Takeaway: When it comes to content management systems, you have a number of good options. Here are five powerful — and free — CMS tools worth checking out.
Even if you don’t have the budget to hire a professional Web design staff, you can still build a great-looking site yourself. The following list introduces several feature-packed CMS tools that can help you get your Web site up and running in no time. All the tools are available on Linux, Windows, and OS X platforms — and all of them are free.
Note: This list is based on an entry in our DIY IT Guy blog.
Drupal is an open source content management system that’s driven by MySQL. It can do just about anything required for your company Web site. It’s one of my favorite tools for building database-driven, dynamic Web sites. Drupal has a huge repository of modules and offers additional functionality beyond content management, including the ability to create your online e-commerce presence and numerous social networking functions and features. Of all the CMSes I have tried, Drupal is one of the easiest to install and manage.
Joomla! is a dynamic, open source CMS that focuses on power and features. Like Drupal, it has a large repository of add-ons that greatly extend the functionality of a Joomla!-powered site. Even with its near-overkill feature list, it still manages to maintain a fairly simple installation process. The one catch with Joomla! (as with any of the more complex user-management tools) is that it requires careful consideration when dealing with permissions.
eXtensible Object Oriented Portal System (XOOPS) is similar to Drupal and Joomla! in many ways. It is a database-driven CMS that is powerful, extendable, easy to install and administer, and themeable. However, XOOPS is different in that it offers a great templating system and the ability to import entire HTML-based sites. XOOPS has a built-in backup system and an outstanding built-in email notification system. It’s the number one CMS listed on SourceForge and is recognized by the Real Story Group (formerly CMS Watch).
WebsiteBaker is less well known than the preceding tools, but it doesn’t fall far behind them in terms of usability, functionality, and power. And WebsiteBaker offers one attractive option that the other tools do not: a portable edition. This edition, powered by Server2Go, lets you test and run a WebsiteBaker installation on the local machine from a USB drive. You can get to the heart of the portable version by extracting the contents of the .exe file and navigating into htdocs to see the .php and .css files used by WebsiteBaker Portable. WebsiteBaker really excels with its easy installation.
Concrete5 is a CMS tool built for marketing, which makes it perfect for small companies with little to no budget for a marketing-based Web presence. It also has plenty of modules and themes to extend your site even further. Out of the box, a Concrete5 site is light-years beyond what other CMS tools offer. Concrete5 might be the future of the CMS.
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