There are dozens of great CMSs out there. Regardless of what type of site you’re building, there’s probably one perfectly-suited to it.

The problem is that most designers and developers don’t want to spend time learning a bunch of different CMSs. They want to learn one, or maybe two, and use those for all of their sites. That means they need something that’s both flexible and powerful.

The CMSs below fit that bill pretty well. Some have practically become household names (in designer households, at least), while others are a bit more obscure.

The first three, WordPress, Joomla!, and Drupal, are pretty unarguably the best CMSs out there. The next seven are a bit more subjective, but have a good combination of support, features, and ease-of-use.

Try them out, and decide for yourself which one best fits your needs and the needs of your clients.

1.) WordPress

  • Strengths

    • Huge developer community with plenty of documentation and tutorials available
    • Free and paid plugins and specialized themes make it possible to create virtually any kind of site with WordPress
    • User-friendly dashboard for managing content
  • Weaknesses

    • Can be overkill for basic sites
    • A standard installation can have a lot of security issues, and is very vulnerable to attack without additional security measures
    • No official support outside of user forums, where you may or may not get an official response

2.) Joomla!

  • Strengths

    • User authentication can be done with OpenID, Google, and LDAP, among others
    • More than 7000 extensions
    • Very active user community and tons of documentation available
  • Weaknesses

    • Back-end isn’t as user-friendly as some CMSs, though it’s still very usable
    • Lack of high-quality themes when compared to some other CMSs
    • Can be overkill for simple sites

3.) Drupal

  • Strengths

    • Robust community support, including IRC channels and face-to-face meetups
    • More than 6,000 modules, making Drupal highly extensible
    • A large number of companies offering commercial support for Drupal
  • Weaknesses

    • Can be overkill for simple sites
    • A lack of really high-quality free and commercial themes (there are some, but not nearly as many as there are for some CMSs)
    • Theming system is fairly complicated

4.) ExpressionEngine

  • Strengths

    • Commercial support
    • Focus on security, with no major security breaches ever
    • No restrictions on how a site can be designed
  • Weaknesses

    • Cost is high, especially for commercial sites
    • Can be overkill for simple or smaller sites
    • No interactive demo to try it out before you purchase

5.) TextPattern

  • Strengths

    • Really easy to use interface
    • Well suited for sites of all sizes
    • Really great documentation, including a full online manual
  • Weaknesses

    • Smaller community
    • Fewer plugins than the more popular CMSs
    • Relatively few high-quality templates available

6.) Contao (formerly TYPOlight)

  • Strengths

    • No restrictions on how you can design a site
    • Not much learning curve for content editors and authors
    • Good built-in modules
  • Weaknesses

    • Hardly any themes available, high-quality or not
    • Back-end is sluggish and not particularly well-thought-out
    • Because of back-end setup, it’s probably better-suited to smaller sites without dozens or hundreds of pages

7.) SilverStripe

  • Strengths

    • Basic functions in the back-end are easy to perform
    • Designers are free to use HTML and CSS however they want to design their site
    • Developed on open standards, so it plays well with others
  • Weaknesses

    • Not everything is intuitive in the back-end, which increases the learning curve
    • Only a little over 150 extensions/modules
    • Not many high-quality themes available

8.) Umbraco

  • Strengths

    • Free and paid tutorials and support
    • Powerful and flexible for both websites and intranets
    • An open API
  • Weaknesses

    • Primary add-ons are paid
    • No demo available to try before you download
    • Not really any prebuilt themes available for the front-end

9.) concrete5

  • Strengths

    • Easy to convert a basic HTML site to a concrete5 site in minutes
    • Active and growing developer community
    • Offer business-class hosting that includes support
  • Weaknesses

    • Many useful and basic plugins are quite costly
    • Almost all of the best themes are paid
    • Paid support is expensive if you don’t host with them ($125 and up)

10.) CushyCMS

  • Strengths

    • Incredibly easy for content managers to edit their content
    • Free plan is suitable for many users
    • Very easy and quick to get started
  • Weaknesses

    • Paid plan could be pricey if you’re not using it for multiple sites
    • Email support only available for the paid version
    • Too basic for many types of sites or particularly large sites

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