How to choose the perfect CMS for your media site [with use cases]

If you’re an aspiring media or publishing company then you’re probably on the lookout for the best content management system (CMS) that can help you manage your content efficiently. So, what is the perfect CMS for your media site?

This, of course, depends on your needs, your budget, how urgent you need it and the site size!


most popular cms in the US
WordPress is the most popular CMS in the US according to Builtwith


Before you choose the perfect CMS for your site, you need to decide whether to go for a ‘Ready-to-use’ or an On-Premise CMS solution. Let’s look at the pros and cons for both and what CMS is the right choice for you.

1. Ready-to-use CMS

A lot of resources on the internet refer them to as ‘Cloud-based CMS’s. I like to call it ‘ready-to-use’, simply because ‘On-Premises (or On-prem) CMSs’ (we’ll come to that in a moment) can also be ‘Cloud-based.’

So, in layman terms with ‘ready-to-use’ CMSs, all you have to do is create an account, login-in and get started. Sometimes you’ll need to configure your domain, but that’s up to you.

‘Ready-to-use’ CMS use cases

  1. You’re starting a gadget review website. You’re the only one managing the content and don’t have any co-editors.
  2. You’d like to get quick feedback on whether your audience appreciates your content. You can use ready-to-use CMS as an MVP (minimal viable product) to validate your idea.
  3. If you want to develop a digital version of your existing print magazine.
  4. You have your own business, and you care more about the content and not how it looks and feels.

Examples of ‘ready-to-use’ CMS

Pros and cons of a ‘ready-to-use’ CMS:


  1. Easy to Set Up: You don’t need any technical know how. You can set up your account instantly and start writing your first article within minutes.
  2. No maintenance: You’re not responsible for maintaining the servers. Nor you need to have any knowledge about servers.
  3. Faster updates:  You don’t have to wait for an update. If there’s a new version you’ll get it out of the box!


  1. Restrictions: If you want to build something unique and featureful, then this might not work for you. With ‘ready to use’ solutions you need to work with what you already have.
  2. Lack of customization options: “Oh! I’d like to change how posts are positioned” or “I’d like to change the button colors to make it consistent with my brand”. None of those might be possible.
  3. The cap on limits: Let’s suppose the CMS you choose has a daily limit of 20k users (assuming that’s their TOP plan). If one day you start averaging 30k+ daily users. What will you do? Your only option is to migrate to a new CMS which is capable of handling your demand.

2. On-premises (or On-prem) CMS

Here the servers stores your software. You can either:

  1. Acquire a license from 3rd party ‘cloud-based’ service providers such as Google cloud, Azure, AWS and install your CMS there.
  2. Install it locally on your premises. Yes, this means having physical servers that store your data inside the walls of your organization.

On-prem CMS use cases

  1. You are an established business with existing content but with an old system. You would like to migrate to a new or a different system. 

Setapp helped to migrate its content to which uses a different CMS.

  1. You’re growing fast and already have some content. In this case – there is a possibility that you will hit the limit on your current solution and you are looking for an alternate (custom) solution.
  2. If you want to store sensitive user data (such as name and address). For example, storing data of EEA (European economic area) nationals in non-EEA countries is only possible when a sufficient level of protection is assured.

Examples of on-prem CMS:, Episerver, Drupal, and Joomla – all of which you have to install the software on your servers.

episerver popularity buildwith
Episerver is popular in the Nordics especially Sweden and Norway. (source: buildwith)

Pros and cons of having an On-prem CMS in your organization:


  1. Full Control – You get complete control of how things are set. The customization possibilities are higher and you are free to install 3rd party plugins.
  2. Easy to integrate –  It’s easier to integrate with other services that are not ‘ready to use.’ For example, in the case that you’d like to have an advanced search capability on your website which uses Elasticsearch.
  3. Flexibility – It gives you the option to choose your server location. This can be crucial if it’s required by law to store sensitive data in the country where you’re providing the service.


  1. Technical Knowledge – Yes it’s not something which you can install in a jiffy! You’ll probably require expert technical assistance to install it. For a CMS installed inside your organization – you may even have to hire additional or train existing staff for the upkeep of your servers.
  2. Maintenance required – You’re responsible for the health and maintenance of your software on the servers. In case you decide to install the servers inside your organization, you need to deal with the hardware maintenance as well, which requires additional money and effort.
  3. More time to set up – Unlike ‘ready to use’ which you can start using instantly, on-premise CMS solutions require additional configurations to set things up. This could take a couple of hours to even months depending on the size of your site.

Final thoughts!

So, as you can see, choosing whether to have a ‘ready-to-use’ or an on-demand CMS really is up to the individual needs of the company. I’d say that if you only care about producing great content then start with a ‘ready-to-use’ CMS.

On the other hand, if you care about how your website looks and feels from the beginning, then go for an on-prem solution. It will give you full customizable options and you can design your site exactly the way you like!

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