Gone are the days where we had to hand code pages of HTML, the modern webmaster builds his site using a content management package. But which is the best software suite?
Lets get straight to the point. Wordpress is by far the leading free (and most likely beats paid software too) blogging platform available to download right now. Nothing else quite compares to the full feature set, ease of use and more significantly the huge ever growing user community.
You can’t really go wrong with WordPress!
There are some reasons you might want to chose other systems and we’ll discuss those later in the article but if you have set your sites on running a blog and you’re not sure where to start – just download and install WordPress! You are very unlikely to regret this choice and running your site on WP is not going to limit your options in the short term.
Heck, Blogercise is WordPress powered so it must be good! Seriously, have a good look round this site and I hope you agree that it is easy to navigate, looks simple yet smart and presents the information in a professional manner. Yet I have had to do almost nothing to get this site up and running! Just a few years ago something like this would have taken months to put together, but I threw this up in an afternoon. Really. Obviouly the content has taken many many hours of hard work and careful consideration, but that’s all I’ve had to work on.
The rest just looks after itself.
We have discussed the pros and cons of self hosting in a previous post, so I won’t dwell on this issue here. However if you don’t want to buy your own domain and rent some “web space” you don’t have to, check out the following:
- Blogger – the free platform from Google.
- WordPress.com – this is the hosted version of WordPress, it is free and easy but there are some limitations.
Why Would I use an Alternative CMS?
If you are hoping that your new site will be a little more than just a blog then you might want to think about using a CMS that has more flexibility and functionality. Although WordPress can be used to run all kinds of sites, there are somethings that you’ll struggle to manage without something more specialised.
Consider the following scenarios:
- Looking to run a forum? There are a couple of forum plugins for WP and I use one myself. However they are only useful for small sites and I wouldn’t want to run a large community with one. In this scenario you have a couple of options, either run specialist forum software along side wordpress, or use an integrated content system.
- Want a single login across a range of site features? The problem with starting to use multiple products, eg a wiki package, a blog, a forum all from different sources is that they are unlikely to play nice together. A massive advantage of an integrated CMS is that everything is centralised.
Alternative Content Management Systems
So we talked about integrated CMS systems above, here we briely mention some of the options:
These options are worth a look if you are planning to take your site further that a traditional blog style website. Each has its own pros and cons and all have their own APIs to help you develop your own plugins and modules. I have only set up one site using one of the above suites and have to say that I was glad that I did, but in most cases a straightforward blogging platform will meet your needs.
As I hinted earlier on in this article, I would think carefully about what your plans are and whether you will need anything more complex than WordPress. However if you do want to build a more varied site then have a very careful think about where you want to go as changing your engine later will be time consuming and potentially damaging (although not impossible to do!).
If you are starting out for the first time then I would get going with WordPress and build up from there.