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Imagine moving thousands of articles, pages, images, and videos from one place to another.
It sounds like an extensive, time-consuming mess because it is. But that’s exactly what you have to do if you choose the wrong content management system.
A few years ago, I decided to switch one of my websites from WordPress to Squarespace. At the time, it seemed like a great idea. But… I ended up spending months painstakingly transferring everything from one platform to the other.
The worst part? Every single page had random code snippets, weird formatting, and shortcodes I had to manually handle because there are countless things you can do in WordPress that aren’t possible in Squarespace.
It was so terrible I ended up giving up halfway through. Switching from one CMS to another is an awful experience and I definitely don’t recommend it.
So, there’s a lot of pressure to make the right choice the first time.
However, there are countless options to choose from, making the right decision feel impossible. So to help you get it right, I reviewed the top CMS platforms that you should consider.
The 6 Best Content Management Systems to Consider:
- Wix – Best drag and drop content management system
- WordPress.org – Best content management system for bloggers
- Squarespace – Best CMS for creative businesses
- Drupal – Best CMS for high-security industries
- Cypher Learning – Best content management system for online education
- CrownPeak DXM – Best enterprise CMS solution
When it Makes Sense to Invest In a Content Management System
If you’ve never created a website before, a content management system is crucial to the process. High-level developers and coders may be okay without one, but beginners and everyday business owners have a lot to gain by investing in the right platform.
Without a CMS, you have to know (or learn) HTML and CSS. Or hire a developer to build something for you.
And when you hire a developer, it’s hard to make changes to your website on your own.
So, you have to go back and hire the developer again ($$$) to make simple changes like updating your brand colors or rewording a headline on your home page.
If you’re anything like us, the lack of control and relying on someone else simply isn’t an option. Things change every day, and you want to try out new things without spending money or waiting for someone else to do it for you.
Which… is where a content management system comes in handy.
Essentially, the best CMS provides templates with HTML and CSS code built in. So, you don’t have to touch a single line of code to design your entire website and manage the content that lives on it.
The bottom line: If you’re not a website developer, not interested in hiring one, you want a complex website, or you don’t want to spend several years learning two programming languages, you need a CMS platform to build your website.
#1 – Wix — The Best Content Management System for Beginners
Wix is an all-in-one website builder that includes web hosting services and a drag and drop interface, making it super easy to use and excellent for beginners.
You can choose between hundreds of free design templates to help you get started. And they offer a free Wix ADI (advanced design intelligence) tool that automatically creates your website for you.
From there, you can edit and customize everything as much as you’d like, rather than starting from a blank page. You also get access to essential features, including:
- Advanced design (i.e., animation, video backgrounds, and parallax)
- Unlimited fonts with 100+ built into the platform
- Integrated live chat to speak with customers in real-time
- Free SSL security certificate
- Powerful analytics and reporting
- Intuitive ecommerce features (on specific plans)
- Simple blogging tools
Furthermore, you can try it out and build your entire website for free. However, the free plan comes with a Wix subdomain as your URL, meaning it’ll look like this — username.wixsite.com. And Wix also displays ads on your website.
You have to upgrade to a paid plan when you’re ready to publish your website using a custom domain name without Wix branding.
If you don’t already have a domain name, you can get one free for the first year if you choose one of Wix’s annual paid plans. Alternatively, see our top domain registrar recommendations to purchase one elsewhere.
Wix’s paid plans start at $13 per month and increase from there, depending on what you need.
Get started on the free plan to take Wix for a test drive today!
#2 – WordPress.org — The Best CMS for Bloggers
38% of the entire internet runs on the WordPress.org CMS platform.
Plus, it’s the most popular content management system available. You can build virtually any type of website with WordPress.org. However, it’s most suitable for bloggers and websites that regularly publish new content.
WordPress.org is a free, open-source platform that makes it easy to create, edit, and manage the pages of your website as well as your blog posts.
