Digital / Tech / Web Development

CMS: The Complete Guide To Choose The Best Platform (2021)


Choosing the best CMS can be tricky. With so many available right now, narrowing down your choices can be a tough ask.

And that’s the purpose of this article.

What follows is a deep dive into CMSs. We’re going to discuss what they are, (and, equally importantly, what they aren’t,) and give you a rundown of the pros and cons of each of the most popular options on the market right now.

What is a CMS?

an illustration of a CMS with tools and layouts

CMS stands for Content Management System. It’s a platform or system designed to control the elements of a website at its back end without the need for code. Everything from copy to imagery to design may be edited using a CMS.

Some CMSs allow code access as well but most concentrate on the users’ ability to edit the site with no coding knowledge. Most include WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) functionality to bridge the gap between the code and the design, allowing people with little to no coding experience to create, edit, and publish websites.

Types of CMS

There are a number of different CMSs available on the market. But, for the purposes of this article, we are going to be breaking them down into two basic categories.

Closed source CMS

Closed source software, otherwise known as proprietary software, is computer software for which the publisher reserves certain rights from licenses to use, modify, or share the software. It’s essentially the opposite of open-source software.

A closed source CMS is maintained by a specific set of publishers rather than a collective, as with most open-source software. They’re also often behind a paywall or a SaaS model.

Open-source CMS

Open source is a computing term that denotes software that is released under a specific copyright license. Under this license, the holder grants users the right to study, use, change, and distribute the software, including its source code, to any other person for any other purpose. For this reason, open-source software is often developed in a collaborative, public manner.

Popular CMS tools in detail

different devices showing mocks up designed with the best CMS

Now you know what sort of CMSs are available, let’s take a look at a few popular examples of each sort.

Closed source CMS

The following are three of the most popular closed source CMSs on the market today.

MS SharePoint

SharePoint is a web-based collaborative platform designed to integrate with Microsoft Office. While it’s primarily used as a document storage and management system, it’s highly configurable so its applications vary substantially across organisations.

SharePoint can be used as a CMS both for public-facing websites and internal intranets. The main market for the usage is enterprise businesses already using the system to manage their internal files.


  • Extensive range of features
  • Native Office 365 integration
  • Third-party ERP and CRM integration
  • Considerable customisation


  • Complex to use and maintain
  • Expensive to implement and customise
  • The extensive range of features can prove cumbersome
  • Integrations require extra development


While not the CMS of choice for those on a strict budget, Kentico is still a popular choice of enterprise CMS. One of the most sophisticated on the market, it’s designed to allow implementation in a myriad of ways.

If you’re building an enterprise site or need multi-functionality packaged, Kentico might just be the right CMS for your project.


  • Combines marketing, eCommerce, and digital automation
  • Able to import source code from other projects
  • Built-in simulator that lets you test your final product before go-live
  • Aids in extracting variables in XLS format
  • Extensive support


  • One of the more expensive options available
  • Needs better documentation/help files
  • Needs better tools for custom widget development by end-users
  • A steep learning curve for content creators


Shopify is a commerce platform that allows you to set up an online eCommerce store and sell your products to customers. They also run a POS system for businesses that sell through brick-and-mortar stores.

Whether you sell in-store, online, or via social media, Shopify has the features to help you succeed.


  • Built-in speed and security for hosting
  • All the necessary eCommerce features
  • Excellent customer support
  • Inbuilt marketing functionality
  • Extensive themes
  • Extensive plugins


  • Extensive fees including monthly subscription, transaction fees, credit card fees, and plugin fees
  • Little wiggle room for extensive customisation
  • Little support for content marketing via blogging
  • The steep learning curve for jargon
  • Lock-in functionality


SaaS stands for Software as a Service. It’s a method of software delivery wherein software is accessed online via a subscription as opposed to bought and installed on a computer.

There are a few SaaS CMSs on the market. Let’s look at some of the most popular.


CloudCMS is an API-first approach to content management. Built around high-performance cloud architecture and JSON, it delivers enterprise features including a full editorial environment and flexible content models. The facilitates the creation, management, and publication of fresh content.

CloudCMS offers the ability to host as a subscription or as Docker containers that you’re able to run on-premises.


