CMS sites are among the most common of present day web platforms. They provide high levels of content organization and bundled features that simplify the process of standing up a new site.
When most organizations set out to redesign a website, they're usually thinking of a content management system (CMS) and the webpages it displays. This solution has been the mainstay of the website industry for at least fifteen years, and there's a good reason why.
The winning idea of a CMS is that you only have to make one decision - the selection of the CMS - and everything else basically falls into place. These solutions are technically called monoliths, and they package everything you need to make a website. They typically include:
-Administrative back-ends, where content can be organized and indexed
-Databases, that format and programmatically stores the content
-User Management and Roles, to organize who can access the content
-Search tools, for users to find what you've put online
-Pre-designed themes with variable range of quality
If you're looking for the greatest quantity of features for the lowest price, it's hard to beat a traditional CMS. Features such as search, navigation menus, SEO, and even e-commerce are built into the basic package and work together seamlessly.
The drawback is that these solutions often suffer from feature bloat and large amounts of technical debt (the implied cost of additional rework caused by choosing an easy solution early in the project). CMS sites often bundle features your project may not really need. Those features require maintenance whether they are in use or not. This exposes potential vectors for security breaches which are often exploited, especially in the common open-source CMS options.
The price points for these solutions are highly variable, from free all the way up to tens of thousands of dollars per license. The cost of a CMS license is most often tied to the product support that is included over time.
Some of the providers and our thoughts:
Wordpress: This service is the original open-source content management system. Wordpress is still the largest and most widely used of any CMS. It's free acquisition price and wide developer community has brought customers in the door for decades and it's plugin system is unmatched. It's codebase is wildly out of date compared with modern coding practices but developers have managed to bolt on modern features to keep the platform viable.
Drupal: Drupal has largely been the second choice in open-source CMS options. It was originally far more groundbreaking, as it introduced the idea of modular, composable content. The ecosystem badly fractured around it's v7 release and has never quite recovered. Nevertheless, it remains a popular option for many government and large corporate organizations.
Sitecore: One of the leading proprietary options, Sitecore offers a CMS with a range of different tools that plug into it. The major difference between this platform and the open-source options is that a single company controls the ecosystem and they charge a substantial licensing fee to use it (which can run over $10K annually). Developers aren't able to augment the system like you can with Wordpress and Drupal, which forces customers into costly upgrades for every feature. While developers can customize the user interface and deliver competent websites, the limitations of the platform make it a questionable choice.
Adobe Experience Manager: Another major proprietary offering, Adobe's CMS is often selected because it is backed by a giant corporation which gives prospective customers confidence. It's a very expensive option, with an annual license that can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. Customers gravitate to this solution because it offers considerable scalability and the backing of Adobe.