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What Content Management System Should I Choose?

1024 576 Tom McMillan

If I tried to sell you a product that had less than 0.1% market share, had a fraction of the support of competing products, and would handcuff you to my services for the next five years, what would say? You would say no… right? You should say no. Please say no.

Agency Shenanigans

Unfortunately, what I have described above is the game many agencies play. They ask their clients to adopt an in-house proprietary content management system as the platform for their website. If the web content management system is truly an in-house offering then, compared to the systems I discuss below, it:

  • Is less secure, flexible and user-friendly;
  • Has a fraction of the support;
  • Lacks plugins and functionality available to systems with larger installed bases; and
  • Prevents you the client from leaving the agency until the end of the website’s useful life.

However, in many cases these so-called in-house systems are actually white labelled versions of the open source systems discussed below. Don’t fall victim to agency shenanigans. Demand one of the systems outlined in this article.

Two Different Web Content Ecosystems

Web content management systems generally fall into two completely different eco-systems:

  1. Basic systems (often open source) for small to medium sized businesses; and
  2. Enterprise systems for global businesses.

Basic Web Content Management Systems

Small to medium sized businesses that do not have complex business needs should play in the basic web content sandbox for the following reasons:

  1. Ease of deployment;
  2. Low cost;
  3. Large installed base which is a source of security and support; and
  4. A large population of plugins to address the functions or integrations you might need.

Basic systems excel at curating digital content, syndicating that content, and supporting e-commerce. They will also seamlessly integrate with your customer relationship management, accounting, talent management and other online systems.

The top three systems in this category are open source and include WordPress, Joomla and Drupal.

Source: W3Techs – Web Technology Survey

Confessions of an Open Source Hater

As recently as a year ago, I could be found pounding the table saying WordPress would be the death of us all. I was wrong.

Like many others, I hated open source content management systems because they conjured images of amateur hour websites full of potential security exploits. Ironically, it’s the large installed base of these open source systems that is the source of their security. The more instances of a web content management system, the more canaries there are in the coal mine to detect potential security issues.

Today, these web content management systems provide some of the most powerful capabilities available in the marketplace. They are used extensively by professional design houses. For example, Q4 Web Systems uses a Joomla core and NASDAQ’s investor websites are based on Drupal.

That proprietary in-house system being pushed on you by your agency is probably one of these three systems. Surprise!

Content Syndication

A quick note on plugins that can help you syndicate your content in WordPress:

  • Subscribe2 will instantly send an e-mail to subscribers when a new post is added to your site. You can limit which post categories utilize these instant email blasts. This function is best suited for e-mail news alerts for news releases;
  • MailChimp RSS feed driven campaigns can provide periodic summaries of posts in a specific category on a weekly/monthly basis. This function is best suited for your marketing and PR posts;
  • NextScripts: Social Networks Auto-Poster (SNAP) automates dissemination to multiple social media profiles, groups, and company pages.

Enterprise Web Content Management Systems

The next level up in web content management systems is the enterprise eco-system. Global enterprises operating in multiple regions, in multiple languages, across multiple industrial verticals, like General Electric, are the target market of these systems. Gartner’s most recent analyst report and magic quadrant for enterprise web content management systems can be found on the IBM website:


A word of caution with respect to enterprise solutions: Choosing an enterprise solution before you are at scale is a lot like buying a Lamborghini to mow your lawn. In addition, it is unlikely you will have the budget to engage with these partners properly, so you’ll get their “C” team and wind up with a sub-optimal product.

Make sure you choose a system that is the right fit for your company’s size and budget.


WordPress dominates the web content management system space holding nearly 60% of the content management system market and supporting 27% of all websites on the internet today. With Fortune 500 companies like IBM (Yes, IBM), GM, Sony and many more using WordPress, you need to ask yourself one thing: If the biggest and the best are using WordPress to curate their digital content, will choosing a different platform make you look really smart or really stupid?


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