How to choose the right CMS, our ranking, how to install it... we explain it all.
The open-source culture is rooted in the values of transparency, trust and sharing, which are rooted in the origins of the Internet, when the Web’s mission was to disseminate knowledge. What does this mean in practice for CMS (“Content Management Systems”)?
An open-source CMS is a content management platform whose source code is freely accessible and modifiable by all. This means that users can download, install and customize it free of charge. This is in contrast to so-called “proprietary” software. For example, Apple’s MacOS operating system is proprietary, while Linux is proprietary.
There are several reasons why a software publisher might choose open source:
Open-source CMS are regularly updated and improved by a large community of developers. If you choose one, your company will benefit from these evolutions. It’s a real time-saver for your technical team!
What’s more, the number of additional modules (or “plugins”) being developed is growing all the time, on a huge variety of subjects and themes. Here, too, you benefit from the work and support of the community.
Likewise, if you want to add a function that doesn’t exist, you can decide to develop it yourself, which is not possible with proprietary software.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to believe that, because software is open-source, it won’t cost anything and won’t require in-house technical resources.
In fact, even for a personal blog, a minimum level of expertise is required. If you want to offer a complex and ambitious product, technical resources are still essential to adapt the solution to your needs.
Another major drawback is that, while the source code is accessible to all, it is also accessible to hackers. So you need to be extra vigilant and keep your sites up to date, to make sure you’re always offering the most secure version.
Finally, using open-source software often requires extra rigor on the part of developers to ensure excellent performance and demanding ergonomics.
Still not sure? Here’s a brief overview of the different CMS available, to help you understand what makes them different from each other.
WordPress is the undisputed leader among open-source CMSs, thanks to its ease of use and active community. It’s designed for beginners and advanced users alike, with thousands of themes and modules available to customize your site.
It’s also known as an SEO-friendly CMS, which means it’s easy to optimize for search engines.
Some examples of WordPress sites: LVMH, The Walt Disney Company, Techcrunch, Microsoft News.
Joomla is another popular open-source CMS ideally suited to businesses and organizations. It’s considered more complex than WordPress, but with greater flexibility and many advanced features.
Joomla is also highly customizable, with a wide range of themes and modules available to enhance your site.
Some examples of Joomla sites: EDF, Peugeot, Bayard Presse, Unesco
Drupal is a powerful CMS designed for large-scale projects. It is highly customizable, offering great flexibility and advanced features such as complex workflows, role management and custom layouts.
Drupal is also known for being a secure solution, making it perfect for corporate websites. It requires solid technical knowledge.
Examples of Drupal websites: RadioFrance, Tesla, SNCF, French government portal
Magento specializes in the design of e-commerce sites. It offers a wide range of features for online sellers of all sizes.
These include flexible payment options, cross-selling and up-selling features, and advanced product customization. Note: Drupal and WordPress offer modules for deploying online stores.
Examples of Magento sites: Burger King, Marie-Claire
Typo3 is a European CMS designed by a Dane and widely supported in its early days by the French Dassault Group. It is robust and reliable, and is currently used to create websites for major companies such as Air France and Lufthansa. Like Drupal, it requires a high level of technical knowledge.
Examples of sites with : Smile, The Economist, Total, Bayer
PrestaShop is focused on e-commerce for small and medium-sized businesses. It offers essential online sales features such as shopping carts, flexible payment options and order management functionality.
PrestaShop is also highly customizable, with a wide variety of themes and extensions to enhance your e-commerce site.
Examples of PrestaShop sites: Nat&Nin, Naturabox
OpenCart is an excellent option for small online stores. It offers essential e-commerce functions such as shopping carts, flexible payment options and order management features.
OpenCart is also known for being easy to use.
Example sites with : GTOmega
SilverStripe is a New Zealand solution based on an MVC (Model-View-Controller) framework, which requires a good knowledge of development.
It is ideally suited to agencies, with options for workflow management, role management, collaboration tools and third-party integrations.
9. Concrete5, for absolute beginners
You want to create a blog and WordPress is still too complicated for you? Take a look at Concrete5. With its block-based functionality, it’s known as a CMS for beginners.
Umbraco is based on Microsoft’s .NET framework. It is designed to be easy to use for .NET developers, with full documentation and a wide variety of tools.
Ready to make your choice? Here’s a summary of all the criteria to consider when making your decision.
Proprietary CMS offer several advantages over open-source CMS, such as :
Where to start and what are the first steps? Here’s what you need to know to give you a vision of this decisive moment in the management and launch of your project.
Before installing an open-source CMS, it’s important to check that your server meets the necessary technical prerequisites.
This may include PHP and MySQL version requirements, as well as web server requirements such as Apache or Nginx.
It’s important to follow the specifications of each CMS, which are often available on their website, to ensure that your server is ready for installation.
There are two main installation methods:
Once the CMS has been installed, it’s important to configure it correctly for the site’s stability and smooth operation. This may include configuring the database, creating an administrator and implementing security measures such as SSL certificates, strong passwords and security plugins.
It’s also important to configure basic CMS settings, such as layout and content management options, to ensure that the site functions as intended.
In conclusion, using an open-source CMS offers many advantages, such as transparency, customizability and regular updates thanks to an active, participative community.
What’s more, open-source CMS offer a wide variety of add-on modules to meet a multitude of needs and themes.
However, it’s important to bear in mind the disadvantages, such as the need for technical skills for optimal use, the security risk, and the need to remain vigilant about site maintenance to guarantee security and performance.