A client asked me recently why it was that we selected TYPO3 as the content management system to focus on, and it got me thinking about the decision process that led up to our selection of it.

In 2004 & 2005  it became clear to us that clients wanted websites that they could edit themselves and we were interested in providing a solution that would allow us to quickly and easily allow them to do this.  Expanding on this need, the criteria we were specifically interested in included:

  • the ability for clients to edit their own pages
  • flexibility of design – we didn’t want to have to bend our sites to fit the cms, or for visitors to be able to look at the design of our sites and be able to tell in what cms they had been developed
  • user friendliness
  • scalability – we wanted a platform that could grow and be enhanced as our clients business grew and changed
  • search-engine optimization-ability
  • multilingual capable
  • track record/history
  • support
  • workflow capability
  • audit log
  • open source

We evaluated a number of different cms systems, setting up test versions in our office and working with each of them.  The system we selected and have been using and offering ever since is TYPO3.


While every system we looked at had its own particular strengths, we found that TYPO3 offered the most complete level of services and functionality.  Here are some of the highlights:

Ability for clients to edit their own pages:

For clients, updating the website is done through through the web browser by “logging in” through an administrative interface, after which the user need only click on pencils that appear on every web page to update the relevant portion of the page.  Through the browser administrators can also add, remove, or modify pages and site sections.  If a page is added or removed the menus & buttons on the website instantly update to reflect the change.

Flexibility of Design:

With many of the content management systems we looked at, we found that the designs need to fit into a certain theme or mold.  Thus one could look at various websites and be able to tell just by looking at them what content management system was used to create them.  With TYPO3 we found that any design could be applied, and there is no easily visible way for a site visitor to determine that a website has been developed in TYPO3.
Security options/access controls: Detailed security options are available so that site administrators can be given access to update all pages, some pages, or even only certain elements on certain pages.


Hundreds of modules exist to meet functional requirements (such as RSS feeds, blogs, maps, and message boards), and  due to the opensource nature of the application we have full access to the source code and can modify these modules to suit if required.  This provides great benefit and cost savings in that developing the site is more an effort in customizing existing and proven functionality then it is in creating code from scratch.
Track Record/History: All changes made through the cms are logged, so it is possible to determine who has made changes and reverse them if required. With the workflow functionality, the system can be set up so that one group of users has access to update pages on the site, but the changes don’t go live until another user(s) has approved the changes.  Several levels of approval authority are possible.


One aspect of in particular that really stood out to us is the fact that TYPO3 has had a consolidated development effort since 1998.  Where many of the open source content management system have split, divided, died, or had other issues, TYPO3 has always had a single direction and is very actively developed.  Currently in version 4.4.2; 4.5 is in alpha testing; and version 5, a “next-generation” rewrite, is in heavy development.  All of these efforts are guided and directed through the TYPO3 association.

There are 1000s of developers working with the TYPO3 system, 1000s or pre-existing modules that can be implemented, each one of which is created by one or more developers who are often times accessible.

Open Source:

We were specifically interested in an open source product because it gives us the ability to modify the code if required, and provides a degree of portability.  We’ve seen many sites that have been built with proprietary management systems that effectively lock clients into their particular vendor.  While we love our clients, we had no interest in locking them into doing business with us.  TYPO3 is supported by many hosting platforms and many other agencies.

In Conclusion:

In the end, we selected TYPO3 because it was a content management system that allowed us to:

  • implement any design,
  • offer a user friendly way for clients to update their own websites,
  • serve as a platform on which additional functionality can be added in a cost and time effective way.

If you’d like to learn more about TYPO3, please visit:

  • the TYPO3 page on our site
  • our demonstration site, thedemo.ca
  • typo3.org