Ten Simple Rules for Choosing the Perfect CMS + Excellent Options

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The content management system you choose can really make a huge difference in how much time you (or your clients) spend keeping a site updated and maintained. There’s a huge variety out there—some estimates put the number at around 1700 different options. Some are great…some, not so much.

Below are ten useful guidelines to consider when choosing a CMS, followed by rundowns on ten great CMS options available and how they stack up based on the guidelines.

Ten Simple Guidelines for Choosing the Perfect CMS

1. The CMS you choose should be really good at whatever the main function of your website is.

What do you want your website to do? Is it going to be primarily a static website, like an online brochure? Or is it going to be a fully-functioning ecommerce site? Or maybe it’s going to be really media-heavy with tons of videos, photos, and audio files. Or is a blog going to be the primary focus?

Whatever your site’s primary function is going to be, you need to define it and then find a CMS that does that particular thing really, really well. If blogging is the main focus of the site, then use a blog platform. If images and video are the main focus, then you need to find a CMS that either has great support for media built-in or has great plugins for enabling those functions. If your site is going to focus on an online store, then the platform you choose needs to be able to seamlessly integrate that online store without a ton of extra work.

2. A CMS needs to work intuitively.

When you average user opens up the backend of the site, they should be able to figure out how to do basic functions without too much instruction. Different elements of the site should be clearly labeled. The basics of posting a new page, editing a page, and even changing themes or sidebar elements should all be relatively simple to figure out for the average computer user.

3. The backend needs to be standardized.

Things should all work basically the same way in the backend of the site. A good CMS should have a standardized format for each section of the backend. If one section uses a drop-down menu for selecting something, then all of the other sections should use the same type of menu for similar options—not radio buttons or some other selector.

The same goes for the way things are named or otherwise referred to. If something is called a “page” in one place and a “post” in another, that’s going to get confusing (plus, most people consider those two different things). If it’s a “sidebar” in one place and a “second column” somewhere else, that’s going to confuse your average user.

4. The backend needs to be logical and well-organized.

Things should be laid out logically in the backend. This means that all of the functions related to editing, or sidebars, or themes, or creating new content, should be grouped somehow or otherwise function the same. Alternatively, some CMSs put all of the things related to pages in one place, sidebars in another, plugins in another, etc. Either way, they’re laid out logically and once you know the basic architecture, it’s easy enough to figure out where things are supposed to be.

5. The right CMS shouldn’t have a ton of extra functionality you’ll never use.

This is a completely personal choice. Some sites will make use of tons of advanced functionality. Other sites won’t. If you’re never going to have an online store, why do you need a CMS that focuses on ecommerce? If you never plan to do anything beyond posting photos to your site, why have a CMS that does that plus a hundred other things? Instead, find a CMS that does the one thing you want to do really well and forget about the other features.

6. The right CMS should be easy for non-geeks to use.

Web designers and developers are very good at using web-based applications and pretty much anything else computer-related. A lot of their clients, on the other hand, probably aren’t. While most of the end-users of any CMS are going to have at least basic computer knowledge, they’re probably not super tech savvy. While you might love a particular CMS and think it’s the best thing since solid-state hard drives, your clients might find it confusing, hard to use, and overly complicated.

The question I always ask myself when considering this is, “Could my mother use this?” My mother is your typical business computer user. She can do spreadsheets, word processing, and email, but she’s definitely not a techy. If I’m confident that I could easily explain a CMS to her and she’d then be able to use it with a minimum of later support, then I know it’s going to be appropriate for 90% of other likely users.

7. It needs to include a WYSIWYG editor.

WYSIWYG editors make life easier for your clients. Most clients don’t know HTML and don’t care to learn. But they want to be able to use bold or italic text or use header tags to create sections within their pages. A WYSIWYG editor makes that all possible for non-tech-savvy users.

8. The pages it creates should be fast-loading and have simple code.

One of the major advantages of a CMS is that it simplifies the updating and management of a website. So the pages it produces should also be simple. There shouldn’t be a lot of extra code or provisions for unused functionality in the final page code. All that serves to do is slow the load times for the page and increase the likelihood that something will render wrong or throw an error.

9. The template engine should allow you complete creative control.

Some CMSs have very set ideas about what a website should look like. There needs to be a sidebar for navigation. You shouldn’t use navigation dropdowns. The content has to be arranged in nice, neat columns. Who’s the designer here? Whatever CMS you choose should let you design pages the way you want and should work around your needs.

10. The right CMS should have adequate support and documentation.

In all likelihood, you’re going to run into some sort of problems with any CMS you choose. Whether this is caused by add-ons or in the course of customizing some bit of code, or whether the CMs is doing something unexpected, having somewhere you can turn to to get advice on how to fix the problem is invaluable.

