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  1. #1
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    Debating use of a CMS, and if so, which one?

    Hello,
    I'm looking to redo our website, and am trying to determine if I should custom code it, or use a CMS, and if I do use a CMS, which one. This is for a historic society.

    Here are some thoughts I have on what I need/want in the final product:

    - Photo Album
    - Forum
    - Mail manager (mailing lists)
    - Membership payments via Eventbrite
    - Blog

    The Photo Album and Forum would be used both by board members, and self-registered public users
    The Blog would only be used by board members or invited guests
    We would want "recent forum postings" on the front page of the website. Recent blog posts would also be there.
    Our current forum is PHPBB 2.X, we would need Forum software which can import the contents of our current forum.
    There are currently a few pages of DB generated content (ie historic sites at risk, sorted by risk level) along with some forms I've created using a formbuilder so that board members can edit the DB.
    Ideally someone wouldn't have to log in twice to post a message in the forum and upload a photo to the album, although I'm not sure how big of a deal that is.
    Ideally we would use 'free' software, but might pay if the benefits are substantial.


    Here is an example of the sort of page we'd love to emulate:

    http://www.heritagetoronto.org/ (I believe this was done in Drupal)

    I think that's about it.

    Thoughts on using Wordpress/Drupal/Joomla or custom coding?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    SitePoint Guru hifigrafix's Avatar
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    Wordpress can easily do all of those things and seems to be intuitive.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skorpiius View Post
    Hello,
    I'm looking to redo our website, and am trying to determine if I should custom code it, or use a CMS, and if I do use a CMS, which one. This is for a historic society.

    Here are some thoughts I have on what I need/want in the final product:

    - Photo Album
    - Forum
    - Mail manager (mailing lists)
    - Membership payments via Eventbrite
    - Blog
    Drupal will do all that you want. It is free but it has a learning curve for the developer so if you are the developer, get ready to learn. If you are looking for a developer, that talent (experience/knowledge/skills) will come at a cost.

    Photo Album - Depending on how complex you want to get this can be handled with or without add on modules. I would look at Media Gallery + Colorbox

    Forum - Check out Advanced Forum... It's a module that supercharges Drupal's built in forum. There is also a Drupal Group for Advanced Forum and Documentation.

    Mail Manager - There are a number of Mail Managers available but I haven't used them so I can't comment.

    Membership payments via Eventbrite - The Eventbrite module hasn't been ported to Drupal 7 yet so you'll need to tackle that or get a developer to tackle that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Skorpiius View Post
    Here is an example of the sort of page we'd love to emulate:

    http://www.heritagetoronto.org/ (I believe this was done in Drupal)
    Yes Heritage Toronto is Drupal, probably Drupal 6.

    I don't see anything that is impossible to do with Drupal but as I mentioned if you are going to do the development but don't know the system, get ready for a learning curve. IMO, the benefits highly outweigh the trouble of learning it though. We've been a Drupal shop for almost 5 years now and I know we couldn't perform the work we do without it. After our first successful Drupal project we chucked our our in-house CMS.

    Good luck,
    Andrew
    Andrew Wasson | www.lunadesign.org
    Principal / Internet Development

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the comments guys.

    What's interesting, is really the end solution is somewhat irrelevant, as I am sort of a software developer by day, but am actually more interested in Web Dev than the dev I do now, so I'd like to learn Drupal, Wordpress, AND custom coding just to have that knowledge under my belt. That said, I'd prefer to use whichever would be the fastest.

    To be honest I'm tempted to use Wordpress as I hear it's easier, and then once complete create the site again using Drupal so that I can contrast and compare.

    What I don't want to do is do it in Wordpress only to find out it can't be done.

  5. #5
    Mazel tov! bronze trophy kohoutek's Avatar
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    It can be done with WordPress. You'll need a plugin here and there, but it's perfectly doable.

    Another CMS you could take into consideration is ExpressionEngine. It's one of the best CMSes out there, but it is a commercial application.
    The biggest difference in using EE is that you don't have to fiddle with PHP at all, at least not for the tasks you have. This isn't necessarily an advantage but can be a convenience. Also, the quality of the third-party add-ons is extremely high.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skorpiius View Post
    To be honest I'm tempted to use Wordpress as I hear it's easier, and then once complete create the site again using Drupal so that I can contrast and compare.

