There are a plethora of content management systems out there, from free, open-source solutions to enterprise solutions costing hundreds of thousands.
We’ve standardised on ExpressionEngine and here’s why.
I used to roll my own CMS for client projects in either ASP or PHP - it was pretty time intensive per site as they’re all different. Having to cater for various content types, integrating WYSIWYG text editors, error handling, permission levels etc.
After finishing one project for the Scottish FA a couple of years back I decided that there must be better ways to work than my current setup. So to Google I went and looked for “free content management system”. As you can imagine, quite a few returned. After some research I narrowed my options down to:
I downloaded each, installed on WAMP (this was before I migrated to Apple) and started digging. I really could get into any of them and found them just as restrictive as doing things the way I had in the past.
I can’t quite remember how it happened but I stumbled upon The City website, built on ExpressionEngine and designed by (at the time) Jesse Bennett-Chamberlain. I linked through to the EE website, had a browse around. I then emailed Jesse for his opinion on what working with EE was like and his recommendation was to download the Core edition (no longer available sadly) and take it for a spin. I was a bit miffed though that there was a cost with EE (more on that later) but the Core version was suitable for the project I was working on and allowed me to really get to grips with the system.
For a front-end designer and developer like me, EE just made perfect sense, real nice templating language, custom content types (out of the box), membership tool as well as a simple control panel for clients and much more.
It has handled any site I’ve had to build with ease, it has a great community that has really matured over the last couple of years. The new version 2 is also built on the excellent Codeigniter platform. It’s flexibility has enabled me to build brochure sites, support systems, intranets, ecommerce sites and blogs.
I mentioned that EE comes at a cost. This did put me off at first. When I first saw EE there were 3 editions, Core (free for blogs / non-profit organisations but missing some modules), Non-profit $99 US per site and Commercial $250 US per site. The more I thought about pricing and what it gave me, the more comfortable I was with it, even the modest price increases introduced to version 2.
EE is a commercial product which means it is fully supported by a full-time development team (the good folks at Ellislab) - because of that it has an exemplary security record (unlike some of its peers who suffer from security holes). I mentioned the community before but this is one of big pluses of EE - everyone on the forums (and Twitter too if you keep an eye on #eecms) are willing to help out with development methods, problems etc.
It also gives clients peace of mind knowing that their website is on a secure platform.
EE was already a big part of our development process before we were accepted into the ExpressionEngine Pro Network but now I feel a greater sense of responsibility in terms of helping out new users (either developers or end users). Clients also love ExpressionEngine, being very surprised at how simple it is to update the content on their websites.