This doesn’t necessarily have to be some expensive tech support phone number or other paid support. Sometimes you can get quicker and better responses from a user community. Does the CMS you’re considering have support forums frequented both by other users and by those involved in the project? Are there other, off-site forums dedicated to that particular CMS? The people who visit these forums can be a wealth of information for doing just about anything with your CMS of choice.

Thorough documentation for the CMS is also valuable. It should provide information on everything from basic use of the CMS to customizations and advanced functionality. In addition to being complete, it should also be easy to understand and accurate (which can be hard to determine until you actually delve into doing some of what it suggests).

Ten Excellent CMS Options

1. WordPress

WordPress has morphed from a basic blogging platform into a fully-functioning CMS. WordPress’ primary functionality is still blogging, though with plugins it’s capable of doing everything from brochure sites to portfolio and gallery sites to fully-featured ecommerce sites. For the most part, WordPress’ backend is intuitive to use, with different functions laid out based on different sections of the site (appearance, posts, pages, etc.) The way things work in the backed, though, is very standardized and once you’re used to doing things in one section, it’s easy enough to figure them out in every other section. Likewise, it’s also well organized and finding where to perform different functions is very straight-forward in most cases. The WYSIWYG editor provides all the basic functions you could need, including inserting images, video, and other media, and makes it easy to toggle back and forth between HTML and Visual mode.

Because a lot of WP’s functionality comes from plugins, the basic platform is pretty simple, with support for pages, posts, and other standard content that will be used on the vast majority of sites. You only need to add plugins as you need their functionality, meaning there isn’t a whole lot of unused “stuff” in the core installation. WP is also simple enough to use for non-geeks (my mother has no problem with it and she’s running a complete ecommerce site with WP) and the different user permissions means it’s harder for users to break things (just limit their access to things like themes and plugins).

WP is also completely standards-compliant. The pages it creates are simple and quick-loading. Of course, some plugins create not-so-small pages, especially those that put JavaScript and CSS right into the page instead of in separate files. Just be aware of this when checking out plugins.

WP really makes it possible to design pages however you see fit. From galleries to text-heavy sites and pretty much anything in between, WP can do it through the use of custom themes and page templates.

Where WP really shines, though, is in it’s documentation. The WordPress Codex is massive, covering everything from basic instructions for use to creating your own plugins and working with advanced features. WP also has active forums where you can generally find fixes for any problems you might encounter from other users.

2. Radiant CMS

Radiant is built on Ruby on Rails. It’s really good at building basic sites with an unlimited number of pages. Blogging and gallery functionality can be added through extensions. The backend is simple and logically laid out, with pages, snippets, and layouts as the primary sections. Functions work pretty much the same no matter which section you’re in.

Currently, Radiant is rather limited in its functionality, so it’s unlikely you’ll end up with any unneeded functions. Extensions can be built in Ruby On Rails, though, opening up huge possibilities for future functionality. The WYSIWYG editor is basic but allows users to perform all of the basic functions.

Radiant has an extremely easy-to-use backend. Basic functions like updating and add pages are really no more complicated than sending an email. This makes it a great solution for clients who aren’t at all tech-savvy. The code Radiant produces is simple and clean.

Pages can be built to look pretty much however you want based on a combination of snippets you create. There also appears to be an active developer community with extensive documentation for developers. End-user documentation is a bit light, but it’s such simple to use CMS that it’s not really a big issue.

3. SilverStripe

SilverStripe is a full-featured CMS that’s capable of just about anything you want it to do. It’s built in PHP on the Sapphire framework, making it more customizable. One of SilverStripe’s most interesting features is that designers can customize the backend for each of their clients, only showing content fields the clients actually need to access. This makes it potentially one of the easiest-to-use CMSs for geeks and non-geeks alike. And of course it includes a WYSIWYG editor.

SilverStripe is probably overkill for most very basic websites, but because of its ability to be customized, it’s appropriate for most other sites. SilverStripe also provides tons of great, free support, including documentation for both developers and end-users, forums and an IRC channel. SilverStripe makes a point to stay out of the HTML/CSS portion of your site, making it possible to design pages to look however you want.

4. Joomla!

Joomla is widely considered to be the most popular open-source CMS currently available. It runs on PHP and MySQL. The backend is relatively simple and straightforward, with sections for managing articles, the front page, menus, media, and other content. There’s also a link to create a new article to save time. Drop-down menus also give more options for those and other sections (including extensions). Joomla’s WYSIWYG editor includes tons of formatting options—even emoticons.

