The CMS (Content Management System) you use as a web designer will significantly impact the kind of websites you can create. While virtually all of these tools will allow you to organize content, edit themes, and implement various features, some are more flexible and advanced than others.
As one of the most important tools in your kit as a designer, your CMS choice will help you to achieve your creative goals and impress your clients.
However, choosing the right option can be difficult. After all, there are various options to choose from, including cloud-based CMS and open-source tools.
Fortunately, if you’re struggling to find the CMS best suited to you, we can help.
Here are some of the most popular and powerful CMS options designers can explore today.
When it comes to popular CMS solutions, nothing is as widespread as WordPress. Currently, this platform accounts for about 43% of all websites. It’s also likely one of the top tools your clients expect you to use as a designer.
Notably, there are two forms of WordPress available to consider. WordPress.org allows you to access an open-source version of the WordPress software to build a website from scratch. WordPress.com is a hosted solution that enables you to build websites using a selection of pre-built tools.
There are many benefits to choosing WordPress as your CMS. First, it’s the platform most of your clients will be familiar with, so you’re more likely to appeal to many different people. Second, WordPress is also one of the best tools for SEO and blogging, making it ideal for any company trying to build a reputable presence online.
As a bonus, WordPress is inherently flexible. The platform has thousands of plugins for leveraging features like ecommerce, booking platforms, and analytics. So whatever you want to do with WordPress, there’s sure to be a plugin to help you.
- Available as a headless or coupled CMS;
- WordPress plugins allow you to customize site functionality easily;
- Vast community of developers and a strong online presence;
- Access to WYSIWYG text editing;
- Digital asset management included;
- Excellent for SEO and content creation.
- Can require some technical knowledge for beginners;
- WordPress is more accessible to hackers.
Joomla is another award-winning content management system for building applications and websites online. Like WordPress, it’s easy to use, though not as intuitive in some places. You can easily create and edit posts and pages, and you’ll be able to control the configuration of your websites with a highly flexible ecosystem.
Joomla is a downloadable solution that’s free to use for building your ideal websites. Like WordPress, it comes with access to an extensive library of available plugins. You can implement a range of features for ecommerce and security tools. Plus, Joomla has a wide community of other developers to connect with if you ever get stuck.
Joomla does allow you to build websites without touching code. However, it’s better for those with a strong history in web design, as you can get deep into the framework to build something bespoke or more complex.
- Support for omnichannel retail and e-commerce;
- Dedicated security team and firewall options;
- Lots of flexibility and options for complex sites;
- Compatible with enterprise systems like Salesforce;
- Offers a range of plugins and add-ons for functionality;
- Free to use.
- Can be complicated when installing certain features;
- Some compatibility issues with different extensions and modules.
Another excellent option for anyone in search of customizations and flexibility, Drupal is an open-source CMS with a lot of freedom for designers. There are robust content management tools for your pages and blogs and sophisticated APIs for publishing across multiple channels. Plus, Drupal is frequently updated to include more innovative features.
What makes Drupal so compelling to many designers is how deep you can go with your customizations. However, you might struggle to piece everything together if you don’t have a lot of developer expertise. There’s a lot of reliance on code here.
On the plus side, you benefit from a safer and more secure ecosystem with Drupal. The environment has a reputation for being well-protected against potential hackers. Drupal also has a range of “modules” you can use to add new functionality to your sites.
- Excellent levels of customization and flexibility;
- Decoupled and headless development support;
- Support for creating PHP web applications;
- Highly responsive templates and diverse modules;
- Secure environment with safety features.
- Can be complicated without any developer skills;
- Fewer plugins than some alternative options;
- Limited customer support.
If your focus is on designing ecommerce websites, it’s hard to go wrong with Shopify. Built specifically for the age of online selling, Shopify comes with all the tools you need to activate a business online. There’s very little need for any technical know-how to leverage all the functionality of Shopify either. There are various drag-and-drop themes and one-click integrations to explore.
Speaking of integrations, Shopify has a very robust app library. With this service, you can connect many different tools directly to an ecommerce website. In addition, Shopify’s huge community makes it easier to access extra support and help if needed.
Unlike other solutions, Shopify comes with built-in security features, hosting, and other functionality, so you don’t have to piece everything together yourself. There’s even some support for more customized sites if you’re looking for something advanced.
- Excellent for sales across multiple channels;
- Multilingual content in over 20 languages;
- Access to a vast range of apps and integrations;
- Security and hosting features included as standard;
- Excellent customer service and community support;
- Unlimited bandwidth.
- Requires knowledge of the Liquid language for themes;
- Not as flexible as a headless or open-source CMS.
5. Adobe Commerce
If you’re a web designer, you’re already familiar with the company behind Adobe Commerce, formerly known as Magento. This powerful tool makes it easy to create a wide range of different styles of commerce stores for modern customers. You can manage B2B and B2C environments from one platform, host multiple sites across different geographies, and more.
The ecosystem does require a little more learning and development knowledge than some of the other tools mentioned so far, but it can be highly versatile. You can access partner support and additional tools to make building easy. Moreover, the cloud-based environment, with built-in enterprise security, is easy to scale.
Expert support is at the heart of the feature set offered by Magento, making it excellent for designers who want to get assistance quickly for common problems.
- Exceptional scalability to suit any business;
- Omnichannel commerce support;
- Integrations with the Adobe Creative Cloud;
- Highly customizable ecosystem;
- Allows users to schedule content changes;
- Available as a hosted CMS or download.
- Not many plugins or extensions are available;
- May require the assistance of a dedicated developer.
Wix is a website most web designers will be familiar with in 2022. This powerful and easy-to-use tool is wonderfully flexible for creating a wide range of different sites, including stores and blogs. There are more than 200 million users already accessing Wix today.
If you’re looking for something simple, the basic Wix experience is very straightforward for beginners and allows you to adjust your pages however you see fit. You can select from hundreds of drag-and-drop templates to bring your ideas to life and integrate them with various channels. There’s even dropshipping support.
More advanced designers with developer knowledge can take advantage of Editor X, a robust editor with more comprehensive design tools.
- Multi-channel support for e-commerce;
- Various integrations with leading tools;
- Excellent customer support and service;
- Suitable for membership and subscription sites;
- Retail POS hardware and software available;
- Flexible editing.
- Some limitations on bandwidth and storage;
- No headless or open-source version.
Choosing the Right CMS as a Web Designer
There’s no one-size-fits-all when choosing a CMS for your web design strategy. It all depends on the kind of sites you want to build and the functionality you need.
For instance, if you want to create ecommerce stores without worrying about hosting and security, Shopify is a good bet. On the other hand, WordPress might be right for you if you want more freedom to experiment and a great blogging platform.
If you’re developing your web design skills for the first time, you might even benefit from testing a few free versions of these tools to see which you like best.
Featured image via Unsplash.