Are you in search of the best Content Management System or CMS platform? We got you covered.
Finding the best Content Management System for your website can be overwhelming, especially when there are so many of them.
You’ll have to find a platform that can give you a great design, flexibility, numerous functionalities, absolute security, and unlimited customization. If only there was an article to point out the best of the CMS. Oh, wait!
Yes, we are going to share a mountain of knowledge with you today. From the very definition and features of a Content Management system to the best ones out there, we will cover everything in beginner terms to keep it simple and easy.
What is a Content Management System (CMS)?
A content management system is a software that lets you create, edit, and publish your digital content. In simpler terms, a Content Management System is a website builder or software to write content without the need to write code.
A CMS handles all the basic yet important operations required to make your content go live. It handles the storing of data, keeping your website secure and other functionalities so that you can put more effort and focus on writing beautiful content.
Besides publishing your content, a CMS also does a lot more for you and your site. Content Management Systems these days are experts in Search Engine Optimization, website security, multiple user roles, integration with other online services, and many more.
How to Choose the Best CMS Platform for Your Website?
It’s obvious and the best practice to look for features in a CMS that your site needs. But it’s also important to keep in mind the fundamental features. Here’s how to choose the best CMS platform, or the features to study before choosing.
i. Ease of use
A CMS must have a very beginner-friendly interface. If a CMS provides a rich user experience, then it will undoubtedly be a great one. Features like drag and drop interface, live customizer are most often looked for. Not to mention a clean and simple dashboard.
ii. Customization options
The CMS you choose should have enough themes, plugins, and other extensible options so that you can create your site exactly the way you want. Also, it’s better if the CMS has templates to make it easy for starting a website.
iii. Help and Support
Whenever you run into a question regarding a CMS, it needs to be answered as fast as possible. This will save time and ultimately, be a lot helpful. But unfortunately, many CMS will limit their support to a few FAQs. It’s necessary to find a CMS with a large and supportive community. If it has dedicated support, that’s even better.
Many CMSs are completely free and open-source. Some charge every month. If you have already decided about a premium CMS and want it, that’s good. But if you haven’t, then it’s probably best to use free and open-source CMS. Also, the most popular CMS platform in the world, WordPress is free and open-source software.
13 Best CMS Platforms Compared
Now we know what a CMS is. We also know how to choose one. We’re ready to look at some of the best CMS in the market.
Being the most popular CMS in the world, WordPress probably makes it to the top of every list, except for the list of something bad.
WordPress is a free and open-source Content Management System that powers over 38% of all the websites on the internet. Originally started for blogging, WordPress can now create all types of websites.
You don’t want to confuse between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. WordPress.com will host all your data and take care of security, backup, and other things for you. WordPress.com is more suited for blogging.
WordPress.org is a self-hosted platform. You will need to look for a web hosting service for yourself. But, WordPress.org will give you complete control over your site. You will also have unlimited features and customization options.
We are going to discuss WordPress.org in this post because well, WordPress.org fits more with the definition of a Content Management System. If you want to know more about WordPress.com and WordPress.org, then please check out our detailed comparison of WordPress.com vs WordPress.org.
- Gives you complete freedom to monetize your website.
- Simple and beginner-friendly interface
- A large collection of very good themes and some best plugins make customization very flexible
- Huge and strong community
- Very good SEO plugins and functionalities available
- Lets you download content in XML format to move to a different platform
- Bigger reliability on plugins for better functionalities increase website vulnerability to hacking
- WordPress.org is a self-hosted platform. So, security, backup, and other important things are entirely the user’s responsibilities, making it harder for beginners
Cost of using WordPress.org:
WordPress.org doesn’t cost. But the hosting service does. Price of the best WordPress hosting services ranges from$2.59/mo. to $100/mo., depending on your site’s needs.
One of the WordPress recommended hosts, Bluehost only costs $2.95/mo. Thousands of free themes and plugins are available. And you can find solutions to your queries through the large community. So, you can start your website with WordPress at less than $3/mo.
