CMS (Content Management System) platforms allow you to create websites without any knowledge of code easily.
There are many CMS options available on the market, which means you may have difficulty finding the right platform for your needs.
Unless, of course, you are looking for a system suitable for developers, which means you already have coding skills.
There are so many CMS platforms to choose from. Which one is the best? Before you start comparing, you need to know the following.
Easy to use
You need a system that makes it easy to create and edit content, which usually means having a drag-and-drop interface to add different elements to the page. It should also be quick and easy to change and update the content once the website is published.
The CMS software should provide you with a large number of design templates and enable you to customize them easily, ideally without writing any code.
A great CMS platform should provide simple and useful tools that allow you to easily export your data and migrate it to other locations. For example, you may choose another hosting company in the future, and data portability will allow you to do this easily.
Extensions and Plugins
Not all websites are the same, so that no CMS platform can meet everyone's needs. Extensions and plugins can solve this problem, and you can install them on your website for other additional features.
Help and Support Options
Although CMS platforms are designed to make building a website as easy as possible, you may still face some problems. Some companies offer FAQs and a slow-responding support team, while others have a large support community that can help you at any time.
Cost of Use
While some CMS platforms are completely free, you will often need to pay for services such as third-party extensions, page design, web hosting, etc. Before choosing a CMS, find out as much as you can about the start-up costs to avoid any nasty surprises.
With these factors in mind, let's next look at the best CMS platforms.
WordPress.org is our preferred CMS platform and the most popular website building system worldwide, powering over 30% of the websites on the Internet.
Please note that WordPress.org should not be confused with WordPress.com, a free and open-source CMS initially designed for blogs and now developed to be used by various websites/shops; and the latter is a blog hosting platform. If you're not sure of the difference between the two, check out our detailed comparison.
When we talk about WordPress, we usually mean WordPress.org, specifying WordPress.com when appropriate. With WordPress, you need to host the site yourself, which means finding the right web hosting provider.
- Provides you with the flexibility and freedom to build any website (online stores, auction sites, membership sites, etc.)
- No technical experience or coding knowledge is required. The block editor makes it easy to create beautiful pages
- Allows you to make money in any way you want through the site
- Thousands of themes and plugins are available to add various useful features to the site
- Designed for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to help get more natural search traffic
- Has a large online support community where you can join relevant discussion groups and seek help from other professionals when you encounter problems
- Rich scalability makes it the ideal CMS platform for beginners and developers
Allows you to download all content in XML format, which you can easily transfer to other systems if you wish
You need to set up the domain and hosting and take care of website updates, security, backups, and such
The wealth of options and flexibility can be overwhelming, and for this reason, many beginners use drag-and-drop page editors to build websites
Joomla is another popular free and open-source CMS platform with many different templates and extensions that can be used completely free of charge.
However, you will need to deal with the work associated with domain names and hosting.
This system was first released in 2005 and, like WordPress, has been widely used for many years.
Joomla comes with a large number of features, and many web hosts offer one-click installation services. It is indeed the ideal CMS platform for developers and experienced webmasters, but for beginners, getting started can be challenging.
- Lots of flexibility and multiple options for building complex or custom systems
- Although Joomla is useful for developers, even if you don't want to edit any code, you can still use
- Like WordPress, Joomla is free and open-source, so if you get stuck, you can easily get community support
- With the available extensions, you can use Joomla to run an e-commerce website
- Even Joomla fans admit that the system is very complex, and depending on the specific features, you may need to hire developers
- There are not many additional extensions, so if you are used to a CMS like WordPress, you may be disappointed with Joomla
- If you install many different extensions or plugins, there may be some compatibility issues
Drupal is also an open-source CMS platform that powers some of the major websites, including The Economist and many higher education universities.
Drupal is the right choice for building a custom site that needs to handle large amounts of data for developers or business owners who can afford to hire a programmer.
You can host your Drupal site on SiteGround. They offer a free installer and can even help you migrate your existing Drupal site.
- Adding content is easy, and custom content types are flexible
- You can add many different modules to the site
- Support is available through an online community
- Has a built-in system where you can create roles and assign permissions
- Figuring out how to change the look of your site or add other features is tricky and not as WordPress friendly for beginners
- Most Drupal sites use custom-made themes, which can be very expensive
WooCommerce is the world's most popular eCommerce platform, very flexible and easy to manage. Technically, WooCommerce is not a CMS per se, but it runs as a plugin on WordPress, so you need to install WordPress before using WooCommerce.
