A new year, a new CMS...?

For a long time now Microsoft Word has been the pre-eminent word processor. There are alternatives, but for the most part those alternatives are judged on how similar they are to, and how compatible they are with Word. Word can be considered the “killer app” in the world or word processing.

When I first started working with web content management systems (CMSs), 12 years ago, one of the first things I learnt was that there was no killer app in the web content management field. The advice then was to work out what you needed a CMS to do, and then choose the one that would best meet your purposes. Over a decade later, that remains true. There isn’t just a handful of CMSs out there either, there are hundreds, if not thousands, and new ones are emerging all the time.

If you search the internet for information on CMSs you will find countless blog posts with titles like:

  • Why I switched from THIS CMS to THAT CMS
  • Why XYZ CMS rocks
  • 10 things I hate about <insert CMS name here>.

While some users remain loyal to a particular CMS, many others eagerly flock to new systems as they emerge. There is clearly a degree of discontent with the current crop of CMSs and it would seem we are no closer to that killer app. Perhaps it would be an interesting exercise to review the many blog posts to determine what are the most common causes of dissatisfaction.  One common complaint seems to be the performance of CMSs: either their slow performance in serving up the website, or their slow performance managing the website in the backend. Some of the newer systems to emerge, such as ProcessWire and Statamic are tackling this issue by providing more of a no-frills approach while still attempting to maintain power and flexibility. 

So, with no killer app it seems that we have to be content with choosing the best fit for each project. But that means having to be skilled in the use of multiple CMSs, and as they all have a learning curve, that seems like a waste of effort. For sure some of the existing CMSs are powerful and flexible even if that does come at some performance cost. Drupal and MODX are two very powerful systems and are both worth investing in the time to learn them. In particular, there seems to be almost nothing that you couldn’t achieve with MODX. But, maybe this year it is time to look at something new. ProcessWire is looking good!

Published: Wednesday, 2 January 2013