It is quite a logical conclusion: “you should think about the structure and functions of the site long before the start of its development”, for many newcomers is not obvious information. And for nothing. The peculiarity of sites and is that an ill-conceived solution to any of the processes of its creation leads to a great headache for both users and owners.
Customers who come to us with some understanding of how sites work often ask the question: what CMS to choose for the online store? And if the solution was obvious, the whole article would take no more than two paragraphs. But in the case of site building there are practically no simple answers.
What is CMS?
Let’s start with the definition. CMS (Content Management System, translated from English as “site management system”, and popularly – the engine) is an information system used to fill and edit the content of the site. Its main purpose is to provide the owner of a web resource with the ability to independently fill it with the required information without the help of a technical specialist. This greatly simplifies the web resource management, as each time you call programmers to change the font in the title of the article – a wasteful and meaningless task.
It is worth saying that working in CMS still implies certain knowledge, the degree of “abstraction” which is strikingly different from the type of a particular engine.
How to choose CMS for online store: classification engines
To determine which CMS to make an online store, you need to deal with the classification. The CMS type differs by the license type and the way templates work. By license type, content management systems are divided into:
- open. They are characterized by open source code, available to users for study and editing. Most open source engines are free;
- closed. They are partisan. The owner of such CMS protect their products as the apple of the eye, not allowing users to study or modify the code. Naturally, for the use of such an engine (in the vast majority of cases) you have to pay.
If you do not know which management system is better to choose: paid or free, we advise you to stop at the free option. Hypothetically, the paid option wins, because it has its own technical support and impressive functionality. And this is great for mastodonite sites, bulky multi-level structures.
For a small niche or branded online store is more than enough free alternative. First, to all questions that will arise in your head, somewhere in a specialized forum already dusty answer (which eliminates the need for 24-hour technical support). And secondly, even the basic functionality of a free CMS is enough for a spectacular life of a full website. And if not enough, there are kilotons of additional plug-ins that turn your engine into a multifunctional, like a monster from Carpenter movies, an unkillable creature.
According to the way templates work, CMS is divided into three types:
- control systems with autonomous data processing. Visitors of such a site see a preformed page, which can be changed only by editing the source code;
- interactive options. The content of these resource web pages are formatted every time they are accessed. Perfect for creating dynamic web projects that need to be edited without access to the programmers;
- hybrid. Combine the functions of the above types.
If not CMS, then what?
On numerous forum wars thousands of users break their spears in disputes about the usefulness of using a CMS or creating a website from scratch (the so-called “self-writing”). In a way, this is a war of tastes, but there is also a rational grain of it. For example, regardless of the project type, sites written from scratch have such advantages:
- higher speed, due to the absence of unnecessary elements in the code;
- possibility to realize a unique idea;
- improved security.
If you think: “It’s enough for me, it’s time to close the article and start Google searching for website developers from scratch”, pay attention to the disadvantages:
- To develop a full-fledged site requires a huge amount of time and resources, which means that its cost increases several times (if not dozens of times);
- creating a web project from scratch, you play the anti-lottery. The probability of finding a competent enough developer is very low;
- even if you have found such a programmer, you find yourself held hostage by him, as no one will understand someone else’s unique code. Thus, if your site has fallen while its developer went to the sea, you become completely powerless before the problem.
Using a CMS is also not an ideal solution, but due to the demand for good engines and their prevalence in the virtual public, you will not be bothered by all the disadvantages inherent in pure HTML sites. And with a properly designed project, you will save and multiply all the advantages.
CMS rating for online store
Having fallen asleep in one big boiler with our own experience, customer feedback and modern market trends, we were able to bring out pure distillate and highlight five most successful CMS on the domestic market. It should be noted that this rating is not worldwide, as the peculiarities of website creation and promotion in different hemispheres and countries are noticeably different. Accordingly, the list of Ukrainian and Russian favorites will not be 100% true for American, Chinese or German webmaster.
