The different types of CMS
By helloDarwin
August 28, 2019

The Different Types of CMS

Whether you're planning a blog, forum or e-commerce site, the selection of a content management system (CMS) is of crucial importance. Beyond its simple function of hosting content, a CMS plays a fundamental role in the organization, management and coherent presentation of that content.
A CMS acts as the invisible conductor behind the curtain, enabling web designers to structure their information, facilitate updates, and shape the user experience. Even if visitors can't directly discern the CMS, they can feel the positive or negative effects of their choice through fluid navigation or limited functionality.
Today's CMS landscape is vast and diverse, offering a range of solutions to meet specific user needs. Faced with this multitude, making an informed decision can be a real challenge. That's why, in this article, we'll take a look at the most popular CMS, exploring their distinctive features and discussing how each might prove to be the ideal option for your particular needs. Before getting into the details of these CMS, let's take a closer look at what a CMS really is and why it's a key element in building a modern website.

The most popular content management systems

The abundance of options when it comes to content management systems (CMS) only serves to underline the crucial importance of finding the perfect balance between features, flexibility and user-friendliness. Among the myriad of options available, some CMS stand out in particular for their popularity and proven performance. These most popular CMSs are not only acclaimed by the community for their reputation, but have also stood the test of time by offering robust solutions tailored to the diverse needs of users. Their widespread adoption testifies not only to their intrinsic quality, but also to their ability to evolve with the changing demands of the digital landscape. Exploring these CMSs in detail will help us understand why they remain at the top of the list for many web designers, offering a solid foundation for those looking to build and maintain dynamic and effective web presences.


WordPress, the undisputed giant of content management systems (CMS), has emerged as the benchmark for web project creation (blog, website or e-commerce site pace). Launched in 2003, this open source CMS has become the preferred choice for a diverse range of users, from individual bloggers to large corporations. Its success lies in its ease of use, flexibility and extensibility, thanks to a vast collection of plugins and themes. Founded on an active community of developers, WordPress offers an intuitive interface that enables even novices to create and manage professional websites with ease. However, while this tool is often recommended for novices, it should be pointed out that it requires greater computer skills than a CMS like Shopify. Nevertheless, it remains relatively easy to use thanks to its intuitive interface.

Advantages of WordPress

WordPress excels in a number of ways, not least by offering a variety of themes and plugins that enable almost unlimited customization. Its large community of users means easy access to support resources and frequent security updates. Its user-friendliness allows for a gentle learning curve, and its built-in SEO features make it a preferred option for those looking to improve their online visibility.

Disadvantages of WordPress

Despite its many benefits, WordPress is not without its critics. Its popularity makes it an attractive target for security attacks, although steps can be taken to mitigate these risks. Finally, for very specific projects requiring a highly complex structure, other more specialized CMSs may be more suitable.
In any case, installation can be a little complicated, especially as you'll need to install plugins to customize your site and make it fit your needs. Plugin overload can also lead to performance problems, requiring careful management. When it comes to managing multilingual content, it's imperative that WordPress turns to external plugins. While integrating plugins is a relatively straightforward task, you should be aware that they sometimes have security flaws, which calls for vigilance.
Although its overall performance is satisfactory, it's worth remembering that WordPress can struggle to cope with heavy traffic. Also, the updates required to optimize your site are frequent, and this can lead to a considerable administrative burden.
As nothing is perfect, WordPress' taxonomy system could use a little more flexibility, and the customization of its posts is not as advanced as that offered by Drupal.

Ideal use

WordPress is ideally suited to anyone looking to create a website without requiring in-depth knowledge of development. Bloggers, entrepreneurs, small businesses and even large enterprises can take advantage of WordPress' versatility. For web projects requiring frequent updates and an intuitive user interface, WordPress remains a first-choice option.
In a nutshell
  • Extremely widespread CMS used worldwide
  • Flexibility and extensive customization
  • Active community
  • Easy to use for beginners
  • Integrated SEO
  • Security risks
  • Potential performance issues
  • Adaptability to company needs
  • Frequent updates


Drupal, an open source CMS launched in 2001, occupies a prime position among content management systems. Designed to offer maximum flexibility and extensibility, Drupal is particularly appreciated for its robust performance in managing complex websites. Used by a variety of entities, from small businesses to large government organizations, Drupal stands out for its modularity and ability to manage varied content with a sophisticated structure. A loyal competitor to WordPress, Drupal is more commonly used for large-scale commercial projects.

