WordPress, Drupal Or Joomla? Which CMS Is Right For Me?

Content management systems (CMSs) have completely democratised the world of web development. No longer is it necessary to be equipped with degree-standard qualifications in order to build an extremely professional looking and feature-rich website. No longer is there a need to be versed and fluent in umpteen software languages in order to code myriad functionality into the backend of your home page. No longer do you need to employ a full-time squad of IT security professionals in order to ensure that your website is fully protected from each new wave of cyber attack.

No, all you need now in order to arm your site with all of these things yourself is one of the extremely powerful CMSs that are out there on the web waves, most of which can even be used for free (or else for a small monthly or yearly fee you can gain access to premium options where all sorts of added extras and plugins can be readily available with just a few clicks).

Your Options

If you have decided to go down the open source as opposed the bespoke route (see our recent post ‘CMS: Bespoke Vs. Open Source’), then you will probably find yourself presented with 3 main options – WordPress, Drupal or Joomla.

These are by far the most popular on the web (and in fact WordPress has been downloaded more than 3 times as much as the other 2 put together). There’s good reason for this – they are all incredibly powerful systems which make the designing, building, publishing and maintenance of a website very simple for anybody with only the very minimal grasping of IT skills (with the exception of Drupal, it should be noted).

Indeed, this is what we expect these days – any programme that we encounter on the web or elsewhere we expect to be intuitive and user-friendly. And the fact that these 3 powerhouses have become so popular in the CMS realm through having met these demands is great testimony to this (and indeed, the fact that WordPress requires the user to have the least technical computing and coding skills of the 3 is a sure indicator as to its overwhelming popularity).

But they are not just the same product repackaged in 3 different ways by any stretch of the imagination. They all come with their own set of unique features and functionality, meaning that one of them is bound to be more suitable to your requirements than the others.

Before we go into a summary of each, take a look at this infographic from websitesetup.org so you can get a general overview of the key differences between the three.

Ok, so let’s now look at these 3 brilliant CMS options more closely, which should help you in choosing which one is right for you.

WordPress 

We’ll start with the big one. WordPress is the perfect CMS for absolute beginners in website development. In fact, no previous technical computing or coding skills are need to launch a very professional looking website. As such, in about 5 minutes flat you can have your very own website complete with your own branding up and running and live on the web for your online followers to start using immediately.

There is a large focus on the blog aspect of the website with WordPress. And so, if part of your ongoing marketing campaigns are likely to be focussing on content marketing (and, to be honest, no matter which CMS you choose, they really should be) then WordPress is a great tool to use.

Although WordPress is the ideal choice for the novice, there’s nothing to stop the more adventurous and indeed qualified web developers out there from using it. Although perhaps not the best option to choose in terms of scalability, there is still a lot of leeway left open for customisation, which can be utilised for the purposes of advanced development as well.

Drupal

Drupal is the most technically advanced of the 3, but is the most powerful as a direct trade off. Put simply, if you know absolutely nothing of html or PHP, then there will be an extremely high learning curve for you if you want to use this CMS, or otherwise you will need to hire the professional hands of expert developers to help you.

But, there is no denying the fact that Drupal is the most flexible. If you are equipped with an appropriate amount of technical knowledge, then you will even be able to alter and re-programme even the very root files of the CMS.

With this in mind, Drupal tends to be favoured for building large corporate sites, due to the fact that the scalability is absolutely limitless. However, it should be noted that there is no option to host your website on Drupal servers, so you will need separate web hosting available in order to run Drupal.

Joomla

 Joomla represents the halfway house between WordPress and Drupal, in terms of both ease of use and popularity (not to mention power). Joomla’s real reputation lies in its support for ecommerce sites, as it indeed provides native support for this.

That’s not to say that you cannot build an equally good online store using either WordPress or Drupal, but Joomla has specifically built functionality that makes for great ease of use.

Similarly to Drupal, there is no option to host your Joomla site on Joomla servers, so you will need to source a hosting platform from a third party in order to run your site.

Which CMS do you favour? Tell us about it in the comments below.

