A content management system (CMS) helps small business owners organize, manage and present information digitally, such as websites, blogs and online stores. Content management systems can also help you communicate with employees and customers and achieve strategic goals like increasing online sales and loyalty.
How will you use it?
Most popular content management systems today are designed to be easy to learn and use and are available either for free or for low-cost monthly or annual subscriptions. There are, however, some that stand out in key areas, so the first step in choosing the right CMS is to figure out how you’ll use it.
Consider the following questions:
- Which is more important: e-commerce capabilities or communicating things like product information and industry news?
- Do you want something that’s as easy to use as possible, or do you have some programming experience and want more control of the details?
- Do you need something that’s interactive for employees, customers and the public?
Best content management systems for e-commerce
These are easy to set up and update and come with a variety of options to customize your site:
- WooCommerce: The most often-used CMS for small businesses, WooCommerce is integrated with WordPress, making it easy for existing WordPress bloggers to set up shop online. WooCommerce offers many pre-designed templates for your website and store, as well as plug-ins that you can purchase to boost functionality.
- Shopify: Like WooCommerce, Shopify is a popular CMS that’s inexpensive and easy to set up and maintain. It also offers a range of professionally designed templates that can be customized. What many users say sets Shopify apart is its reputation for excellent client service and more straightforward pricing structures than WooCommerce, so you know exactly how much you’ll pay from the start.
Best content management systems for outstanding visual elements
Knockout design templates (which form the basis of your website’s visual elements) make these content management systems ideal for sites that are less focused on generating online sales than sparking interest (think: real estate, cars, boutique hotels):
- Squarespace: Squarespace has e-commerce and blogging capabilities, but it’s the sophisticated and beautiful design templates that users rave about. The basic Business package allows sales of up to 20 products and the Commerce upgrade is unlimited.
- Joomla: For business owners who need visual excellence and want more control over every element, Joomla offers a free alternative to many of the more well-known content management systems (although it is one of the most popular CMSs in the world). While it’s more advanced than many of the others listed here, it’s also designed to be very easy to use (although people with programming know-how will enjoy tweaking it as they build their sites). It also ranks high for user satisfaction and for security.
Best content management systems for information sharing
The following are great for blogs and community forums:
- WordPress: The most popular blogging CMS for personal and professional sites, it’s often said that more than a quarter of the internet runs on WordPress. What makes it so popular is that you can get a free blog, it’s easy to learn with online tutorials and support, and existing blogs can easily be transformed into e-commerce sites through WordPress’s association with WooCommerce.
- Weebly: Weebly users love that it’s so incredibly easy to use, largely due to its drag-and-drop website-building system, and its App Center enables users to easily expand their sites’ offerings and capabilities. It’s a great basic platform for easily communicating with and selling to customers and offers good value.
Content management systems are one of the many tools needed to help small business owners reach their online market, and the above will get you started whether you need a content management system for e-commerce, visual elements or information sharing.