How to Choose a CMS
It’s really simple: I suggest developing websites with the content management systems that I myself would want to use as the site owner.
Here are the most important things, in order:
- Ease of use. If the site doesn’t get updated because the CMS is too complicated, unintuitive, and/or slow then what is the point of having a content management system?
- Site speed. It needs to be able to serve the site FAST. Speed matters to users and to Google.
- Ease of maintenance. It needs to be easy to keep updated for performance and security improvements.
- Features and flexibility. What?!? Features is fourth on the list? Yes. All the features in the world don’t matter if you avoid updating your site, users leave because it loads too slowly, and/or the site has been hacked. Once those are covered, can we do everything we need to do? Will we be able to adapt to reasonable future requests?
- Transparency. The CMS shouldn’t dictate any front-end design decisions, and it shouldn’t be easy to tell what CMS you’re using.
For general purpose marketing websites, my favorite CMSes are Craft and Perch for custom design and development (or converting purchased templates), and Squarespace* for an all-in-one templated online site-builder. For sites that ARE online stores Shopify and BigCommerce can be good choices.
* With Squarespace you give up some of the Transparency — the platform’s templates are not infinitely customizable — but you gain so many other benefits and features that the tradeoff is often well worth it.
I’ve considered some of the more widely-used CMSes (e.g. Wordpress, Drupal, and Joomla) but don’t think they meet my criteria nearly as well.
When we talk about your web dreams we can figure out what makes the most sense for your situation.