Furthermore, you also get access to features, like:
- 55,000+ free and paid plugins for added functionality
- Complete design flexibility and freedom
- Intuitive media management (i.e., images and videos)
- Mobile app to manage your site on the go
- A community of 60+ million users
We use it here at Crazy Egg, and it’s perfect for our needs.
But despite being free to download, you need to buy web hosting before installing and using WordPress.org’s open-source software.
However, there is a learning curve, so be prepared to spend some time learning how WordPress.org works. Once you get the hang of it, it’s straightforward to use, lightweight, and much easier than coding a website from scratch.
#3 – Squarespace – The Best CMS for Creative Businesses
Squarespace is also an all-in-one page builder. Its intuitive drag-and-drop builder makes it perfect for beginners and creative businesses alike.
However, it’s most suitable for businesses that rely on visual content, like photographers, illustrators, design studios, and artists.
While Wix and WordPress.org are known for flexibility, Squarespace is known for its beautiful and professional design templates. They’re perfect and ready to go right out of the box, making Squarespace an excellent choice even if you’re not tech-savvy.
And every plan includes powerful CMS features, like:
- Pre-built design sections
- Third-party extensions
- Built-in email and social tools
- Basic blogging features
- Ecommerce functionality (on some plans)
Furthermore, Squarespace includes web hosting services, so you don’t have to worry about buying it elsewhere. And you can also get a free domain name if you opt for one of their annual premium plans.
Paid plans start at $12 per month billed annually. But, you can pay a bit more for month-to-month billing if you’re not sold on the platform.
Just keep in mind you don’t get a free domain name with Squarespace’s monthly plans.
#4 – Drupal — The Best Content Management System for High-Security Industries
Government agencies, universities, banks, and healthcare facilities are just a few examples of high-security industries with heightened security needs. And organizations like NASA, Cornell University, and the White House trust Drupal to keep their websites secure.
Why? Because the open-source platform is built with security and stability in mind.
There are more than one million developers supporting Drupal around the world. Furthermore, they have an in-house team of security experts continuously monitoring and addressing security issues and vulnerabilities.
And many attacks and security problems get resolved before they become a threat thanks to Drupal’s extensive community code review process.
With Drupal, you also get access to advanced security features, including:
- Extensive user access control
- Database encryption
- Transparency with frequent security reports
- Automatic updates
- Malicious data entry protection
- Mitigation of DDoS attacks
- Regular security patches
Aside from security, Drupal is highly customizable and suitable for organizations of varying sizes. Plus, the software offers accessibility, automation, and personalization features straight out of the box.
Note: You need to buy web hosting services before you can start using Drupal. Check out our top web hosting recommendations to find the right hosting services for your new website.
Download Drupal for free today!
#5 – Cypher Learning — The Best Content Management System for Online Education
An learning management system (LMS) is a specific type of content management system, specifically for online education. And if you’re interested in creating a website to facilitate online learning, Cypher Learning offers the top systems on the market.
They offer specialized products for schools, businesses, and entrepreneurs. So you’re covered whether you want to build an internal training platform for your employees, an online classroom for your students, or you want to add an extra revenue stream to your online business.
NEO is Cypher Learning’s solution for schools and universities. It’s suitable for educational facilities of all shapes and sizes, anywhere in the world.
And the best part? It’s free for basic CMS features and schools with up to 400 students.
MATRIX is for enterprise business training programs. It’s an excellent solution whether you need to train your employees, want to sell online courses, or track your employee’s performance over time.
Plans start at $249 per month for up to 50 learners.
Lastly, INDIE is perfect for entrepreneurs and small business owners interested in creating and selling online courses. It includes everything you need to create, market, and sell your courses to share your expertise and make more money online.
INDIE plans start at $103 per month for up to 1,000 students.
Each product offers a free 14-day trial so you can try it free to see if it’s the best content management system for your organization.