Advantages of Drupal

Drupal's strengths lie in its ability to meet the requirements of a wide range of web projects. Its modularity enables in-depth customization, while its active community of developers ensures constant support. Drupal's custom content types are generally appreciated for offering more possibilities than those offered by WordPress. Its taxonomy system (i.e. the way content is grouped) is particularly flexible, enabling it to handle large quantities of content with ease.
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As far as access rights and controls are concerned, it's worth noting that Drupal has an integrated access control system, making it possible to create roles with individual permissions. What's more, site options are integrated directly into the CMS core, which is not the case with all content management systems.

Disadvantages of Drupal

Although Drupal offers considerable power, it can be a steep learning curve for beginners. The learning curve is steepened by the complexity of its advanced features. What's more, the relatively small number of ready-to-use themes compared with other CMS may require more design effort. Less intuitive content management for simpler web projects can also be seen as a drawback.

Ideal use

Drupal stands out in contexts where complex content management and extensive customization are essential. It is ideally suited to large companies, government institutions and organizations requiring advanced website structure. Projects such as community platforms, corporate intranets and complex institutional websites take full advantage of Drupal's capabilities. Although its initial learning curve may be more demanding, Drupal offers a durable, scalable solution for ambitious web projects.
In a nutshell
  • Versatile open source CMS for a wide variety of web projects
  • Advanced modularity for in-depth customization
  • Complex content management with sophisticated structure
  • Robust performance for demanding websites
  • Enhanced security
  • Active community
  • Adaptability to changing needs
  • Demanding learning curve


Launched in 2005, Joomla is an open source CMS that has earned a prominent place in the content management landscape. With its solid code base, Joomla offers a stable, scalable platform for web design. This CMS stands out for its ease of use and versatility, suitable for beginners and experienced users alike. Joomla is particularly appreciated for its ability to handle medium to large-scale web projects, offering robust options for a variety of projects. Although its use is declining, it's worth mentioning that it's a good choice for managing a site or blog without the need for advanced programming skills.

Advantages of Joomla

Joomla has the advantage of offering a very large number of extensions, some of which are chargeable while others are not. Installation is relatively easy. Joomla's strengths lie in its balance between simplicity and power. Its user-friendly interface facilitates content production and management, enabling users to customize their websites without requiring advanced technical skills. In fact, a large number of specific features are already available at the time of installation. Easy to use and offering a large number of well-designed themes, Joomla's performance is often said to be comparable to that of Drupal, even though it's just as easy to use as WordPress.

Disadvantages of Joomla

However, Joomla does have its drawbacks, particularly in terms of performance for highly complex web projects. Although less complex than Drupal, Joomla's initial learning curve can still be a challenge for novice users. What's more, the number of plugins and themes available may be less than that of other CMS such as WordPress. As for extensions, these sometimes have to be updated manually, which is a disadvantage. Also, rights management is only partial, which is another of its weak points.

Ideal use

Joomla is ideal for medium to large-scale projects, such as corporate web pages, community portals, online magazines and e-commerce sites. Its ease of use makes it a solid selection for those looking for an intermediate solution between the simplicity of WordPress and the complexity of Drupal. Joomla offers a reliable platform for those wishing to create dynamic, functional web projects without sacrificing the flexibility required for more advanced projects.
In a nutshell
  • Simplicity and versatility, with an interface suited to novice users
  • Solid code base guaranteeing stability and scalability for web pages
  • Wide range of extensions
  • Easy content management
  • Suitable for medium to large-scale web projects
  • Balance between power and accessibility


Wix, a cloud-based content management system (CMS), has emerged as a popular solution for building websites. Launched in 2006, Wix stands out for its code-free design approach, enabling users to build attractive web pages without requiring advanced development skills. The platform offers a wide range of features, customizable templates and intuitive tools, making website creation accessible to a broad spectrum of users.

