Every CMS has it's pros and cons and will give you different outcomes.

Choosing a CMS like a dessert

If you’re in charge of your websites next overhaul, you probably are debating about content management system (CMS) you should use.

But if you’re like me—and always thinking with your stomach—debating which type of cake you should make sounds like a whole lot more fun.

Am I right?

In that spirit, I’ve imagined your CMS being something it couldn't be in real life: a cake.

If your CMS where a cake, what would look like?

WordPress

WordPress
WordPress cupcake with all the add-ons...um...plugins

Let’s start with the popular kid.

If WordPress could bake a cake, it would require adding a few on-hand ingredients to a pre-made mix. What you get is a pretty plain vanilla cupcake, er…website. Nothing fancy, but technically it’s still cake, right?

Yeah, a super boring cake.

Let’s dress it up a little.

Here’s where WordPress really shines…and stumbles. The sheer number of themes, plugins, add-ons, etc. are mind boggling. Some work brilliantly, some are completely abandoned. Some work well together, others conflict.

Within a few clicks you can turn your vanilla WordPress site into a fancy-pants drag-and-drop site builder, an e-commerce store, an online magazine, and a host of other things.

Which is great! I’ve built a lot of WordPress sites and the vast number of options provide a dizzying array of options and flexibility.

However, just like a cupcake with two layers of frosting several toppings and some chocolate syrup, adding too many plugins or a wonky theme can result in unappetizing bloat.

Good for …

Not ideal for:

Choose WordPress if you need a site fast and you're okay with using a template, aren't overly worried about security, and aren't concerned about the authoring experience. Expect to pay between $1k – $3k for a template-based site with little to no customization.

Drupal

Industrial-strength Drupal cake

Drupal is a true workhorse. Some would argue it’s more of a framework than a true CMS. It can certainly function as a framework, but it's a CMS-first tool.

Bottom line? Drupal is ideal for sites that need to handle a lot: A lot of content, a lot of traffic, a lot of security.

But with great power comes complexity, cost, and … fine, I’ll say it … responsibility.

Drupal is nothing short of industrial strength.

What kind of cake we can bake with this sucker? A freakin’ life-sized gingerbread house, that’s what. Boo yeah!

Drupal: what it’s good for …

…and what it’s not ideal for.

Choose Drupal if you're running an enterprise-level site, have deep pockets, or both. The long term investment is significant, but it's a powerhouse. Expect to pay anywhere between $20k – $500k depending on requirements and complexity.

Wix & Squarespace

Delicious, but not custom.

First off, these are site builders, not true CMS platforms. That aside, they’re still popular and gaining momentum simply because they have deep ad budgets and appeal to the idea of a fast-and-easy site; people like them because they’re easy. You can get you online in a hurry with very minimal fuss.

If we used these tools to bake a CMS cake, we…well…we’d probably just go to Krispy Kream, pick up a dozen donuts and give up baking as a bad job.

Donuts aren’t technically cake, but good enough for a quick-fix.

Site builders: what they’re good for …

…and what they’re not ideal for.

Choose Wix or Squarespace if you're a solo- or micro-business and need a website yesterday that you can DIY. Expect to pay $20/mo plus any upgrades.

Craft CMS

Built exactly how you want it.

It wouldn't be a surprise if you haven't heard of Craft. It's fairly new to the scene in the CMS world (2011) but has been around long enough to garner attention as a capable content management system that's highly flexible, stable, and easy-to-use.

Now if we baked a cake with Craft, we’d have to start from scratch. No cheating by using a pre-made mix!

And not just from scratch…but you’re going to have to raise the grain, slash the sugar cane, milk the cow, harvest the cacao, and grow the strawberries.

Then you can actually bake the cake. Ok, that might be a stretch. Craft actually has a lot of great features out of the box, but it's so flexible you'll need to define each one.

But, boy-howdy, with the right pastry chef … er … web developer, you’ll get one heck of a cake.

Beauty of Craft is that it’s so flexible that you can pretty much build the site you need—from big directories to custom marketing sites to sites that function like web apps.

The downside is that Craft is not a rapid solution.

In the right hands you’ll get a solid, well-crafted site.

Craft: What it’s good for …

…what it’s not ideal for

Choose Craft if you're looking for a custom solution that's stable, secure, and flexible. Expect to pay anywhere between $8-$25k depending on the complexity and requirements.

Conclusion

There’s no shame in choosing any CMS over another, just like there’s no shame in picking up a dozen donuts instead of constructing a life-sized gingerbread house, burying your cupcakes in toppings, or baking a cake from scratch.

Just recognize what you’re getting and what it will cost you in the long run.

Here at circa42, Craft is our first pick. Other agencies feel the same: it is fast becoming one of the most-used CMSes by top web agencies and web professionals around the world. It's won several awards including Best CMS for SMB, Best CMS for Developers, and Best WordPress Alternative.

Happy baking!

If you'd like a custom site, reach out!