Joomla is also a free and open-source Content Management System. It is a self-hosted platform meaning you need to find a web-hosting service yourself.
Joomla is a multi-purpose platform suitable more for developers and experienced website builders. However, Joomla keeps things easy for beginners with different templates and extensions. Due to its plentiful functionalities and features, it’s been a top WordPress competitor for long.
- A flexible platform, more suited for complex website building
- Large community for support and solutions
- Comes with templates to ease the process of building a website
- Multilingual features come with the core itself
- The URLs generated have better possibilities of getting a good SEO rank
- Doesn’t have many options for additional extensions
- May have compatibility issues if you have a lot of different extensions
- The interface may not be easy to understand at the beginning
SiteGround is a very good hosting provider for Joomla. You can get hosting and domain name for $7.75/mo with SiteGround. If you want to go with another good option, like Bluehost, you can start at $2.95/mo. Buying a premium extension will also cost you.
Drupal is another free and open-source software in the CMS world. Preferred by developers, the platform is very customizable. But not an ideal choice if you are a beginner in website making. Because you can’t create a great website in Drupal if you don’t know some coding languages like HTML and CSS.
Drupal is also a self-hosted platform. You are required to find a web hosting service provider. Drupal is probably best known for its enterprise-level security. Improved data handling has also made Drupal more popular.
- Custom content types in Drupal are flexible
- Thousands of modules and various themes are available to add more functionalities and style
- A large community provides good support for Drupal users
- Easy and good user roles management system
- Less reliable on third-party extensions for customization and security
- Muli-lingual functionalities built into the core
- Enterprise level security
- Lacks beginner friendliness and good user experience
- Getting the best out of Drupal is more expensive than other platforms
If you are to use Drupal for personal and small websites, then choosing a shared hosting service like Bluehost can be good. With that, the cost can be as low as $2.95/mo.
But if you are to use Drupal for a bigger website, say for a small organization, then shared hosting doesn’t do well with Drupal. You will need a dedicated hosting service. Acquia is good for dedicated hosting of Drupal and costs $141/mo. Not to mention, you need to pay for any premium themes or modules (same as plugins in WordPress).
If you confused between Drupal and WordPress which one to choose, then check our article on WordPress vs Drupal.
Weebly is a free and fully hosted website builder. You don’t have to worry about hosting since Weebly’s server will host all your data. Weebly’s free plan will add a ‘.weebly.com’ subdomain to your site title and limit some functions.
Weebly is very beginner-friendly. You can create a simple website in a matter of minutes. Weebly also has templates to make things even easier for beginners. Being more of a beginner platform, Weebly is known to be best suited for small websites.
- Easy to get started and very beginner-friendly outlook
- Beautiful Weebly templates available to ease website making
- Weebly based sites have fast load speeds
- Strong community for support options
- Customization of websites is easy with Weebly apps
- Integration of advanced marketing tools to your site is difficult
- No option to add custom content types to your site. You need to add a custom content type for individual pages
- Relatively harder to migrate to other platforms
The free plan for Weebly will stick a ‘.weebly.com’ subdomain to your site’s domain. To get rid of that, you can use the personal or basic plan for Weebly. This plan comes at $5.mo. But you will only get 500 MB of storage. If you want unlimited storage, you need a pro plan which is available at $12/mo. View Weebly plans.
For a detailed comparison with WordPress, see our side by side Weebly vs WordPress guide.
Wix is one of the most user-friendly CMS platforms in the market. Starting a website with Wix is very simple. You just sign up to your Wix account, choose a template, and start building.
Wix hosts your data and thus, takes away worries about hosting service. It also has different pricing plans. The free plan will stick a ‘.wixsite.com’ subdomain to your site. Ads will also appear in the free plan. So it’s best to go for a premium plan with Wix.
Wix is best known for user-friendliness and a very good user experience. It is very suitable for beginners and small websites. Wix also provides templates for beginners to ease the website building process.
