The evolution of content management systemsWhen I was in college (in the '90s), one of my operations classes talked about the magical potential of mass customization. The underlying principle of the class was the operational efficiency that customization brings to the production system. In the same way that customization streamlines the production process, a tailor-made content management system (CMS) can dramatically reduce the design and development costs incurred by even small changes to a company's site.
In an ideal world, organizations would have maximum customization capabilities without the risk of degrading the integrity of their site. However, typically as efficiency is maximized, its customization capability is inversely impacted. In reality, such a perfect system does not exist, and either integrity or customization must, to some extent, be sacrificed. Instead of arbitrarily compromising either trait, companies should consider the appropriate CMS philosophy that best suits their content management needs.
Software-as-a-service (SaaS) CMS
ProsOne of the biggest strengths of a SaaS CMS is the strength of infrastructure building blocks that are provided to the end user. Instead of requiring employees who aren't technologically savvy to alter the fundamental basis of the CMS, installing, configuring, and hosting the SaaS are managed through a SaaS firm or their hosting provider partner.
These systems also usually have a ton of tools and features for users to build and configure their site -- without requiring an in-depth understanding of the CMS. This makes it easy for non-technical users to get a site up and running quickly. It also makes it much easier for non-technical users to administer and manage the site.
Popular SaaS content management systems: A movement away from SaaS CMS platforms has emerged as a recent trend, however some have continued to enjoy success. Microsoft's SharePoint defied critics by remaining popular -- a particularly noteworthy feat given that many would argue it's not really a content management system. However, the fact is that its user management is powered by active directory appeals to many corporations. The line between hosting platforms and content management systems is likely to continue to blur, given SharePoint's success.
Another emerging (or reemerging) SaaS CMS is CM4all. The most recent version is vastly improved and has attempted to increase its market share by partnering with hosting companies. Unlike SharePoint, the CM4all target audience is truly the small office/home office communities, allowing them to quickly and affordably launch a web presence.
Free/open source CMS
ProsOver the past few years, free, open source CMS platforms generated the most buzz and adoption by a wide margin. Given that they are free, offered with extremely easy installation options, and are open source, it is easy to see why they have become increasingly popular with many people. As an added bonus, once the sites are built, both tech-savvy and tech-less users can handle the administration and management.
Another advantage some of the most popular open source CMS platforms have is the ability to install themes. Assuming you can find a customizable theme appropriate for your organization, design costs and your project timeline can be dramatically reduced
Offering developers access to the source code enables code customization to meet their needs, and has seeded the theme/plug-in community, making adapting open source CMS far easier than its comparable SaaS counterpart. Moreover, "open source" means more than simply exposing the code. It is also a philosophy, and the open source connotation draws developers and users for reasons beyond functions or features.
Popular, free/open source content management systems
WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal are the big stars of open source CMS platforms. Typically a user will purchase a hosting plan that supports the platform they want to use, but these are the three most frequently offered. Specialists have emerged to host particular platforms: Companies such as ANHosting (Drupal hosting) and Media Temple have earned their reputation by providing the best hosting available for their chosen platforms.
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I found myself nodding in affirmation while reading your article. I was a little surprised there was no mention of DotNetNuke; we have found it to be a powerful solution and the core installation seems to be much more secure than a vast majority of open source CMS's out there. If your website is hacked and you can't restore your website to a checkpoint before it was hacked and then close the vulnerability, you may find yourself having a whole new website built.... Now if we could just find a CMS that prevents our clients from harming the design/marketing integrity of their website we would be in business!! :-)
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