Joomla is pretty powerful, so it’s another CMS probably not well-suited to very simple sites, where it would have a lot of excess functionality. It includes a number of provisions to make pages load faster, including caching and GZIP page compression. Joomla also has a huge list of plugins available to extend its functionality, making it appropriate for just about any kind of site requiring advanced functionality. One of the biggest drawbacks of Joomla, though, is it’s use of tables for layout. While there are workarounds to replace the tables with CSS, it might not be worth the effort considering how many other CMSs don’t use tables to begin with.

5. TYPOlight

TYPOlight uses PHP5 and Ajax and includes functionality for static pages, blogs, newsletters, and calendars, among other sections. The backend is intuitive while still offering a ton of functionality. There are shortcuts for doing everything from creating forms to including Flash content. Content is displayed within modules, which can be styled with CSS. The output is accessible XHTML Strict. It also offers mootools and GZip support.

TYPOlight may be a bit overwhelming for those who aren’t at least a little bit tech-savvy. It’s not that it’s complicated; just that there’s a lot of options and a lot of different ways to customize it. It does include a complete WYSIWYG editor and other tools to make publishing content simple. The interface is intuitive if you take a minute to look over what’s there and everything is laid out logically. Again, it’s just that there’s a lot of information in there!

TYPOlight does include some nice developer tools, including a built-in CSS generator and a form generator. There’s plenty of documentation on the site for both developers and end-users. There are screencasts, forums, and a wiki for support. There are also options for paid support through TYPOlight partners in case you (or your clients) really need advanced help.

6. Frog

Frog is basically a PHP-based version of Radiant CMS (mentioned above). Frog has a simplified UI that’s very intuitive. It allows for an unlimited hierarchy of pages and allows you to customize templates on a per-page basis. It includes the requisite WYSIWYG editor, simplified and more like WP’s than some of the more complex editors. It also features reusable snippets for regularly-used bits of content.

The backend provides a very coherent and well-organized structure that’s user-friendly while also being quite powerful. The basic functionality is aimed at a site with an unlimited number of pages, but there are plenty of plugins to extend that functionality. There are currently plugins for both admin functions and front-end improvements (including a number for image galleries). The code Frog creates is clean and semantic.

Frog has decent documentation, with plenty of how-to articles for both basic functions and development. There’s also an IRC channel to get answers to any questions you might have.

7. Textpattern

Textpattern uses a tabbed UI on the backend, which is surprisingly intuitive. It automatically brings you to the content editor to add a new page when you login, a great feature for sites that add new content regularly. The biggest drawback to Textpattern is its lack of a WYSIWYG editor. It does use Textile, though, for content editing, which is easy enough for a new user to learn.

The pages output by Textpattern are very lightweight and quick-loading, so no issues there. The thing I like most about Textpattern is that it feels like a real alternative type of CMS. The rest of the options out there are all, to some extent at least, kind of the same. The basic functionality of the CMS is very simple, without a ton of added features you’re unlikely to ever use. There’s support for images, categories, and articles, and not a whole lot else. But there are a ton of different plugins available to extend its functionality, including plugins for everything from media and gallery support to advanced navigation options and stats. There are even a couple of different ecommerce plugins available.

There’s a large community built around Textpattern, so documentation and support are surprisingly good. There’s at least one book available, plus a support forum, developers’ weblog, and TextBook (a community-powered user manual).

8. ExpressionEngine

Expression Engine is one of the more powerful CMSs out there. EE has support for just about every function you could ever need or want, either in the core package or through plugins. The backend is very simple and intuitive (the first time I used it I was able to figure out the backend within a couple of minutes). It’s probably overkill for very basic websites, but appropriate for pretty much anything else. Modules are available for everything from statistics to user forums. The built-in WYSIWYG editor is pretty standard and works well.

The pages created by EE are a bit bulkier than many of the other CMSs featured here, but still appear to be reasonably clean, with the exception of some JavaScript plugins. Some of the plugins available (or at least some of those used on sites powered by EE) either stick the JavaScript in the header of the page or, worse, right in the middle of the page’s code. But there have to be some tradeoffs when working with a CMS with this much built-in functionality.

EE’s biggest drawback is that, except in certain circumstances, it’s quite expensive. A personal license is $99.95 and a commercial license is $249.95. You can use the free Core Version, but only on personal, non-commercial or non-profit sites.

9. Drupal

Drupal is another very powerful CMS that can be used for everything from corporate sites to ecommerce sites to social networking sites. The backend of Drupal is incredibly simple, with logically organized links to create new content, manage accounts, and edit existing content. One of Drupal’s nicest features is their “Book Page” content type. These pages can be grouped into collections, referred to as books, which are automatically linked together. This is a huge advantage if working with this kind of content. Drupal doesn’t have a WYSIWYG editor in the core installation, but there is a module to add the functionality.

