By Matthew Beck
Most websites built today need some sort of content management in order to easily keep everything up to date and relevant.
There are many choices when it comes to content management systems (CMS). Each have their own ways of doing things with their own set of features and limitations. Let's run through the best available options you've got.
Grav is a flat file system and as a result is one of the fastest content management systems available. It's modern, powerful and easily built upon.
Like most systems, Grav is free to use for commercial projects.
It works by storing your content within a system of files, which it uses to put together a page as you load it.
You'll need a developer to start you off but once the website is finished you'll be good to go.
Grav's text editor uses Markdown, which is a shorthand way to format your text. It should take no more than an hour to get comfortable using it.
If you have a simple or small website that you don't expect to get more popular than 500,000 visits a day, Grav is a great choice.
Bolt is a Wordpress alternative that works in a similar way. It's built with modern coding practices that are great for your developer to build on and will leave you with a website that's fully prepared for the future.
One of Bolt's major strengths as a content management system is its customisability - every page and post can have separate inputs for each bit of content.
There are no licensing fees with Bolt but you will need a developer to get you started.
The database system can be switched to a file based database, which gives a great speed boost. It's also properly normalised, which means you won't be seeing any slowdowns after owning and using your site for a while.
If you have a lot of dynamic content that requires a database, Bolt is the content management system for your website.
Kirby is the only CMS on this list that's costs to use per website, but if it best fits your requirements it's definitely worth it.
The main benefits of a paid system are its support channels and reliability. All content management systems are complicated and suffer from some bugs - Kirby should be the most stable of them all.
Like Grav, Kirby doesn't use databases, which gives a great speed boost over database based websites.
Translation is currently a tough nut to crack in website management, it's hard to recommend a CMS that handles it really well. Kirby offers multilingual pages natively, unlike every other content management system on this list and is recommended if translation is a bit part of your site.
I should point out that every other system on this list offers translation via extensions (and in Bolt's case this extension was written by a member of the core Bolt team).
Kirby is a great choice all round if you're prepared to drop the extra £70 on the license and don't need a database.
Wordpress (.org not .com!) is the most popular CMS available, to the point where many will tell you it's the only viable option. Of course that's not the case but Wordpress does have its place.
Like most entries on this list, Wordpress is free to use and build on.
The admin area has evolved massively since it was first made available and is famously easy to understand. Most other content management systems base their admin area look and feel on Wordpress.
Installing and setting up Wordpress is easy and many hosts will do everything for you for no extra costs, leaving you to download a theme and start customising.
There are plugins for almost everything on Wordpress so you'll be able to add all the functionality you like. The admin area can easily be changed through more plugins, allowing you to highlight the information you'd like to see.
If you need a quick and cheap website that doesn't need to look different from other websites, Wordpress is for you. You won't need a developer to get started and any extra functionality is just a plugin away.
These four are just a small sample of the content management systems available and the ones that I can personally recommend, depending on the needs of your project.
Make sure to research well what each content management system can offer you, what its features and benefits are and also its limitations.
There's no perfect solution out there but for every website there's a system that will fit far better than any of the others.
I'm Matthew Beck, web designer, developer and owner of Lightspeed Digital. I create bespoke websites from scratch, working with any industry. To find out what I can do for you, call 01273 421702 or send me message at: lightspeed-digital.com/contact
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