Advantages of Wix

The benefits of Wix lie in its ease of use and beginner-friendly approach. With a variety of predefined templates, design customization is quick and easy. Drag-and-drop options make it easy to produce customized layouts, while third-party application integration offers convenient extensibility. What's more, Wix offers cloud hosting, eliminating the need to manage technical aspects such as server maintenance.

Disadvantages of Wix

However, Wix's simplified approach may present limitations for complex web projects requiring advanced programming features, as well as for SEO optimization. Total customization may be restricted compared to other CMS, which can limit creativity for more advanced users. In addition, although Wix offers a free site option, full features require a paid subscription, which can influence the total cost for users.

Ideal use

Wix is ideal for entrepreneurs, small companies, artists and anyone looking to quickly create an attractive website without getting bogged down in complex technical aspects. Personal portfolios, showcase pages and small e-commerce store sites are ideal uses for Wix. Its ease of use and affordable cost make Wix an attractive option for those who prefer simplicity in creating their online presence.
In a nutshell:
  • Code-free design, ideal for users without web development skills
  • Simple to use
  • Variety of pre-designed templates for easy customization
  • Drag-and-drop functionality
  • Suitable for simple web projects
  • Cloud hosting
  • Free and paid options
  • Limits for complex web projects
  • Ideal for portfolios and simple e-commerce stores

Specialized content management systems

When it comes to creating a website, selecting the right CMS is of crucial importance, and in many cases opting for a specialized CMS can prove essential. Specialized CMS are designed to meet the specific needs of certain industries or project types, offering advanced options and a structure tailored to particular needs. Whether you're planning to create an online store, an e-learning site or a news portal, a specialized CMS can provide tailor-made tools and capabilities to maximize efficiency and meet the specific requirements of your project. This specialization enables better performance optimization, more efficient content management and a more tailored user experience, underlining the importance of choosing a CMS that precisely meets the objectives and functionalities sought for your website.

Magento (e-commerce)

Magento, an open source CMS dedicated to e-commerce, has played a leading role in the e-commerce field since its launch in 2008. Acquired by Adobe in 2018, Magento is renowned for its robustness and advanced functionality, making it a preferred choice for e-commerce sites of all sizes. Its modular structure and scalability make it a powerful tool for companies looking to create sophisticated, personalized online shopping experiences.

Advantages of Magento

Magento's strengths in the e-commerce field shine through. First and foremost, it offers exceptional flexibility for customization, enabling companies to create unique web pages that perfectly match their needs. Advanced options such as inventory management, promotions, and diversified payment options make it a complete option. Magento also boasts a large community of developers, guaranteeing ongoing support and regular updates to maintain security and performance.

Disadvantages of Magento

However, Magento can present challenges, particularly in terms of complexity. Setting it up and configuring it often requires the involvement of experienced developers. The initial cost can also be higher than with other CMS, due to its specialized features. For small businesses with simpler needs, Magento can be excessive and difficult to manage without professional assistance.

Ideal use

Magento is ideal for e-commerce-oriented companies looking to offer a high-end online shopping experience. It is particularly suited to medium to large-scale e-commerce sites requiring in-depth customization and advanced functionality. Retailers looking to manage a large inventory, offer complex promotions, and provide an exceptional user experience will find Magento a powerful solution for establishing and developing their online presence.
In a nutshell
  • Dedicated e-commerce CMS
  • Flexibility and advanced customization
  • Personalized shopping experience
  • Complexity challenge
  • High initial cost
  • Suitable for medium-sized to large companies
  • Power to manage a large inventory

Shopify (e-commerce)

The name Shopify probably sounds familiar, especially as its popularity continues to grow. The CMS has established itself as one of the most popular e-commerce platforms since its creation in 2006. Designed specifically for e-commerce, it offers a complete solution enabling entrepreneurs to create, manage and develop their store efficiently. This user-friendly platform is renowned for its ease of use, versatility and ability to meet the needs of a wide range of companies, from startups to established enterprises.