#6 – CrownPeak — The Best Enterprise-Grade CMS Solution
If you need to launch and scale complex websites or manage content on multiple websites from one centralized location, CrownPeak is the world’s only cloud-native enterprise-grade CMS platform.
This powerful platform empowers enterprise users to create excellent and contextual experiences across hundreds of channels around the world. Plus, this CMS exists to help you build, personalize, and launch intricate websites at scale.
With CrownPeak, you can use their in-line content editor or a form editor. Plus, you can create content once and deliver it across hundreds of sites with one click. Furthermore, you get access to enterprise-grade features, like:
- Advanced A/B testing and targeting rules
- Content localization and translation features
- Multi-site management from one dashboard
- Omni-channel accessibility compliance
- Completely headless experiences
- Consent compliance and management
- No upsells and no downtime
CrownPeak Digital Experience Management also includes a secondary product to optimize your websites and user experiences seamlessly without breaking the bank. It helps users flag broken links, spot accessibility issues, find critical SEO errors, and more.
It’s the only CMS on the market today that offers this level of service.
Pricing isn’t available online. So, request a quote or schedule a free demo to see if CrownPeak DXM is the right enterprise-grade CMS solution for you.
Methodology For Choosing The Best Content Management System
Now that you know my top CMS recommendations, let’s talk about how to choose the best content management system for you and your new website.
Every platform is unique and serves users of differing skill levels with different requirements. So, it’s important to consider the following factors as you go through the process of making your final decision.
Your Skill Level
If you’ve never created a website before, Wix and Squarespace are the easiest content management systems to use.
However, if you’re up for a slight challenge, WordPress.org is an excellent alternative. It offers more flexibility and creative freedom. However, it does take a few extra steps to get going. The process starts with purchasing a shared web hosting plan.
With that said, systems like Drupal, Cypher Learning, and CrownPeak have a steeper learning curve. So, I don’t recommend them unless you know what you’re doing or have a specific need for those types of content management systems.
Purpose of Your Website
Aside from skill level, the purpose of your website is just as important to consider.
Drupal, Cypher Learning, and CrownPeak all have specific use cases. So, I only recommend those if you need the specific features they come with.
On the other hand, WordPress.org is great because you can create virtually any type of website you want to. From ecommerce and blogging to restaurants and physical stores, there’s a plugin to make it happen.
Wix and Squarespace are a bit more limited in what you can do with them. However, they’re both still a smart choice for beginners. Wix is better for ecommerce stores, bloggers, and general businesses.
And Squarespace is best for creative businesses interested in showing off their portfolios.
Some content management systems are more flexible than others.
But if you need a simple website and want a simple setup process, Wix and Squarespace are your best options. Their drag and drop interfaces make getting started and maintaining your website easy.
However, if you need more flexibility, WordPress.org is your best bet. With 55,000+ plugins, you can make your website do anything you want it to. But, it’s not as easy to learn, so expect to take some time to learn how to use it.
Drupal and Cypher Learning offer a lot of flexibility for their specific use cases. But, I don’t recommend them unless you’re after airtight security or creating an online learning platform.
Lastly, CrownPeak is highly customizable and flexible. But, it’s overkill for most websites. So, stick to one of the other options unless you need an enterprise-grade CMS.
For most users, WordPress.org is an excellent choice. It’s flexible, open-source, and easy to use once you figure out how it works. It’s suitable for virtually every type of website. However, you do need to buy web hosting (we highly recommend Bluehost).
Plus, Bluehost makes it incredibly easy to get started. They offer a free domain name for the first year and one-click WordPress.org installation. So, it only takes a few clicks to get things set up.
However, if you’re an absolute beginner and want something easy to use and simple to set up, Wix is your best option. It doesn’t offer quite as much flexibility, but it’s the easiest content management system on the market.
Aside from WordPress.org and Wix, the right choice depends on what you need.
So, be sure to use the criteria we talked about as you go through the process of choosing the best content management system for your new website.