According to W3Techs, if counted as a CMS platform, WooCommerce would have a 7.2% market share, a pretty large user base.
- WooCommerce is completely free and open-source, but you'll need hosting and a domain name to use it
- There are many beautiful themes available so that you can easily adapt the site to meet specific needs
- A large number of free and paid add-ons to add additional functionality to the site
- Allows you to sell physical or digital products and even affiliate products through affiliate links
- Easily track the real-time status of your inventory by fully managing it with WooCommerce
- By default, WooCommerce comes with PayPal and Stripe payment methods. You can also add other payment gateways
- The options are very rich and may discourage newcomers
- Technically, WooCommerce can work with any WordPress theme, but you should stick to themes explicitly made for WooCommerce
BigCommerce is an all-in-one eCommerce platform that offers a one-stop solution and is easy to get started with if you are a beginner. They will host your website for you and provide you with the actual CMS system, and can also handle security and backups for you, among other things.
- You can try it for free before you pay
- You can use the free domain name provided by BigCommerce with a name similar to mystore.mybigcommerce.com, or you can pay a fee to connect to a custom domain name
- Supports a wide range of payment methods: PayPal, Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, credit/debit cards, etc.
- You can access 24/7 customer support directly from the dashboard, including live chat, email, phone, community
- If needed, you can use BigCommerce in combination with WordPress in order to get the advantages of both CMS platforms
- Compared to WooCommerce, BigCommerce gives you less control over your store. Themes and integrations are limited, and you may not be able to use third-party services to grow your business
- After-sales reach a certain threshold. You will be forced to upgrade to a higher pricing plan automatically
Shopify is our preferred eCommerce website building platform, you don't need to buy hosting, and you don't have to install software, manage updates, and backup data. They offer a clean and easy-to-use drag-and-drop editor and support offline sales, which is an excellent option if you have both a physical and online store.
- You can accept credit/debit card payments through the integrated Shopify Payments, or you can use the popular PayPal
- Rich themes and extensions to add various features to the online store
- Shopify offers 24/7 customer support via live chat, email, phone, Twitter, plus an online forum and lots of helpful documentation
- The final cost can be high, especially if you plan to add a lot of third-party apps to the store
- Compared to the thousands of plugins available for WordPress, the Shopify app is relatively limited in functionality
WordPress.com is a commercially hosted version of WordPress and can easily be confused with WordPress.org, open-source software. If you are not sure of the difference between them, you can find more information here. With WordPress.com, you'll get a fully hosted one-stop CMS platform.
- Very easy to get started, very simple to add and edit content
- You can use it for free. However, in order to connect a custom domain, you need to subscribe to at least the cheapest package
- A range of different theme designs that you can easily switch between in the dashboard
- As your website grows in size, you can upgrade to a higher plan
- If you decide to switch to a more powerful and flexible CMS, then switching from WordPress.com to WordPress.org in the future is very simple
- Built-in statistical analysis functions
- Limited profitability options, even for subscription business plans
- You can't connect Custom domains to your website unless you subscribe to their plan.
- Compared to WordPress.org, the plugins you can install on the WordPress.com site are very limited
- You don't have full control of your website like WordPress.org does
Ghost is a CMS platform created specifically for blogging purposes and does not force content to be displayed in a specific way. The data you produce can be displayed on a website or sent to a mobile app or any other platform. If you are not a developer or want to use Ghost for blogging, you do not need to know these technical details.
- Allows you to write code in the editor using Markdown
- A content editor with card support, a feature a bit like the block in the WordPress editor
- Powerful built-in support for SEO (Search Engine Optimization), so you don't need to add additional plugins for that
- Creating a paid content site is easy
- Does not provide the same functionality and flexibility as WordPress
- Although originally designed for blogging only, there are still many people who think Ghost has become too complicated
Magento is the open-source e-commerce platform of the large software company Adobe, and you can download the free version and install it on your web hosting called Magento Open Source.
To use it in this way, then SiteGround Magento hosting is the easiest way to get started. If you prefer, you can also pay for the commercial version of Magento to get full customer support, but it is very expensive.
