Choosing an open-source CMS, part 3: Why we use WordPress

WordPress' flexibility and ease of use convinced two organizations to use it as their content management system.

In this last installment of our three-part series on finding the best open-source content management system (CMS) for your needs, we asked two organizations -- online magazine Quartz.com and Carleton University -- to talk about why they chose WordPress over other open-source options and how well that decision has stood the test of time. (Our first installment examined Drupal and the second looked at Joomla.)

WordPress got its start as a blogging platform in May 2003 and gradually evolved, first into a blogging system that let users add Web pages outside of the blog and then into a full-featured, popular CMS. Of the three most popular open-source CMSs -- WordPress, Joomla and Drupal -- WordPress is both the most popular and the fastest growing by far, according to Web technology tracker W3Techs.

"Drupal has long provided a flexible platform, enabling it to meet a broad set of needs. However, WordPress 3.0 significantly bridged the flexibility gap," says Larry Cannell, an analyst with Gartner.

[For in-depth reviews of these three open-source content management systems, see Site builder shootout: Drupal vs. Joomla vs. WordPress. Looking for development tools? Try 10 essential WordPress plugins.]

Unlike Drupal, WordPress has a reputation for being notoriously easy to use -- in part because you don't have to download the software from the WordPress.org site and build your own Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP setup if you don't want to. Many less technically savvy people use the WordPress.com hosting service, which makes getting started easy.

This also means that companies using the higher-end WordPress CMS will find that many employees are already familiar with WordPress' administrative interface.

While Joomla and Drupal have more of a committee-based approach to decision-making as far as the direction and development of the software is concerned, the WordPress community is more hierarchical, which can mean faster decisions. "We have the benevolent dictator for life model," says co-founder Matt Mullenweg. "Ultimately, the buck stops at me."

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