How to Determine Which CMS is Used
As a moderator at OpenSourceCMS.com I read a lot of messages that ask which content management system a particular site uses. As I look into the answer, I find myself doing the same things over and over. And that's what this post is about. I'll detail for you what I do when I want to find out what a particular site uses.
Fair warning: not all sites use open source systems, and not all sites will tell you what they use. Many sites, in particular business sites, may use a custom code that isn't available to you. So if you follow the steps below and come up with nothing, it's most likely custom and closed source. Then comes the task of replicating the site in an open source system, which is beyond the scope of this article.
Chances are you've done this. That is, look at the bottom of the site's index page for information. Sometimes you'll see a "Powered By" logo or wording followed by the system's name. If it's not in the footer, check the sidebar. Yes, sometimes it's that easy. Also, check the favicon image in your browsers address bar. Some systems come with a default favicon that users may forget to replace. (Drupal is very easy to spot.)
If you see a 'Designed By' link, check out the designer's site. Some designers work with only a few systems, and that might help you narrow down the list.
There may also be some tell-tale signs. For example, if the links have the word "node" in them, it may be a Drupal site (but not always.) Also, if there's a login link, click that and see if the login page gives you any system name.
The Source Code
The next step is to look at the source for the site. Using your browser, open the page source. (In your browsers main menu.)
The top part of the code will be the head section. It's there that you would look for names of systems. Sometimes it's in 'meta name="generator"' and other times it's in an alternate stylesheet path. And it may even be hidden in the footer. Or not.
Tell Me About It
The next thing I do is look at the 'about' page or the 'FAQ' page. Some webmasters may be kind enough to say what they use instead of displaying it. This, however, isn't very likely. If there's a forum, check in the 'Site Bugs' or 'Site Features' sections to see if anything is mentioned.
The last thing I do is google the site URL to see if the webmaster has posted about it in a particular system's forum. A webmaster may want to show off their site or get some help and thus provide the address. So when you google the site, look for names of content management systems in the results then check them to see if it's the one. And this has worked for me.
It's Not Open Source
If everything fails, then it might not be open source. If you still want to know what they use, then email them and ask nicely. They might tell you the company they bought it from or if they created it themselves.
If you have a question about a website and an open source content management system, feel free to ask about it in my forum. (Please don't ask in the comment section; it just gets too messy and confusing there.)