woman on rock ledge

Can You Trust Web CMS Rankings?

7 minute read
Dom Nicastro avatar

When it comes to ranking Web Content Management Systems (Web CMS) vendors, the two leading analyst firms are basically aligned.

Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner named OpenText, SDL, EPiServer, Adobe, Sitecore, Oracle, IBM, HP and Acquia as leaders in its Magic Quadrant for web CMS in July.

Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research picked Adobe and Sitecore as leaders, Acquia, OpenText, SDL, HP, IBM and Oracle as "strong performers," and Ektron and EPiServer as "contenders" in its Wave for web content management in July.

Crowdsourced CMS Ratings

But this is the era of crowdsourcing. And — not surprisingly — the vendors that are ostensibly the people's choice have little in common with the choices of professional analysts.

Take Austin-based TrustRadius, which just released its first CMS Feature Report. TrustRadius claims its conclusions are based on 430 Web CMS software reviews from authenticated, end-users. 

Neither Forrester nor Gartner even try to make sense of such a mishmash of CMS vendors: Vendors need to have $50 million or $15 million in annual revenue to earn an evaluation from Forrester or Gartner, respectively.

For its TrustMap, TrustRadius split its rankings into three categories: small businesses (1-50 employees), mid-size (51-1,000 employees) and enterprises (1,000-plus employees). Here's what it recommends:

Sitecore and Drupal are the only vendors names by TrustRadius as well as Forrester and Gartner. Another crowdsourcer G2 Crowd, which also ranks Web CMS vendors, named WordPress, HubSpot and Joomla as leaders.

Review Methodology

graphic showing the leaders of web content management for users at mid-sized companies according to TrustRadius

TrustRadius said its rankings are based on reviews of specific CMS features by people who actually use them.

Megan Headley, research director for TrustRadius, told CMSWire the features rated for CMS include web content creation, web content management security and API. The report compiles average ratings for each CMS product across 16 features.

Each TrustMap includes an average “likelihood to recommend” rating and the research frequency by prospective buyers on TrustRadius.

headshot of megan headley of trustradius

“There's no one-size-fits-all solution,” Headley said. “Think about how your company will be using the product and what features are most important to you, and then find others like you and learn from their perspectives.”

SharePoint? Really?

Web CMS analyst Jeff Cram, chief strategy officer for Boston-based Connective DX, told CMSWire, “The shocker from this report for me is that folks are still considering SharePoint as a web content management system.”

SharePoint made the TrustRadius cut for all three TrustMaps reports — beating the crowd on research frequency from prospective buyers in the enterprises and mid-size reports and placing second behind WordPress in the small businesses ratings.

It didn't get great remarks in the overall user ratings, though — a fact that did not surprise Dave Tufts, managing partner and CTO for iMarc, a Newburyport, Mass.-based digital agency, who noted SharePoint is both popular and disliked.

Tufts said the overall breakdown of CMS ratings from TrustRadius “definitely seems close to what I'd expect.” He was, however, surprised that Concrete5 and Joomla are both so popular and liked for small businesses. “We've also been hearing more Drupal at the enterprise level as well,” he added.

WordPress, WordPress, WordPress

Although WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world — powering 50 percent of the entire Internet, according to BuiltWith, it should not be ranked an enterprise leader, according to Patricia Eagan, a Bangor, Maine-based moderator and consultant at J. Boye and principal consultant for Digital Guidance, a digital consulting firm.

“Enterprises are not going to use WordPress to run their sites,” Eagan told CMSWire, “especially with today's emphasis on marketing features as well as analytics."

She was skeptical of the TrustRadius report.

“This is not what I hear large design firms talk about in terms of leading vendors in the industry nor any of the industry experts I talk with,” Eagan said. “Kentico is the only product that I would say is probably accurate here.”

Kentico, an ASP.NET CMS provider based in Bedford, N.H., was the top-rated CMS by users of mid-sized companies and second behind Concrete5 for small businesses in the TrustRadius report.

Are These Real Reviews?

So who should you trust if you’re selecting a Web CMS? Analysts? The crowdsourcers? Your friends? We’ve discussed this before a few times.

The crowdsourcers claim they have better information because their ratings are generated by "real users" versus professional analysts with a more clinical eye.

Learning Opportunities

To work, the crowdsourcing model requires honest feedback from users who don’t benefit from promoting or disparaging the products under review, said Scott Liewehr, president and CEO of New York City-based Digital Clarity Group, a Web CMS industry watcher.

But is that what you're really getting?

Liewehr feels a vast majority of the reviews for TrustRadius were submitted by either developers and designers from systems integrators “whose wagons are hitched to one or more of the reviewed products” or anonymous users.

“Overall, the approach is a good one,” Liewehr added. “However, they need better or more marketing to drive real end users from businesses of all sizes and verticals to provide feedback. And they need to put more effort into ensuring that the feedback is genuine.”


Bertrand Hazard, vice president of marketing for TrustRadius, told CMSWire that every reviewer is LinkedIn-verified and each review is vetted before publication.

“Those who choose to remain anonymous on our public-facing website are still required to authenticate via LinkedIn and are vetted by a TrustRadius researcher,” Hazard added. He added less than 30 percent of the reviewers on TrustRadius ask to submit anonymously.

Hazard said systems integrators are often the CMS implementers, “and can provide very valuable insights.”

If a reseller wants to review a product, TrustRadius ensures that the review provides useful insights to the reader and is not a marketing piece, Hazard said.

“We indicate clearly on the review that the reviewer is a reseller,” Hazard said. “Finally we continuously reach out to the end-users, either directly or via the vendors, to ensure that our reports represent the latest and most genuine customer sentiment across each product.”

Choosing a CMS

For practical purposes, it's prudent to look at any review as just the starting point in the Web CMS selection process, said Connective DX's Cram.

“The technology itself is just one small part of why an organization may or may not be happy with its CMS,” Cram said. “In most cases, the CMS takes the blame for a poor implementation, improper training or the lack of an overarching content strategy to begin with. Then again, sometimes the CMS itself stinks. All enterprise software is not created equal.”

Crowdsourced ratings may help CMS vendors build the business case to prioritize author experience and ease of use, Cram said.

Robert Mohns, lead strategist at iMarc, said the biggest challenge facing mid-sized and enterprise companies with Web CMS is not technology, but content creation, maintenance and governance.

“An effective CMS for these organizations will prioritize ease of use for administrators over bells and whistles that pad out the feature matrix,” he said.

“Many ‘robust’ CMSs add so much friction to the process that business content contributors are discouraged from updating the website. At best, the business has to hire somebody whose sole job function is to wrestle with the CMS. If I could give only one piece of advice in selecting a CMS, it would be this: Make ease of use a higher priority than anything else."

You can download the full TrustRadius CMS Feature Report (registration required).

For More Information:

Title image by Josh Felise.