Comparison of free website software11 min

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How to create a website without getting your hands on the portfolio? Know that free creation software exists! There are generally four main content management software: WordPress, Drupal, Joomla and Jahia. But what are they worth, very concretely?

WordPress

First, WordPress is a well known and also the most used software. What makes it interesting is its accessibility, even for beginners in the field: no prior coding knowledge is required. Knowing how to code is indeed not required, nor even strong computer knowledge. You can very easily create your URL, and many web hosts offer a quick installation of WordPress.

You can choose everything: from the location of your articles and images, to the plug-ins you want to install, to the “ambiance” theme (free or paid, depending on which one you choose) of your site. What it allows you to do is extremely varied: It is optimized for search engines (SEO) and for mobile media. With its intuitive interface, it is also suitable for e-commerce platforms. The template (or structure) of your site is also adapted according to the sector in which you are active. Updating the contents is also very easy and immediate.

Created in 2003, WordPress has seen its vocation expand over time. The blog platform has become a powerful open source software that 60 million people have chosen to use for website creation. WordPress would thus propel 25% of websites to date. It continues to evolve thanks to the contribution of many enthusiasts and developers. So it is certain that WordPress still has a bright future ahead of it.

Features

The WordPress software, which wordpress.org offers or directly on your host’s dashboard, needs to be installed on the server of the future site for you to be able to use it. To install it, a few elementary manipulations are enough. Once installed, WordPress allows you to:

  • Choose, install and customize the theme that corresponds to your activity. Knowing that each theme has its own features
  • Add and edit text content, images, videos, etc.
  • Manage menus, pages, articles and comments from a dashboard
  • Manage the different users or contributors of the site
  • Install plug-ins. These are advanced features that complement the basic WordPress features such as social network sharing modules, chat, newsletters, media galleries, e-commerce module, etc.

Offer

WordPress software is free to download. To customize it, you can install:

  • a free or paid WordPress theme. Many specialized sites offer professional themes with very heterogeneous designs at various prices as well.
  • free or paid plug-ins. Here again, on the more than 40,000 existing plug-ins, the rates vary.

If you use wordpress.com to create your website, the concept is different. In this case, their servers directly host the site, access to features is less extensive. And, in addition, you will have to choose among the following offers:

  • Free. You have access to free themes, unlimited articles and pages, 3GB online storage space, the domain name will contain wordpress.
  • Premium. For about 9 €/month, you have a custom domain name, 13 GB of storage, there is no advertising…
  • Business. Count nearly 25 €/month to access more than 50 premium themes, unlimited storage space and the Google Analytics option.

Advantages

Quick to set up

Hosters usually offer it directly on your management interface. WordPress installation is almost instantaneous. Just follow the few basic instructions.

Optimized for SEO

At a time when the key to a website’s success lies in its natural referencing, WordPress provides a site creator, even a novice, with a large number of tools to optimize the site’s content for search engines. Namely, the ability to complete meta titles and descriptions, optimize H tags, rewrite URLs, and even control the robot.txt file, etc.. All this allows you to intelligently reference your website in a few clicks.

Pleasant interface

The WordPress editor is rather ergonomic and pleasant, close to standard text editors like Microsoft Word. A few minutes or a few hours of practice, according to your ease on the computer tool, are enough to familiarize you with the software. Thus, you will be able to add, modify, delete contents as you wish without any technical knowledge.

Community Support

WordPress has brought a kind of revolution to the world of website creation, and with it has created an incredible, very responsive community, including many French-speaking people who help each other. This means that at the slightest obstacle, you only have to ask the WordPress community for specific answers and relevant solutions.

Flexibility

Several users, with configurable rights, can collaborate in the management and updating of the website. The WordPress administration interface is accessible from a computer, a tablet or even a smartphone through the WordPress application.

Suitable for responsive design

In order for your site’s appearance to adapt to all media used by visitors, most of the latest WordPress themes are responsive. In addition, the software version released in April 2016 includes the preview of pages in responsive design. This allows you to see what your site would look like on the different devices.

Disadvantages

Security

Undoubtedly a victim of its success, WordPress open source software is also on the lookout for piracy. Some unofficial extensions contain malicious code that can harm your site or extract data. Fortunately, it is possible to enhance the security of a WordPress site.

Complexity of the implementation of certain themes

The more complete and sought-after a theme seems, the more likely it is that its installation will be a little more laborious. You will therefore need more time to understand it before you can actually create your site.

Not suitable for adding many plug-ins

Extensions are a bit like blocks that we would assemble. An excess of zeal on the number of plug-ins installed would lead to slow down the website and problems with extensions. You will find yourself in front of a bag of knots that only a professional could possibly solve.

Drupal

Second, let’s look at Drupal. It is less used than WordPress but still very well known. Just like WordPress, it is accessible to the most beginners in the creation of Web site, but its installation is more complicated (which requires the services of an experienced professional). Drupal is generally used by companies wanting to create either an e-commerce platform or an aesthetic site that works well. Unlike WordPress which is optimized for all types of media, Drupal has only one template per sector and is not optimized for mobile media or search engines. Like its WordPress competitor, it offers a wide range of themes.

Features

To be able to run, Drupal is a CMS which requires the installation of a certain number of modules.

This basic solution allows:

Design customization through the different Drupal themes
Page editing
The addition of an e-commerce module
Adding and managing a blog
The insertion of forms, small applications called widgets, etc..

Offer

Like most open source CMS, Drupal is free software, which is offered directly on hosters’ administration interfaces.

