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The Best and Worse CMS Systems for Your Blog

April 19, 2018

A good content management system is the cornerstone of a successful blogging strategy. Gone are the days of the Web 1.0 HTML articles whose primary purpose is to catalog a blogger’s daily events and deepest musings. Modern blogging requires a powerful platform, optimized for SEO, with complete customization and control. Some platforms understand the need of serious blogs in 2018. Some are behind the curve. Here is a list of the best systems for your blog, and a second list of the worst. The worst.


The Best CMS Systems

4. Squarespace

Squarespace is an easy-to-use, marginally flexible system with beautiful design templates that make it easy to create trendy, attractive pages. The blogging platform is functional, but it’s not my favorite. My biggest complaint is that the editor differentiates between text and media elements that makes it challenging to combine the two in normal ways. I frequently give up and submit text-only articles, but that’s about 40% Squarespace’s fault and 60% my own laziness. This problem, while annoying, is not insurmountable, and the positives are enough to earn Squarespace the bottom pick among the best CMS systems available.


3. Blogger

This is a decent all-around platform. I give Blogger an A- for ease of use, a C for customization, and C+ for visual design. It might even rank a bit higher in this list if Google could figure out how to keep different Google accounts from fighting with one another.


2. Shopify

If Blogger was a blog management platform that backed into total website management, then Shopify was an e-commerce website management platform that backed into a blog CMS. Given that history, you might expect the CMS bucket to be an underdeveloped, buggy, neglected feature (like some of the platforms in the list below). But you would be wrong in that expectation. Sure, it’s not the most robust system available, but it has the bulk of the tools you would ever need.


1. WordPress

WordPress is the obvious winner, owning an unbelievable 28.9% of the entire internet. That’s staggering, but not altogether surprising considering the power, scalability, and total control provided by the platform. As a web builder, there’s definitely a learning curve, but the CMS side is as easy to use as any of its competitors. There are a few well-known bugs that can be annoying, but the ubiquity of the system has generated a massive amount of literature that can resolve most issues. Their constantly expanding library of plugins is unrivaled in the industry, making WordPress the undisputed first pick for best CMS system for bloggers.


The Worst CMS Systems

5. Wix

Wix has been aggressively advertising their easy-to-use interface and pre-built templates. And I must admit, their interface is amazingly easy to use, and their templates are gorgeous. However, Wix has at least two critical weaknesses that make it an unsuitable platform for serious businesses. First, the design features rely heavily on Flash, which (much to Adobe’s dismay) does nothing positive for a site’s SEO.

Second, the blogging platform is simply garbage. The theme you select locks you into a design scheme with no control over the size, shape, and feel of elements. So as pretty and as flexible as the page design templates are, the blog is potentially hideous. HTML-level control is completely absent, and there aren’t even basic options for heading tags or featured images. It’s the Microsoft Paint of blogging platforms – great for individuals with no budget and no skills. Not great for professionals.


4. Drupal


In contrast to Wix, Drupal was intended to be a web builder for high-level programmers who rely on database technology and PHP code to perform complex tasks in the back end. This level of sophistication naturally comes at the expense of ease and approachability. Unfortunately, the difficulty of integrating your own custom code ultimately fails to give serious designers and programmers the level of control they want, making Drupal the worst of both worlds. Most frustrating to me, their UI is incomprehensible. As Steve Krug correctly points out, when it comes to user experience, don’t make me think.


3. Joomla


Actually, for all I know, Joomla is the bomb.

The problem is that there are so many recurring errors that I’ve never been able to successfully use Joomla for blog content creation, despite dozens of attempts. I can only imagine how this bugginess affects the web builder side of the process. One of our content managers got it to work once, but could never replicate the process. She told me that the visual editor was poorly designed and didn’t allow for much control, and the HTML view was “uncooperative.” Embedding images into posts, while technically possible, was such a UX nightmare that she ultimately gave up and submitted a text-only article. Joomla! is not a good CMS for blogging.


2. Straight HTML

Due to the difficulty and design control restrictions inherent in many of these systems, some designers would prefer to build their sites without the aid of a builder or the restrictions of managing content through a CMS. Choosing to code your HMTL, CSS, and Javascript from scratch will certainly provide you with the optimal level of control, assuming that you’ve got the skill to pull it off. The problem with this strategy is it handcuffs you to your website. You’re more than just the designer, more than just the administrator; you’re the only person capable of uploading any content. Ever. It’s simply not scalable. You’ll be maintaining your website through various marketing campaigns and branding changes, not to mention being the creative bottleneck of blog content. Most significantly, you won’t qualify for our free blogging service.


1. Vistaprint

I may or may not have written this entire post just to complain about how much I hate using Vistaprint.

Vistaprint is the only CMS worse than not having a CMS. It’s odd that a print design firm would incorporate such aesthetically poor designs. Vistaprint sites look like tired, Web 1.0 relics from 1999. Blogging in the Vistaprint back end is a mess, too. Attempting to access the HTML editor results in incomprehensible $ʠủΐяяѐḻḻẏ ṱḗẍṫ appearing in place of carriage returns. If you want to include internal and external links in your posts (which you should), the editor frequently fails to properly parse the HTML tags, resulting in your final text appearing /<a hrefs=/%like this}/. Vistaprint has been the focus of several consumer complaints beyond what I’ve mentioned here. This is without a doubt the worst service for professional blogging I have had the displeasure of using.


We’ll write for your blog no matter what CMS you’re on. But if you’re on one of these awful platforms, we’ll all complain about it in our office behind your back. For our sake and for yours, choose your website system carefully.

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