How to choose a CMS that doesn't suck.

We are constantly exposed to content management systems day to day and have a huge number of them (and it's growing too!) in our CMS list.

We have noticed more and more that people are having a hard time deciding how to choose the right CMS for the job.

It's not an easy task for some people, and for that reason we've created this article with the hope that it can free some of you from feeling overwhelmed.

When you first realize you need/want a CMS, there is the fear that the CMS you select will:

  1. Suck your time and money into a spinning vortex.
  2. Suck your page rank down the tube due to poor optimization.
  3. Just plain suck.

How do you avoid this?

Start by Following these DO and Do NOT tips:

The DO NOT List:

  1. Do NOT pick your CMS based on the fact that you found a pretty theme for it. Themes can be created quickly and easily.. and
    quite frankly, choosing based on this factor alone is bound to give you a headache.
  2. Do NOT just buy something without trying it first. You wouldn't do it with a car (we hope) so don't do it with your content management system either. We can pretty much guarantee that if you approach a vendor and tell them you are curious and interested but want to demo first, they will make it happen or risk losing your business.
  3. Do NOT throw tons of money (cause we all have tons of money right?) at a developer and have them make something custom just for you. It's not worth the investment.. there are plenty of well supported systems out there and it's much better to have others who know the product as support options rather than just one person.
  4. Do NOT assume that because the CMS costs money, it must be better than it's Open Source alternatives. While this MAY be
    the case in SOME instances.. it is most certainly not always the case. There are a large number of Open Source CMS products on the market that are much better than some of the commercial offerings.. and vice versa.
  5. Do NOT go to the Drupal forums and ask them if WordPress or Drupal is the best.. you will get a biased answer. This is about as intelligent as walking into a Ford dealership and asking them if they think Ford is better than Chevrolet.

The DO List:

  1. DO take your time and explore your options. There are TONS of resources out there (this is the internet for pete's sake!) that can help you in your search. We think This Site is the best. (like how we slid that in there?).  If you have a hard time finding help, then ask and we'll direct you.
  2. DO try the product first. We don't recommend demos as they are already installed. It's best to download the package, find a cheap host somewhere and try to install it and see what happens. If you get lost somewhere and need help.. hit the forums for the applicable package. You can start your hunt for the perfect product by reviewing this cms list or reading some reviews.
  3. DO ask other webmasters of sites that you like. Some may or may not be willing to tell you what (if any) CMS they are using but it never hurts to ask.  Frequest webmaster forums or un-jaded sites such as ours!
  4. DO remember to fully research the product you are considering.. explore some themes, plugins and see how the community
    treats questions from new users. This will give you a good feel for the product.

So now you know what we think you should do and shouldn't do. Let's cover some additional tips.

  1. Make sure that you check to ensure that whichever platform you are evaluating (PHP, .NET, JAVA) your hosting provider, if applicable, supports it.
  2. Check the Showcase pages (if any) for the product you are considering. This is a great help in seeing what the potential of the
    product is.

    Here are a few of the more popular CMS' showcase pages:

    Silverstripe Community Showcase
    Drupal Sites Showcase
    WordPress Showcase

That should give you a fair start. We're sure there are plenty of other items that could be added to this list. By all means, please
contribute!

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