Choosing the right CMS for your website can be a real head-scratcher. Usability, functionality, limitations, cost; there are many things to consider before getting to the business of building your site, so deciding which platform is best can be a challenge.
If you’re a small business, you might be tempted to go for the cheapest and simplest option when choosing a content management system. But don’t. Depending on your type of business, having a CMS which aligns with your aspirations, budget and design requirements is crucial to the success of your website – so a little forethought goes a long way.
Someone who knows the value of having the right CMS is Mathieu Muller, Full Stack Developer here at Banc. In this guide, we share some of Mathieu’s top tips on how to figure out which CMS is right for your business, so you can get your website off to the best possible start.
Use the links below to find advice relevant to your type of business or read on for the complete guide.
- E-commerce Businesses and Online Stores
- Blogs, Events and Promotion
- Portfolios, Campaigns and Single-Page Sites
- Key Takeaways
E-commerce Businesses and Online Stores
Hoping to sell your products and services online? You’ll need a CMS with full e-commerce integration, and plenty of flexibility should you need to scale things up further down the road. Ease of use is also an important factor here, especially if you’re building a product catalogue that requires regular amends and additions.
Here are the CMS tools Mathieu recommends for e-commerce businesses.
If you’re building an e-commerce website with a large catalogue of products and services, PrestaShop is a great choice. Its simple interface, quick actions functionality and streamlined product management system make it easy to add, remove or edit products, while the back-office editing suite lets you tweak UI/UX elements to improve the customer experience and make your products and site easier to navigate.
By far the best thing about PrestaShop is its simplicity. Unlike Magento, which is used by a lot of e-commerce businesses, this platform requires no dedicated developers to maintain it – making it a great choice for SMEs with limited resources.
There is, however, a slight downside to PrestaShop, and that’s the lack of free plugins and add-ons. If you want to enhance your site beyond the inbuilt functionality, you’ll need to pay extra or have a developer create add-ons for you. But, for making a start in e-commerce, we think this is your safest bet.
Already a WordPress user? You can expand on your current website with WooCommerce, a powerful e-commerce platform built for WordPress. Perfect for those with experience in developing on WP, WooCommerce lets you combine content with commerce seamlessly, so you can keep the same features, plugins and add-ons on your WordPress site and integrate these into your new online store.
Though favoured by experienced developers with a good knowledge of WordPress tools and extensions, WooCommerce makes basic functionality, like store management, a breeze. You can add and remove products, refine the checkout process and manage refunds directly in the WooCommerce dashboard – so you feel in complete control of every step of your customer’s journey.
Because some elements of WooCommerce are a little more complicated, however, we’d say this is for businesses who know their way around the WordPress CMS platform, and are in a position where they can get developer support as and when they need it.
Blogs, Events and Promotion
Many businesses are looking for a content-only site that showcases their products and services or gives them a platform from which to publish and share content and features. There are a lot of options on which CMS to choose for this type of website, but Mathieu believes there’s only really one choice for most businesses.
WordPress is the go-to CMS for pretty much any type of website, not only for blogs and content sharing, but also for e-commerce sites when used in conjunction with a dedicated plugin. It’s robust, easy to use and secure, making it a reliable partner for your business.
When using WordPress for the first time, the interface can be a little confusing and difficult to navigate. But stick with it, and you’ll find you can create a highly-customisable site that meets all your business needs and site aspirations. The great thing about hosting your site on WordPress is the volume of help, support and guidance available in the wider community, which can really help you to develop new skills and tackle problems yourself, as opposed to enlisting the help of a developer.
WordPress relies on plugins, add-ons and extensions to give its users total control and flexibility over their web content – and there are a lot of options to choose from. This freedom to create is what makes the platform one of the world’s most popular content management systems, and you’ll find you can cherry pick from literally thousands of plugins and tools – many of which are free to use under an Open-Source or MIT licence.
Portfolios, Campaigns and Single-Page Sites
When it comes to businesses which are looking to set up a single page website on which to host a portfolio, campaign or specific product, there are several options available. A full CMS package can seem like overkill if you’re only looking to host a single-page site, so Mathieu suggests the following as a way to keep things simple and affordable for your business.
If you have a working knowledge of HTML best practice and some experience of web development, a static HTML website is your best option when working on a single-page project. Using a platform such as Node.js, you can change and amend elements to suit your style and automate certain processes to alter content easily.
While building a static HTML website does require some knowledge, there are many resources out there which walk you step-by-step through the process, so you can start piecing together your own site while developing new coding skills.
Once you’ve mastered it, a static HTML site is quick and cheap to develop, easy to host and offers excellent performance on slow connections – making it a great choice for small businesses not looking for an overly fancy and page-heavy site.
Although hosting a single-page website on WordPress is overkill, it’s still the next best option for those with limited knowledge and experience of developing and coding.
Now that you have a better understanding of CMS platforms, and which work best for certain businesses, here are a few more tips on how to choose the system that works for you.
- Consider the basic functionality you need – Ease of use is highly desirable when it comes to choosing a CMS, so don’t be distracted by a bells-and-whistles platform if a more basic and easy-to-use system would work just as well.
- What plugins and extensions are available? – This ought to be the first thing you ask when researching a CMS, as add-ons, plugins and extensions are the cornerstones of a fully-customisable and functional site. Think about the kind of functionality you want your site to have and make sure there are plugins to support these elements. For example, maybe you want your users to be able to sign up for newsletters on your homepage – a plugin is what you need.
- Look for a restore function – Another useful thing to look for from your CMS is restore or ‘versioning’ functionality. This lets you wind back the clock and restore your website to a previous save point or date, so that you can effectively hit the undo button on problems and hash ups. For small businesses new to web dev, we’d say this is absolutely essential.
- Community and support – Some CMS platforms, such as WordPress, have a huge online community where you can get help and support when troubleshooting aspects of your website. Before settling on a system, do some research on the help and support available, and find out if there are any forums where you can get your questions answered.
- When in doubt, use WordPress – There’s a reason WordPress accounts for around 60% of the global CMS market – it’s the best. Whatever you’ve got planned when building your business site, WordPress will have the tools, extensions and scope to get you there.
Here at Banc, we know a thing or two about content management systems, and some of us play with them for fun. If you need help developing a killer website, our web dev wizards can provide. Get in touch today on 0345 459 0558 or click here to find out more.