For those that need the functionality of a content management system but don’t have the budget, the last few years have created the revolution known as the open source content management system.
There are several extremely popular open source content management systems that provide a nice balance of features, customization and ease of use. I can only speak for the content management systems that I have experience using, and even in that case the experience is limited. Still, perhaps my experiences with these open source content management systems will have some benefit for you looking ahead if you are faced with the decision of using an open source CMS or having something custom built.
Admittedly, my experience with this CMS is quite limited. What I do know: Most experts claim that Drupal provides the most customization and tools of any content management system. There are seemingly a limitless number of plugins for Drupal, and I have also run into more than a few very nice looking web sites with outstanding functionality built on this platform. The downside? I installed Drupal on my own host account, and I had no clue where to even begin with it. That seems to be the consensus from what my own discussions with experts. There is a big learning curve with Drupal, so if you want to get something launched quickly, there are probably better options.
Joomla and Mambo are two separate content managment systems which forked from the same CMS. For the purposes of this discussion, we will look at them as the same. Each provides lots of modules and plugins like Drupal, and there are also some very cool features that would otherwise seem to be custom-based such as Facebook-like community building. The claim by many experts is that this content management system is more limited in functionality than Drupal, but it is also easier to use and get off the ground. Take that statement for what it is worth.
I was introduced to this content management system by a friend. It is not nearly as popular as the latter two open source content management systems, but it is probably the easiest to use of the bunch. WebGUI is actually designed for people without much technical experience, making it the lowest learning curve if you are hoping to get something up quickly.
In a literal sense, even WordPress (the software that runs The Net Impact Roadmap) is a content management system. All we do is plug the blog into an online interface, and off it goes to cyberspace. However, it is not known literally as a content management system since the overall capabilities are limited for the most part. Rumor has it that this idea will change within the next few years and WordPress will develop far more CMS ability, but that is something we will just have to wait on.
There are plenty of quality content management systems that are on the internet and even available to be installed automatically from your host. The above list is certainly not the end all in the open source CMS game, and you are likely to find some other content management systems that you like if you have time to look around.
Our next look at web design and development tools will be a look at a couple tools that are ASP.net based.