The amount of functionality available in the backend is astounding, especially considering how easy it is to access it all. Drupal has tons of modules available, too, to add functionality beyond basic content management. There really are plugins to be able to do just about anything you could think of. The code output by Drupal is a bit more complex than some simpler CMSs, but still relatively semantic and easy to decipher.

Drupal has a huge user community with forums both on the main development site and elsewhere. There’s also extensive documentation for end-users and developers.

10. CMS Made Simple

When they say “Made Simple,” they really mean it. CMS Made Simple was the first CMS I ever used. I literally set up my first CMS-powered website in the course of a single evening (with a customized but out-of-the-box template). It includes complete template support, an incredibly easy-to-use backend, and an unlimited content hierarchy. There’s support for “global content blocks” (called snippets in a lot of other CMSs) and plenty of options for site layout. There’s also access to help files right from the backend, including the wiki, IRC and forums. This is another CMS with no built-in WYSIWYG editor, but there is a plugin to add that functionality.

The pages output by CMS Made Simple are all XHTML and CSS compliant in addition to being clean and quick-loading. The core installation has all the basic content functionality you’d need, with plugins available to add most other functionality, with one exception: there doesn’t currently appear to be an ecommerce plugin for the platform.

There’s good documentation available for CMSMS. There’s also extensive support options, including IRC and forums.

Author: Cameron Chapman

Cameron Chapman is a writer, blogger, copyeditor, and social media addict. She’s been designing for more than six years and writing her whole life. If you’d like to connect with her, you can follow her on Twitter or at her Personal Website.

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There’s another big option: wikis. Projects like MediaWiki and Dokuwiki have become very powerful. A lot of sites out there are just wikis in disguise.

I just wanted to give TypoLight some love, since it hasn’t been mentioned in the comments yet. As a purely front-end developer, I actually found it quite easy and intuitive to get into. I am still amazed at how it is able to balance being a CMS that’s set up the way I think, and yet is still very simple for a client to use. Moreover, the amount of available addons are perfect — every one is potentially useful and well-made. Contrast this with trying to browse plugins for, say, Drupal, and having to sift through tons of garbage to… Read more »
Sunny Singh

I personally don’t use any CMS since my site is for my spare time but I do use custom PHP functions, core css file, and MooTools for an easier experience when building new pages.

I however use WordPress for my blog, and am thinking of using some sort of CMS for my labs/developer section I’m working on.

The ability to customize anything and use your own template is a big one for me though, if a CMS can’t offer you that then it’s usually worthless. Also I’m ashamed that Joomla uses tables.

There are actually two options available for e-commerce plugins in CMS Made Simple. Each option has a main module with a subset of child modules that allows you to build the system you need. The first Parent module is Shop Made Simple. While I am not familiar with that option I am familiar with the second which is based off of the “Products” module. It allows other modules to be integrated in with Products that allows for a single Cart or Multiple Baskets, Order Processing, 2 tax modules, a few shipping modules and a handful of Payment Gateways. You can… Read more »

Where’s the modx? It might take a little more set-up and learn time, but every layout is 100% customisable, and the functionality you can create is limitless in comparison

Twibies Admin

Excellend article. I love wordpress though…


I have yet to use another system that is as robust, flexible and functionally-sound as Silverstripe. I’ve used all but three of these CMSs listed in this article, including a number of the ones listed in comments, and nothing beats Silverstripe.

For a quick, simple and easy CMS implementation I’d also recommend JAWS.


WordPress is the best…but i think drupal is also getting popular now a days


Thanks for the great, at-length post…you must have really been around the block with CMS packages! Though I confess I can’t see myself abandoning WordPress any time soon, it’s good to read about the alternatives.

Fabio Paoleri

I recently discovered perch (http://grabaperch.com/): it doesn’t have all the features of a larger cms, but it’s great to update the contents of a website.

Maxim Sites designer

I’m create sites with ModX CMS.
This system is really flexible and even has its drawbacks


What are the drawbacks to MODx?


Drawbacks: You should have some knowledge of html and css.


Drawbacks: You need to know how to use their system, a.k.a. snippets, chunks, and creating your own plugins in php if they’re not yet available in the community. The GUI and who setup isn’t exactly as user friendly as wordpress either. This means you will definitely have to look at the manual more the a few times.


If the site is for photographer’s portfolio, where users need to upload many photos into the photo gallery, what is my best option? any suggestion please?