3 Web Design Fails That Will Leave Your Head In Your Hands

A little like hairdressing, blogging and cooking, web design is one of those things that everybody thinks they can do. How hard can it be, right?

With the proliferation of the likes of WordPress and other DIY content management systems (CMSs), many business people out there think that they’ll try and save a few quid by designing their own website themselves.

Now, of course, open source CMSs, when used well, can actually provide a small business owner with the precise thing that he/she’s after – a relatively small, not too shabby website, that explains all about the business, has space for a blog, and all the relevant contact information etc. Provided these amateur webmasters don’t try and be too clever and start experimenting with bespoke logo designs, CSS stylesheets and HTML5, then a lot of these sites are just fine.

But when they’re wrong, they’re simply ghastly.

Beware Of the Hobbyist Turned ‘Pro’

There is another breed of amateur web designer that is even more troublesome – the hobbyist turned ‘pro’.

Some people discover at some point in their lives that they actually have a penchant for web design – even though they actually earn their living as a hairdresser, blogger or chef. They get to grips with the basics of design coding, make a few websites for themselves and their friends, and then all of a sudden they think they can start charging £30+ an hour to unsuspecting members of the entrepreneurial public who have decided they want a ‘professional’ to help bolster their online presence.

Now, again, some of these self-taught designers are actually rather good. But, most of them, frankly, are not.

What to look out for when choosing a web designer

When choosing a web designer, the very first thing that you must absolutely demand to see is their portfolio. A good designer should have examples of his/her work that are already out there live on the web. You will need to ask for a link to, say, between 5 and 10 of these so that you can get a clear picture of the designer’s capabilities.

When doing so, watch out for these 3 web design fails that will leave your head in your hands and your mouse cursor on Google – it’s time to start looking for another designer.

Fail 1 – Poor UX Design

We’ve written a few posts on the importance of UX design recently, and, when viewing websites as part of a portfolio from a potential designer, if the UX isn’t nailed, then you need to run away as fast as you can.

Delivering a great experience for users should be at the forefront of each and every web designer’s minds. Forget about all the bells and whistles that the designer claims he/she can integrate into your site – what you want is for your website to function intuitively. This is so important for conversions and sales. Your website needs to very clearly signpost exactly where the relevant information can be found on your site for all visitors that happen upon it.

This means that there needs to be clear navigation, an uncluttered design, no use whatsoever of excessive jargon in the content, and that the user journey is clearly signposted from arrival to checkout.

Fail 2 – Not Optimised For Mobile

This is well and truly the age of the smartphone. Indeed, they have proven to be the most favoured method for internet access for users. In case you missed it, the crossover happened in 2014, as this visualisation from comScore shows:


It’s been more than 3 months now since Google rolled out its mobile-friendly algorithm update – meaning that mobile-friendliness is now a ranking factor in Google search. Google, the undisputed giant of the internet, created this update in response to what users want and expect in this modern era of internet browsing.

“As more people use mobile devices to access the internet, our algorithms have to adapt to these usage patterns,” so said Google on their Webmaster Central Blog back in February when announcing that the update was coming.

This means that if your web designer doesn’t know how to design for mobile, then there’s no point in taking the relationship a single step further. Check all of the websites in your designer’s portfolio on your smart device – if they are not perfect, then you need to go back to Google and start your search for a web designer again.

Fail 3 – Slow Loading Times

Loading time is a ranking factor, both for Google’s PageRank and for the Moz Domain Authority (DA). This means that if your designer’s sites are taking too long to load (and anything more than 2-3 seconds is too long (and ideally it should load in less than 2)), then these sites will not be performing as well as they could in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Slow loading times affect bounce rates significantly. You will know from your own experience that if a website just won’t load, then you naturally jump ship and start searching for competitors. Don’t let this happen to your site.

Bad website designs put loads of unnecessary scripts (i.e. programming routines) in page templates. These scripts have to be run, in sequence, by the user’s browser before the page is fully loaded. A slow load time is a dead giveaway for bad design – and remember to check the speed on your smartphone as well. In fact, this is even more important now that mobile internet use has overtaken desktop.

What are the top web design fails that you look out for? Got any examples you want to share with us? Please do in the comments below.