Choosing the right Content Management System (CMS) is one of the most important steps in building a web site that needs to grow, adapt and withstand anything the wild seas of the internet can throw at it. At Liquid Light we select a CMS depending on a client's needs but often we opt for the lesser-known TYPO3, especially for large, complex sites that need carefully thought out hierarchies and bespoke functionality.
Of course, there are CMS's out there you might actually have heard of. Wordpress is the best option for simple blog sites and can be set-up very quickly, while Joomla is a great open-source CMS for larger sites but only really gets useful when expanded out with things like K2. If a client is looking for a robust eCommerce site then Magento is likely the best option – but it comes with a hefty price tag.
Away from the big names is developer's favourite TYPO3, a powerful CMS with many out-of-the-box features that deliver a lot of the key requirements our clients need.
The Benefits of TYPO3
Setting up a TYPO3 site with its core extensions will instantly allow the user to start constructing a multi-level page hierarchy, no matter how complicated their proposed sitemap might be. Pages can also have different templates assigned to them and on those templates content elements can be easily manipulated, giving the user a rough idea of how the page will look on the front-end. In contrast, Joomla separates out these elements. Pages are created independently and then applied to a menu structure, while other page elements are defined outside of the page itself so the user never gets a sense of how things fit together.
TYPO3 is perfectly scalable for ambitious clients wanting to plan for the future. Customer registration is built-in so password protected pages can be created and multiple web sites can also be defined in a single installation for easier management and sharing of templates and functionality.
Also powerful is TYPO3's language support which allows content to be translated into multiple languages with minimal configuration. This has meant we've recently been able to add Chinese translations to both Maples and Calder and the London School of English with very little fuss.
Is There a But?
TYPO3 isn't the most user-friendly interface, especially when compared to Wordpress with its slick font-faces and whizzy user feedback when carrying out tasks. TYPO3's back-end is bland and grey but solid and functional, even with multiple users working in it. After getting to grips with how everything works, our clients are able to update their sites quickly and efficiently – it's also worth noting that TYPO3 has a robust logging and rollback system so any mistakes can be easily reverted!
Even though TYPO3 has developed a solid codebase over a decade it's still a little known option when it comes to choosing the right CMS. But its variety of features and reliability means it's perfect for clients looking for an enterprise level CMS without having to pay a penny. You don't have to take our word for it, there are plenty of other sites who are now part of the TYPO3 club, just check some of them out on the T3 Blog.