For the last millennium or so (ok, for the last 9 years), I’ve used Gallery by Menalto and it is excellent for managing large numbers of photos. There are many themes available and you can restrict albums by username/passwords. There are also plugins to allow printing on certain services (say one you have an affiliate id with), or you can watermark images on the fly. It offers a lot of different ways of uploading — you can upload through a web form, a java web application, a java desktop app, or an integration with Windows printing/publishing wizard. It also integrates… Read more »

I started with WordPress and for simple blogger and users it’s by far the best and the most stable one. I ended up migrating to for more functionality, usability and control. The fact that Drupal out of the box has CLEAN URLs in its core system is a big winner for me as a SEO friendly.


The best discussion on CMS I found on the net after a day on the subject. Thank you.
However, I still cannot make my mind about which one to choose for the websites I am going to develop.
WordPress for the simple ones; EE, Drupa or Joomla for complex ones (a lot of them!); But for medium size and complexity ones??? I’ll have first a look at MODx which seem to have many fans.

domy nad morzem

nice punch of stuff


Shouldn’t MODx be on the list?


Hey. I recently started using ocPortal, as it’s a great CMS, and many people have never heard of it, unfortunately. It’s definitely right up there with Drupal or WordPress, and maybe even better IMO. It has a huge amount of customization, and is very easy to use. The downside is that not a whole lot of plugins or themes are developed for it, since not many people know about it. But right out-of-the-box, it has a large amount of features, so many plugins that would be a necessity for other CMS’s aren’t needed for OCP.


hey i was trying to get into drupal. I learnt quite a bit and had MANY sleepless nights learning it. But my main concern is that DRUPAL is number 9 on your list. Y is this so?

I thought drupal was the most powerful CMS and many sites say DRUPAL is better than JOOMLA as well.

Please shed some light. Obviously you say WordPress is the way to go.

Lee Jorgensen

Good common sense overview. Thanks. Why isn’t Modx on the list?

David Hobbs

Your Rule #1 is the most important (and appropriately at the #1 spot!). I would go further and say that aside from defining the primary purpose, but defining in some detail what your primary use cases would be helpful when doing a complex site. Complex sites may require a CMS outside those that you list as examples here.

Glen German
CMS are the new OS. Everyone has their favorites and will defend them to the end. Personally, I have tried most on the list, and with most you can tell that they are made by developers. By that, I mean that they all try to install their own lingo, typical universal terms are flipped on their collective heads, and the designing of them is extremely difficult unless you know PHP. The one I have yet to try, yet am extremely intrigued by because it is always left off the list, yet people clamor for it to be mentioned is MODx.… Read more »

I wonder why Drupal is so low on the list. I always hear about people saying you have to go in and get your hands dirty with code, but nothing could be further fromm the truth. I work with Drupal every day, and any time I need to make any necessary changes, there is always some documentation somewhere, especially on Drupal.org to walk me through the process.

Well… we use a proprietary CMS called SpiritWeb that is pretty much completely unknown to the world at large. http://www.spiritwebsolutions.com As far as I can tell it scores pretty high compared to all the above alternatives. Also – please correct me if Im wrong – I think ours is the only system that has built in ‘granular security’ where every single file or folder has its own access settings. Its written in asp and has a lot of other security features. For business purposes I would think that the list above should have included security issues. I guess we are… Read more »

Usability seems to be the recurring theme. :)

Compass CMS is a great one from the usability perspective.


Hi Cameron,

Usefull article for choosing among different CMSs.
Very nice article.

Keith Davis

WordPress for me, I’ts the market leader, lots of documentation and… it’s the only one I know how to use!

Perhaps the admin area is a bit complex but if we use your guideline…

“Could my mother use this?” My mother is your typical business computer user. She can do spreadsheets, word processing, and email.

Your mother is a bit more proficient than mine, but using your criteria, WordPress fits the bill.


Thanks for the article and the cms list. It’s a good decision help, when you have to choose a cms.


Thank you very much for this post! I’ve been looking around for a CMS to build websites for clients because a lot of my clients want to be able to update their sites easily.

WordPress was my first consideration but it takes too much tweaking to get away from the blog feel.

Now I have many options to choose from so off I go!

Sandino Núñez

Excellent post…I used to work with WordPress but I will try with cmsMS because is simpler and It does not look like a blog (wordpress does)…

great job!.

Sandino (Montevideo-Uruguay)


Hi guys,

I’m very new to WordPress, but am impressed by the plugins. However, slightly off-topic, but I’ve created a CMS that contains a few of these features either as standard, or as a plugin.