Advantages of Shopify

There are many reasons for Shopify's enviable position as a favorite: an easy-to-configure interface, simple feature management and efficient support in the event of problems (by e-mail, telephone or video). On this point, it's worth noting that the options are particularly easy to use, which is a major advantage. With its intuitive interface, Shopify enables the rapid creation of e-commerce websites without the need for coding skills. What's more, it handles hosting, security and updates, relieving e-commerce store owners of many technical worries. The platform also offers a variety of themes and applications for customizing and extending store features.
Last but not least, you can create your own e-commerce platform without ever needing to rely on another site to perfect it.

Shopify's drawbacks

However, Shopify does have a few limitations. While its simplicity is an advantage, it can also restrict customization for companies with very specific needs. Monthly costs and transaction fees can add up, especially for fast-growing businesses. What's more, although it offers a multilingual solution, management of multiple currencies may be limited in entry-level plans.

Ideal use

Shopify is ideal for entrepreneurs and small businesses looking to quickly establish an online presence. It is particularly suited to e-commerce stores with a relatively simple product range, offering a fluid shopping experience. Companies who value ease of management, security and out-of-the-box functionality will find this CMS an effective solution for their e-commerce business.
In a nutshell
  • Complete e-commerce store platform
  • Simple application
  • Simplified technical management
  • Variety of themes and applications
  • Quick to set up
  • Simplified management
  • Monthly and transactional costs to be anticipated
  • suitable for small businesses
  • Smooth shopping experience
Not sure which CMS to choose between Shopify and WordPress? See our article Shopify vs WordPress: which platform to choose?
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Moodle (e-learning)

Moodle, an acronym for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment, is an open source CMS specifically designed for the creation and management of online courses. Launched in 2002, Moodle has established itself as a benchmark in the field of online education, serving educational institutions, companies and organizations worldwide. With its focus on collaborative and interactive learning, Moodle offers a flexible platform for producing courses, managing participants and distributing a wide range of educational content.

Benefits of Moodle

The benefits of Moodle lie in its flexibility and adaptability to diverse educational needs. Moodle offers a variety of tools for course design, including discussion forums, interactive quizzes and multimedia resources. As an open source CMS, Moodle also benefits from an active community of developers who contribute to its constant evolution. Course customization and user management are strong points, enabling educators to adapt to the specific needs of their learners.

Moodle's drawbacks

However, Moodle can present some challenges, especially for novice users. The initial learning curve can be steep, requiring some familiarity with the interface and functionality. Although customizable, course design can be perceived as less intuitive than some competing platforms. In addition, technical maintenance can be a challenge for organizations without dedicated IT resources.

Ideal use

Moodle is ideally suited to online education, whether for academic institutions, corporate training or professional development initiatives. Its use is particularly relevant for courses requiring increased interaction and collaboration between participants. Educators who value course customization and diversity of learning resources will find Moodle a powerful platform for creating dynamic and engaging online learning environments.
In a nutshell,
  • Platform designed for e-learning (creation and management of online courses)
  • Offers a variety of pedagogical tools, including discussion forums, interactive quizzes and multimedia resources.
  • Suitable for collaborative education
  • Active community
  • Efficient user management tools
  • Learning curve requires familiarization with interface and functionality
  • Less intuitive in terms of course design
  • Technical maintenance required

Open source VS proprietary CMS

Before looking in more detail at the different types of CMS, let's start by distinguishing between the two categories of CMS: hosted and managed. What exactly are we referring to? Hosted CMS refers to obtaining your own CMS, whereas a managed CMS is an all-inclusive package offered by an external provider who takes care of the technicalities (such as WordPress and Shopify) as well as the updates required to perfect the CMS.

CMS selection criteria

Selecting a content management system (CMS) is a crucial step in the process of creating a website, and establishing selection criteria is essential in guiding this decision. There are many CMS on the market, each with its own specific features, advantages and disadvantages. To ensure the success of your online project, it's imperative to establish relevant criteria when looking for the right CMS for your project. These may include ease of use, flexibility, data security, site-specific options and scalability. By clearly defining these criteria, decision-makers can make informed decisions, ensuring that the chosen CMS meets not only the immediate needs, but also the long-term requirements of their web project.
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