I have been doing a lot of CMS installations of late and I am amazed at the continued quality improvements.
The following is the screenshot associated with osCommerce, a good commerce website with very nice features for setting up your web business including categories, products, shopping cart, shipping module, and support for Paypal plus 20 other merchant payment systems. Its much more hands on for customization to the HTML, CSS, PHP, and MySQL code then say Drupal, or Joomla – but still highly approachable. Remember the latter are really Blog/Forum CMS sites.
The winning formula for osCommerce and a lot of CMS systems is their easy installation. As you can see in the screenshot, osCommerce has a 4 step process and you are done. The first screen checks for compatibility of your website facilities (server, MySQL database and PHP) and then has you enter 4 database parameters. The next step insures that the Web Server (Apache) is setup properly(mainly .htaccess files and permissions), and then the third and really final step is to setup your new Commerce sites name and various web+ merchandising settings. You can be done in less than 20 minutes with the Install. This is typical for Drupal, Gallery, Joomla, Mambo, PHPBB, WordPress, and other popular free Open Source CMS systems (see here).
The complete preparation of the website then takes a day or two for simple sites to a few weeks for more complex sites (say 15-30 product categories and 150-600 product variations). Not as fast for a blog site; but still very competitive turnaround. Customizations are much simpler on the blogsites with packaged templates and themes whereas osCommerce requires getting down and dirty withe the code – but still manageable. The real fly in the ointment with osCommerce and all the Open Source CMS systems is upgrades (but this also true of commercial software). Not only does the code change all over the place but also too the underlying databases may also change. At this point, users have to carefully tiptoe thru the tulips doing backups and then proceeding ahead with targeted changes to programs and databases. I have seen a few systems with reasonably well automated upgrades – but these are the exceptions, not the rule.
Nonetheless, I and my cohorts are now committed to widespread changes to theOpenSourcery.com and other iMAGENATION websites. Oh, and if you need a quick new website, send us a line.