KillerSites Blog

Blogs vs. CMS

September 19, 2007


I’ve mentioned several times in the past 2 years, that web designers should learn how to use/edit at least one blog or CMS. Some popular choices:

  • WordPress – a blog.
  • Drupal – a CMS.
  • Mambo – a CMS

.. And there are many, many more.

Why should web designers be concerned?

I won’t go into all the details here, but in a nutshell, a lot of web sites can use the features/functionality provided by blogs or CMS packages. Why reinvent the wheel?

That said, what is the difference between a blog and a CMS?

Blogs vs. CMS

First, let me start by defining a blog:

A blog is a web-based software that allows users to create web pages through a web interface – you enter text into an HTML form and that text is placed into pages.

… The pages that you add to a blog, are date ordered and (are typically) stored in an SQL database .. like MySQL for example.

From the popular WordPress site:

A blog is a frequently updated, personal website featuring diary-type commentary and links to articles on other Web sites. Blogs range from the personal to the political, and can focus on one narrow subject or a whole range of subjects.

Blogs have been created with several languages: PHP, Perl, Python etc. WordPress for example, is written in PHP.

… Actually, PHP is probably the most commonly used language for building blog and CMS software.

So what is a CMS?

In a nutshell: a CMS does everything a blog does … and a whole lot more.

Blogs are typically designed for one or two people to use. Whereas a CMS is designed to handle communities.

Blogs = few contributors/writers
CMS = many contributors/writers.

CMS software will have a lot more capability in terms of what kind of activities you can do with it:

  • User polling.
  • Built in blogs.
  • Built in Forums.
  • Configurable, precise control over what users can do.

.. And much more.

All this extra functionality comes with a cost: CMS software is more complex to learn and use. I have also found that CMS softwares tends to run slower than their nimble cousins – blogs.

Blurred lines between blogs and CMS’

These days, you are seeing many blogging tools being slowly transformed into what I would call ‘mini CMS’.

… This is blurring the lines between the two types of software.

WordPress for example (a popular blog software,) has a plug-in capability where programmers can build modules that enhance WordPress’ capabilities. Over time, a lot of really interesting plug-ins have been created and now WordPress is no longer a simple blog.

Choosing between a blog or CMS

Choosing between a blog and a CMS can be a painful experience – as it was for me. But in the end, you have to approach it by figuring out what you really need to do on your website … and then look at your options in the blog and CMS world.

In my case, I narrowed it down to Drupal (a CMS) and a blog, WordPress. After having installed and configured both (to get a feel,) I went with WordPress because it was fast and it met my needs.

Thanks for reading,

Stefan Mischook