We won’t lie: Managing a website takes a lot of work.
From the design work to the coding and the constant updates to messaging, it often takes a village (or a really awesome team of professionals).
But, with the right CMS, managing and building content on your site will be easy breezy.
What Is a CMS Platform?
A content management system, often abbreviated to CMS, is software that allows you to build, manage, and update your website content all in one place.
Plus, it doesn’t require any technical knowledge (which makes it easier for us non-developers and coders).
Long gone are the days of writing out HTML by hand – now, with dynamic sites that can reach into the thousands of pages, a marketing CMS streamlines the work involved in creating new content in unprecedented ways.
With the right marketing CMS, it only takes seconds to bring your ideas to life.
A CMS enables you to make sweeping changes to the look and feel of your site without ever adjusting a single page individually. You can even use a CMS to stay current on the most recent design trends, such as responsive mobile UX.
CMSs are ideal for websites that create and share a lot of content. So, if you have a blog, tutorial website, or portfolio, a CMS is for you. But, honestly, CMS platforms are so versatile these days that you can use them for almost any project you want!
Features of a Good CMS Platform
Each CMS platform comes with some basic and unique features, so it’s important to analyze your options before you select one.
While there are limitless tools and features that could be of immense value to you, here are six core features you should always look for when choosing a CMS platform for your business.
1. Content Editor
CMS software is made for easy content creation and management, so naturally an easy-to-use content editor is key.
Your business should be able to quickly add, edit, and republish content without the need for specific coding. The best CMS platforms will have a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) feature to simplify your work.
2. Design Flexibility
With any platform, you don’t want to be confined to the templates and layouts you’re given. Just like your content creation, design edits should be accessible and flexible.
With the right design features and customization tools, your developers should be able to create a website that fits your brand while you can still manage and create content on an easy-to-use interface. Beware of CMSs that restrict your backend edits and customizations.
Speaking of customization, it’s essential to have a CMS that allows you to adapt the look and feel of your content to fit your brand style guide.
Font type, size, header styles, and more should be easily customizable in the text editor – or at least the ability for developers to include the coding for such styles.
4. User Management
If you’re part of a larger company, you’re more than likely to have multiple people using your CMS platform.
Therefore, being able to set permissions and manage users can help give the right people access to essential tools, yet also restrict certain features to managers or higher executives.
The best marketing CMS option is often the one that integrates with your existing marketing technology stack. That gives you the potential to make your CMS part of your overall marketing automation plan.
Third-party integrations should be easy to add to your CMS so you can automate certain tasks, like gathering contact information in your CRM or promoting your blog post content on social channels.
Sometimes, you just don’t know how to do something – which is when you turn to someone else for help.
Having reliable customer support or a wide knowledge base for your CMS can be beneficial not only to you and your problems, but also to your time management.
You won’t be sitting at your desk trying to find a solution; you’ll have immediate access to all the answers, which can save you time and get your work done more efficiently.
The Best Free CMS Platforms
As far as free, open-source CMS platforms go, TYPO3 stands tall. It’s one of the most popular CMS options in the world, predominately used in Europe and other regions. This is why it’s a common choice for those looking for multilingual solutions.
The good news is that it’s very flexible, so companies of all sizes looking to scale enjoy this platform. However, it comes with a hefty learning curve and it’s not the most user-friendly CMS on this list.
Pro: “Typo3 is very useful for the development of web applications and websites. Typo 3 offering you the easiness of managing your application with far much stability.”
– User in Computer Software via G2
Con: “The mobile experience on smartphone and tablets is extremely poor. Making one or two small edits can take minutes on a smartphone compared to seconds on a desktop. A proper Android/iOS app would go a long way to making Typo3 more productive for its users.”
– Allen N. via G2
Pro: “The tool column on the left side is great for easy use. Navigating the website is great when using the search bar. It’s fast to use since updates have happened.”
– User in Retail via G2
Con: “TYPO3 has a bit of a learning curve and while it does offer great power and flexibility it can be a chore at times, to no particular fault of its own, but due to the nature of getting two systems to meet in the middle of a third.”
– Darian R. via G2
Drupal is a free, open source CMS software that has been used for sites ranging from the White House to BBC, NBC, and MTV UK.
It was one of the first to utilize now-familiar CMS concepts like modules that extend functionality, themes that instantly adjust the appearance of a site, and more.
Drupal comes with a far wider range of features and more flexibility out of the box than many alternatives. However, some of the drawbacks include an opaque user interface (UI) and some complexity.
Pro: “The platform is well suited for managing a large amount of content. It can be used both for business and personal purposes since it suggests a number of variants of customizing and adjusting it to your needs.”
