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Free and Accessible CMS

Nowadays, to design an impressive website you don’t need to have an expert programming skill. Many website hosting providers offer free open source content management systems (CMS) that will help you to create professional-grade websites. These programs are all proficient of producing websites for the purposes of search engine optimization, depending on how they are designed and constructed and what plugins are used.

Each CMS specializes in different types of websites, and they vary in terms of ease-of-use (learning curve), community support, flexibility and Web 2.0 compatibility.

1. Joomla

The Joomla content management system is created to assist you to create dynamic websites that can contain a wide variety of interactive and visually impressive features. Many corporate and personal websites use this CMS because it can be easily modified and it can manage and organize thousands of pages. There is a vast community of developers and designers that provides addons and plugins that are called “components” and “mambots”. Free plugins such as discussion forums, shopping carts, media galleries, Google Adsense scripts and blogs are available.

The administrator panel used for creating new pages and uploading plugins is fairly easy to use. It is best to install it and tinker around with it while reading the documentation and tutorials available in the Joomla developer forums. Light modification requires little to zero knowledge of coding but heavy modification will demand a basic understanding of php coding. Some web hosting providers will give you the option to have this software automatically installed into your website. Otherwise, you can download and install it manually from the official Joomla website.

Web pages in Joomla are considered “content items” that are categorized hierarchically in sections and categories. Each section contains categories, and as “content items” are created, they must be assigned to categories. In addition, there are hundreds of free Joomla templates available on the web that you can download and modify, or you can create your own template if you have some web-design skills.

2. WordPress

The WordPress CMS was specifically designed for blogging but it can do a whole lot more. There are thousands of free templates and themes available online at the WordPress site. WordPress is even easier to use than Joomla and it enables users to share, create and advertise their content. WordPress plugins can be installed through any FTP program and they can add shopping carts, analytics, and photo galleries to your site.

free cms

Webpages are created either by blog posts or making new pages under the “Manage” tab. Links on the side or top menu can be modified under the “Blogroll” tab and much like Joomla, themes can be changed on the fly under the “Presentation” tab.

From an SEO (search engine optimization) perspective, this CMS is fairly effective in getting decent keyword ranking in Google and other search engines if you install the “All-in-one-seo-pack” plugin and build a site with solid content.

3. Zen Cart

Zen Cart is a shopping cart content management system that will help you produce pages for thousands of products. This can be used for any product-based website and it can accept credit cards through Paypal or any other major online payment gateway.

Adding products is as easy as writing in accurate descriptions and uploading images. Products can be arranged in categories and subcategories. This shopping cart is suitable for both physical and virtual products but modifying it will require skills in graphic design because the standard template appears a bit outdated. This shopping cart can act as a separate website or it can be installed into a sub-directory of your main site.

4. 4images Photo Gallery

If you are creating a site that demands photo sharing, commenting and even allows ads in those sections, 4images can be a great alternative for you.

This CMS allows users register, view and upload photos of their own. As the administrator, you can either set it to automatically approve each upload or simply queue the user uploads for approval before they show up on your site. Your website visitors will be able to make comment on photos and this CMS also lets you send mass emails out to your registrants or users just like Joomla.

This CMS is a bit harder to configure if you do not possess decent knowledge of php, html and javascript. However, it’s definitely worth tinkering around with if your website hosting company offers it for free. You can install it in a sub-directory or have it as your main site.

You will need an FTP program and a webhosting company that will host your site like SeekDotNet.  To edit photos and content, you will need some basic html knowledge and some elementary graphic design abilities. Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Fireworks and Paint Shop Pro are some recommended programs.

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