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The landscape of open source and the available technologies continues to change on a monthly (if not daily) basis. Trying to keep track of it all can be a bit overwhelming as you'll quickly run into an unbelievable amount of solution offerings that are free for your continuing development and site management. Unlike many other sectors of technology the web continues to be evolving so fast that all solutions are not created equal with small differences to focus on particular functionality or business verticals.

To an untrained researcher looking to expand their companies marketing capabilities or provide a better experience for their current and future visitors you may find yourself in a solution that presented very well but has little community support and doesn't have the ability to grow in the future. I'm putting together a list of the solutions that Unleashed Technologies, LLC uses today and why we find these solutions to be the most beneficial in providing our clients with competitive capabilities.

Content Management System: Drupal 6.19

Practical Applications:

Membership Organizations, Non-Profits, Service Based Business, Community Initiatives, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

URL:

http://www.drupal.org

How and Why We Use It:

Drupal is best thought of as a really amazing set of Lego's in which you may pretty much create anything you want. It's been nicknamed the "developers platform" for it's flexibility and fundamentally sound architecture that makes it the choice of mid-sized to enterprise-sized organizations. This platform works very well for dynamic commercial businesses and non-profit organizations for a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons include:

  • Client or member reserved resources.
  • Social platforms extending way beyond blogging (i.e. - community forums, social network integration, cross-population of community driven information, native RSS capabilities).
  • Unique modules and centralized management of users globally.
  • Flexible front ends with block based themes.
  • Customizable node types.
  • API's, hooks, and other terrificly nerdy features that allow for Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).
  • 7,000 + Modules in the open source community and the largest community support available.
  • Consistent security updates and core patches.

Drupal is a Web Content Management System (WCMS) that can scale with your organization for years to come and you may keep adding new functionality or features that weave into other aspects of your public facing website or intranet deployment. With this flexibility comes incredibly extended options and the administration for companies may be slightly overwhelming at times. As a solution it's not always the best fit for companies that are looking for a small scope of work or don't have the website listed as a major initiative for process automation/marketing fronts. Drupal installations are typically more advanced and take longer to deploy providing a larger service related cost but a rock solid web presence.

Today, Unleashed Technologies creates the majority of their web presences on the Drupal platform.

Content Management System: MAGENTO

Practical Applications:

Retailers, Product Distributors, E-commerce

URL:

http://www.magentocommerce.com/

How and Why We Use It:

Magento is one of the fastest growing e-commerce platform that offers a community edition for growing retail and product focused organizations. The software is made available under the open source OSL 3.0 license. Magento offers unbelievable flexibility and the ability to create very intuitive and easy to manage e-commerce websites that have terrific impact and high conversion rates. It's core focus on e-commerce makes it a definitive choice against other platforms that offer module related plug-ins to deal with e-commerce such as WordPress or Drupal (which uses the popular UberCart).

Magento is so advanced with their e-commerce platform that many of the CMS communities development modules or plug-ins to integrate the Magento storefront into it's existing framework. The strengths of Magento include:

  • Reporting and control for retailers that need to understand popular products and trends.
  • Advanced catalog management and product browsing far above the competitors.
  • Customer account management.
  • iPhone enabled store view and check-out processes.

The list is far more comprehensive this but for companies that need a flexible and robust e-commerce platform that provides an easy to manage product storefront with built-in marketing tools, Magento is the perfect fit. An excellent blog about Magento and e-commerce that can be found here.

 

Content Management System: WORDPRESS

Practical Applications:

Small Business, Blogging Micro-Sites, Fast Turn-Around Initiatives

URL:

http://www.wordpress.org

How and Why We Use It:

WordPress is the definitive platform for blog focused websites. If you've been around the internet a couple times you'll have noticed a fair amount of radio stations or online personalities that use this platform. WordPress is commonly referred to as the "Designer's Platform". Installation and stand up of this platform is quick and simple requiring little to no technical knowledge. It's also very easy to integrate new plug-ins and keep not just your core software but plug-ins up-to-date. There are several key strengths to WordPress that have it positioned uniquely in the market. Here are a couple to name a few:

  • The best blogging platform available with easy to manage taxonomies and category separation.
  • Easy to use and familiar structure for creating high impact themes (for designers).
  • Usability for administrators and authors is very intuitive.
  • Good library of quick plug-ins that most people can quickly install offering good value.

WordPress continues to expand it's presence just like Drupal but they move in two separate directions. WordPress gets a little hairy due to it's more rigid structure which is required to present such a focused and polished interface. It's more "complete" out of the box like a DotNetNuke (ASP .NET Driven CMS) but creates drawbacks when industry or company specific functionality is required. It's not that it can't be done but the rule set is defined differently. I'll let developers expand more thoroughly on this.

Some examples of award winning WordPress sites we've created include the United States Naval Institute Blog and the Naval History Blog. In addition, as listed above the E-Commerce blog listed above is also powered by WordPress.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully this has provided a very high level snapshot of how we deploy and utilize open source content management systems for our clients based on their needs and the future direction on their companies/organizations. I'm always available should you have a question or comment so feel free to post on this or alternatively shoot me an email. Have a great one!