- Beginner-friendly and easy to understand interface
- App market available to add extensions for more functionalities
- Well-designed templates
- Good help and support to find answers to queries
- The good loading speed of sites
- Some templates can’t be modified according to the user’s preference
- The Wix website isn’t transferable
- Forced Wix branding and subdomain with the free plan
The free plan of Wix shows ads and forces a ‘.wixsite.com’ subdomain. If you choose a basic plan for $4.50/mo, you can get rid of the subdomain. But the ads will still show.
The personal plan at $8.50/mo will remove ads and give you 3GB of storage. Based on pricing plans, starting a Wix site tends to cost more for limited features, than with the self-hosted platforms.
Choosing between Wix and WordPress? We’ve compared WordPress vs Wix with their pros and cons.
Squarespace is another versatile, powerful, flexible website building platform. It is a fully hosted platform. Much like other popular hosted platforms like Wix, Squarespace also provides templates to make websites making it easier for beginners.
Squarespace is known for its well-designed templates geared towards business and creativity. And, well suited for small websites, Squarespace handles website management and security so that you can focus more on your content.
- Drag and drop builder lets you create your template design
- Beginner-friendly and easy to understand interface
- Offers features like, multiple themes on a website, analytic software, free logo maker, etc
- Well designed templates and themes
- Good loading time for blogs with AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) enabled
- 24/7 dedicated user support
- Fewer themes compared to other CMS
- Squarespace users don’t get to have a backup, except for exporting product and blog data
- Customizations for the mobile environment are limited
Unlike other platforms, Squarespace doesn’t come with a free plan. The personal plan costs $12/mo when paid annually. For $12/mo, you can get a free domain, SSL security, templates, unlimited storage, customer support, extensions, etc.
Though the price may sound expensive, there are features that you may not find in other hosted platforms for the same price. For example, unlimited storage, website metrics (analytics), extensions, and more.
Also check out our article Squarespace vs WordPress for more details on the merits and demerits of using Squarespace.
Blogger is a free Google-owned CMS platform geared towards blogging. It’s one of the best blogging platforms in the market. It’s very user friendly and simple. Creating a simple blog in blogger will only take about 10 minutes.
Creating a free blog using blogger will add a ‘.blogspot.com’ subdomain to your site. Google will host all of your blogs. Google also provides personal domains, but you’ll have to pay for them. You can get your domain by using another hosting service provider as well.
- Very simple, beginner-friendly, and easy to use
- Monetizing your blog is very easy with Blogger through Google Adsense (the largest ad broker on the internet)
- Google maintains the security and speed of your blog
- The free version also provides monetization features for your blog
- Integration with other Google services like Google+ to increase website functionalities
- Getting add-ons to extend your blog’s functionality is very difficult
- Traffic is quickly lost if you don’t keep posting regularly
Blogger is a free platform. If you create a free blog with Blogger, then your site will look like myblog.blogspot.com. Choosing your domain with Blogger will start at $12 per year. You can also choose other hosting services which will cost you accordingly.
Confused whether to use Blogger or WordPress for your blog? See our full comparison article WordPress vs Blogger.
Ghost is a free and open-source Content Management System and blogging platform distributed under the MIT license. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) license permits you to reuse the software. The condition on this is that you have to include a copy of the original MIT license with the distribution.
Ghost is a relatively newer headless CMS released in 2013. Being a headless CMS, Ghost is more flexible in terms of the platforms it can present the data to. And, unlike most other CMS above Ghost is a CMS that dedicates itself to blogging.
- One of the simplest and easy to use dashboard
- Features like Google AMP, Search Engine Optimization is available with the core
- Very good site load speeds and low server load
- Very user-friendly and provides a live preview for easier site customization
- Lacks the large community
- Customization and addition of functionalities through plugins is very difficult
- Lacks the huge collection of themes and plugins like other CMS
There are two types of Ghost software. One is the open-source self-hosted version. Completely free, completely under your control, and completely your responsibility. The other is a Ghost-hosted platform.