An online demo and a free, downloadable version will be available very soon and can be seen at http://scottjarvis.com. I’d be interested to know how it compares for anyone who is familiar with wordpress. Thanks.


thanks for your topic

Virgil Huston
Any article like this that doesn’t list TYPO3 is suspect. It means the author is speaking from what they know, but not from a point of authority. TYPO3 is hands down the most powerful open source CMS available. That is why the learning curve is high. The only real competitor on this list is Drupal. WordPress and Joomla are not in the same class, TYPO3 is enterprise level software fully capable of handling mission critical sites with millions of page views a month. Joomla and WordPress are very popular, and they should be among certain audiences and I recommend WordPress… Read more »
Flash CMS

Thanks for the great article. I agree with Cameron, that CMS greatly simplifies your work with your website, and provides an opportunity to easily update its content.


Joomla doesnt use tables anymore since 10.000 years ago….

Singapore Web Design

wow, comprehensive and useful guide to most of the CMS available. I personally use TYPO for some of our client projects and find it to be very extensive CMS.

Merlin Mason

Currently working on a photography portfolio site for a client using the cargocollective CMS. Amazingly simple and lots of scope for customisation. Definitely recommend it for anything with a lot of image based content.


excellent post! i’m a typolight user and it is really easy to use.

In search of a good cms I’ve tried almost all of the ones mentioned here. Most of the larger ones (like joomla) have been far too complicated. I couldn’t even get a site working fully before handing over to a client. Granted there are some things these systems can do which others can’t, but really if I ever need to do those things maybe I’ll spend the time learning one of those cmss. I tried modx and if I could figure out how to get started maybe I’d be ok. But there was little documentation and I couldn’t do a… Read more »

I suggest http://pluxml.org/, light, fast and transportable.


Check out the Open Source CMS Award by Packt Publishing


Irfan Ahmad (Isfan)

Wonderful post,



nice article but not as informative as it should be. typo3 is a must have in your check list of cms. there is no other cms written in php which is as powerful as typo3!

get it, learn it, try it, love it…



Wonderful post


The idea of choosing WordPress as a CMS is great because of its excellent functionality and ease. Still i feel if you are looking for WordPress as a CMS make sure you choose the best Magazine theme which has less loops otherwise you might end up with a slow running wordpress site.


Good stuff, Great read!


Nice article. Since you’re talking about cms’s , I figured I’d let you know that I just released Serene CMS. There’s no template engine to learn no or themes to use. You simply add content, and add one line of code in your PHP file wherever you want the content to show up. It also has a link groups feature that allows you to create unlimited sets of links that can be outputted in a page as a group of list items eg. top links, sidebar links, etc. Check it out at http://demo.serenecms.com. This isn’t spam or anything–just letting you… Read more »

I’ve tried the demos for many of these and from a template makers point of view none are as flexible as CMS Made Simple and it does come with a wysiwyg and many modules to build eCommerce.


Great article, will you be doing one for forum/discussion scripts too ?


Great Article!
excellent case study,very resourceful and informative,I really appreciate the information you are offering in this post on tips for choosing perfect CMS.
Thanks for sharing
keep up the great work

CMS Developer

Don’t forget that there is also another good solution, an easy and simple asp.net C# cms: http://www.gosimplecms.com



Bonjour !!! Voici mon CMS “FLAHS” FAIT MAISON !!
LIEN : http://www.benjaminbini.com/CMS

Alors !?

Henry Lewkowicz

Are there any CMS systems that offer summarization? It would be useful to have a look at the keywords and key sentences first before reading the full text.


Thanks for the article it will help us a lot in CMS Decision making

Paragon Visual

This is a very useful article. I’m surprised to see http://mahara.org/ not on the list. It’s great for sharing your portfolio online with other users.

Website Design

What no Modx CMS? or Magento…

Think you need to do more research to get the full list as the above 2 CMS are top 5 for sure

Riad Meknes

those are realy the best CMSs on the web thank you for the share :)

Dave W.

I am suprised at the Joomla hate here. I have tried them all, and usually come back to it for bigger sites. I use WP for blog-centric sites, and Joomla is my go to site for full-blown CMS requirements. I never really liked Drupal, due to the poorly organized back-end. With the addition of addons like K2, and content overrides, Joomla really is a powerful full-featured CMS.

I’m all about Drupal. I’ll use WordPress for small sites when a client needs a CMS, but it’s not great when they need a ton of functionality (especially tons of linked, aggregated sections and e-commerce – Drupal panels, views and taxonomy FTW!). Any other time a CMS is needed I use Drupal. From blogs, to news feeds, to photo galleries, even Youtube-clone video galleries (where they upload avi/mpg/divx movies that get converted to flv and play on a native flash player), social networking, user profiles, e-commerce, and more. Drupal is one sexy beast. The only things Drupal does lack, especially… Read more »

WordPress is a great overall solution. It could work for almost any website, with its numerous strengths and few weaknesses.


Until recently I thought that Joomla would beat WordPress, however, after the release of WordPress 3.0 I think now WordPress is the winner.
Here are my top reasons for that.