– Vita M. via Capterra
Con: “Drupal can be difficult to deal with for non-developer or technical profile users. Depending on your objectives, the learning curve can be considerable.”
– Joaquin V. via Capterra
Pro: “Views is the best thing about Drupal. Pre-Views, Drupal is a decent CMS, perhaps a bit more logical than WordPress, but with a lot less users it’s hard to justify it. However with Views, you can make advanced applications with a pretty easy to learn interface. It’s really, really close to a visual programming language, although there are still some things you’ll need to break out the code for.”
– Jason H. via Capterra
Con: “Your code won’t last forever. Every 2-3 years, Drupal releases a new major update which radically changes the functionality of the site. The plus side of this is that it makes Drupal better. The downside is that you will often have to completely re-write your custom code.”
– Madhu S. via Capterra
Weebly is a remarkably popular CMS among marketing companies that want to empower their clients to put their own stamp on the work that gets done. Although not the first full-featured drag-and-drop CMS, it has endured as one of the best for designing and testing online stores.
It combines an assortment of beautiful, responsive themes with simple, intuitive controls and built-in analytics. That said, it lacks the depth of some of its competitors.
Pro: “I have ZERO experience building a website and/or knowing the basics of SEO, etc. In fact, I was so intimidated by the prospect of creating a webpage that I kept postponing going into private practice. It all just felt very overwhelming. I have found Weebly incredibly easy and straightforward to use. The drag and drop features are fantastic and the general design/setup does look professional-enough for those on a budget.”
– Karen T. via Capterra
Con: “I could not move elements to certain places on the website because it is not allowed, the drag and drop function is very useful but in certain places of the website is not possible to place elements, I’m sure Weebly solve this problem in future versions.”
– Betty V. via G2
Pro: “The website builder makes making a free website effortless and easy. To connect your domain is really cheap too. Their plans overall are cheap for site owners to start out especially for someone looking into doing eCommerce.”
– Justin C. via G2
Con: “Nevertheless, the most prominent limitation of this application is that a user must have proper knowledge of coding for customizing the objects. It means their drag and drop customization is limited. Similarly, a user needs strong involvement of weebly customer support if he misses some point and wants to restore the website back. Moreover, it does not support ADI as well.”
– Ishara M. via Capterra
Magento focuses on designing customized ecommerce experiences. It grew out of the need for more robust security in the CMS space. Since it’s both powerful and easy to use, it is appropriate for marketing organizations and the clients they serve.
Magento is ideal for companies that are leveraging eBay as the core of their ecommerce strategy. Marketing promotion features, customer service tools, and detailed reporting are all built in.
Pro: “Powerful, many advanced features and of course open source so no pesky monthly fees. Excellent multilingual and multistore support. A large pool of Magento experts around the world who can help. Some excellent themes available for purchase at a reasonable fee and a wide range of plugins to extent functionality.”
– Warren M. via G2
Con: ” 1. Only the community version of Magento is cheap. The other versions of Magento including support and enterprise and the premium enterprise versions aren’t freely available. Their prices are very high for every person to afford. 2. Magento can only be hosted on dedicated servers. Since it is large, it can’t be hosted in small servers that aren’t dedicated because it needs to be configured. 3. It requires a lot of time to customize using magneto. The architecture who have designed it have made it complicated and hence it takes a lot of time to learn the learning curve and make customizations as compared to other eCommerce solutions.”
– Chamath N. via Capterra
Pro: “There are a plethora of installed features: search term synonyms, built-in marketing tools, detailed shipping/packaging settings, separate catalog and cart price rules, etc. It’s a monster of a platform, one that serves many companies very well. Not having to install a hundred plugins (like on WP) to do what Magento does out of the box is a plus, for sure, not to mention having to worry about the compatibility, support, and updates on WP plugins.”
– Samuel N. via Capterra
Con: “Although it is flexible and customisable, the Magento platform is overly complex and it’s greatest strength – the huge support of third-party developers – is also it’s greatest weakness. There is no central support and if Magento of any of its TP components break down, you are on your own.”
– Shaun S. via G2
It has templates, feature extensions, and a vibrant development community. One thing that sets Joomla apart is its high-level security features, which ship out of the box instead of as plugins.
Joomla is easy to use and can be leveraged to create a completely customized social network experience that integrates seamlessly into existing platforms.
Pro: “It has many remarkable points, it is free and with a large community of users and developers, there are lots of themes that can be installed and customized to improve the graphic image of our website, there is also a wide variety of add-ons available that can be installed for provide some specific functionality that our website needs.”