1. WordPress: the most popular site management system
Clouded by millions of users and thousands of web developers, WordPress is considered to be the most popular engine due to its versatility and ease of comprehension. Despite the fact that the platform was originally designed to create blogs and information sites, at the moment WordPress is a great variant of CMS for online stores and catalogs, which do not differ in huge size. The advantages of this CMS can be painted on many pages, but we will focus on the most important ones:
- availability of hundreds of free universal templates. And here the proverb “free cheese only in a mousetrap” does not work. Especially useful for bloggers and people with modest financial resources, but our experience suggests that even large firms creating multifunctional portals are satisfied with the result;
- a wide range of topics and plug-ins. Unique and visually appealing interface design shows good taste of the resource owner and “bribes” guests. A variety of vordpressovsky themes and plug-ins for allows you to find the right option even to the picky client. It is worth saying that really high-quality “chips” will be paid, but when you buy them, you will know that they are created by authoritative developers who guarantee the quality of the product. You can install an adaptive menu, adapt the site for mobile devices, add a lot of additional objects and so on.
- quick and easy installation. Installation does not require programmers’ intervention and takes 10-15 minutes. It is enough to have a minimum set of tools and a basic guide;
- simple and straightforward admin (control panel). If you consider yourself a confident user of the Word editor, there are no problems with adding and editing information in WordPress. At the same time, if you want to fully develop the brand, uniqueizing the design of your site and implementing special functionality, programmer help will still be needed.
- versatility. Initially, WordPress was planned as a blogging engine. But, thanks to a significant number of improvements and plug-ins, it can be customized to any user’s whim, whether it’s a forum, news portal, online store, photo and video gallery or others.
For completeness of the picture should be mentioned and the shortcomings of this CMS:
- Impressive load. A huge number of opportunities creates a large demand for resources. The problem is solved by switching to a wider channel hosting or not installing every new plugin you like;
- poor security. You have to pay for popularity. A large number of users are attracted by an equally large number of spammers, which clog the sites with comments and do not squeal with a virus attack. It is worth saying that this problem is being fixed very successfully, but initiative malefactors are scrupulously and methodically searching for protection holes and using them;
2. OpenCart: perhaps the best CMS for an online store
If you don’t know which CMS is best for your online store, don’t hesitate to stop at this option. Among the advantages of OpenCart can be attributed:
- excellent implementation of MVC (data separation scheme). An implicit plus that shows itself well when you need to increase functionality;
- an intuitive admin (as much as possible for the engine). Nothing superfluous, each object is justified and implemented in the best place. And in case your vision of beauty does not coincide with that of the developers, you can always customize the admin;
- Free naked engine and democratic prices for paid modules. If you do not know what CMS to use, just download OpenCart and try it. Even the basic functionality will be enough to create an oversized online store, and numerous add-ons allow you to customize the engine to fit any needs of your project;
- functionality. The “Naked” online store will never bring good profits. OpenCart engine allows you to fertilize potential customers with discounts, promotions, coupons. In addition, the CMS is well implemented functions that are convenient for customers (ratings, product reviews, etc.);
- support for an unlimited number of products and categories. A good online store is inevitably expanding. Working in this CMS, it will not be a problem for you;
- A variety of payment and delivery methods. OpenCart allows you to integrate electronic wallets into your website, pay for your purchase in several currencies. At the same time, transactions are protected and tools are implemented to stop the sinister plans of online fraudsters and thieves of confidential data.
This system is not without its disadvantages:
- limited basic functionality. Although everything you need can be easily purchased, you should be prepared for the fact that there will be no useful function in your naked assembly;
- open source code. This is both a plus and minus of any engine. On the one hand, more people create content, and on the other hand, the low entry threshold for developers inevitably leads to poor quality products on the market without adequate technical support;
- small architectural problems with the CMS. These sometimes result in duplicated pages and other annoying errors that can be easily corrected by a smart programmer.
According to our internal rating (according to the CyberShark employees) Openkart is the best free CMS for an online store.
