Editor’s Note: This article was written by a future expert from the CAWEB Master’s course. Enjoy!

Commercial or Open Source ? WordPress or Shopify ? To code or not to code ?

When creating a website, the choice of the type of CMS can be complex, and often a big waste of time. To avoid that, here is a short guide that will help you choose the best software, in order to optimize your time, but also the quality of your site!

First of all, What Is a CMS?

The acronym CMS stands for “Content Management System”. It is a software application that is used to create and manage digital content in a simplified way. Simply put, this means that all the major technical part and everything related to the basic infrastructure of the website is handled by the software, so that you can focus on other parts, such as the content of the website.

But that’s just theory. In practice, not all CMSs are equal! Some are more or less “technical”, and therefore more or less easy to use. There are two main families of CMS that we will see today: Open Source CMS, and commercial CMS.

Commercial CMSs, the Easiest Solution

If you are lazy, or if you don’t want to be bothered with coding, we recommend you to use a Commercial CMS. Most of the platforms on the market are easy to use and do not require complex setups or updates. You will benefit from an all-in-one offer, including the domain name, hosting and online design tools.

The particularity of a Commercial CMS is that anyone outside the company that develops it will not be able to touch the code. If this domain does not interest you or seems too complicated to you, it can be an asset, since you will not have to waste your time learning and training. However, the disadvantage is that you are restricted in the design of your website, and template choices can sometimes be restricted. Moreover, you are not the complete owner of your site, because you depend on the platform that hosts you. If these elements seem essential to you, you will probably have to choose an Open Source CMS instead.

Some of the Most Famous Commercial CMSs

  • Weebly
  • Squarespace
  • Shopify (e-commerce platform)

The More Complex Alternative: Open Source CMS

Open source CMS are free to use and have a free license, which means they can be downloaded free of charge without contract, used and modified without having to pay the author. Their particularity is that you will have to install them yourself, and then you will have to buy your domain name and hosting. This type of CMS is the most widely used at the moment, because it offers many advantages:

  • They are known and used by a very large amount of service providers (developers, web agencies).
  • They are constantly updated and improved by developer and user communities. Over time, these CMSs acquire an ergonomics and ease of use that results from the many comments and suggestions from the community.
  • Open source CMSs have a very large number of additional plug-ins and themes, often free of charge.
  • You can find extensive documentation on the web, and specialized forums on which it is easy to find answers to your questions.

This type of CMS allows you to fully manage your site and customize it to infinity. You will have complete control over your website, however, you must keep in mind that their use requires a minimum of technical knowledge in computer science. The most famous one is WordPress, with 74.6 Million Sites that depend on the platform. If you are ready to start learning and are not afraid to get your hands dirty with code, this type of CMS should be for you!

Some of the Most Famous Open Source CMSs

  • WordPress.org
  • Joomla
  • Drupal
  • Dotclear

In summary, before choosing which type of CMS to use, there are two essential questions you must ask yourself : how much time are you willing to spend creating your site? And how much do you want to personalize it?

After answering those questions, you can either choose a Commercial or an Open Source CMS. Then, you will have to choose which CMS to use from the list of the many that exist!

Thank you for reading, we hope you found this article insightful.

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Thanks from the Tcloc web team