There is nothing more frustrating than having an idea for your website and needing to call up a developer to make a quick or relatively easy change. It's not uncommon for business owners to feel that they need to be top coders in order to understand even the simplest change. Good news: we're going to outline some of the top CMS platforms that make the design, development, and launch so intuitive that even a novice user can master them.
The key for you is to choose the platform that best suits your business needs. Keep in mind everything that we've outlined below, Middlestate is using or has used for a project-specific task.
Table of Contents:
- HubSpot (Best CMS/CRM Combination)
- Shopify CMS (e-commerce Platform)
- WordPress CMS (Best Open-Source Platform)
- Storyblok CMS (Best Headless CMS Platform)
- Webflow CMS (Best CMS Platform for Designers)
What Makes A CMS Great?
Here are some key features that you need to look out for when choosing a CMS that will fit your business.
- Support & Input — Sometimes even advanced users might need a little help, so it's important to make sure that your CMS offers support in some form. Often Open Source (free) CMS providers like WordPress don't offer direct support, which forces users to rely on an outside developer. It's good practice to look for CMS providers that offer instant support rather than having to wait days or weeks for solutions.
- Customization — If you're looking to keep the work in-house, it's best to find a CMS that offers a wide range of customizations, themes, templates, and modules. This will allow you to build an on-brand website with their templates or even from scratch with ease.
- Easy To Use — Unless your plan is to hire a developer, you're going to want an easy-to-use CMS that offers tooltips and helpful videos to assist you on your web creation journey.
- Flexibility — You might want to take on the task of building your website today, but perhaps later down the line you will want to hire someone to build you a custom site. The last thing you want is a rigid CMS Platform that doesn't allow you to customize to your heart's content. When choosing a CMS platform make sure it has both.
- Secure — Every business promises their customers security when it comes to data. Did you know that 43% of all cyber attacks are directed at small to medium size businesses, averaging over 65,000 attempts per day in the USA? When looking for a CMS platform, ensure that they're backed by a secure network, has a dedicated security team on staff, and offers varying levels of permissions for your internal users.
- Integrations — This is last on our list but not due to importance. Understanding your customers’ journey and the actions that they're taking on your website is critical. Feeding that information back to your CRM gives your platform provides a clear picture of your customers’ needs. Having a CMS that allows you to integrate right into your existing tech stack will be imperative to your business.
5 Best CMS Platforms in 2022 for Today's Business
1. HubSpot (For Combined CMS & CRM)
HubSpot's content management system is all you need to easily create and personalize website pages for every visitor — optimized for conversion across every device. Making the option to rely on developers as much or as little as you'd like. Our team of creators at Middlestate has curated our website without the need of a developer.
HubSpot's ultra-simple website builder allows even the most novice user the ability to make a beautiful, on-brand, and responsive website that works on every device. HubSpot's CMS comes fully powered with a number of unique features that will make your user experience even easier including SEO Recommendations, Website Themes (Free & Paid), Drag and Drop Editor, Adaptive Testing & Contact Attribution Reporting. Packaged tightly inside the famous HubSpot CRM which comes free with the HubSpot CMS (yes, even the free version of the CMS). With HubSpot's CMS/CRM combo you can gain unique insights into your customer's actions, needs and wants and have the ability to market to them on their terms. I mean really, what more could you ask for?
The only real limitation we see for this platform is its lack of e-commerce options; however, it does integrate really well with Shopify, WooCommerce, and WordPress.
Pricing: Free and premium plans that grow with you. Editions starting at:
- $0/month (Free)
- $23/month (Starter)
- $360/month (Professional)
- $1,200/month (Enterprise)
2. Shopify CMS - Best for Online Stores
Shopify is an all-in-one hosted CMS platform best for retailers looking to open an online shop. Easy to get started, Shopify is another CMS with a simple drag-and-drop interface.
There is no need to buy hosting, manage updates or backups or install any software — thankfully Shopify will handle all of these technical elements for you.
Shopify comes loaded with a variety of free and paid themes to get your online store off your mind and onto the web. In addition, Shopify is loaded with apps and integrations that you can add to your store for your desired business edge.
Shopify comes preloaded with an online payment gateway that handles all of the latest forms of payments as well as includes options for your popup store sales.
The biggest issue we see with Shopify is that almost all of the useful integrations or apps come at a cost, and while some offer free trials, it usually takes longer to find out if it works for your business or not which can run up the cost.
