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I started off as a web designer/developer creating websites and writing code to add functionality for my customers. As my clients became more sophisticated, they asked for more advanced functionality. Often the features they wanted added more than they expected to both the timeline and budget.

Based on these requests from my customer I began researching various options and it quickly became obvious that a content management system would be the best tool to serve my customers.

Criteria

Before I started shopping for a content management system, I put together a few criteria to guide the process.

Open Source: I am a big believer in the value and power of open source software. If I was going to choose a content management platform it had to be open source.

Maturity: Choosing this kind of platform is a long term commitment in learning and community involvement. I wanted to make sure the product I selected had real staying power and would continue to exist far into the future.

Scalability: I knew that my customers would want to enhance their websites as they grew. I needed a platform that could scale to meet the needs of my clients both today and into the future.

Community: Open source software is completely dependent upon its community. Support, features and knowledge of all kinds are gathered from the community. Because of this, I wanted to make sure the the platform I chose had a supportive, communicative and open group of supporters.

Selection Process

I googled the term "Content Management System" and got 69 million hits. That alone should give you an idea of how hot the subject of content management is. Because of my commitment to Open Source Software I was able to limit the list, but there were still a number of contenders. I downloaded a few of them and put them through some basic tests. I read even more reviews and comparisons to get a feel for the communities and level of support for each product. Then I looked into the modules available for each system. Most of these CMS have a robust ecosystem of add-ons that extend the functionality of the core system, adding custom user interface tools, blogging facilities, calendaring, rss feeds, e-commerce and others. One module in particular, CiviCRM, caught my attention because of the projects I have worked on for professional membership associations (you can learn more about CiviCRM at www.civicrm.org). Because of the uniqueness of this module and its fit to my target audience, I quickly narrowed my selection down to Drupal and Joomla.

Ultimately, I believe either system would have worked well, but after reading the CiviCRM forums, it was obvious that there was a higher level of support for Drupal. After implementing a few sites with both Drupal and CiviCRM I can say confidently that I do not regret my decision. I have found the community to be very supportive. It seems that I discover some new module each day that adds value to what I do. Most importantly, my customers are happy with the final product.

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