WordPress vs Joomla vs Drupal vs CMS Hamster

WordPress vs Joomla vs Drupal – Is this really an important question?

CMS Hamster

At one point I thought this the most important question, but now it is unimportant. In fact, answering this question may lead to analysis paralysis or what I call becoming a “CMS Hamster”.

I was chuffed that I could engage in the relative merits of various content construction kits and at a push would venture an opinion on the granular control capabilities of each system. In the process of investigating each of these content management systems (and others as well) I became a CMS hamster.

How do you recognise a CMS Hamster?

(Note: For a longtime, I just needed to look into the mirror to answer this question)

The CMS Hamster has not committed to content management system, but knows tiny details about the Drupal, WordPress and Joomla community, and even a couple of non-PHP systems. He can be heard saying things like:

I like the simplicity of WordPress, but wish it had the granular control offered by Joomla.

Drupal 9.0 is a radical break from Drupal 6.0 and could offer a strategic advantage in terms of search engine optimisation,  as everything follows schema markup? But WordPress 5.0 offers one touch publication across devices and their app stores.

It was worth spending five days installing XAMP. I know can test the systems locally. You know what XAMP is, right?

Have you seen this awesome WordPress design, cool huh? Know can you help me port the design to Drupal/ Joomla?

Umbraco can give most PHP based CMSs a run for their money !

“Meh?”, would be my polite response to these statement. Less politely, the answer is “This is all bullshit”. The reason is simple – most people who ask me about choosing a CMS do not really know what they want.

So how do I stop being a CMS Hamster?

In my experience I overcame being a CMS Hamster by:

  1. Learning basic HTML, CSS and Javascript – This was an empowering experience, as I learned what could be accomplished without a content management system, as well as what the underlying logic on which a CMS is built. It also helps to cut through the spin offered by fan boys and fan girls of each of these CMS systems.
  2. Become an active user –  It was fortuitous that I was able to blog on the award-winning Thought Leader blog maintained by the Mail and Guardian in South Africa. I knew that I could easily publish with WordPress, but this particular WordPress setup left me gobsmacked as I was aiming to launch an online magazine. I began evaluating the claims of this or that CMS evangelist against my experience on being a WordPress user. I was processing information, but no longer theoretically.
  3. Focus on immediate important questions –  Choosing the right CMS is an important question, but only after you answered logically prior questions. Important immediate questions include identifying an audience, understanding what users of your site should accomplish and how you will consistently deliver value, These are business questions, that no CMS can answer. Once these are answered, choosing a CMS becomes an important and easier question.
  4. Just start – It is better just to start with any of the content management systems than engage in an exercise of over analyzing the relevant strengths of each system. Whatever system you choose is less important than just getting started. One day when you are wildly successful, you can even build your own custom content management system or move to another CMS. In my case, I started an online magazine called Zapreneur, and just after two years of trying stuff, I am now able to implement a solution that solves a problem for small business in South Africa.

I choose WordPress, and I will go into my reasons for this in the next article. The choice of WordPress however should have been much quicker, and logically after questions on the business model. Lesson learned.

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