The Ghost-hosted platform doesn’t provide a free version. Instead, they have a 14-day free trial system. If you like the software, you can upgrade anytime. The basic plan comes at $29/mo billed annually. That is a costlier price for beginners who just want to start a blog. Also, the basic plan only lets you have 2 admin on your site. If you want to have more staff on your site, then it’ll cost $79/mo for 5 admins.
Ghost is a great WordPress alternative for blogging. If want to know which is better for your blog, see our comparison WordPress vs Ghost.
Textpattern is a free and open-source CMS created for blogging. It has a simple browser-based interface. Textpattern was released in 2003, so there are many documentation and tutorial online to get started.
Textpattern now also features over 50 languages localized to its core user interface. Developers and contributors are constantly adding more features to it. The interface looks clean and simple, focusing more on important items than trying to stuff every item on one window.
- Huge collection of themes, plugins, and templates
- Each content category can have its appearance and style
- Customizable subscription feature allows visitors to manage content feed according to their preference
- Many documentation and tutorials online for beginners
- Not very easy to install, especially for beginners
- Lacks popularity and market, so it may be harder to find a developer if you need one
Textpattern is a free and open-source platform. The only thing you need to pay for is hosting and domain name. If you go with good hosting service for Textpattern like A2 Hosting, then the basic plan comes at $2.99/mo. For this price, you will get hosting for 1 site with 100 GB storage.
Shopify is a fully hosted eCommerce platform for online stores. It is an all in one package for building an e-commerce website. Shopify is a great platform for beginners as users can build an online store with a drag and drop interface.
Shopify has a free trial plan that lets you try Shopify without paying. If you like Shopify, then you can always upgrade to a paid plan and start your store.
- Integrated payment solution called Shopify payments accepts debit and credit card
- Many themes and extensions available for extending Shopify features
- Third-party Shopify apps also add features to your online store
- Online forums and 24/7 support through email, live chat, Twitter
- Lots of documentation, video, and written guides help you get started with Shopify
- Adds transaction fees for using external gateways for payment
- A limited number of third-party apps
- Customization is limited to platform capabilities and its themes
Shopify has a free trial plan. But it doesn’t last forever. So you have to upgrade to a paid plan. The basic plan is for $29/mo that gives you basic features with the option to have two admins on your site. If you upgrade your plan further, you will be allowed to have 5 admins on your site at $79/mo with added features.
It’s a great alternative for WordPress WooCommerce, so we’ve compared them. See WooCommerce vs Shopify to learn more.
BigCommerce is a popular eCommerce platform for online businesses. It’s a fully hosted CMS that handles your sites’ security and backup as well.
The free trial plan of BigCommerce lets you try BigCommerce and its features before you decide. Using the trial plan will add a ‘.mybigcommerce.com’ subdomain to your site. Once you upgrade to a paid plan, you will have your domain name and online store.
- Many ways to take payments including debit and credit card, digital wallets like PayPal, Apple pay, Amazon pay, etc.
- Help center accessible from the dashboard for 24/7 online support
- BigCommerce can be used with WordPress for greater features and bigger possibilities
- You don’t have much control over your site
- After you reach a certain threshold for sales per year, you’ll be automatically upgraded to the next plan. Things will get more expensive.
BigCommerce also has a trial plan. But you will need to upgrade to a paid plan after a certain time. The basic plan will be at $29.95/mo. assuming that your sales are not over $50k/year. The priciest plan is at $249.85/mo. With this plan, you can have sales up to $400k/year.
If you’re still not sure which platform to choose, then our other article BigCommerce vs WooCommerce may help you.
PrestaShop is an open-source e-commerce platform and a Content Management System. It is available in 60 different languages.
PrestaShop is self-hosted. So, you will have to get a hosting service for yourself. Ideally suited for small businesses, this CMS can do most things that any other big name in the e-commerce world can.
- Over 300 built-in features for managing product, payment, shipping, listing, etc.
- Large community with online forums
- Themes, modules, and add-ons extend the functionalities of your online store.
