How to Choose a CMS: A Beginner’s Guide

Choosing the right tools to build your website is one of the most important business decisions you will make.

Arguably, the best place to start is with something known as a content management system (CMS). A CMS helps you publish content to your website without writing any code. If you’re not a web development expert, a CMS is almost essential.

There are dozens of CMS options out there, so it can be difficult to choose the best one.

This guide will demystify the process and teach you how to choose a CMS that will meet your business and website needs.

What is a CMS?

A CMS is a type of software used to store and create content to be published on the web. Most content management systems include tools for formatting website posts or pages, editing the text that appears on websites, and publishing web content.

There are many systems you can choose from, and each has its own unique combination of strengths. Finding the right fit depends on your business’s needs as well as the demands of your website.

4 questions to ask when picking a CMS

To help narrow down your search for the perfect CMS, ask yourself these questions:

1. What does my website need to accomplish?

Do you want to feature videos on your site? Do you need to create a portfolio or maintain a blog? Make a list of everything that your site will accomplish, and look for a CMS that can help you achieve those things.

2. How tech savvy are those using the CMS?

The most flexible CMS options are open source (they’re free and created by volunteer developers). However, the most flexible options can also require a bit more of a hands-on attitude, and you’ll need some tech experience to go this route.

If you’re not super tech savvy, a hosted platform like WordPress.com might be the right option. This platform has a user-friendly interface and comes with tools that expand your website’s functionality without you having to write a single line of code.

3. How much does it cost?

As with every business decision you make, price will be a factor. You’ll want something that gives you the most bang for your buck.

There are more commercialized CMS options that come at greater costs than open source ones, but feature enhanced functionality. There are also some basic systems that you can use for free, but you may have to pay for third-party plugins or themes to get the features you need.

In most cases, the best option is to go with a hosted CMS that you can get started with for free. These platforms give you the features you need to build a beautiful and functional website without paying a cent, and offer paid upgrades for those who want access to additional tools.

4. What kind of support do you get?

With your business depending on your CMS, you’ll want to know that support is available if something goes wrong.

It’s helpful to pick a CMS with a large community, because chances are, other users may experience similar issues. WordPress.com, which is part of the largest CMS ecosystem in the world, has forums filled with experts and passionate volunteers that you can turn to for help.

The amount of documentation a CMS provides its users with also makes a difference. Of course, you’ll want to reach out to a CMS’s support staff if you can’t find the answers yourself.

Selecting a CMS is an incredibly important part of creating your business website. By considering the above factors, you’ll be positioned to choose a CMS that perfectly meets your business’s needs.

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