Pricing: Basic Tier: $29/month - has everything you need to create your store, ship products, and process payments. Including: Basic Reporting, 2 Staff Accounts, up to 4 Inventory Locations & a possible 77% savings in shipping. The Shopify Tier: $79/month - allows you to level up your business with professional reporting, 5 Staff Accounts, 5 Inventory Locations and up to a possible 88% savings in shipping. The Advanced Tier: $299/month - gives you the best of Shopify with custom reporting and their lowest transaction fees, while also including 15 Staff Accounts & up to 8 Inventory locations.
If you're still on the fence and have questions please feel free to reach out to us and we would be happy to answer any questions.
3. WordPress - Best Open-Source CMS
WordPress has been around since 2003 and has become a namesake in easy-to-use CMS Platforms. Currently, over 43% of all websites are powered by WordPress, if that doesn't give you some confidence, I don't know what will.
WordPress has been constantly evolving and with its new and easy-to-use drag-and-drop editor, it's making another stand against the new CMS Platforms on the rise. Without a doubt, the best thing about WordPress is it comes loaded with free and easy to use templates that can start making your vision a reality.
WordPress is also preconditioned to perform exceptionally well with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and has become a leader for blogging websites.
As for integrations, WordPress shines with tens of thousands of freemium & premium plugins that will help turn your site from zero to hero.
WordPress does not include hosting and domain services, so you're likely going to be spending in the realm of $7-$20 on domains annually and anywhere from $50-$1500 on hosting (depending on your needs). Check out WPEngine for a reliable and supportive hosting provider.
The largest drawback with WordPress is plugin updates. Depending on the size of your website and the number of plugins you have installed, maintenance can be time consuming and painful if you start to fall behind. We recommend finding a hosting provider that will help in these scenarios.
Still, if you're looking for a Free CMS that is open-source and has a common language for most active developers, then you're in pretty good hands with WordPress.
4. StoryBlok - Easy to use Headless CMS
We've all heard the buzzword "headless CMS," but what is a headless CMS? Well, a headless CMS means you can manage all your content on the backend only. This allows you to use your content anywhere, whether that's a website or an app.
In Storyblok, you can iterate faster with a suite of content creation tools like templates, global components, and more. Content teams can find, access, and customize components directly from the visual editor making it easier for teams to collaborate.
With content collaboration tools you can publish faster with inclusive collaboration workflows like discussions, comments, and custom workflows that give anyone on the team a simple way to make a suggestion or take action.
Not to be outdone, Storyblok also offers a design asset manager. Now you can organize and optimize all assets with identifiers for your content teams.
Storyblok is backed by an enterprise-grade ISO-certified security protocol, to help offset and prevent your website from being overtaken by a cyber attack.
Pricing: Free for 1 user or you can add additional users for $7/month/user. For additional pricing information check Storybloks pricing guide.
5. Webflow - Best CMS for Designers
Webflow is a CMS platform that offers a drag-and-drop option for creating attractive and responsive websites without using code. As business owners, who really has time for all that messy code ;)
This visual CMS platform allows website builders to easily use an intuitive interface allowing you to create your website in minutes. Just like Photoshop, the Webflow CMS platforms design tool allows its users to generate a web design by dragging and dropping HTML and CSS elements. This is ideal for creating a semantic markup and bridges the gap between designers, web developers, and marketers.
Unlike similar no-code platforms, Webflow doesn't require plugins to get the job done, essentially eliminating the headaches that come with other easy-to-use CMS platforms. Instead, Webflow is inclusive of everything you need right out of the box and updates are no hassle.
Webflow also allows users to create hundreds of pages and different designs for their website including multiple versions of the same page. Most CMS platforms only allow one active version at a time.
Pricing: Webflow has two different pricing plans depending on your intended business use. For a standard marketing website, pricing ranges from free to $39/month which includes domains, hosting, SSL, 10 users, and more. If you're looking at running an e-commerce website the pricing starts at $29 to $212/month.
In summary, there are hundreds of CMS platforms out there, depending on your business needs is going to be a determining factor in which platform you choose. Remember to look at the key factors when deciding on a CMS Platform: Support, Customization, Ease of Use, Security, Flexibility & Integrations.
As always if you have any questions please reach out to us for more information around CMS Platforms or any of your marketing and design questions here, and we'd be glad to assist.
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