How do you choose the right Content Management System (CMS) for your website/web application? The short answer is: the one that is the best – and most cost-effective – fit for your particular business needs.

At its most basic level, a CMS allows a non-technical person to update website content. In the 1990’s this was a significant feat, but is now so straightforward that we almost take it for granted. Currently a free CMS like WordPress allows users create a complete website without technical skill.

Toward the other end of the market, a sophisticated site like requires an enterprise CMS (Interwoven). I have personal experience with Interwoven (, but for small to medium businesses, a simple CMS offers ample features to serve most needs. There are plenty to choose from, and many of the most popular are free.

We start by looking at solution to be delivered – what does the CMS need to do, and how much value will the solution provide? For a small company that wants to establish an initial web presence – a brochure site – we recommend a very basic system that can be enhanced as the business grows. If there is a chance to make a significant impact on the business – reducing administration effort or generating new revenue – we can invest more to optimize its performance. Even a simple, free CMS now has built-in ecommerce features, allowing a website to generate revenue for a low upfront cost.

When planning a site, total cost of ownership is what matters. We consider the set of available features, not only for first launch, but for those that will be required as the business grows. While every CMS provides the basics, those with a large developer community will be more likely to have those features already available, which is more cost-effective than having to build them.

After understanding the business solution to be provided, we can then consider the best CMS for that solution. At CurrentDesign, we most often recommend WordPress for simple applications, while Drupal’s more robust architecture usually is ample for more sophisticated needs. Both are industry leaders in terms of popularity (the number of sites using them), have armies of developers supporting them, are easy to user by non-developers, and are also free.

That said, we will assess your particular need from a business perspective first, then look at what technology is most suitable for you.