Do you agree with me?



We’ve started using http://www.easycmslite.com for our websites. Its easy to use, doesn’t confuse us and does a pretty good job at SEO right out of the box.


So if you have a very well visited newspaper website with over 10 million pageviews a day, what would be the right choice? We now use enscenic, which doesn’t make me very happy…


I have used Drupal and found the learning curve to be very steep, I can’t stress that enough. That said it is very powerful and does have a very active community. Does anyone have any suggestions/recommendations for a CMS that can be used to build a Project Management system for a medium sized company?



thank you for your very helpful post.
Just one question:
do you know Liferay?
What do you think of it?


A magazine-based website I know has a Liferay CMS. It’s been a nightmare for them. Slow as hell, required extensive customization and very difficult to maintain. They’re moving to a new CMS, either WP, Drupal or Plone.


NB: TYPOlight has been renamed to Contao recently.


Thank you, too! Your blog is quite good and filled with interestinmg informations.
Have anyone tested web to date 6.0? I tried the shareware, but 10 days was not enough for me.


I find it somewhat strange that some relatively heavy CMSes like Drupal and Joomla! are mentioned here, but Plone was not: Plone would be a better choice than several of these. But it would be hard to argue against WordPress’s overall ease of setup and use.


nice article! wordpress is really great, one thing that i having problem with cms is its hard to create a theme of your own. and the documentation is just too hard to understand, maybe someone can enlighten me with this issue..or help me! im learning WP and contao cms.thanks!

Andy Waldrop
Sitegrinder3 is an amazing CMS that is very easy to use. Full gallery controls (including editing flash galleries), can do eCommerce, and gives users all of the SEO controls you will ever need. Tutorial videos that install with the CMS make teaching clients how to use it a breeze. THE CMS has no database therefore it is free from injection attacks. We’ve used WordPress, Drupal, DotNetNuke, and Expression Engine in the past. All of these are good options but all require slicing your design and coding out CSS and HTML, then installing your CMS system. SiteGrinder 3 is auto-installed when… Read more »
Jet Black

There is no easier CMS than typeroom (www.typeroom.com). Your client cannot go wrong with this tool!! Just think Adobe Contribute but without the software installation.

Otherwise my vote goes with WordPress as its support is exhaustive. In answer to ‘teachsanjay’s’ question, I recommend getting friendly with child themes for WP.


All are intuitive back end? That may be true only for you, but not objective.


How can I avoid the phishing in wordpress?


I personally like WordPress and GetSimple (because is not using a database).

Martin (#2)

WordsPress do use a db …
And CMS made simple would be simple, if it wasn’t the installation …


Yeah wp uses db. I haven’t used GetSimple but it’s hard to imagine it not using a db as well =)


great article – thank you!


I love Joomla, because all the sites are made to grow, and Joomla is the best cms for this reason. What about liferay?


After reading this, I had to go back and see how old this article was… Now I’m shocked to find it is relatively recent! Joomla? Drupal? (admittedly, the latter is better than the former… But still!)

The best I’ve found, and am now extremely passionate about is Concrete5 — http://www.concrete5.org/r/-/1352

I’m not, btw, endorsing it for any financial gain… It is free and open source. Take a look, try it out… You’ll never look back, guaranteed!


Both Drupal and Joomla are continuosly updated with new versions are they not? I know that Drupal 7 is soon to come, not sure about Joomla.

Thanks for Concrete, will look into it!


Joomla! already have its 1.6 RC1 version. It has a lot of improvement on content categorization, ACL and many more. The problem is, I don’t know when I’m going to use it again since I’m already satisfied with Drupal and WordPress.


I totally agree, I did the same and checked the post date. Concrete5 is a favourite of mine too!


This post does to do a good service to those that are looking at simple CMS for small business – but does not really give much info for those that are looking for a solution for mid-large biz. On the note of not having a lot of extra functionality you’ll never use – it seems the problems is that often people to do not know why or how they should use this “extra” functionality. If you’re looking to understand what to look for in a larger CMS, check this out http://oshyn.com/landingpages/selecting-right-cms


Nice article, a cms which I have used extensively which allows easy use of php which is often a problem with wordpress is modx. I have done several sites with it. It is easy to install and if you have a static site already takes about 30 mins to get up and working. Its light weight and fast too. Really handy when a blog isn’t the central need for a site.
Take a look at it http://www.modxcms.com

Mark Hamstra

Agreed! :)

The easy templating and the package manager (download+install of extras via the backend) are the biggest selling points for me.

