Best of 2011 - Content Management Systems

The right content management system (CMS) can make all the difference in the world when it comes to Web success, especially for small businesses without big budgets to dedicate to IT and Web development (although some of the largest brands in the world utilize content management systems as well, so it's hard not to stress their importance).

If you're not already using a CMS, you probably should be (considering it, at least); and if you are, are you sure that it's the best option? Here are five CMS companies who had great years in 2011, and could be your saving grace in 2012.

You've probably at least heard of Joomla before. Because it is a free open source website creation tool, it often gets compared to Drupal as a sort of knockoff, but in reality it is a much better system. Like both WordPress and Drupal, Joomla allows you to build websites and Web applications, and you can increase their functionality and flexibility by adding "extensions" (feature add-ons similar to WordPress plugins). As a plus, the most updated version of Joomla is even easier for new users to manage thanks in part to refined admin panel, which makes it ideal for some not-so-savvy business owners looking to make it big on the Web.

Though aimed at marketers, this free open source CMS is a useful tool for any Web professional, specifically because users are able to edit content on the site directly from the page. This primary feature provides "blocks" that can contain text, images or more complicated content like image slideshows, comments systems, file lists, maps and more. The CMS also allows users to connect their websites to the concrete5 Marketplace to automatically upgrade software and downloaded or purchased add-ons.

This simple, secure and flexible community-developed CMS is a great fit for businesses of any size. It is database-driven and fully modularized so that users can install the modules that possess the features they need and don't have to bother with those that they don't. It also features multi-byte language support, a theme-based skinnable interface and worldwide support through the ImpressCMS community.

CMS MadeSimple
CMS MadeSimple is a free, lightweight content management solution that is especially applicable for smaller sites. Its robust user interface includes a Web-based administration section for theme, template and stylesheet development, the installation (and updating) of add-on modules, configuring blocks of content on a page and managing user groups and permissions.

For those who need to bolster their SEO practices, Etomite is the ideal CMS. Because it allows the end user to control almost everything about a website, from layout to meta tag generation, users can more easily optimize their sites for search engine results pages. Some of the key features include: Word processor-like (WYSIWYG) document editing to add tables, images and formated text to a page without HTML knowledge, a modern and intuitive interface, template-driven page design and free support. In addition, this CMS can also be incorporated with AJAX functionality without any AJAX system knowledge through a backend editor.