    What I don't want to do is do it in Wordpress only to find out it can't be done.
    WordPress has filled out a lot in the last while but (my opinion) if you really get into industrial strength web development, you'll outgrow it. Many sites can start as a WordPress site but if you get called in to add a CRM or integrate the GMAP API, consume information from a remote server for reports (or even for logging in against a national database) or if you need to create an intranet-like documentation system that only a certain level of user can access, you'll be needing something with more firepower.

    Drupal isn't easy to master but it is amazingly flexible. Yeah, it's got more than most sites need but you can dumb it down and then if you need to turn on the afterburners you can extend and expand the site as needed. We use it sometimes as a foundation for web apps. You can use it as the platform and build your custom app in a module and then integrate it into the site. Also if you're an MVC developer you can use Drupal Promethius: Link

    Good luck with whatever you do and have fun too

    Andrew
    Andrew Wasson | www.lunadesign.org
    Principal / Internet Development

  7. #7
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    Thanks Andrew. This initial project is one where I'd be happy to outgrow WP as that would give me a chance to use Drupal (or EE, thanks kohoutek I had forgotten about that).

    Since WP, Drupal, and EE have all been proposed by different people in this thread, could you each suggest the best learning resource for each?

    Thanks

  8. #8
    SitePoint Addict dnordstrom's Avatar
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    Another vote for Drupal if you're going with PHP. I personally code in Ruby these days and would probably have written it using Sinatra or Ruby on Rails, depending on the future plans of the site. This because I enjoy Ruby a lot more than PHP, and I find it very flexible.

    Drupal.org, the official website of Drupal, has a lot of great documentation (it has been around for a while and has a great community of developers) so that's what I would suggest. I would also say that it's fairly easy to get started with, and eventually master.

    Good luck!
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  9. #9
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    Does anyone have any experience with ocPortal? (I promise I won't keep mentioning random CMS')

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skorpiius View Post
    Thanks Andrew. This initial project is one where I'd be happy to outgrow WP as that would give me a chance to use Drupal (or EE, thanks kohoutek I had forgotten about that).

    Since WP, Drupal, and EE have all been proposed by different people in this thread, could you each suggest the best learning resource for each?

    Thanks
    Since you're an application developer I would suggest that you jump in with both feet and grab a copy of Pro Drupal Development. I have the Drupal 6 version and found it highly informative. I wouldn't recommend it to a non developer right off the bat but if you're used to figuring out API's and such, it should be a good place to get the dirt on Drupal. Also I like "Using Drupal". It has a lot of exercises that get you started, making web apps that are useful.

    Cheers,
    Andrew
    Andrew Wasson | www.lunadesign.org
    Principal / Internet Development

  11. #11
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    Hey, having worked with about 10 CMS'es including big corporate ones. I'd say if you want the best supported one, I'd go with Wordpress. We use wordpress for a lot of our projects and it's a diddle to work with, also, you can customize as you please; in fact you can change it all, it just makes it easy to manage the website (also for not so technical persons) and you can program any features you want in there or otherwise you have the support of thousands of plugins. Either way, for the best supported and most flexible CMS, I'd go with Wordpress hands down

  12. #12
    It's all Geek to me silver trophybronze trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skorpiius View Post
    Since WP, Drupal, and EE have all been proposed by different people in this thread, could you each suggest the best learning resource for each?
    For EE, there are really useful resources at Mijingo and TrainEE. There are lots of other sites, such as EE Insider, and of course the Docs, too.

  13. #13
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    Just so you know, I've used Drupal, while it looks attractive, for the novice or even an experience developer it's not user friendly (don't even bother with Joomla) and from my experience there are regular bugs plus not SEO friendly (apart from it not being well supported). I've no experience with expressionengine so can't give you any heads up on that. The best resource for wordpress is Wordpress.org. It has a million resources, video's, forums etc. Good luck!

