What is a CMS and which one should you choose to build your website?

February 16, 2023 - Frédérique Biau

12 minutes

Today, you don't have to be a computer expert to create a website.

There are tons of online tools that can help you build your digital presence by yourself, for free or cheap. The best known are the CMS (Content Management Systems). This is software that has made web design accessible to a large number of people. You are probably familiar with Wordpress, which is a CMS.

But do you know the website builders?

It's not easy to choose the best tool from the myriad of options that are available. What is a CMS? How does it work? Which CMS to choose? Are there alternatives to CMS? What are website builders really worth?

We answer all these questions, and we start right away! 👇

What is a CMS?

In the early 2000s, a new tool came on the market that would revolutionize the world of web design...

For the first time in the history of computing, it became possible for the general public to create a website.

Before that, it was impossible to build an effective digital presence without mastering computer languages.

We might as well tell you that CMS (Content Management Systems) have played a critical role in the current digital landscape. In other words, the Internet, as we know it today, would not be the same at all, if they had never existed.

Imagine if you had to hire an expensive web agency for every website you want to create...

Yes, indeed: the number of websites and thus the amount of information available on the web would be greatly reduced.


So, what is a CMS for?

A CMS is software that helps users create, manage, and modify the content of a website without the need for specialized technical knowledge.

In simpler terms, a content management system is a tool that helps you create a website without having to write all the code from scratch (and without even knowing how to code).

This tool takes care of all the basic infrastructure for you, allowing you to focus on the content and design of your site.

For example
Info stepup

Let's say you want to add a form to your website. Without a content management system, you would have to create a static HTML file and upload it to your server (sounds like a pain in the ass, right? 🤯 ).

With a CMS like WordPress, you simply add an extension (or plugin) to an interface that looks like Microsoft Word. Much easier, isn't it?

How does a CMS work?

When you use a CMS, you start with a website template (also called theme) and customize it, mainly by using plugins.

These plugins can be free or paid.

From a more technical point of view, a CMS consists of:

  • A Content Management Application (CMA): this is the part that allows you to add content to your site.

  • A Content Diffusion Application (CDA): this is the system that processes your content, stores it and makes it visible to your users.

These two complementary systems make it easy to maintain your site.

As you can see, CMS have been a great step forward in the democratization of web design.

However, you need to be a bit computer savvy to properly use a content management system.

This type of tool requires some time to learn and master. In fact, CMS will not take care of security, for example. And you will often have to deal with problems on your own, without assistance.

Basically, CMS are not suitable for all situations...

So, when is it appropriate to use it?

Web design software

When should I use a CMS to build my website?

Using a content management system is a good idea if:

  • You already have computer skills, or you want to get serious about it (and are not afraid to spend time on it!).

  • You have a big digital project: a large online store or a professional website with sophisticated features, for example.

But before you start, let's take a closer look at CMS.

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How to choose your CMS: their advantages and disadvantages to create a website

Here are the reasons that might make you choose a CMS, and the limitations that might keep you from using one...

The best of CMS: the advantages of these software solutions

Besides the fact that you can create a website without having to code, here is what a CMS user can do:

  • The main advantage of a CMS, such as Wordpress, is the freedom you have in creating your website. Content Management Systems (CMS) have existed since the dawn of the internet. So they offer an almost unlimited range of templates and plugins.

  • The second advantage that follows from the first is customization. With the number of plugins available, you will be able to create a website that suits you.

  • There are specialized CMS: for example, in online sales (WooCommerce, Prestashop, Magento) or blogs (Blogger). This allows you to focus on specific goals and benefit from specific features.

  • The interface of this software allows you to manage your website with other users: for example, you can delegate the design to one person and the content to another.

Choosing the right CMS: beware of these aspects

On the other hand, these aspects can bother you if you build your site with a CMS. So be careful:

  • It is very difficult for a beginner to start using a CMS, without a minimum of training. As we mentioned before, the risks are to get stuck in case of problems or to endanger the security of your website.

  • Creating a website on a CMS is deceptively free: it can cost more than expected. For example, registering a domain name is still expensive, and if you want a powerful or really unique website, you will have to pay to buy a professional template or plugins.

  • Besides, it is difficult to have a clear vision of the sum you will pay to create your website. So beware of unexpected expenses and nasty surprises!

Ok, if this option still suits you, let's go for an overview of the best software...

How to choose the best CMS? Examples and comparison

Here is a small list of the best CMS on the market, and some advice on how to choose one.


Who doesn't know WordPress? With 63% of the market share, it is the most famous CMS.

No less than 37% of all websites are built on this platform. We don't need to introduce it anymore!

As you can see, WordPress is very popular: it offers a huge number of customizable templates and numerous features. Many of them are free, but as seen above, originality and power often come at a price.  

You are on your own when creating a site on WordPress. However, if you search the web, you will find a large community of users who are willing to talk and answer questions in case of problems, in forums or specialized blogs.

Free website template

☝️ This is an example of a professional website made with WordPress. 📷


Drupal came on the market before WordPress, and it is still one of its main competitors.

it is considered as more powerful than the leader, but on the other hand it is more difficult to use.

You have to know how to code to use this software.

Create slideshow for website

☝️ This food company has created its website on Drupal. 🧀

PrestaShop and Magento

Prestashop and Magento are two open source CMS dedicated exclusively to e-commerce.

