix offers a primarily drag-and-drop interface. You begin with a basic template (of which you can choose from a library of hundreds to match your needs), and then add elements individually in the exact place you want them. Using a toolbar along the side, you “Insert” the elements you want, such as images, text boxes, video, buttons, search bars, banners – and anything else you can think of! Then use the visual mapping tool to drag these elements onto your page. You build your site piece by piece, on each individual page, until it appears the way you want it to.
Best unique feature: The drag-and-drop technology is the best on the market. It allows you to measure each individual aspect you add (including how far apart your lines are), and allows you to map out the exact area you place any element in.
Best for: When you want to have control over the appearance of your website, down to the very last detail.
If you’re interested in learning more, we can teach you everything you need to know in our free course on how to use Wix.
Squarespace.com is widely considered to be the most visually-appealing CMS in terms of its design, both while you’re working in its backend and when your finished product appears published online. This is no surprise, considering their tagline “Build It Beautiful.” Like Wix, it allows you to customize your finished product down to the last detail, which – if you’re skilled enough – can give it a very professional finished look.
Squarespace is known for the ability to control such minor aspects of the final detail, so if you want to change the most minute aspect, it’s for you. But if you find it overwhelming to need to put in a lot of extra work to make changes that are barely noticeable, then this CMS is probably not the best option for you. You can check out 10 of the best examples of business websites on Squarespace here.
Best unique feature: Every feature is owned by Squarespace, which means you don’t need to look around for compatible apps that allow you to add search bars, forms, or comment features. It is all there for you, and it just works.
Best for: When you want to start with a design-rich, professional looking template, and simply customize it to your company’s needs – without feeling like you want to change to add too much, as this will be extremely time-consuming.
Magento.com wastes no time letting you know what they focus on: e-commerce. If you’re interested in selling something online, then this is probably the best option for you. Right from the start, instead of just choosing from templates, Magento asks you about your business needs and what industry you are in to help you narrow down where to begin. Magento is known for being a tool specifically for business, and is more useful for ecommerce than other CMS sites.
When working with sales, you need a lot more in terms of tracking tools than what a typical CMS can offer you. Magento has a built-in suite to help with this, and can even easily help you service your customer accounts personally. Magento helps you every step of the way, including with setting up your site, cataloguing and showcasing your products, selling them online, customer payments, shipping, tracking your sales, and so on.
Best unique feature: Magento strives to be a true global sales platform. It can offer translation of your site into over 60 languages, and offers other international support – including calculating the correct taxes to charge based on the country of purchase.
Best for: When your website is focused on e-commerce, you can’t beat the focus Magento places on this.
Weebly.com is very similar to Wix, in that it utilizes drag-and-drop technology to let you customize your site down to the last detail. One key difference between the two is the placement of elements you drag-and-drop into your site. Wix allows free-form movement of your elements, and shows you on a map down to the exact pixel where you are placing it. In contrast, Weebly uses pop-up lines to help you line your elements up on the page, and then drop them in the perfect place.
This obviously results in slightly less control over where your elements are place, but also makes setting up your site so much easier. You can even see an example of how to use Weebly to set up a business website in 5 minutes or less! If you want your elements to line up well – without having to do calculations for spacing, and spending extra minutes each time you place trying to get each piece in the right spot – then trust Weebly to do it for you!
Best unique feature: The Weebly App Center: a place full of apps and integrations – all built by Weebly users – that you can add to your site to make it do pretty much whatever you need it to.
Best for: When you want a lot of control over the final look of your site, but want a builder that is much quicker and easier to use.
Like what you’re seeing here? We can help you become an instant pro in our free course on how to use Weebly.
Joomla.org differs from the other CMS services we’ve mentioned so far, in that it’s not based in your Internet browser. Instead, it’s its own stand-alone program that you must download to your computer to use. However, this gives it one key advantage: it is so much faster at rendering changes to your site as you work on it than web-based CMS systems, where you usually have to submit your edits for each page before they show up on the published product.
Joomla is available in over 65 languages, all within its core package. Another great feature of Joomla is that it saves each version of your site. This lets you easily track who made changes and when, and revert back to a previous version of your website if necessary.
Best unique feature: Front-end editing: the ability to make changes on your site in the backend that appear in real time on the public, published product. You don’t need to log in, find a spot to fix, and then make the changes. One click, and you can make changes right away.
Best for: When the person using it has a basic understanding of technical skills, as the backend development tool is a bit more complex than other CMS services.