  • Cloud-based so users can update content anywhere at anytime
  • Extensive customisation capabilities
  • Affordable price with users charged based on how they use the system


  • No reporting or analytics
  • Limited templates
  • No SEO management

Solodev by Amazon AWS

Solodev is a cloud-based CMS that empowers marketers, designers, and developers to work together on digital projects. With this technology, you’re able to design and build feature-rich websites, apps, portals, and API-driven headless solutions that deliver content across multiple channels.


  • Enterprise-grade security
  • Impressive scalability
  • 24/7 U.S.-based support
  • Third-party integration with CRM and ERP systems
  • Extensive customisation


  • Pricing can be expensive
  • Steep learning curve for the interface
  • Issues with customer service
  • Custom code needed to implement certain functionality


Wix is a cloud-based CMS that allows its users to create websites using a WYSIWYG drag and drop editor. As CMSs go, it’s touted as one of the easiest to use for those with no coding knowledge.

It comes packaged with apps, image galleries, fonts, vectors, animations, and just about anything else you’d want to use to develop a website.


  • Easy to use interface
  • Free inbuilt SSL certificate
  • Plenty of ready-made templates
  • Extendable site features via Wix App Market
  • Extensive support


  • Templates aren’t interchangeable – once you have one template you’re locked into it
  • The free Wix plan forces branding
  • Analytics and tracking requires a paid plan
  • You’re locked into the platform
  • Premium plans are single-site only
  • The drag and drop editor often results in scrambled code

Open-source CMS

The following are some of the most popular open-source CMS options on the market right now.


WordPress is an entirely open-source CMS with extensive functionality. No matter your technical knowledge level, WordPress will meet you, offering intuitive WYSIWYG editing for the layman and a robust development knowledge base for those wanting to delve into the code.

WordPress is one of the most popular CMSs on the market, and for good reason. Its dedication to innovation and online best practices make it a fierce contender even among the closed-source crowd.


  • Intuitive interface for the layman
  • Extensive back end access for those wanting more customisation
  • Unparallelled online documentation
  • A robust online community of users
  • A smorgasbord of templates both free and paid
  • The ability to extend functionality with thousands of plugins
  • SEO friendly right out of the box, all advanced features pre-configured


  • You must keep your installation and plugins up to date to ensure security
  • The robustness of your code will depend on the template you choose
  • If you’re hosting your own instance, it can be a multi-step process to set up
  • Extending functionality with plugins can mean paying for extra features


Joomla is an open-source platform that facilitates the build of powerful, dynamic websites and applications. Built on PHP, it has similarities to WordPress but nowhere near the community or popularity.


  • Robust content management capabilities
  • A shallow learning curve for beginners
  • Great for SEO
  • Caching and performance mechanisms
  • Advanced user and permissions management


  • Extensive customisation requires more complex knowledge
  • It isn’t backward compatible
  • The library of extensions isn’t as impressive as competitors
  • Quality free templates are scarce
  • Might spend more time and a lot of time on SEO optimisation


Drupal boasts a backend framework that runs 13% of the top 10,000 websites worldwide. These sites range from the political to corporate to government.


  • Robust community of developers and users
  • Systemic updates
  • Foolproof security
  • Mobile-friendly themes


  • An unfriendly interface
  • Steep learning curve
  • Limited extensibility through modules


Magento is an open-source eCommerce platform based on the coding language PHP. It empowers thousands of retailers to rapidly innovate and grow based on the needs of their business.


  • SEO friendly
  • Optimal scalability
  • Robust customisation options
  • A diverse developer and user community


  • While the platform is free, the extensions that help it run are not
  • Complex user interface
  • Unintuitive customisation

Choose the right CMS for your needs

Choosing the best CMS requires an in-depth knowledge of the needs of your business and its capabilities. But the good news is, whether you’re a layman or a coder, there’s a CMS out there for you.

Each platform has its own advantage, make use of each one along with your business goals. Whether your company requires more secure, cloud-based CMS is a great choice to protect your customers’ data. Or your company requires flexibility and is fully customisable, WordPress will never disappoint you.

However, whichever you chose, it should be the pivot foundation to scale your business and we don’t recommend switching the CMS every now and then. Doing so will result in negative effect in many ways especially for search engines.

Still no decision yet? Book a call with us and let Pounce prop the right decision for you.

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