The Best CMS For Small Businesses

Gary Green
Gary Green
March 3, 2020

We believe that, for most small businesses, WordPress is the best CMS. It offers the ultimate combination of usability, features and support for all business owners.

In today's article, we'll explain why we recommend the WordPress platform as the best CMS (content management system) to our clients. We'll cover:

  1. What is a CMS?
  2. The difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com
  3. Why we recommend WordPress
  4. Other good CMS for small businesses
  5. Key takeaways

What Is A CMS?

CMS stands for "content management system". According to the Wikipedia page:

A content management system (CMS) typically has two major components: a content management application (CMA), as the front-end user interface that allows a user, even with limited expertise, to add, modify, and remove content from a website without the intervention of a webmaster; and a content delivery application (CDA), that compiles the content and updates the website.

A CMS allows you to add content to your website without needing to know how to code. Content here means:

  • Blogs
  • Images
  • Hyperlinks
  • Buttons
  • Menus
  • Design elements
  • Audio & video

A good CMS will also help you out with other important aspects of running a website:

  • SEO
  • Security
  • Backups
  • Design (via widgets and plugins)
  • Revision tracking

WordPress.org v WordPress.com

We should start by differentiating between two different, but similar-sounding, products:

  • WordPress.org - the CMS we recommend for small businesses
  • WordPress.com - a self-publishing platform for bloggers

WordPress.com is fine for bloggers or for people who just want to have a bit of fun making their own website. But for businesses, you need the .org version. It does require you to buy a domain name and hosting separately (which you should be doing anyway). But then it gives you full control of your website, URL, content, advertising etc.

If you just use the .com version, there are a number of drawbacks. You can't:

  • Upload themes or plugins
  • Sell ads or prevent WordPress showing their own ads
  • Add Google Analytics
  • Fully control your own domain name (it will automatically end with "wordpress.com")
  • Guarantee that WordPress won't delete your site at any time

Why We Recommend WordPress

The benefits of WordPress come down to three things:

  1. Usability
  2. Customisation
  3. Features

WordPress is very easy to use. First of all it's free! Secondly it's open source (which means it's always kept up to date and there's loads of free support). And it it's been designed for non-tech, non-coders in mind. Most aspects are drag-and-drop rather than code based, so you can get it up and running in no time.

It's also really easy to customise and play around with your site. You typically get started with a "theme". This is a free or paid "website in a box" that has the rudiments of the design already there. It's then easy to change anything you don't like:

  • Layout
  • Fonts
  • Colours
  • Images
  • Site navigation
  • Menus

Finally, WordPress websites are incredibly powerful and feature rich. You may need to work with a WordPress expert to get the most out of them. But even on your own you can easily start adding plugins, running e-commerce campaigns and even placing adverts on your site.

Other CMS Options

For the majority of businesses, a WordPress website will be all you need. As we say, they're very easy to use and have more features than you will probably ever be able to try.

The only exception would be if you have a pure e-commerce business. WordPress has several ways to incorporate e-commerce elements* onto your site (online store, payment gateways, product pages, checkout pages). This can work really nicely alongside a more typical content strategy like a blog or advice page.

If you literally just want to list and sell products, you might prefer a dedicated CMS like:

  • Magento
  • Squarespace
  • Wix

In a future article, we'll go into much more detail about how to choose the best CMS for an e-commerce business.

* We recommend a plugin called WooCommerce.

Key Takeaways

  • We recommend WordPress websites to the majority of our clients
  • You need to get a WordPress.org site rather than a WordPress.com
  • WordPress websites are easy to use, fully customisable and extremely powerful
  • If your site is purely for e-commerce, you may like to try Magento, Squarespace or Wix

If you'd like to discuss anything in this article, or you'd like to work with us, please get in touch.

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