– Carlos C. via G2
Con: “To be able to use Joomla requires a good knowledge in web programming since some of its functions can be a little difficult to understand, besides the installation of some modules can be difficult.”
– Margaret C. via G2
Pro: “Joomla for me it is an excellent content manager with which I can program all kinds of web application, its code is fully editable which is very good since it can be easily customized having experience in web programming, also has a store where I can find very useful complements to expand its functions.”
– Angel S. via G2
Con: “Setting up may require an initial (steep) learning curve. May be not as easy to set up as Wix or Weebly. Hence may require the admin to be more-or-less tech savvy (and not just a beginner).”
– Alvaro M. via Capterra
Wix is one of the leaders of the pack in “What You See Is What You Get” web design. As a marketing CMS, Wix shines with its combination of user-friendly publishing that blends easily with advanced customization for coding experts.
It is also known for its excellent support and rapid maintenance. Likewise, Wix surprises with a deep list of ecommerce perks like coupon codes and inventory tracking.
Pro: “Wix is easy to use, and easy and intuitive to make websites, we don’t need advanced knowledge to make a website that looks organized, professional and original. Being a beginner we can do great things with Wix. We can also use wix from mobile devices, tablets and computers, it has a very easy interface to work and there are a variety of templates that we can select for our work.”
– Franklin Rene H. via G2
Con: “You are limited to only so many forms on your site, as well as fields. This was the free forms, that you get with the site. You can pay for more fields, if you need them. Also some add in’s cost money, but the ones they provide for free did the job for me.”
– Scott U. via Capterra
Pro: “Clean and user friendly interface for building from scratch or editing templates. Tons and tons of available options to choose from. (Colors, fonts, menus, etc.) Our websites don’t look cookie cutter, they look custom built. Connecting your own domain is super easy! It takes only a few minutes and is up and working immediately.
Access to all the features during building. Basically we can use all of the features (even if we have to upgrade to premium to use them live) so that I can be sure that we really do want to pay for those features. ”
– Ashley P. via Capterra
Con: “I dislike the manner in which the site dashboards are spread out. It is hard to explore the different highlights, and discovering things like webpage traffic is non-intuitive and something else that I abhorrence is the advertisements that are added to my site. You need to pay somewhat extra to get those expelled.”
– Melisa M. via G2
With tens of millions of sites and the most active development and support communities on the web, WordPress is one of the biggest success stories in modern software history.
It pioneered many of the ideas its rivals are still trying to perfect. It has the biggest catalog of optional feature plugins and themes of any CMS and can be customized to suit any vision. However, maintenance can be tedious and security implementation is sometimes uneven.
Pro: “It’s incredibly customisable. There are no shortage of WordPress developers out there if you’re looking for a custom build, and there are thousands of plug-ins and themes which can sort you out if you’re looking for an out of the box solution. For the most part, I don’t need anyone else to look at the website on a day to day basis, and am able to effectively manage it myself.”
– Jemma C. via Capterra
Con: “WordPress websites do not seem to be quite as lightweight and as fast as websites coded bespoke from scratch in HTML, PHP, CSS and JS. The shear number of updates to themes, core files and plugins can sometimes cause clashes and problems with websites running on the platform. Managing a number of WordPress websites takes a good deal of will power, resources and time.”
– Verified Reviewer via Capterra
Pro: “WordPress has a low barrier to entry. No matter your skill level or goals WordPress has an entry point for everyone. WordPress has the slogan “Code is Poetry”, which can be interpreted as meaning that code is beautiful to everyone in different ways. Whether you’re a beginner, writer, web developer, or advanced coder you can use WordPress to achieve your goals at or beyond your initial skill level with relative ease.”
– Nigel Masimba R. via Capterra
Con: “The biggest downside is the back end operation of your site; especially if you’re like me and don’t want to spend much time under the hood. Because so many companies and products offer WordPress compatible plugins, you can get just about anything you need for an update. HOWEVER, on several occasions we experienced a WordPress update that caused conflicts with some of our plugins, some of which were key cogs in our website.”
– Joseph C. via Capterra
The Best Paid CMS Platforms
8. HubSpot CMS Hub
The HubSpot CMS Hub allows you to build an optimized and personalized website for every device and visitor. It comes with unbelievable ease of use balanced with trendsetting marketing features.
Their latest features allow IT professionals to easily monitor site health and take action as needed, while enabling developers to leverage a flexible themes system to develop easy-to-use content creation experiences for marketers.
Marketing teams enjoy many notable features, including:
- Impactful SEO recommendations
- Contact attribution reporting capabilities
- Adaptive testing functionality
- A simple drag-and-drop editor
- Pre-built and customizable website themes
- Multi-language content creation options
Pro: “Overall the CMS is very easy to use – whether updating a web page or publishing a new blog post – and provides valuable insights. Having a fully integrated CMS plus CRM is helpful to our sales team as we look to uncover new leads and understand which topics are most interesting to our clients and prospects.”
