What’s the Best CMS for a Small Business?

With a degree in computer information systems from Mohawk Valley Community College, John worked for small businesses and performed freelance work before joining Site-Seeker in 2007.

The first thing that I want to do is answer the above question and clear that up…

There is no one, single CMS that is best for all businesses and in all circumstances!

The subject is highly subjective and must consider many things. If you’ve been told that this or that or the other CMS is “The Best” for all sites and for all things, this statement is as likely to be based on the personal preferences as anything else. It could be because that it’s what the person’s comfortable with, or because this is the popular belief at the moment, or many other reasons that have nothing to do with objective reasoning. The simple idea that there is a one size fits all solution to anything is simply wrong.

That being said, our choice of CMS for building Web sites here at Site-Seeker is WordPress. While we will work with other content management systems and work to maintain and improve sites built using them if we can, if we build a site we will build it in WordPress.

Why do we use WordPress?

Several years ago, we would build a site in whatever was handy at the time, or seemed to make sense, or even because someone else told us it was “The Best.” Basically the flavor of the month, someone heard it was really great and decided that’s what we’d use on the next site. We had sites built in many different content management systems that needed to be maintained.

The problem with this was that since we spread ourselves so thin and never really took the time to learn one system before moving on to the next, we really didn’t know very much about what any of them could really do. It was decided that we should choose one CMS and master it; become experts in using it. The next step was deciding what CMS to use.

The Search

We looked at a dozen or so different content management systems in our search looking at the following aspects of each:

  1. Ease of use
  2. Support
  3. Features
  4. SEO friendliness
  5. Ease of development and customization

Ease of Use

When we looked at the ease of using a particular CMS, this was not our own use. We looked at the skill level of our average client and what they wanted or needed in a CMS. We looked at how intuitive the admin interface was and how difficult it would be to learn and remember how to use it. We also looked at how the admin interface could be modified and if these modification would make it more or less difficult to use.

Another important thing that needed to be considered was how much of the site could be maintained by the CMS. The reason to use a CMS is to make all of the content of the site manageable and using a CMS is pointless if the client must go back to a developer to get simple changes made like adding a link to a menu or changing the text in the footer.

Support

There were a whole host of things that needed to be looked at as far as support is concerned that includes:

  • How many hosting companies support sites built on the platform, is it difficult to set up and were there any restrictions?
  • How hard would it be for the client to find someone else to work on their site should they want to?
  • How large of a community does the CMS have? Could questions get answers easily and quickly?

It’s great to have clients and we don’t want any of them to leave, but it does happen. One of the last things that I want to do is to tie the client down. If for some reason the client should want to leave, then it should be as easy as possible.

Also, if support is easy to find, should we need to find additional developers for those times when we have more work than we can really handle, having a large community and pool of developers to choose from is an important thing to consider.

Features

Looking at the features that were available we needed to consider the number, quality and variety. Were there plenty of choices. What king of plugins or extensions are available. How well are they supported. We were not just looking at the features of the core application, but far beyond that as well.

SEO Friendliness

Being friendly toward SEO means a lot more that “Can I add titles and descriptions to pages?” Unfortunately, this is the extent of what most developers consider SEO. I’ve spent several years learning what goes into and building SEO friendly websites. It was important not only to look at what was currently needed but also how easily and quickly it could be adapted. The one thing that I can count on when it comes to SEO is that in six months, I’m going to be doing things differently than I do them today.

Ease of Development and Customization

The last thing on the list was how easy is the CMS to develop with and modify as needed. Can sites be built relatively quickly? Can the CMS and a site be modified easily when needed, for added customization. How complex was the code of the CMS to learn.

Client Focused

If you look at the above list of things that we looked at, you may notice that four of the five areas are focused on the client and the client’s needs – not ours. These factors were given more weight than my personal preference which would have centered mostly on ease of development and would have included some SEO considerations too. Maybe some day I’ll tell you what I really thought about the choice we made at the time.

WordPress

When we were done looking at everything, the CMS that had the best overall choice given our criteria was WordPress. It is what we believe to be the best choice for most of our clients. Not based on our opinion, or beliefs, or what anyone told us was the best choice, but based on the facts that were collected. This is why we build all sites with WordPress now. We of course can manage sites that were built in other systems, but when building new sites from the start, we develop in a WordPress system.

This may not be the best choice for your business, and you only have our word to go on. The only way for you to know is to decide what is most important to you and go out and get the answers, weigh the facts, and then make a decision about those facts that best meets your needs. But we’ll be here to help answer questions.