Picking a platform for your website is an important decision for the online presence of your business. With vendors providing countless options, it can be difficult to choose the right one. The important factors you need to consider are functionality, ease of use, and reasonable pricing.
Over a decade ago, there were only HTML-based websites that were built from scratch by writing code in a plain text editor. Technology has progressed a long way since then and now there are a wide variety of solutions available, including Content Management Systems (CMS).
Nowadays, the big web development shops in New Zealand offer custom CMS platforms with promises of glory and expensive price tags. Instead of listening to a sales person, we recommended that, in the first instance, you ask yourself what you are looking for and then decide.
We are going to compare some of the popular platforms to help give you an idea of what you should pick.
Content Management Systems
What is a content management system?
A CMS is an application that allows you to create and run your website. You will get an interface where you can create and update pages, posts, and other types of content including images, videos, and more. You can also organise the content however you want to.
In addition, you can change the design of the website through the admin panel. You perform these actions by clicking buttons or by drag and drop.
There are two types of CMS: open source CMS, and custom or proprietary CMS.
Open Source CMS
An open source CMS is a platform built using code that is readily available to anyone to use, copy, edit, or redistribute. Some of the most popular open source CMS platforms are WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal.
Using an open source CMS is simple – you buy your own domain, set up website hosting, and install the open source CMS on your web server. You then choose a theme for your website, add plugins for advanced functionality, and create the content.
An open source CMS allows you great control of your website. In addition, you can create and update your website without any knowledge of coding languages. According to Yoast, the most popular open source CMS platform is WordPress. It is used on over 70 million websites around the world.
With WordPress, you can easily add pages, images, blog posts, and much more. Moreover, there are a vast number of plugins to help you easily add functionality to your website.
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There are countless advantages of using the WordPress platform too. Firstly, you can create any type website – static websites, blogs, e-commerce websites, forums, membership sites, and more. Secondly, you get full ownership of your website so you can change your hosting company without losing the site. Last but not least, WordPress is fully customisable unlike custom CMS platforms and website builders.
If you are looking for a solution that is highly customised as well as being affordable without the hassle of monthly billing, you should consider this route as a proprietary CMS may not be dynamic enough for your needs.
A propriety CMS, or custom CMS, is a platform built and maintained by a single company. This means the source code cannot be modified and you do not own the website. This type of platform is used by web companies who develop their own CMS for their clients. They typically charge a monthly fee and provide support.
Furthermore, these websites are not flexible or easily expandable. The addition of more features to your website, for example, will require manual programming by the CMS owner as you will not have access to the source code. The worst part is that you cannot migrate to any other vendor without losing your website.
As stated by GadgeTopia, we strongly discourage websites which are developed on custom CMS platforms as it is similar to renting a website rather than owning one. In addition, this option is usually expensive in long run.
Website builders allow you to create websites using a drag and drop interface. You simply choose a template and customise the content. A few examples of common website builders are Wix, Weebly, Shopify, and Squarespace.
One of the best things about website builders is that your website and hosting are provided with one simple package that usually includes a free domain name. Furthermore, you don’t have to worry about coding, software maintenance, or other technical aspects of owning a website.
The worst part of website builders is that you only have limited templates to choose from. The customisation options are also limited.
If you want to create an online store, an e-commerce platform will be the right choice for your business. Some of the popular e-commerce platforms are Shopify, BigCommerce, and PrestaShop. These platforms allow you to quickly setup an online store without any coding experience.
One of the perks with hosted e-commerce platforms like the examples above is that you don’t have to worry about website hosting or payment processing. In addition, you get 24/7 support and transaction security. However, these platforms are extremely expensive and you cannot fully customise your website.
If you want to go for an old-school static website which requires design and code from scratch, then you should consider this option. Simple HTML websites are good for small businesses as they are fast and user-friendly.
Pick this option if you don’t have to change your content very often. If the website requires regular maintenance or frequent content changes, you will have difficulties.
To conclude, all platforms have pros and cons but in our opinion, we prefer the open source CMS WordPress. The biggest advantage of using WordPress is that you own your website so can change your hosting company without losing the site. Also, your website is fully customisable and there is a user-friendly interface.