Today, online publishing can be divided into static html pages and dynamic pages. Most weblogs falls into what is referred to as Content Management Systems. In actuallity, most of these programs really fall short of what actual content management is suppose to be, but for individuals and personal publishing, weblogs are the standard. However deciding on which weblog CMS can be quite difficult, seeing as there are many choices available. To make the process easier, consider the following four points.
Personal publishing usually involves some type of budget, especially if you are starting from scratch. Consider not only will the CMS be free (as in open source packages like WordPress and Textpattern), but how much domain registration, hosting, installation, and initial design are going to factor in. Even if you are doing most of the work yourself, there will be some costs initially. Once you have some type of budget in mind, review your options and grade them on the other three criteria.
Sometimes when choosing a free CMS, you tend to forget about the most important criteria for any software program, which is support. How many times do the programmers update the program? Are security patches released in a timely and efficient manner, are they easy to install? Is free support even adequate? Sometime user communities are not very friendly to non-technical users, so always take a look at what the user community is like and how responsive they are to others. Do not forget to look at documentation, a program may be very good, but if there is not a manual or adequate online documentation, you will have a hard time maintaining it. Usually installation documentation is the most essential, so most programs will at least have this down, but if there is not anything beyond a simple readme document, you should consider another CMS.
A good CMS would have most essential features covered, but plugins and extensions allow room for customized users and also help make a plain CMS appear more personalized to the individual. After all we are talking about personal publishing, so there has to be some personality to it, and the best way to do this is in the form of mods, plugins, and extensions to the main CMS. Some commercial CMS packages might sell such addons, or might have better support for custom changes, so it is important to see just how much addons will cost and how useful they are going to be once your site is up and running. If the CMS programmers have made addons support a goal for their CMS, see just how much third party developers have taken advantage of this.
Lastly how easy is the user experience of your CMS? Is the website that it publishes easy for online vistitors to use, can they navigate, search, and comment easily? For the authoring side, how easy is it to publish new content? For content creation, think about how you can upload images, create drafts, integrate advertisements (if you need to), and how the final html code complies with web standards. But more importantly do you like using the CMS? If you do not like it, chances are you are not going to publish very much.
It’s Your Web Space, Test Drive It:
By now you probably figured that you need to try out a CMS before you can really decide on one, so hopefully, before you buy or make your final decision, make sure you try out any online demos you find. For most open source programs, you can try them out at OpenSourceCMS.com.