- Highly customizable with rich third-party extensions
- Can handle a large number of products and customers, making it easy to grow your business without slowing down your website
- There are a number of international brands that use Magento, including Nike, Ford, Coca-Cola, etc.
- Provides built-in support for payment methods such as PayPal, cash on delivery, bank transfer, etc., and also allows you to connect to other payment gateways
- If you are just starting out in e-commerce, you may find Magento very complicated
- Finding good developers can be tricky, and hiring them can be very expensive
- Technical support can be unfortunate, especially if you use the free open source version and rely on online forums for help
Textpattern is a simple and easy-to-use CMS platform that has been popular since 2003. Open source means you can use it for free, plus there's plenty of documentation to help you get started.
- Lots of plugins and templates, all available for free
- The method of organizing content (including sections and categories) is very flexible, and readers can subscribe to RSS feeds for specific parts of the site
- Almost no hosting providers offer Textpattern one-click installers
- No other CMS platform (e.g., WordPress) is popular, and you may have difficulty hiring skilled developers
Wix is a popular CMS platform that powers over 160 million websites on the Internet, with an excellent drag-and-drop editor to help you create small websites. They take care of things like web hosting and registering domains (free and paid), and with the app marketplace, you can easily add additional features like photo galleries, e-commerce, and more.
- Drag-and-drop editor makes it easy to create ideal-looking pages
- You can choose from a large selection of preset templates that are fully responsive and look great on both mobile and computer
- You can add apps to your website from the Wix App Marketplace, which is similar to the WordPress plugin
- Once the site is published, it cannot be changed to another template
- You can't run an e-commerce site unless you upgrade to a paid plan
- With the free plan, you will have Wix-branded domains and ads on your website, which make money for Wix (not you)
Blogger has been around since 1999 and, as can be easily seen from the name, is a CMS platform dedicated to writing blogs and a free service offered by Google. Although custom domains can be used instead, blogs hosted on it usually use a second-level domain named blogspot.com.
- It's easy to get started, and you can set up a blog in minutes
- You can add many widgets for free in order to show contact information and other information
- Your blog is hosted by Google. No need to install anything, no need to update software or pay for hosting
- Plenty of storage space, no limit to the number of articles, images stored in Google Cloud Drive
- If you want to start a non-blog site, Blogger is not the right place
- Although all themes are free, the functionality is very simple, and for a more professional product, you need to hire your designer
- Switching from Blogger to WordPress is very difficult
Bitrix24 is a business tool with a CMS platform and offers specific features (such as task, project, communication management, etc.). The starter plan allows you to use it for free, providing an all-in-one solution for small businesses. If you need a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool, this could be the right choice.
- It's free to use, which means you can take the time to try it out
- Includes a wide range of features to provide you with everything you need to manage a small to medium-sized company
- Website editor with a drag-and-drop interface, including landing pages, e-commerce, and other features
- If you don't want CRM functionality, getting a CMS platform will be quite complicated
- With so many features, you may find the user interface difficult to navigate
TYPO3 is a free and open-source CMS platform released even before Blogger formerly born in 1998. As an enterprise CMS, TYPO3 is useful for both internal company sites and online sites. One of the great advantages of open source software is that the extensions are very rich, which helps to provide you with additional functionality.
- Can easily handle large websites (including multilingual sites), which is a good choice for well-known international companies
- If you are willing to hire developers, feel free to extend TYPO3
- you will get access to rights for different individuals and groups that can be easily modified
- Over 6,000 extensions to choose from
- There are not too many available themes
- You'll need an extensive specialist to get TYPO3 up and running, and post-maintenance can be challenging
PrestaShop is a free and open-source e-commerce platform that requires you to host it yourself to be installed on any supported web host. Of course, as with other self-hosted CMS, we recommend using SiteGround web hosting.
- Has a large PrestaShop community, including an official forum for sharing tips and tutorials, and many other groups
- As the store grows in size, you may not have to pay additional fees (unless you upgrade your hosting plan)
- Many modules are available so you can easily add new features
- Very low initial cost, especially with inexpensive shared hosting plans
- Requires a lot of time and effort to learn.
- Despite the large number of theme designs, not all options are perfect. You may have to spend a long time scrutinizing them before you finally find something that suits you
The only question is, which side are you going to pick?
Let me know in the comments.