WordPress is a great CMS. Millions of websites run on WordPress. Its ubiquity is a testament to its simplicity and reliability; however, there are times where simplicity isn’t what you need. The demands of your site may require something with better performance or more flexibility. You may even need a CMS that has an entirely different focus. For example, eCommerce is simple on some platforms, but requires heavy customization on others.

If you’ve used WordPress for a while, it’s intimidating to move to a different platform. It’s even more intimidating when you see Wikipedia’s list of content management systems. How do you find the right CMS in a list like that?

1) Define Your Primary Goal

Do you need something that’s designed for high-performance? Is your site filled with rich-media? Do you need something that isn’t written in PHP? Your goal will be the biggest driver in finding the right CMS to fit your needs.

High Performance – By most metrics Hubspot, Demandware, Adobe CQ, and Interwoven are great choices. Hubspot is more consumer and small-business focused whereas the other three target larger enterprises.

eCommerce – Joomla stands out from the crowd as far as open source options are concerned. Open source is great when dealing with a CMS since anything and everything can be customized as needed.

Highly Social – If you’re content is heavily focused on social content (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.), you can use a platform like RebelMouse that’s specifically designed for this kind of application.

These are just examples. There are dozens of other use case scenarios that may better describe your situation. The point isn’t to provide an exhaustive list, but to show that each of the hundreds of content management systems available were designed with a specific use in mind.

2) Check the Hosting Requirements

Any CMS you chose will require specific software to be installed on your server and may have certain hardware requirements. Maybe FryCry CMS is a great fit for your site, but does your host support ColdFusion? Do you need to run a Linux server for another piece of software? Then you can’t run DotNetNuke or Umbraco on the same server since both require Windows hosting. It’s rare that you will find a CMS that has some obscure requirement that a web host won’t be able to meet; however, you also have to consider how that server will interact with other services that you need to connect with.

It’s best to choose a host that has some knowledge about the CMS you will be using. If you ever need technical support, it’s much easier if they’re familiar with the software. If their website doesn’t have a list of software that they support, check their blog. If you see several posts on their blog about Drupal, then it’s fair to assume that they are familiar with Drupal. On top of that, they may even offer servers with your CMS of choice pre-installed. Arvixe has a service that installs a number of popular content management systems with one click. Many hosts offer something similar.

3) Find Support 

Even the most user friendly content management systems have little quirks. Make sure that you are able to get technical support whether it’s through an online community or someone local. Nothing is more frustrating than a broken website. Access to an expert on that particular system will keep downtime limited to hours instead of days.

At a broader level, it’s a good idea to review the amount documentation available. A heavily-documented CMS is easier to troubleshoot and customize than one with minimal documentation.

It’s a time consuming process to find the right content management system, but it’s well worth the effort to find the system that fits your needs. That initial upfront investment will pay future dividends in the form of less downtime and fewer headaches.