Beyond WordPress:
The CMS Landscape in a Nutshell

Resource List

One of the keys to success with integrated digital marketing (IDM) is to create high-quality content, and lots of it. Of equal importance to content creation is content management. When juggling a heavy load of blogging, social engagement, and premium content production (not to mention e-commerce), using a Content Management System (CMS) is a key tool for keeping your website organized. CMS streamlines web design and content publishing, consolidating web-based content into one centralized, easily accessible repository. Better still, CMS allows users to change live content on the website without having to get a developer involved.

Sounds great, but don’t know where to start? Here’s a summary of the top three most-used CMS platforms, along with a brief overview of additional options on the market.

The Big Three


With its beginnings as a blogging platform, WordPress is built to be user-friendly and intuitive for even the most programming-challenged among us. With a wide variety of “themes” offered, users can select what their site looks like with little effort; however, to make a more customized site, designers can build their own themes in CSS and PHP and choose from a large selection of plug-ins.

Besides the alluring features and ease of use, WordPress boasts a large and supportive online community that serves as a go-to resource to resolve issues.

The cherry-on-top is that WordPress is free, which helps explain why it is used by almost a quarter of all websites.

examples: New York Times, CNN


Like WordPress, Drupal is open-source and comparatively easy to use. Some attributes that set Drupal apart from its peers is the ease of assigning a custom URL, or permalink, and the ability to set designated roles for a community-based website (moderator, editor, webmaster, etc.).

Drupal uses a PHP template that can be modified and even offers a theme developer guide to help you get started.

While it doesn’t account for a large share of websites using CMS, Drupal certainly is a good option for developers looking for a more secure system.

examples: MIT, Popular Science


If WordPress is known for its intuitive features and Drupal is known for its customization features, open-source CMS platform Joomla lands somewhere in the middle—providing image resizing, hosting services, advertisement management, content scheduling, contact management, meta-data customization, and customized URLs. While Joomla is not inherently SSL compatible (relevant for e-commerce), you can download add-ons to allow for this use. Although Joomla’s core software offers a number of add-ons, the selection is somewhat limited, which means you need a developer to add additional capabilities.

examples: IHOP, the Guggenheim Museum

Other Notables

With virtually every business or organization seeking different features that they deem most important in a CMS, there are endless options that excel in their own right.

According to Web Technology Surveys, only about 40% of websites they monitor in surveys employ some type of CMS; of that 40%, nearly 70 different content management systems are used.

Needless to say, there are many different options that are not as widely used at the “Big Three.” For those looking for something not offered in WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla, a number of alternatives exist. Here are a few popular options.


Developers find this CMS to be flexible and scalable, with great performance capabilities and “out-of-the-box site-building.” Setbacks include fewer add-ons and training resources and a smaller community of support for the technology. The ExpressionEngine CMS costs roughly $300 per site with additional fees for technical support.

examples: San Antonio Riverwalk, UMass Boston


This CMS is great for e-commerce, blogs, SEO, and web traffic analysis, and can import content from Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr, and Posterous (but exporting is limited to WordPress). For about $20 per month, Squarespace offers unlimited pages and up to 20 items in an online store, and with an annual plan, you also get a free domain. On the negative side, open source coding is not an option with Squarespace CRM, which limits customization, although certain extensions are available for download.

examples: Target Creative, Michael Kors

eZ Publish

What sets eZ Publish apart from the other examples we have discussed is the option of a variety of languages – offering users from over 170 countries CMS solutions. Other notable features include the ability to upload multiple pictures at a time, a great workflow engine, and customization and development. Although another open-source option, this CMS is for the “programmer” and as such is not the most user-intuitive.

examples: ParisTech, DC Shoes

While we only touched on a handful of CMS systems, this comprehensive article on Udemy’s blog lists additional CMS solutions that target other features. By identifying what is important for your website and doing a little research, you can be your own master of content management systems in no time.