You can then choose from a wide range of Drupal themes to create a personalized website. To date, there are over 2000 free and paid.

Then, about 33 000 modules offer the possibility to extend the functionality of the sites.

Advantages

Customizable and expandable

For a custom site, that you can enrich at will, Drupal allows even those who have little technical knowledge to create a showcase site in their image. But not only! Drupal’s many modules facilitate enrichment with an e-commerce section, a blog, or other more advanced features.

Advanced user management tools

The administrator of a site developed on Drupal can create and assign “roles” of different levels to users. Depending on its “role”, a user will have access to certain parts or functions of the site.

Advanced Features

Survey management tools, advanced menu tools, discussion forum modules, social networks, graphical editing tools are some of the advanced features available on Drupal.

The available support

To get you out of a dead end, Drupal has a number of documentation sources available to users. You can also search for answers, ask for help or chat with other users on the many forums.

Disadvantages

Complicated interface

Compared to other CMS software, learning Drupal requires some effort and extra time, its interface being quite austere and complicated. A neophyte cannot really count on it to create a website quickly.

Difficult to install and modify

Professionally oriented, Drupal is not recommended for amateurs with little practice in computer development. It is better to entrust the installation and modifications to experts. In expert hands, however, Drupal is very powerful.

Compatibility issues

If you already have a site developed on another CMS, it will be extremely complicated to migrate to Drupal to take advantage of its features. The best solution would be to start all over again.

3. Joomla:

Third, Joomla is easy to master and allows beginners in programming to take charge of the creation and management of their site. Although it is not optimized for mobile media, it is optimized for search engines and is also suitable for more e-commerce-oriented use. A template according to the sector is also proposed, as well as modules and a certain number of interesting extensions.

The first version was released in 2005. Since then, more than 200,000 contributors have improved open source software to enhance functionality.

Features

Beginner or expert in programming, Joomla offers you the possibility to build your site with more than 200 extensions, modules and templates.

Without calling on an experienced webmaster, you can:

select a customizable template
edit pages, integrate media
arrange hierarchical articles
reorganize the architecture of the site without however modifying the functionalities
integrate several languages
add a blog section
create an online shop
get a domain name (containing joomla.com) and free hosting

Offer

You can download the Joomla software for free and install it yourself or use the auto installer offered by most hosting providers. With Joomla, it’s simple, there’s only one offer, but it’s complete. It gives access to :

unlimited e-mail addresses, database and FTP access,
a Plesk administration interface, statistics,
a PHP, PERL, Python script,
a phpMyAdmin, etc.

Advantages

Consistent and active community

Joomla is a CMS software that gathers around it thousands of passionate users. There is even a particularly active Association Francophone des Utilisateurs de Joomla. These users and developers animate the discussion forums, publish numerous tutorials and other help materials, translate the software, etc. The Joomla community is not only virtual. Every year, she organizes a real meeting called Joomla Day in the four corners of the world.

Intuitive administration interface

The tool is easy to use. On the main page of the administration interface, you can directly access the different sections: management of articles, sections, categories, media, menus, users, etc.. The other pages are all equally simple and intuitive.

Large library of themes

There are thousands of templates where everyone can find their style. This ranges from the most basic to the most elaborate and modern theme. Depending on your expectations, you can choose a free template or a paid Joomla theme.

Disadvantages

Difficult custom development

For those who wish to go further, who wish to develop for more customization, Joomla’s architecture is complex.

Poor basic SEO performance, need to install plug-ins

Although Joomla offers some tools for SEO, these seem insufficient compared to other website creation software. To make up for this lack and improve the referencing of a Joomla site, it will be necessary to install extensions.

4. Jahia:

Fourth, intuitive and easy to use, Jahia is suitable for anyone looking to create and manage their site, from the most beginner to the most experienced. It is suitable for commercial activities on the Internet (e-commerce) and mobile media. It is very easy to integrate new content, but also to integrate blog platforms, newsletters, forums.

Features

JAHIA features include :

The content editor
Multilingual management
Creation and management of blogs, wiki, newsletter, press release
Form generators
The mobile display emulator
Web marketing tools

Offer

JAHIA offers 2 versions of its Digital Experience Manager (DXM):

The free Community Distribution package, currently licensed under GPLv3 – Viral. This distribution gives access to the basic functionalities and the JAHIA source code.
The Enterprise Distribution paid package. Proposed with a JSEL license, it costs about 13 000 €. The range of features is much wider and the company has extensive technical support. The basic functions are completed by :
Form, Marketing, Portal, Workspace Factory
the very precise management of user rights,
Private Factory: access to modules developed on other projects, etc.

Advantages

Intuitive and easy to use

Whether you are a beginner or experienced, JAHIA is easy to learn. Any user, whatever his position in a company, can manage the website.

Suitable for e-commerce

Digital marketing oriented, there is no better way to create an online store than JAHIA. It provides various high-performance tools at the cutting edge of technology to optimize business strategy and remain competitive.

Suitable for mobile supports

Both packages allow to create and view mobile versions of sites

Easy to integrate new content

On JAHIA, you can integrate any type of text or media file by going through one of the following two modes :

Edit. Everything is done by drag and drop
Contribute. You access an interface “in context”, i.e. within the site itself, ideal for occasional contributors.

Integration of blog platforms, newsletters, forums

No extension to install, this is part of the basic JAHIA features

Disadvantages

Due to its low profile, there are few resources available. The community is also very small.

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