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Which CMS Platform? Choosing: Joomla, Wordpress, Drupal or...

One challenge in choosing a CMS platfrom is the abundance of information and partisan claims about the relative merits of each platform, as well as the defects of competing platforms. Ask 10 developers about their preferred CMS, and you are apt to get a wide range of answers. I have built, developed and tested sites in all of the major platforms, including the three most popular: Wordpress, Drupal, and Joomla. Each platform has some advantages and disadvantages, esepcially when it comes to optimzing your web site (SEO) or crafting more sophisticated navigation systems.

CMS platforms provide enormous potential benefit to SEO since they allow site owners to prime the organic content pump. And a well-made dynamic platform will out-perform ‘flat’ html sites because structural SEO features (meta, page titles, urls, sitemaps, etc.) can be easily – and constantly – managed from the backend.

Here's how the 3 major platforms stack up in my exp[erience:

Wordpress: I think most developers would agree that Wordpress is the premier blogging platform in the world. It comes with a very deep inventory of extensions, is a snap to install and set up, and very easy to add/edit posts, manage comments, and add nifty widgets. Strengths: blogging. Weaknesses: navigation is best suited for categories and tags rather than pages. Plugins do not always work in harmony. Template structure relies on multiple files, making updates a bit harder.

Drupal: a rock solid CMS platform, Drupal was the first major platform to make structural SEO a standard feature. Strengths: Easy to use backend, lots of extensions, and an excellent portal system. Weaknesses: installation/configuration of core functionality and add-ons is not straightforward.

Joomla: the most popular CMS platform in the world, Joomla is used for an enormous range of applications and organizations ranging from Ebay to the UN. Combined with a well-coded template, JCE WYSIWYG, and the K2 CCK, it offers all of the advantages of Wordpress and Drupal. Strengths: 6,000+ extensions, flexible modular approach to layout. Weaknesses: The default themes are weak and poorly optimized. Like the other platforms, it is best handled by a developer/team that has expert knowledge of the pitfalls.

In addition to Joomla, Wordpress, and Drupal - the 'Big 3' of CMS (Content Management System) platforms - there are a plethora of other Open Source and commercial CMS models and products. On the Open Source side, ModX CMS deserves mention for its outstanding quality and zeal for search engine-friendly architecture. Development costs in ModX tend to be higher, and in our experience the backend is not as user-friendly. On the commercial side, the best known platform is Expression Engine, which provides a fair amount of functionality (not as much as Drupal or Joomla, and certainly not for vertical markets).