The story behind a Contact Managed System: Many years ago websites were collections of individual webpages coded in html (hypertext mark up language). If you wanted a new page added to your website you would need to get your web developer to make a copy of an existing webpage, paste new copy content in to it, then update the menu links and upload all the changed and new pages to the webserver. This meant that adding new content could be a lengthy process, especially if further edits were needed.
This all changed with the development of Content Managed Systems (a system of webpages written with server code such as php which interact with a database to display different content through a web browser. The content is updated through your web browser by accessing an admin url). Because of this, content can be updated by non-technical people. Over the past 20 years or so many websites, blogs and web stores have been developed using a Content Managed System.
There are many Content Managed Systems available including WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, ExpressionEngine, Concrete.
Of the many content creation systems available the big two are WordPress and Drupal. These are both “Open Source”, that is the code base is developed and updated for free by many developers around the world. This is increasingly important as it means not only that new features can be developed and added quickly, it also means that security fixes and patches can be developed and made available very quickly once a vulnerability has been discovered.
It has been estimated that WordPress is used on at least 25% of the entire internet. In fact that figure is probably closer to 30% as a large number of new websites are being developed in WordPress. Why is WordPress so popular? WordPress started off as a blogging platform, it quickly became the Blogging platform of choice due to the very easy to use admin backend, enabling you to easily add content and images. As time went on people started developing more and more complex web solutions in WordPress, increasing the number of plugins available and therefore further spreading its usability . The functionality of a CMS can usually by customised by the addition of server code called a Plug-in (or module some systems). A number of plug-ins such as Wordfence for security, a cache (to increase the speed webpages can be loaded by a site visitor) should be used as a minium on all WordPress websites. Nowadays WordPress is used for 90% of the web projects that Peach undertake.
Drupal tends to be a lot more complicated for developing with, but can result in a web solution that is much more customisable. Its strengths also include the ability to connect into and share data with existing online systems; because of this it is often used in larger corporate or government environments where a website needs to utilise existing systems.
When we develop a website solution we will tend to use a number of plugins to give additional functionality; on WordPress developments we will almost always use at least the following:
So which is the best Content Managed system for your website? From our experience here at Peach, we would use WordPress as the ‘go to’ CMS; it has a big installed base, is developer and user friendly and can pretty be used for any project requirements. However, for a small number of website projects requiring more interoperability for other systems or for website with complex structures Drupal is our CMS of choice. At Peach we have created website solutions for companies of all sizes. Some of our WordPress developed websites can be seen here while one of our most recent Drupal websites can be viewed here.
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Pete is Senior Web Developer at Peach Technologies with over twenty years experience working on Websites and Content Managed Systems, including WordPress, Drupal and Joomla. He has worked on websites for Microsoft, Apple, Debenhams, Specsavers and many other well-known and not so well-known customers. Among his interests are 360 VR photography.