Graphic design for the web since 1998

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"...both of my companies have enjoyed
Susan's design professionalism; wonderful
work that absolutely and clearly reflects
the intentions of the client..." - Florence P.

Wordpress, Squarespace, Concrete5, Joomla, Drupal, which do you need?

Since there are various web publishing platforms, I thought I'd give a brief overview of each of these, so you'd have an easier time choosing which one you need for your website and/or blog. They each have their advantages and disadvantages. What you need to think about first is, what is your website or blog for? Do you have more than one goal? Are you planning to just post each week, or did you want a website that sells products as well as having the ability to blog?

What's cool is that you can use more than one! How about a Joomla website and a Wordpress blog? Be sure to read each of the platform's capabilities thoroughly, match these against what your goals are and see which gives you the best option for the monthly cost. Which will be the best or easiest for you to manage, after the web designer has finished and left you in charge.

Consult with a professional web designer/developer before you decide, so your website and/or blog can be just what you envision it to be.

wordpress logo

Wordpress is a completely 100% open source content management system, (CMS) "FREE", however if you don't want the domain name to be (yourname.wordpress.com) and you want it at your own domain, you'll need to get hosting and then install Wordpress there. The cost of hosting can range, so check various hosting companies for their monthly or yearly rates. The most economical I've found are GoDaddy and Westhost.

Wordpress is very easy to use. An average user can be up and blogging within 10 minutes. It features plug-in architecture so you can easily look for additional ones and install them. Adding content such as photos, video, or links can be done without having to know any code. It's very SEO (search engine optimization) friendly, so it's very easy to add keywords and you can name your pages with seo specific titles. It is quite customizable, so you can pick a theme and change the header (if that particular theme has that available) as well as change the color palette, or you can hire a theme designer to think out-of-the-box, and create something original and Wordpress can still be behind the scenes managing the content. As the CMS continues to upgrade one must be careful pushing that upgrade my theme button if you have a custom theme, because depending on your particular functionality it might change something or all of a sudden something isn't working.

Wordpress isn't just for blogging but can be used for a static site with pages. In this case the custom design looks like a website, not a blog theme. The site would have to be one that isn't too complicated or we'd more likely go with a different CMS. You can create private login areas for sharing information with clients, that wouldn't be seen by the public. You can create e-commerce and sell your products, but the store doesn't work perfectly.

Since you're using the CMS either at Wordpress or on your own site, the support would be available by searching forums or blogs through Google or you might need a techie's help.

New advanced info: Wordpress has some amazing new plugins to explode the SEO and functionality of your Wordpress site. For great SEO benefits, look for the plugin "All in One SEO Pack" which adds seo to every page and post. Dynamic Sidebars which gives you the ability to change the sidebar content for each page. Sharethis plugin adds the social media buttons to the bottom of every page and post so readers can share your stories. Rotating Headers is now a plugin, but be sure a designer has created the various headers so they are exactly the same size and shape, or it won't look right. Facebook Like Box Widget can put a stream of facebook posts and your latest friends in your sidebar along with Recent Tweets, another cool one. By far my favorite widget lately is "Tweet Old Post" which once installs, is tweeting for you 'round the clock! OMG!

Squarespace gives you assorted design tools and hosting. (It's NOT FREE.) Depending on the plan you choose and cost per month, will determine if your site is at "yourname.squarespace.com" ($8 per month) or at your own domain ($14 per month).

Squarespace has most of the bases covered in SEO, except in a few areas, such as naming custom page titles in system-created content. It doesn't have all the same widget plug-in tools as Wordpress but has most of the ones most people would want. You can select one of the 60 themes and then start customizing it, without having to know CSS. I will say that for people just starting out on the web this platform may be too complicated to get the hang of. They say they also allow for full CSS control, so you can still hire that creative designer to do something original. (We will see as we design creatively, whether we have the ability for full CSS control.)

As with any marketing tool, just because you have the ability to change the width, height, header, color palette and more doesn't make you a website designer. You have the ability to shuffle things around, and modify text sizes and colors, etc... but it doesn't mean you can pick the right colors or design what's right for you, your company or your industry. (I recently saw a heathcare professional website and the color palette is in vomit colors, I kid you not! Although the design is fine, and I'm not sure what platform was used, I just don't know who approved that site, because when I saw it, I was horrified.)

Anyway, since this new site/blog you want to do would be hosted at Squarespace, you would have full support for any issue that would come up. They boast a 99.98% uptime and their service is within 30 minutes, 24 hrs a day.

Concrete5 is an open source FREE content management system. It needs to be installed on your hosted space to use your domain address. One of the advantages of concrete5 is when the site is in edit mode, it looks the same as live mode, so what you do/see is what you get. You can preview or post and it's updated. The platform is quite flexible and pretty easy to edit and update. This platform can use their ready built themes or custom designed styles and functionality, so whatever you can dream up, I'm sure it can do. They offer hosting if you need it with plans starting at $7.90 a month which means they would support your queries. If you host elsewhere then look to community help like on Wordpress, Joomla or Drupal.

I felt Concrete5 was well thought out by the creators with an easy-to-use intuitive platform. It's not as simple as Wordpress but it's #2 on my list of CMSs.

New Info: I have been using Concrete5 lately for two of my clients more complicated websites and I'm absolutley loving it! One of the sites I'm building for a theatrical company will have video and galleries and the other is a complicated, nested product site for a stone importer. Concrete5 is so easy to use, and intuitive. I'm going to use it more frequently!

Joomla has a bit of this and a bit of that and is an open source solution that's FREE. It needs to be installed on your hosted domain space to use your domain address. It's more user-friendly than Drupal, but certainly not anywhere as easy as Wordpress. It can build a more complicated site than Wordpress, but not as well as Drupal can. Here are some details or advanced ways to use Joomla: corporate websites, intranets or extranets, online magazines, e-commerce solutions, government applications, inventory control systems, reservation systems and communication tools.

It's more designer-friendly in editing the look and feel and does it better than Drupal can... but not fabulously as Wordpress does. Developers like Joomla because of it's capacity for development and customization, but it's not as flexible as Drupal. Using this platform, the client might need a developer and/or designer to create it for them.

As for support, Joomla has been a popular CMS since 2000, so there is a large community of users, developers and designers which you can look to for help.

Drupal is developer-friendly, not designer-friendly. It needs to be installed on your hosted domain space to be at your domain address. This FREE advanced open source CMS is for developing more complicated sites, but it's up to the developer to create an easier system for the client to use to manage their site. Certainly very different than Wordpress or Squarespace. Drupal has themes and the design can be customized, but only up to a point. Because of it's flexibility and ability to create large scale, complicated sites, it outperforms these others. Drupal has thousands of add-on modules. Drupal can be used to run multiple websites with one backend and database. Using this platform, the client would most likely need a developer and/or designer to create it for them.