Whenever a group of CMS developers find themselves in the same room, conversation often turns to their CMS of choice and why they chose to work with that technology.
The conversation begins with a broad comparison of whether it is better to work with .NET or PHP. This conversation usually doesn’t get very far so the topic changes to specific CMSs.
I conducted a survey to begin to uncover at least some of the fallacies, legends and myths surrounding CMSs and just why some developers get so passionate about their CMS of choice.
The data was collected using a 5 question survey on Survey Monkey the details of which are below.
- What is your CMS of choice
- Why did you choose this CMS in the first place?
- Why do devs get so protective over their CMS of choice?
- Would you like to experiment with other CMSs?
- What are the 3 worst things about your CMS of choice?
The call went out on Twitter and happily I got 46 respondents. Not a huge sample size but devs are busy little bees so many thanks to everyone that took part in the survey. I really couldn’t have done it without you and I hope you enjoy the results of your 5 minute break.
Here are the results:
The survey didn’t really get much of a response from Drupal, WordPress and Joomla users so we must approach the rest of the survey with the knowledge that over 80% of the respondents are using either Umbraco or Concrete5. Not bad result though as Umbraco is .Net and Concrete5, PHP. Not sure any conclusions can be drawn from the lack of engagement from other CMSs. Maybe they weren’t on Twitter the past few days… Or had better things to do.
Respondents had the option to choose as many of these options as were applicable to them.
Amazingly, 66% of respondents believe their CMS is the most flexible, over 50% genuinely believe theirs is the best and 40% believe it is the easiest to use. Interestingly, less than 20% believe there is more work out there for their CMS over others, which begs the question, why aren’t they experimenting with other CMSs?
The quality of the dev community scored highly and ease of use for clients was a common comment for this question.
Over 50% of respondents believe that devs get protective over their CMS of choice because they don’t understand or have never taken the time to see how other CMSs operate.
Although I am talking about the wider dev community here rather than focusing directly on the individual respondent I believe this answer demonstrates quite clearly that many devs simply haven’t experimented with other CMSs.
This stands to reason of course. Agencies often have one CMS they focus on and devs themselves do not have the time to master multiple CMSs and more importantly multiple languages to gain a complete understanding of the CMS world. This feeling is demonstrated by the comments I received. Paraphrase of all comments “Time and sometimes money has to be invested to learn a framework/CMS”.
Given some of the responses to Qs 2 and 3, I was expecting this question to be more balanced. But it wasn’t. Over 75% of respondents said they would be keen to experiment with other CMSs. I think the answer to this question was skewed in the affirmative as most developers are keen to learn new things and judging by the responses to Q5, many recognise that their CMS is not perfect and they can get a huge amount of ideas from experimentation.
Q5. What are the 3 worst things about your CMS of choice?
I have ordered these results by CMS to see if there is a discernible pattern to developer gripes about the CMS of choice:
Main issues are on the popularity of the system compared with other more well-known CMSs. Concrete5 is up against stiff PHP competition from WordPress and Drupal. One respondent noted that it is sometimes difficult to convince a client that Concrete5 suits their requirements better than Drupal. A lack of good themes and plugins marketplace was a popular comment along with a lack of support and documentation. There were also a couple of comments about how well it can handle eCommerce.
Top of the list is the outdated UI (currently being addressed and launched in October, code name Belle). In close second is the lack of formal documentation. One respondent noted that a forum does not constitute documentation. A fair point. Also featuring in the Umbraco gripes are the lack of packages and the variable quality of those packages. Deployments can be tricky and one respondent used all 3 fields within this question to simply put Courier.
There were 4 WordPress respondents so these comments can by no means be attributed to the whole community but they do offer an insight. The recurring comment focused on the amount of plugins that perform the same function (better to have too many than too few I suppose). That was the only common theme.
The 2 Drupal respondents also commented on the sheer amount of plugins that perform the same function. Set up can also be timely and it’s not as easy for non-techy people to get their head around.
The sole Joomla respondent stated that the CMS can be too complex for basic users and there are too many extensions to choose from (a recurring theme in the more popular CMSs).
A couple of Concrete5 respondents commented on ExpressionEngine too. The lack of best practice documentation and forums and a general lack of progress with the CMS were the top issues.
What I have learned from this small survey is that no CMS is perfect. No CMS ever will be perfect.
Most developers believe their CMS is the most flexible, easiest to use and in general terms, is the best. This assumption has to be put down to a lack of experience with other CMSs though.
Most developers would be keen to learn more about other CMSs. It is experimentation that will enhance all CMSs from core platform development to the approach to day-to-day content management.
This examination of CMSs is by no means the general dev community feeling toward the CMSs covered here but a look at CMSs based on the results presented to me. If you would like to contribute to this survey the link is still valid or please use the comments section below.