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    Quote Originally Posted by dvdb View Post
    Just so you know, I've used Drupal, while it looks attractive, for the novice or even an experience developer it's not user friendly (don't even bother with Joomla) and from my experience there are regular bugs plus not SEO friendly (apart from it not being well supported). I've no experience with expressionengine so can't give you any heads up on that. The best resource for wordpress is Wordpress.org. It has a million resources, video's, forums etc. Good luck!
    Yes it is difficult to get a handle on Drupal but I urge you to keep at it... It is well worth the effort. Once you've mastered Drupal, you will find that you no longer need WordPress (other than to maintain existing WordPress installations) because you can scale it to the needs of the project. Sure MIT, Warner, Disney and various government website's use the scalability and flexibility Drupal provides but that shouldn't stop a small business from having those capabilities too. Use what you need.

    * I'll bet I can build a small scale site in Drupal as fast if not faster than I can in WordPress. The install in Drupal 7 is blazing fast and if I Drush everything I could write a script and have it all done while I go get a coffee. Creating the Theme can be time consuming but it's no more complicated than writing a theme in WordPress so I don't see an advantage. The reason I would however use Drupal is because later down the road my client may decide he/she wants an inhouse documentation system or a full on CRM (or a partial CRM) or a section that contains self managed mini-sites, or they want to use a webservice at some data-warehouse to manage all user login/accounts, or some other thing I can't imagine at the moment. When that happens (those are real examples), I want to have the most flexible system I can get my hands on so I can say definitively... Yeah, we can do that.

    BTW: Any bugs you may have found are likely in modules that are still beta or release candidate... I don't believe any stable modules have bugs and all community modules/patches are unit tested to safeguard that. Do you have any issues in particular that you can cite?

    Also: Any reason you think Drupal is a poor prefromer in SEO? Any specifics? SEO is such a tenuous subject because everyone and no-one is an expert. Lots of opinions get tossed around about what way is the best way to achieve SEO nirvana and I've defended WordPress in a few discussions because I believe it is as good or better than a static website but I don't believe it has an edge on Drupal. If anything they should be about even.

    Now if you're looking for Drupal SEO tools, I think if you look at the SEO Checklist, Nodewords, XMLSitemap as well as pathauto provide a great start for SEO. Here's a good resource to start with. It's good but by no means complete: http://www.kristen.org/content/drupal-seo-modules
    Andrew Wasson | www.lunadesign.org
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  15. #15
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    I prefer Wordpress. If you do not want to complicate things and want to keep everything simple, go with Wordpress.

  16. #16
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    Drupal is the most powerful Content Management System, but it's not easy to master.

    I use WordPress, but I hope to get into Drupal. Take it from somebody who's been there, Drupal is not a walk in the park. I personally feel that WP helped me understand some core CMS concepts which I can easily migrate to when using Drupal. I will probably go directly to Drupal 7, as it's installation is known to be easier.

    Maybe you can learn WP and from there learn Drupal, depending on how easy you find Drupal. Whatever you do, nothing really is a waste of time as we all learn from our experiences.

    I came from a corporate environment with our own CMS. It was very similar to WordPress, this made migration easier for me. Drupal is different in it's setup, I love that the core files are separated from the user files, plus the file replace makes the CMS very expandable.

    What I would love to see in Drupal, which I now have in WP is an easy plug-in installation which can download and instal plug-ins with a click of a button on the CMS.

    Hope this helps.
    follow me on ayyelo, Easy WordPress; specializing in setting up themes!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sega View Post
    What I would love to see in Drupal, which I now have in WP is an easy plug-in installation which can download and instal plug-ins with a click of a button on the CMS.
    Ok, so you want one button module and theme installation.... Give me a second.... Ok, try Drupal 7 now

    One of the killer features of D7 for me was installing modules from a web URL or uploading a compressed file from your desktop. You go to a module or theme page at Drupal.org, copy the link location and paste it into a text field in the install module page of your site admin. Click "Install" and the module is transferred to your site unpacked and installed. From that point all you have to do is activate the module.

    The second part of that killer feature is that you have one button (or maybe 3 or 4) updating of modules. You go to the available updates reporting page in the admin pages (that's two clicks) and you can see any outdated modules in the list, then you click the update tab and you can select all or only specific modules that you want to update. It's a bit of a wizard type of process as you will be prompted to update the database (click of a button) once the module code has been updated and then you'll be directed back to the homepage or admin pages.

    * You can get similar functionality in Drupal 6 with the Plugin Manager... It provides tools to install and update modules and works quite well.