Irfan Suleman

WordPess is the best :)


Squarespace, hands down. I’m surprised it’s not listed here and frankly, placed well above the beloved WordPress. But then again, I was shocked when I read there might be an estimated 1700 CMS platforms out there :| Yikes!! Way too many cooks in the kitchen!


Neat list of CMS’s, I was surprised to see TextPattern in there but I totally agree – it is very nice, especially because of it’s extreme light weight. There is also a good community developing it further. They launched a new layout etc. for it =)

If you like Radiant CMS you might want to look into RefineryCMS (http://refinerycms.com/) which is a RoR CMS with devoted developers, always attending IRC for questions or bug fixes. Open source and free of course.

Merri Sherr

Seriously! I’ve been researching google all night due to this and that i lastly think it is below!


Thanks for very good article.

Does enyone has any succeston of a good CMS platform for site which includes multi lingual content (differen languages might have different content and structure), site should have also real estate section (though real estate is not the main business of the site).

Wi Wa


Tribiq is about the only multi lingual cms I’ve found, and is quite good. There’s also a fork of cms made simple that has a ml version but don’t think its developed any more.


IzzyWebsite definitely deserves a look, it installs itself to ftp, no database and a lot of modules built-in.


Very insightful. I’ve been getting ready to launch a blog site for our magazine so we can develop conversations with our audience. Thanks!


Just got this link from a co-worker. This is really nice for those of us (myself included) who are trying to figure out which cms is the best for us. Thanks you Cameron!


CMSMS (made simple), is seriously simple to design for. If you are looking to make bespoke sites, and not just pander to the templates, there really is no easier CMS.


i love joomla,thanks for this page…

If the article is for picking a CMS that you can leave to the client to run then a few of the “recommended” CMS programs I’d leave off. One is Drupal. I use Drupal because, as a programmer, I can tweak it to my heart’s content. In fact, many refer to Drupal as a programmer’s CMS. It’s easy to modify functionality, build my own modules for added functionality, and create a variety of template files for thematic display. However, if I was not a programmer and/or slow to learn, Drupal would not be the way to go. That being said,… Read more »
Another vote for Concrete5. A big problem with all these CMSs is that they have a steep learning curve – Drupal and Joomla especially because of all the terminology and concepts you have to adopt in order to understand why things have been laid out the way they have. I’m a developer with a view to making my clients’ lives easier, not just my own, which is why Concrete5 has replaced the majority of platforms I used previously (Joomla, WordPress, Drupal, EE and CMSMadeSimple etc.). It’s easier for both the client and you as a developer – theming especially. My… Read more »
I have been using Concrete5 for the last 6 months and it blows away not only most open source CMS systems, but also a lot of commercial CMS systems. I have used products that range in price from 5000USD to 100000USD. Concrete5 delivers the core functionality to a higher standard and is much easier for content editors to get up to speed with. It’s easily extendible and delivers a lot of stuff like blogs, social media etc out of the box. We really rate it at yellow frog, the developers love it, the clients love it (and can use it),… Read more »

Nice compilation. Thanks for the article.
Here is another .net Cloud CMS solution which has almost 30+ built in modules.
For more detail : http://www.jaenovationcms.com

Yasir Imran

My vote goes for WordPress, Joomla is good too, but a little heavy and slow. BTW, you added a picture of Joomla 1.0. While Joomla 1.5 is there from long time.


Roll your own website, not hard to pick up after learning the CMS’s listed here.

Suggest reading Larry Ullmans book “PHP Effortless E-Commerce” and David Powers “PHP Solutions: Dynamic Web Design Made Easy”

After you make your own, you have 100% design freedom.

Marky Mark

You should take a look at RapidCMS. It’s still new, but is really powerful and extremely simple. Clients love it.


I’ve been using Drupal 6 for about 6 months now and I must say this is the best cms around. It has a huge community, great modules (extensions) with constant support. You can even create applications with it. The only downside of it is it’s not intuitive and takes some time to learn, but – It’s worth it.


I would agree that Drupal is THE most powerful CMS out there. However, I would disagree with this article that the backend is easy to use. Drupal 7 will be much easier than 6. You really cannot be a novice at coding to set up a well-functioning Drupal site.
I would also add that it has an incredible shopping cart addon (Ubercart) that is almost as powerful as paid shopping carts.
If you are looking for ease of use (especially building sites for clients) you really can’t go wrong with WordPress.


I don’t know how long it took you to review all them CMS but my hats off to you, it’s one of the best articles I have ever read.


Great article, would love to have my cms here listed as well. After more then two years working on it, with the main goal to make it as easy to use as possible, I believe many people will love it!

Jérôme -> JAKCMS

Jason Chandler

Another to add to the list is Halogy (http://halogy.com). This is a fantastic CMS built on top of CodeIgniter. Check it out!