There are so many content management systems to choose from, which one is best? I am a firm believer in open source, so I have limited my choice to open source systems. This still leaves a huge long list of CMS (content management systems) to choose from.
A while back I spent a lot of time checking out the options, and after some time, narrowed it down to WordPress or Drupal.
This article provides a little insight about each system, and provides my recommendation about how to choose between the two.
Along the way, I discovered Typo3 - a very powerful and interesting content management system. Typo3 looks like it can do just about anything, and looks extremely flexible. I spent quite a bit of time with it.
The problem with Typo3 is that it is very difficult to set up. The main problem are the templates - very powerful, but they are not based on any standard such as HTML or PHP etc. The developers have invented their own system, and you have to learn it from scratch. This is no trivial proposition, even for people who are good at this sort of thing and very tech-savvy.
Does Typo3 have place in the online world? It certainly does - it allows you do to do just about anything you could possibly imagine with a content management system. If there is a CMS out there with a feature, Typo3 probably has it too.
But this comes at a cost. As they say on the Typo3 website:
“… the flexibility and richness come with a price: complexity. If you’re not ready to spend a month learning the system and are in a hurry to satisfy a customer, you should probably look into getting somebody to help you or look for something else.”
Typo3 is well documented - probably better than any other open source content management system out there. They have a large pdf download library of Typo3 documentation which explains the system very well. The only problem is that you need to read almost all of it to understand the system.
Speaking of something else, Drupal is an excellent candidate. It is very capable, but only as complicated as you make it. The basic install is, well, pretty basic. Although you can do a pretty good website with it, you will almost certainly want to add modules to get it to do everything you want. They beauty of the Drupal system is that you only install what you need, so if you don’t need much, you end up with fairly simple system. Not really simple - if you want really simple and just a blog, WordPress is probably your best choice.
Drupal does take a while to set up, but as long as you are reasonably savvy with the basics of setting up web applications on a server, its not too bad. If you know any HTML and PHP, that will help you if you need to customize templates, but in many cases this will not be necessary. And if you decided to customize your templates and therefore need to learn (or learn more about) HTML and PHP, you will find this knowledge useful for other web projects.
Drupal is easy to get up and running, but takes some time to set up just the way you want. Chances are though, you will be able to get what you want using Drupal, without a huge time investment. And you can get started with something right away, then add modules and build features as you need them.
Drupal or Typo3
Unless you need a very specialized installation for a large organization, you are probably better with Drupal. Between the two, I recommend Typo3 only if Drupal does not meet your must-have requirements, or if you really like fiddling with esoteric systems. If you choose Typo3, you will certainly have a great site, as long as you put in the long hours and hard work to learn it properly.
Information About Content Management Systems
A good place to research content management systems is the CMS Matrix. It consists of a very long list of content management systems, popular and obscure, free and paid. It lists the features of each, and allows you to do a feature-by-feature comparison between several systems that you select.
Related Article - WordPress vs. Drupal
All of my fully operational websites use WordPress, and I am in the process of setting up some websites using Drupal.
Update! I now have two fully operational Drupal sites: an allergy information website, and my own SEO Service and Technical Writing Service website. The content is not complete, and the allergy site will have more modules added. Both sites work very well.
You can read my comparison of Drupal and WordPress.