You will find a whole range of tools to sell online effectively.

How to create a website in php

☝️ For example, this company’s website was created on Magento. 🌱

How to choose your CMS?

Now that you know the most famous CMS, you are probably wondering how to choose the best one for you?

Think about the following points to make the right choice:

  • The type of website you want to create.

Depending on your digital goals, you will use a different type of CMS. For example, if you want to open an online store, Prestashop is probably a good option. On the other hand, for a more general website, you may want to consider Wordpress.

  • Your available resources (time, money) to create your website

Some CMS offer multiple options, but require more time to learn (like Drupal). While others offer paid plans, but provide a more immediate result (Prestashop).

It is therefore important to know how...

  • ... You plan to manage your website after it is published

Will you have time to maintain your site after it goes live? Can you delegate this task to someone else?

Will your site need to be updated on a regular basis? Will it evolve: will it be developed or translated? Will you need to create other sites or landing pages?

  • Your computer skills

You should choose your CMS according to your web design skills: some software is more affordable than others. So if you are a beginner, choose a program that is easy to use.

Or choose something else...

Because yes: there are easier to use tools that allow you to create your own website.

This is the case of website builders. We can consider these solutions as the evolution of CMS.

They are aimed at the general public, are adapted to beginners and allow you to easily create a site.

Website Builder, an interesting alternative to CMS

Website builders are SaaS (Software as a Service), i.e. services available directly online. With them, you can build a website:

  • Using only your mouse, by dragging elements to the page

  • And by modifying the elements, directly on the screen, without having to go through a dedicated interface, and therefore without having to change tabs to view the site online.

What is a Website Builder? The main differences with CMS

  • A website builder is a new generation tool that allows anyone to create their own website without any prior knowledge.

It is the service that takes care of the technical part of the maintenance (security, backup, performance...). You don't have to care about this!

  • Website builders often offer less features than CMS, as they focus on ease of use. However, connections to other services are possible. So much so that almost all expectations are covered.

  • Moreover, with a website builder, you are not left to your own devices. You will have a team at your side if you have any questions regarding the creation of your website.

  • Finally, this service offers you an all-in-one solution, including the hosting of your website, a website creation tool, but also features to sell online and the possibility of registering a domain name. So you have only one contact person for everything related to your website!

How to create a website using html

☝️ Here you can see the interface of the Wordpress CMS: as you can see, you don't have immediate access to the online version. You have to change tabs to see your published website, by clicking on the View button.

How to create website using php

☝️ Conversely, with a website builder like SiteW, your website is accessible from the editing tool. You can customize it with the mouse.

Choosing a website builder to create your website

To summarize:

  • If you are new to web design,

  • If you prefer to use a quick, easy and intuitive solution,

  • Or if you want to create your website yourself with only one interlocutor

... Then yes, a website builder is surely the best solution for you.

Create a website with SiteW, a French website builder

On our platform, you only need 4 steps to start creating your own website:

  1. Open an account

  2. Name your website and select a category

  3. Choose a template 

  4. And subscribe to one of our plans

Then, start creating your website!

How to create a website using notepad

 And... How much does it cost? 🤔

How to launch a website


  • With us, you get a free 5-page website

  • You can build a professional online presence, from $6,60 / month

  • And you can create an online store, from $20,80 / month

Prices are valid for one year, including 2 months free.

Examples of websites created with SiteW?

With more than 1.8 million websites created on our platform since the beginning, we are happy to count many great websites in our community of users.

Here are some examples of websites created on our platform...

site chocolat

“Il était une fois Chocolat" is a very nice online store, created with our editor, with brilliance 🍫


Do you want to discover the world? The travel agency "Côté Soleil", whose great website was created on our platform, will fulfill your dreams of escape. �

mimi dans les orties

"Mimi dans les Orties": this amazing website will provide you with everything you need to take care of your ailments; it's super neat and it was created with our tool! 🤩

la flame

"La Flame'' is a high quality new age store with all the magical goodies you need, that is also made with our tool! 🫶

Creating a website on SiteW, how does it work?

Creating a website with us is very easy.

Once you are in our editor, you can see a panel on your left. It contains three tabs:

1. The Pages tab allows you to manage your website structure: you can add, manage and delete your pages, define their access and work on their seo.

How to create a website on notepad

2. On the Content tab, you will find all the features you need for your website: text, video, sounds and music, images and galleries, but also location maps, custom forms, call to action buttons, FAQ, search bars, calendars, online store...

You can also add a blog, a forum, links to your social networks, as well as graphic elements such as illustrations, shapes, strips, icons, separators...

Create banner for website

3. Finally, the Design tab allows you to customize the design of your website: page background, footer, content area, input fields, buttons, colors and typography, style of menus, animations and effects...

How to make a site

So, you can choose a CMS to create a website... Or maybe not?

A CMS is an excellent choice, if you have good computer skills, or complex needs in terms of website creation.

And if you have a smaller project, or it's your first time creating a website?

Then choose a website builder instead! 🏆

Either way, we're sure you'll rock it! 💪

Create your website

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No payment method needed, no time limit.

Frédérique Biau
Editor and translator
I am passionate about science fiction, new technologies, writing and art in general. I started my career as a Cultural Manager. It is with pleasure and enthusiasm that I am a writer and web translator with 9 years of experience. ✍️

Last update: February 16, 2023

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