– Matther M. via Capterra
Con: “I’m very skeptical about the CMS part of HubSpot. An expensive closed system just isn’t my idea of a good idea for content management. As for the CRM part of it, sometimes there are a few glitches where things don’t function well but that is rare.”
– Nick L. via Capterra
Pro: “I love HubSpot’s CMS – I run a blog of my own on it, and the CMS stands up really well against WordPress. It has more than enough features for me to alter my website with. The lead management feature is also amazing, and I have touched upon this in this review.”
– Jake P. via G2
Squarespace rounds out the “do it yourself” website designers with a superior drag-and-drop interface none of the rest can match. From the marketing perspective, one of Squarespace’s strengths is its exceptional analytics, which are ready to go from the moment you start.
Its SEO and customer relationship management (CRM) toolkit is more varied than others, and it comes with full email marketing integration. Calendars and maps make it ideal for local businesses, too.
Pro: “Squarespace has all the tools you need to build and manage a great-looking website easily. Their templates are stunning and require little to no coding experience to customize to your needs. Their drag and drop page builder is simple and intuitive. Their pre-made content templates make designing for every platform a breeze.”
– Bryan Y. via G2
Con: “Squarespace has become increasingly expensive, moving more and more features to higher and higher tiers. Their e-commerce options are great for a simple store with few product options, but you cannot change the image of a product when a customer selects a variation of that product – like a different colour of shift, for example. This was a deal-breaker on a recent project and drove us toward Shopify.”
– Dave V. via Capterra
Pro: “I like the integration that Squarespace has with other platforms. From marketing and SEO to payments and social media, you can integrate a TON of different things into your Squarespace site with just the drag of an icon into the build page!”
– Isaac C. via G2
Con: “Sometimes I find the website settings difficult to find. I feel like squarespace could make their setting navigation a little bit more user friendly. I find myself scrolling up and down the page or even googling how to find a setting, when it should be very easy to find.”
– Caitlyn L. via G2
Numerous features make Sitefinity a top contender in the CMS space. Quick and easy inline editing and drag-and-drop layouts making designing and maintaining your website a breeze, and use content personalization to deliver various versions of content to specific audiences.
Plus, easy multi-management allows you to manage multiple sites, channels, and devices all in one place.
There are three packages available, which they refer to as “editions.” Request a custom quote for pricing.
Pro: “I love the widgets and module builder tools as it allows me to quickly and easily build new pages without having to pay our digital agency to do so. And withe the handy widgets I can use infinite versions of similar templates to make as many different pages as I need.”
– Richard P. via G2
Con: “Not easy to upgrade to latest version, if by mistake one deploy the latest version DLL, it change the database and you cannot rollback to old version. The Export/Import feature is not advance enough and randomly breaks. By default Sitefinity store some of the changes like labels & Message, Search Index on ‘File System’ which cause issue when you have a Load Balance environment, there you have to manually sync the file on all environment which is not ideal.”
– Nabeel Q. via G2
Pro: “For the most part, this software is easy to use . There are plenty of page templates to get you started and the drag and drop feature makes it easy to build the structure of your pages. You can make edits at a page level, or a template level. If several pages require the same edit, it can be easily fixed on the template level.”
– Verified Reviewer via Capterra
Con: “Updates requires to update in the staging/dev environments. Would like it to auto update or one click update, and be able to revert updates if needed. Also wish the user community would share more knowledge and custom modules/plugins/themes to the rest of the user base.”
– Administrator via G2
Solodev provides you with a simple step-by-step process to take your website from setup all the way to launch. You have the ability to create a custom website design, add your logo and colors, and easily customize content.
Intuitive editing tools help for easy textual customizations on every page, and you can even create permissions for various users to ensure that the best website page is being launched and that all the right eyes are on it!
There is a free plan (Developer) available, but we recommend the more robust paid packages (which start at $45 per user/month) to give you all the essential tools you need to manage your website with ease.
Pro: “Solodev has offered us a tremendous amount of flexibility, training, support, and design freedom as compared to other CMS platforms. Through it, we’ve had the right blend of options to confidently engage in whatever we imagined from a design standpoint, translating ideas into fully-functional websites.”
– Matthew G. via G2
Con: “Exporting data is slow and tedious. I would like Solodev to improve database exporting options.”
– Vianel G. via G2
Pro: “It’s easy to navigate through the back-end and the pages are very simple to update. Seamless process for updating our website, especially like the blog layout.”