    Andrew
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  18. #18
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    Thanks, I think I have to try D7 for myself now. I've got 2 projects to finish, once I've finished with them I will get started with D7. Thanks again!
    follow me on ayyelo, Easy WordPress; specializing in setting up themes!

  19. #19
    SitePoint Guru dojo's Avatar
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    I am using a combination of wordpress and vbulletin for sites that need to work like this. WP is excellent for articles/blog/presentation and VB, while I am not a huge fan, does an amazing job as forum platform.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sega View Post
    Drupal is the most powerful Content Management System, but it's not easy to master.

    I use WordPress, but I hope to get into Drupal. Take it from somebody who's been there, Drupal is not a walk in the park. I personally feel that WP helped me understand some core CMS concepts which I can easily migrate to when using Drupal. I will probably go directly to Drupal 7, as it's installation is known to be easier.

    Maybe you can learn WP and from there learn Drupal, depending on how easy you find Drupal. Whatever you do, nothing really is a waste of time as we all learn from our experiences.

    I came from a corporate environment with our own CMS. It was very similar to WordPress, this made migration easier for me. Drupal is different in it's setup, I love that the core files are separated from the user files, plus the file replace makes the CMS very expandable.

    What I would love to see in Drupal, which I now have in WP is an easy plug-in installation which can download and instal plug-ins with a click of a button on the CMS.

    Hope this helps.
    This is actually quite important to me, as I feel that my initial failure when I dabbled with Joomla a few years back was due to not quite having a handle on the structure and basic concepts of the system I was working with.

  21. #21
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    I think being that I'm a complete CMS novice, I am going to go ahead an use WP.
    But part of my plan will be to use this initial site built with WP as a CMS learning experience, and once complete I will attempt to use the skills I have learned to rebuild the site using Drupal. There are some other well rated CMS', but I feel these two cover enough ground that just focussing on them for now will give me a great education. That said, this has turned into a good conversation, so please continue it.

  22. #22
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    That sounds like a good plan. My theory is that you can never waste time by learning one of the really popular systems and then you have a foundation to build upon if you choose to learn others.

    Andrew
    Andrew Wasson | www.lunadesign.org
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  23. #23
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    That sounds like a good plan. My theory is that you can never waste time by learning one of the really popular systems and then you have a foundation to build upon if you choose to learn others.
    Preciseness, but I prefer free open-source CMS rather than those corporate paid ones. I've had experience in dealing with a corporate CMS, and once I left the company I was stuck on what to do. I found that Drupal and WordPress are a lot like the corporate CMS, but I needed the confidence to take the first step. I will take another look at Drupal. I am into WordPress at the moment and it's working okay for me, sometimes manipulating the design is not that simple, especially when you demand complete control.

    For WordPress I used the NetTuts videos, they are amazing, and really worth the money may I add. Good luck in whatever you want to do, let's hope that you're able to learn a CMS.

    PS: WordPress syntax is very easy.
    follow me on ayyelo, Easy WordPress; specializing in setting up themes!

  24. #24
    SitePoint Member liquidair's Avatar
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    hi there EE does look good but the price is very high compared to free (lol) especially if you new the commercial one.

    But thanks for your thoughts,

    Dave.

  25. #25
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    In my experience, I have used Drupal, Silverstripe and Wordpress. I strongly recommend Wordpress. Wordpress has the most support and documentation and is becoming the industry standard CMS. I have found that using Drupal is not so fun, requires years of experience and hard lessons learned. I think a wordpress site can be made to do what you need without hardly any pitfalls - just develop it on a good server (not slowdaddy). I use dreamhost and I love it. My site runs pretty quickly using W3 total cache plugin with a Content Delivery Network to load the images and some of the files. Also Yoast's SEO for Wordpress is da bomb. It gives you hints and grades for each pages seo and tells you how to improve based on a keyword that you insert. So if I open google adwords keyword tool and type in Lapel Pin Design, it comes up with about 400 monthly page views. I decide that keyword is relevant (exactly relevant) to what I do so I make a page using that keyword. Yoast's plugin (what a name!) helps me figure out how many times to mention the keyword in my text, reminds me to put in in a H1 or H2 etc. tag and gives me feedback to improve. I really enjoy using wordpress - I hope I didn't give away too many secrets just now! Oh well I always was a blabbermouth.


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