- Live configurator for editing templates
- Relatively less beginner-friendly
- Lacks well-designed themes
- Doesn’t work well with medium and large scale businesses
PrestaShop is self-hosted. So, the cost of hosting is on you. If you go with a popular hosting service like Hostinger, then you can start your online store at $2.59/mo. Also, if you want to add modules in PrestaShop, then most of the premium modules start at $59.99.
Magento is an e-commerce platform from the popular software company, Adobe. There is an open-source as well as a paid version of Magento. The open-source version is self-hosted so you have to find the hosting service for yourself.
The paid version of Magento is fully hosted and comes with dedicated support. But the price is way beyond what you’d expect if you’re a beginner.
- Third-party extensions will add extra features to your online store
- Better handling of a huge number of products and customers
- Good site loading time
- Features like digital payment via PayPal, cash-on-delivery, bank transfer are built into the core.
- The paid version is very expensive
- Not very beginner-friendly platform
- Good support for open-source version is missing
- Major features like product recommendation and global availability are missing in the open-source version
Using the open-source version will ask you for the cost of hosting service only. If you want to go with the paid version, the price will spike up. You will likely have to pay around $2000/mo or $22k/year if you pay annually.
If you’re considering Magento and WordPress eCommerce as your best 2 selection for online store, then here’s our helpful article Magento vs WooCommerce to decide on one.
Must be Mentioned Name for eCommerce: WooCommerce
WooCommerce is the most popular e-commerce platform in the market. Technically, WooCommerce is not a CMS. It is the best e-commerce plugin built for WordPress. But we think it’s worth a mention because WooCommerce is the reason why WordPress is a popular CMS for starting online businesses as well.
Looking at w3tech surveys, WooCommerce powers over 6.5% of all the websites on the internet. If WooCommerce was a CMS, it would be one of the leading ones.
- Available as a free plugin in WordPress
- A wide range of products can be sold like digital, physical products, and even affiliate products through affiliate links
- Lots of customization options with themes and extensions (WooCommerce plugins)
- Any payment gateway can be added through extensions and add-ons
- The large community of WooCommerce provides many documentations and tutorials to get started
- Installing and using many plugins can affect site loading speeds
WooCommerce is a free platform for growing your online business. But, you do have to pay for getting started with WordPress. Because well, you need WordPress to get WooCommerce. So, you need to pay for the hosting of your site to get started. And once you’re in, you will need to pay for premium extensions you install in WooCommerce, likely around $25.
Which is the Best CMS Platform for You?
These were some of the best CMS platforms in the world. CMS platforms let you create, manage, and publish content, but they can also do so much more. You can create online stores, interactive web-applications, etc.
The CMS platform you need should be based on your site’s requirements. It also depends on how experienced you are as a website creator.
If you are a complete beginner who wants to start and grow your website, then WordPress is the most popular platform which can do well for you. But if you’re just trying out a blog to learn and want to do it for free, a blogging platform like Blogger is an excellent choice.
If you want a website for your organization that is very good at handling data, traffic, and security, then Drupal can be a good choice.
As for online stores, WooCommerce is the best choice. It’s free, it’s powerful and it doesn’t ask for more money when you make more sales. There are thousands of people dedicated to making it the best.
If you’re looking for an alternative, PrestaShop may be a good place to get started if you want to try things and learn. If you want to grow your online business, Shopify and Bigcommerce will help you.
However, if you want a platform that can do all of these things, like blogging, creating online stores, and more, then you should try WordPress. WordPress is suited for e-commerce, blogging, website building, and whatnot. All of that for a very reasonable price.
You can get started at $2.95/mo. with Bluehost. There are thousands of free themes and plugins. You need no coding knowledge and experience. Even if you ever feel the need for a web developer, you can easily find a WordPress developer.
Wrapping things Up
While writing this article, we looked for the best CMS to present to you. And we found WordPress. Because you are looking to start a website and explore the features of the online world. Possibly even stay a long time dedicated to one platform. You may just want a small website or even a big one. WordPress can be customized to suit the needs of everyone.
We tried our best to present you with a big chunk of knowledge from the online world. If you think we did a good job, then please share the article.
If you liked this article, you might also love our guides on the difference between domain and web hosting.