CMS - Startup in a Box ?

Free and open source content management systems (CMS) like Drupal and Joomla have given entrepreneurs everywhere an opportunity to bootstrap their concepts quickly and effectively. What's the difference between them, and which one is right for you? Let's take a look.

Joomla - This CMS is very popular and freely available as an open source software package. It can be used to design Web sites, community portals, online magazines, corporate intranets, and even e-commerce sites. Out of the box, users can build data reporting tools, inventory control systems, product catalogs, business directories, and more. You don't need to be a technology whiz, however, to use Joomla. To get a feel for how easy it is, try this interactive online demo.

Mambo - Another open source option on the playing field is Mambo, a CMS with Web- and server-based installation options. Its template system means there's no complicated coding required but, because it's open source software, you can customize, tweak, and get as technical as you want. Mambo handles media content like images and video exceptionally well, and has a robust content publication scheduling feature to help keep your site fresh and updated around the clock.

Drupal - This open source content management system made headlines recently when it was announced that the White House uses Drupal to power WhiteHouse.gov. The basic package is loaded with tools to create all kinds of terrific Web sites and portals, but when you include the free add-on modules things really get interesting. Use Drupal to create e-commerce sites, podcasts, newsletters, picture galleries, forums, message boards, and more.

concrete5 - For many startups, an online presence is mainly about branding and selling your company's message. When that's the case, many entrepreneurs wish they could find a CMS that's meant for marketing. Concrete5 may be just the ticket. Designed for "regular people," not developers, concrete5 makes setting up a Web site as easy as sending an email. Down-to-earth editing tools make it possible for someone with no developer experience to build and edit a quality Web site in minutes. That's a terrific bonus, since most startups don't have extra cash lying around to spring for a professional Web designer.

Most open source content management systems have the same basic capabilities and features, and mainly vary in level of difficulty to set up and use. The easiest way to determine which CMS is best for you is to try their online demos and play around a little bit to get a feel for which one best matches your computer skill level. No matter which one you choose, each project has a healthy community of developers and users at the ready to help you get set up and troubleshoot along the way.

Flickr image courtesy of Marco Belluci.

Originally posted at http://blogs.sun.com/sun4startups/entry/cms_startup_in_a_box1

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