Choosing an Open Source CMS: Beginner's Guide

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  • Analyze your web site's CMS requirements, and identify the CMS options that best suit your needs
  • Explore the differences between the major CMSs, and understand which CMS option best fits your site
  • Assess your technical skill level and choose a CMS that combines ease of use with flexibility and power
  • Extensive discussion and quick start guides for several major CMSs: WordPress, Drupal, Joomla!, and more
  • Discover "speciality CMSs" for specific requirements: intranets, document sharing, community, e-commerce, blogging, and more.
  • Know how to choose the right developers and designers to customize the CMS to your requirements
  • Know what to do when your CMS plays up: troubleshoot, get help from the community, and make full use of the documentation
  • Make sure your web site gets the best hosting: find an ISP that can provide your CMS with the web hosting it needs, or learn about hosting the site on your own server
  • Investigate the plug-ins available for each CMS – plug-ins extend the power of a CMS, meaning that you can build features into your site that the CMS on its own might not provide

Section 1: Opening up to open source CMSs

Chapter 1: Do I even want an open source CMS? – When and how a content management system is useful. Why open source? Readymade or custom built?

Chapter 2: Exploring your options – Different CMS types, their purposes and different CMS technologies

Section 2: Thinking your choices through

Chapter 3: Understanding your site requirements – brainstorm and clarify your requirements, standard compliance, scale of the site, and key features

Chapter 4: Building the site – trying out CMSs, technical requirements, downloading and installation, configuration, creating navigation

Chapter 5: Content editing & maintaining the site – using WYSIWYG editors, adding pictures, publishing content, creating links

Chapter 6: Available plug-ins and templates – adding a photo gallery, customizing design via templates

Chapter 7: Extending and customizing – understand CMS's code quality, make code level changes to understand complexity

Section 3: CMSs by breed

Chapter 8: Blog CMSs – perform typical tasks with the top 3 blog choices, evaluate features

Chapter 9: Web CMSs – using top web CMSs, customizing them, and gaining key CMS skills

Chapter 10: E-Commerce CMSs – managing product/service-based e-commerce sites with CMSs; which would be best for you?

Chapter 11: Intranet/internal CMSs – internal sites for collaboration and communication, workflow, access privileges, and version tracking; Alfresco

Chapter 12: Specialized CMSs – CMSs that serve niches – e-learning, wiki, photo galleries, discussion forums and so on

Section 4: Open source CMS tips

Chapter 13: Hosting your CMS-powered site – selecting and working with a web host

Chapter 14: Working with CMS communities – asking questions, learning from documentation, and getting help

Chapter 15: Working with a specialist – finding experts, evaluating them, tips for project management, and outsourced teams

Chapter 16: Packt open source CMS award winners – Best CMSs voted by community and experts


There are many powerful open source CMSs available to take the pain away from managing a web site. These systems are feature rich, often easy to use, and free. Unfortunately, there are so many choices it's tough to be sure you're choosing the right one. How can you be sure that you are selecting and working with the right tool?

This book will guide you through choosing the right CMS for your needs. You can be confident in your choice of CMS for the needs of your project. It will also help you make a start using the CMS, and give you a feel for what it's like to use it – even before you install it yourself.

Are you bewildered by the many open source CMSs available online? Open source CMSs are the best way to create and manage sophisticated web sites. You can create a site that precisely meets your business goals, and keep the site up to date easily because these systems give you full control over every aspect of your site. Because open source CMSs are free to download, you have a huge amount of choice between the various systems.

Yet there are many open source CMSs to choose from, each with unique strengths – and occasionally limitations too. Choosing between the bewildering number of options can be tough.

Making the wrong choice early on may lead to a lot of wasted work, because you'll have a half-finished site that doesn't meet your initial requirements – and needs to be restarted from scratch.

This book will show you how to avoid choosing the wrong CMS. It will guide you through assessing your site requirements, and then using that assessment to identify the CMS that will best fit your needs. It contains discussions of the major CMSs, and the issues that you should consider when choosing: their complexity to use, their features and the power they offer. It discusses technical considerations such as programming languages and compliance with best practice standards in a clear, friendly way that non-technical readers can understand.

The book also contains quick-start guides and examples for the most popular CMSs such as WordPress, Joomla!, and Drupal, so that you can experiment with these CMSs, get a feel for how they work, and start using them to build your site.

After reading this book, you can be confident that your CMS choice will support your web site's needs because you have carefully assessed your requirements and explored the available options.

  • Understand different types of CMSs and select the one that best fits your needs
  • Install and customize a CMS with themes and plug-ins
  • Learn key concepts of Content Management Systems and how to systematically assess your requirements
  • Introduction to the major CMSs including Joomla!, Drupal, WordPress, Plone, Magento, Alfresco, and more
  • A hands-on, easy-to-read guide that gives you practical tips on hosting, project management, working with specialists and communities, and finding experts
Page Count 340
Course Length 10 hours 12 minutes
ISBN 9781847196224
Date Of Publication 16 Apr 2009


Nirav Mehta

Nirav Mehta is renowned for his entrepreneurial ventures, his breakthrough ideas, and his contribution to open source. Nirav leads a software development company – Magnet Technologies – from India that specializes in Rich Internet Applications, Web, and Mobile. Nirav believes in simplifying the most complicated ideas and presenting them in lucid language.

Over the last ten years, Nirav has written and spoken on a variety of topics. He has also been instrumental in localization efforts in India and training programmers to be effective developers.

He has set up a website completely dedicated to the book. You can find more information on it here: