website builders overtake cms

Weebly & Wix vs. Drupal & Joomla (Website builders vs. CMS)

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Drupal & Joomla are two popular CMS systems that offer powerful Web design and development features, and both have recently been overtaken in popularity (in the United States) by Wix & Weebly.

What's interesting about this trend is not that one brand of Web development tool has become more popular than another, it's that it signals a change in the way we build websites altogether.

Americans are opting for ease of use and speed of development over power and flexibility when it comes to building websites.

CMS vs. website builder popularity trends

Take a look at the following Google Trends graph that shows the rise and fall in popularity of Drupal and Joomla in the U.S over the last 12 years or so:

As you can see, there has been a distinct change of fortunes for these CMS systems, with the real decline setting in around 2010.

Now take a look at the same Trends graph with Wix and Weebly included. It's important to note that the brand and term Wix is shared across a number of enterprises. So, unlike Weebly, the Google Trends graph for Wix may not be a good metric for its popularity:

Despite that, it's clear to see that Weebly (at the time of writing - this Google Trends graph will update with time) has clearly outgrown everything else in brand popularity on Google search.

However, we can turn to Alexa to give us a rough overview (yes, I know it's not particularly accurate - but it is sufficient to indicate strong trends):

Alexa trend graph showing decline in CMS systems popularity

Note how both CMS platforms have experienced a steady decline over the last few years, while both Wix and Weebly have experienced growth.

So why, if both Joomla and Drupal are trusted and utilized by the biggest and most recognized organizations in the world (including governments, news agencies, pop stars, etc), are site builders gaining market share?

To answer this we need to look at the fundamental differences between the two platforms.

CMS systems vs. site builders

A Content Management System (CMS) like Drupal or Joomla is a PHP and HTML framework for developing powerful, professional websites. A website builder is usually a complete Web solution rolled into one - including an online graphic Web designer, domains and hosting.

But CMS systems have relatively steep learning curves that serve as a technical barrier to entry for many entrepreneurs and home business owners. So while you can ultimately do more with them (since you have complete control over the code base), they require a certain level of technical skills and expertise to start with.

Site builders tend to offer free basic website packages for people to get started with, but charge a monthly fee for upgrades that offer more features. In contrast, Drupal and Joomla are free to download and use, but there are domain and hosting charges in order to get the website online.

In addition, webmasters are responsible for updating and maintaining their CMS website to a far greater extent than people using online builders.

For example, SME Pals is based on Drupal 6, which has no easy-to-implement responsive Web design support. This means I have to upgrade to Drupal 7 - but this is a real time consuming hassle that will also require lots of manual work to get right.

By contrast, people using Wix and Weebly can continuously take advantage of the latest trends and technologies (like HTML5 and responsive Web design) without investing any effort in development and the acquisition of new Web skills.

How to start a website today

So are CMS platforms doomed to slip away into obscurity while online site design tools become the de facto standard? And does this mean startups should avoid CMS systems?

I think, to some extent the industry is currently in a correction phase. Online site building software will continue to gain market share, but only to a point.

There will always be a place for more powerful and flexible CMS systems. As startups grow and evolve, so their needs and requirements of their websites might grow beyond what an online builder can offer.

And, of course, I have left out the one giant elephant in the room - WordPress. WordPress is a CMS that focuses on building blogs, but it is also a website builder - it comes in two flavors. WordPress.org is the CMS version, and wordpress.com is the online site builder version. Plugging WordPress into the Google Trends graph shows us something very interesting:

I think that the fact that wordpress.com makes the barrier to entry a lot lower than other CMS systems has contributed towards its dominance, but growth has tapered off since 2011. It may be that the market has reached saturation, but remember that Weebly is growing fairly quickly - albeit on a smaller scale than WordPress.

So, if you're looking to build a website, or online store, I recommend you read the following articles that will show you how to choose and use the best Web platform for your particular requirements:

What Web platform do you use? How long did it take for your company to design and develop the site? Are you happy with the features and functionality, or would you change platform if you had the chance?

Share your Web design and development tips and advice in the comments.

A breakdown of organic search traffic costs

Google recently ruined our startup launch with a 'false positive' phishing warning that coincided perfectly with our launch announcement to 4500 existing customers.

The article I wrote about that hugely damaging mistake attracted the attention of John Mueller, who responded sympathetically and said he would 'let the team know' about the problem.

Good to his word, I noted a few hits from Mountain view, California on the affected site and at the article, and a few hours later the erroneous phishing message was removed.

why sharing content is bad for business

Content syndication (sharing stuff with permission) can be a great way for small businesses to get more website traffic.

Video blogging (adding clips to a blog) can help to drive traffic, lower bounce rate, increase engagement and conversions, and generally improve SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and Internet marketing.

Video blogging also provides plenty of "different" marketing opportunities that written content can't - because it is a rich medium for communication.

Bloggers who rely on written content only may find their rankings in search engines suffering as Google continues to include more and more video results (especially from YouTube) in its organic search results.

Learn how to write a blog. Pic by icatus

Learning how to blog is an important business skill that can increase page rankings in Google and bring plenty of traffic to your website.

Blogging traffic tips. Pic by duncan c

A lot of popular blogging techniques have died out as Google's search algorithms (and the rise of social media) have changed the content landscape of the Internet.

For startups and small businesses utilizing blogging as part of their content marketing strategy, keeping tabs on industry best practices can be a bit like trying to herd cats.

As a result, unfortunately, many people find themselves swimming upstream as their content fails to capture high rankings in search results, generates little to no buzz, and generally offers little to no return on investment (ROI).

Convincing bloggers to promote your company

Blogger outreach and PR is difficult - I've read a lot of How to articles and guides that say stuff like "Get bloggers to review your site or product", or, "Get as many backlinks from other bloggers as possible".

So everyone knows what to do, but no-one's talking about how to do it. In fact, gathering backlinks is often time consuming, ineffective and infuriating.

Hands up anyone who has spent several hours emailing other bloggers asking them to take a second to look over your new [blog/site/product/service/article/video] and gotten almost no response. It happens all the time.

Learn how to make money from each and every blog post

Have you tried blogging with the goal of making money online only to find that no-one reads or shares your articles?

Reach out to influencers to grow your blog. Pic by uncoolbob

If you're blogging regularly, using SEO, sharing content socially, sending out newsletters, marketing, and doing everything right without success, then I've

How to start a blog with WordPress

Looking for the ultimate guide on how to start a blog or website with WordPress?

Almost all businesses that have researched Internet marketing strategies are aware that high quality, engaging and relevant content is one of the best ways to drive valuable organic Web traffic.

The problem is that many people don't have the time or patience to build up a good base of content via blogging.

So what's the alternative?

Proof that business blogging works. Pic by nicoleec

The vast majority (in the region of 95%) of all sites and blogs ever created fail to make any money at all - let alone a profit.

Sales funnels

Well researched, planned and implemented sales funnels can simultaneously boost traffic and increase conversions and revenue to make more money for blogs and

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