(Image source: YouTube – Magnolia)
Magnolia-CMS.com is a particularly unique CMS, and is for those with a bit more advanced knowledge when it comes to computer science. It is an open-source platform that uses Java for its backend, so it does require Java knowledge and experience to make good use of it. It does, however, allow for complete customization within the Java code, and is well-suited to websites that require massive file storage. Magnolia is certainly targeted towards enterprises, so it’s probably not the best option for a small business or personal venture. Before deciding if this is for you, you can check out a personal demo of the service and watch how it works. Plus, you can use it for 30 days for free, which is twice as long as most CMS free trials.
Best unique feature: A completely customizable Java interface that allows backend editors to set up “favorites” for controls and applications they use most frequently – which can save a lot of time!
Best for: Government organizations, financial institutions, and large enterprises – all of whom have IT resources and programmers versed in Java.
What a CMS is and what it does
A CMS, or “Content Management System,” is a software application that allows users to create and manage digital content. It allows users to work with their content in a space that is separate from their published work, allowing for collaboration, editing, and indexing – before the work is published.
In general, a CMS is what organizations or individuals who want to run a website use to work with their content before presenting it to the public. You can save your work at any time, and then make the decision when to publish. It allows multiple people to access the same account, so employees or individuals with different responsibilities can work with the content at any time and make changes related to their responsibilities.
The best analogy we can think of for how a CMS works is that it’s like renting an apartment. As the renter, you get control over how your apartment looks, like where the furniture goes and what’s hanging on the walls. But the owner of the building takes care of all of the essentials, like the temperature control, water, electricity, and so on. Similarly, a CMS is developed and managed by a company that can store all of your information on its servers and create an interface for you to choose how your site looks. You, meanwhile, can use it to create a website and have it published online without needing to know about computer coding or web design.
6 features to look for to choose the best CMS
The features you need to look for regarding your own content will vary greatly depending on what your needs are, what you’re trying to present to the public, and what you’re trying to accomplish with your work. However, many features are commonly sought after, and important to all. Below we have a list of basic things to consider when looking for your Content Management System:
1. It has a good value for what it offers you
Price plans of the best Content Management System services vary greatly, and often, each CMS itself will offer you a couple of options for your plan, making you choose what you need. Make sure what you pay for is a good value by comparing it to what else is out there with comparable features.
2. It includes the features you need, and not things you don’t
In addition to the point above, when choosing a plan, make sure you choose the one that offers you exactly what you need, and you aren’t paying more just to get additional features that you will never use.
The best way to achieve this is to make a list of features you absolutely need in one column, features you want in another, and a final column for features you don’t need. Only look at CMS platforms that fit your criteria, and ignore one that’s offer you things you don’t need. Don’t spend more money paying for premium services that should be standard, and may very well be with another CMS.
3. It allows for employee collaboration
If you run a business and have more than one employee working with your content, you want to look for a CMS that makes multiple logins and your whole team working together smoother. Employee collaboration is essential to helping your business succeed. You should ask yourself if this site allows more than one person to work with the content at a time, or does this cause problems when saving changes on the site?
4. It’s easy to use based on your abilities
Think about who will be using the Content Management System and what type of interface would work best for them. Do you have a worker who is well-versed in coding and wants to manipulate HTML directly themselves? Do you have someone who isn’t a coder, but is skilled visually and wants to drag-and-drop to create each page to their individual specifications? Or does your publisher have limited computer knowledge and want something where they can just plug text into a template? The interface is the thing you will be using most every day, so make sure you choose the one that matches the skillset of you and/or your staff.
5. It can make helpful suggestions in areas you lack expertise when needed
This varies with each CMS, but essentially, you want one that can help teach you how to use it as you go. Short tutorials, pop-up boxes, or even built-in SEO tools are all helpful tools that can really make the difference in the early stages of development with your site.
6. It offers a variety of ways to monetize your site
Does the site offer you easy ways to monetize your site? Either by setting up an online store, adding advertisements, or some other way to earn money online? If this is something you are aiming to do, you should think about which CMS will offer the best monetization integration.
Other resources that will help get your business on the map
Now you have a much better idea of how to choose the right CMS for business use. If you’re in the works with a new business, check out these business-related articles and tips and tricks – you’ll make it to the top in no time!
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Maybe after reading this, you realize a CMS isn’t what you’re looking for. Check out these sites (some of the same from this article) that help you start a blog – it might be better suited to what you’re looking for!