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As you know by now, I'm a big fan of Joomla!, but if you have never built a website with a content management system before, you may be wondering which content management system is right for you. cmsmatrix.org, the website we are looking at now, is a great tool for comparing content management systems. Most of these are open-source and free. The site works as follows. Let's say I want to compare Drupal, WordPress, and Joomla! So I am going to scroll down the screen, I'll find Drupal somewhere down here.
Drupal. Then I look for Joomla! and then I'll look for WordPress. As you can see, there are many, many content management systems you can compare. Then, once you have selected your content management systems, you can compare them and as you see here, we are comparing Drupal 6.10, Joomla! 1.5.10 and WordPress 2.2.1.
The release dates are located at the top of the page. Note that this is a fairly old version of WordPress that we are comparing from 2007. This will tell you a little bit about the server, the database and what types of features and functionality each one of these packages has. Keep in mind that this comparison chart doesn't show you all of the information you need to consider when thinking about a content management system. You need a content management system that you can learn very quickly, but also that your client can use easily.
If you are learning a content management system for the first time, you'll want to pick one that has lots of books and training videos available and possibly even a college class. You want to be sure that the software is surrounded by a strong and committed online community, that they answer questions, and there are forums, and that they are a community of people who are actively contributing extensions to the project. You'll also need to make sure that there's a good team of people who are revising and building the new version of the software.
Make sure that the cost of the software is within your client's budget. If you're using open-source content management systems, the price is usually free, so that should be well within your client's budget. You may also want to look for local support in your area. Is there a user group that covers your content management system of choice that's nearby? If there isn't, why don't you start one? Your local colleges or universities might be teaching a specific content management system as well. If so, cultivate some friendships and relationships with those people, so that you can call in them for help or to supplement your own skill set, and of course, maybe those people will pass you a little work as well.
WordPress, Drupal and Joomla! are the three big names in the open- source content management system community at this time and all three have training videos available here at lynda.com. At this point, these are the three platforms that I would look at very carefully. Obviously, there are thousands of other content management systems out there and they're coming along, but they're not nearly as well established as Drupal, Joomla!, and WordPress.
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