Universal free CMS. It appeared more than ten years ago and quickly reached the top of user likes. Among the advantages of the system can be attributed:
- opportunity to get free and open source code. All these positive points were described in the article earlier, so we will not focus on them;
- a wide range of modules and other components. During the engine’s existence, enthusiasts have written a lot of useful and interesting plugins, thanks to which CMS allows you to implement both a simple site and something massive, like a social network or online store. And if your “ideal plugin” has not yet been written, you can fix it by contacting numerous developers who implement projects;
- ease of use. On many engines implemented admin, to manage which you need to make complex manipulations (sometimes, a simple task requires from 4 to 8 actions). Joomla’s admin panel is designed in such a way that functionality is called with just a few mouse clicks;
- Russification. Most modules and plug-ins are created by domestic developers or translated into Russian. This greatly improves comfort when using the engine;
Now about a spoonful of tar:
- redundant code. Spotted both in the site templates, and in the engine itself. Leads to the fact that pages sometimes work slowly;
- lack of official technical support. The vast majority of the problems are solved if you look at the thematic forums, but the presence of an official support representative would be more calming;
- problems with SEO-optimization. Not that your site on Joomla never saw the first page of google, but the process of climbing the pedestal of search engines will be time-consuming;
- the difficulty of mastering. Not disastrous, but more toothed, compared to previous engines.
A very serious product designed to develop no less serious resources (CRM systems, corporate portals, giant online stores). The engine is so powerful that if Harry Potter fought his war with Vold de Mort on the web-programming field, Bitrix would replace three wagons with magic wands.
The advantages of the CMS are the same as for a hotel with All Inclusive:
- Safety and trouble-free technical support. The developers of the engine meticulously make sure that the system remains an impregnable fortress for intruders. And the operational support team knows everything and will be happy to share this knowledge with you;
- Combination with accounting programs (1C in particular). An indispensable function for large projects and corporate organizations. It also significantly reduces the load on the site;
- Surplus of useful information. A large number of reference materials and highly specialized forums allow you to study the engine thoroughly and significantly increase its efficiency when working with it;
- Database support. If necessary, you can easily connect popular databases;
- Initial adaptation of the site for use on mobile devices.
Naturally, working with such a multilayer construction as Bitrix, you may also encounter problems. The most common of them:
- resourcephilia. Minimum distribution of the tariff “Start” 63.3 Mb. Deciding to work with this CMS, forget about the cheap tariff plan on hosting. Bitrix is very voracious;
- sluggishness. A site created on Bitrix requires additional optimization as the system suffers from excessive code and massive architecture.
- cost. Depending on the version, the cost of the package will cost you from 1500 to 19000 hryvnia. Taking into account that there are many more available alternatives on the market, not everyone will agree on this amount.
The popularity of this free engine among domestic webmasters is ensured by its user-friendly interface and versatility. Positive factors that will allow you to dwell on this CMS are considered:
- straightforward integration. The engine is written in PHP and works with a MySQL database. This ensures stable operation of the system with such services as Server, Microsoft SQL, SQLite, Apache, etc. The choice of software that works well on this CMS is also great. If your site involves work with Flash, Java, Flex, PHP, Ajax, the choice of Drupal will be obvious;
- a large number of free templates and themes. Thanks to them, it will be easy to customize the engine for the specific needs of the site. However, it should be noted that some of the free templates and themes do not have the Russian version;
- user-friendly system. Comfortable and intuitive, even for beginners. And developers are making sure that with each update, the system becomes even more user-friendly;
- good protection, compared to other free CMS.
- difficulty in mastering the system. Before you understand the basics of working in Drupal, a lot of time will pass, especially if you are new to website development. But when you understand the principle of the engine, the solution of further tasks in it becomes easy;
- resource requirements. For stable performance, the system requires powerful servers.
Each of the above mentioned CMS for online store has a lot of advantages, but also has some disadvantages. That is why one programmer can idolize a particular engine, and another can consider it the embodiment of evil. In this case, the arguments of both encoders will be exhaustive and logical. The choice is yours. In the end, for the completeness of the picture, I want to show the rating of the most used engines in Russia, according to the version of the site Statonline.