– Francesca L. via Capterra
Kentico is a fully integrated ASP.NET CMS, ecommerce, and online marketing platform to deliver content across multiple channels.
A built-in WYSIWYG editor allows for easy formatting of bullet points and custom CSS styles, while the MVC Page Builder utilizes drag-and-drop widgets for simple website customization.
This CMS is worth looking into, but be aware of the price – licenses start at $4,499 (per year). But, if you’re looking for a headless CMS option, Kentico Cloud might be a good one.
Pro: “Kentico is unparalleled at its price point as a comprehensive customer experience platform. With EMS, it has the power of an enterprise-class CMS, marketing automation and nurturing, personalization, e-commerce, and an incredibly deep bag of tricks through its API and integration options.”
– Nik F. via Capterra
Con: “There were limitations, but always work arounds. We needed a lot of custom widgets and builds on the platform to meet our needs. Using a developer was costly, but 99 out of 100 times, we were able to achieve the desired outcome. I found some of the uploading of images and videos for web purposes to be clunky.”
– Kerrie-Lynn C. via G2
Pro: “The ease of use and the out-of-the-box feature set distinguishes Kentico from other CMS solutions. A great set of functionalities are available without the use of coding. They can be added on templates and can provide a rich set of features on pages/templates.”
– Dimitris R. via G2
Con: “It’s really clunky. The steps I need to take to create content is terrible, and it has no memory as to what I was just working on. For example, when I add a feature article to a folder and need to link back to an article I just worked on, it doesn’t remember my last task and I have to go through all the folders again to find it and link it.”
– User via G2
Pixpa is an all-in-one website builder and marketing platform that is used by creative professionals and small businesses around the world. Its easy drag-and-drop tools enable everyone to showcase, share, and sell online without any coding knowledge.
It also offers integrated marketing and revenue generation tools, including an ecommerce platform, client galleries, blogging features, announcement bars, and much more.
With 24/7 support and a budget-friendly cost of the low tier at just $6 per month, Pixpa is a great CMS for creatives and small businesses.
Pro: “Ease of website creation with portfolio management and e-commerce facilities for creative professionals, artists, designers, photographers and the like. No coding knowledge required.”
– Siddhartha Raj M. via G2
Pro: “Its easy and has drag-and-drop capabilities which enable the user to create unique and beautiful portfolio website. Users can fully customize website themes. The website is mobile-ready and is a great option for photographers, architects, fashion and design enthusiasts. It has an e-commerce store that allows users to start selling their products without coding knowledge. The interface allows the user to manage products, inventory, discounts, shipping etc.”
– Jameela H. via Capterra
Con: “Blog import functionality is not there so I was not able to import my existing blog into my Pixpa website. Also, I need to automate order processing by linking with a good photo lab…i am told they are working on that.”
– Rupinder K. via Capterra
Find the Best Marketing CMS For Your Needs
At Bluleadz, we often advocate testing out different solutions and finding out what works for your team and stack.
That’s good advice when you’re testing the water with social media apps, lead generation, and other parts of the ever-growing marketing mindset.
Once you choose a CMS, switching to another one is a bear. The very aspects that make certain CMS choices attractive for bloggers and entrepreneurs – no fees, open source structure – can be problematic when you are an SMB trying to scale and grow.
Any of the options above can create responsive ecommerce websites for clients, but it takes a little something extra to serve as a complete publishing solution for marketing teams focused on being true inbound marketing thought leaders.
With that in mind, we enthusiastically recommend HubSpot, the solution we use at Bluleadz.
Although any one of HubSpot’s features is great on its own, it’s truly unique when you look at the big picture. So many of the groundbreaking ideas in content marketing have come from HubSpot: Using its solution ensures you benefit from those bursts of inspiration as they happen.
Plus, the HubSpot CMS Hub integrates with the brand’s full suite of marketing automation solutions. And they also offer 24/7 phone support, dynamic content creation abilities, content staging tools, and much more.
Not everyone will pick HubSpot, of course, but the consensus is clear: If you’re not using a marketing CMS yet, 2020 is the year to make the switch.
No matter how big your site may be, it’s easier to shift to a structured CMS solution than to keep manually updating and organizing.
A good CMS not only makes your site faster to maintain, but makes it more rewarding to grow your team and make the most of your innovative ideas. The benefits compound as you go, so the perfect time to get started with your chosen CMS solution is right now.
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We won’t lie: Managing a website takes a lot of work.
From the design work to the coding and the constant updates to messaging, it often takes a village (or a really awesome team of professionals).
But, with the right CMS, managing and building content on your site will be easy […]