21 Alternatives to WordPress

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Anyone who works with WordPress, either from a strict blogging point of view, as a marketer or even as a developer knows it’s a powerful tool.

However, even though WordPress powers about 25% of all websites out there, it isn’t perfect.

Having grown from a blogging platform to a CMS (Content Management System) it has a whole bunch of baggage.

It can take a while to learn from a newbie point of view, is often criticised for trying to do too much and yet still misses some features that other CMS’ have.

On the flip side, WordPress is powerful! It has the backing of a lot of smart people, and an ecosystem of quality themes and plugins.

Why Swap From WordPress?

Even with its issues, WordPress is perfectly fine for most people. For marketers, it’s often considered ideal as the CMS can allow you to install the same familiar software and yet change its hat – one site a pure blog, another an e-commerce site, another a forum, yet another a corporate site and so on.

Why then would anyone ever consider changing?

#1 Spam and Hacks

Anything that becomes popular becomes a target. Moving to a lesser known CMS might (might!) reduce hack attempts.

#2 You Want Less Overhead

Lots of features combined with an ideology to support all previous versions create a lot of overhead. Does your site really need you to have all those features? If not, moving to a simpler CMS can help reduce admin clutter and perhaps improve site speed by reducing code bloat.

#3 You Want Better Support

Don’t get me wrong, WordPress support is awesome, but it’s run by volunteers, and sometimes you may struggle to get the support you actually need, in a timely manner. By changing to a premium CMS platform you get support in bundles.

#4 You Want It Easy

WordPress prides itself on being easy to use, but let’s be realistic here: it isn’t. Once you get past the learning curve it is, but that curve can be steep in the beginning. A lot of other CMS’ and blogging platforms make it super easy to get started.

What are the Alternatives?

There are a lot of different CMS’ and platforms out there to choose from, but here is a list of the 21 top WordPress alternatives.

#1 Blogger

Blogger

Blogger has been around for years and is a blogging service provided by Google.

It is really easy to use and surprisingly provides a reasonable amount of features, from a commenting system, to social sharing, and built in templates.

You can even use a private domain which is nice, as using mysite.blogger.com is only good if you don’t care about making money.

Pros

  • Free
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to monetize with adverts

Cons

  • Not been updated so may face the Google axe
  • Limited control

#2 CMS Made Simple

CMS Made Simple

This is a CMS you may not have heard of but has been around for a while now. Its primary focus is on speed, and it does that well, but with a small (but loyal) following, the number of themes is few. As such you may need to get your hands dirty in order to create a custom look.

Pros

  • Open Source
  • Free
  • Light weight
  • Has plugins and themes

Cons

  • Awkward to develop for (uses its own templating language)
  • Small amount of themes/plugins
  • Requires PHP 5.4 or higher

#3 Craft CMS

Craft CMS

Craft was created by developers Pixel & Tonic, who are best known for Expression Engine addons.

This CMS has been designed to avoid the bloat which other larger CMS’ tend to have. Its feature set is quite robust including live previews, one click updates, in built “builder, and more.

Craft has garnered a large following and even though its pricing might not work for some projects (such as membership sites) it should be on your consideration list.

Pros

  • Free
  • Easy to use
  • Focuses on content

Cons

  • Costs if your building a site for clients or want a membership site

#4 Drupal

drupal

One of the big guns in the CMS world, Drupal has a lot of features and is a serious contender when considering an alternative to WordPress.

It powers some of the most popular websites out there including Oxfam, Fox, London.gov.uk, The White House and many more.

It’s a fully featured CMS, but if you’re looking to avoid bloat then maybe look elsewhere.

Pros

  • Free
  • Lots of modules (plugins)
  • Regular updates
  • Huge community

Cons

  • Few themes compared to WordPress
  • Bloated
  • Updates can be difficult
  • Not great for custom sites
  • Big learning curve

#5 Expression Engine

Expression Engine

One of the few CMS’ on this list that is primarily a premium offering. Sure it offers a free version, but it is so feature light as to be useless. The premium version of Expression Engine costs a fair bit, but in return you get a fully featured and powerful CMS.

EE offers your standard content publishing, and SEO features, as well as analytics, templates. Anti-spam features and customer support.

Pros

  • Easy to use and non-technical
  • Easy to make a customised site
  • Has thousands of addons
  • Can scale

Cons

  • Free version has very few features
  • Not cheap
  • Still has fewer addons than WordPress

#6 Ghost

ghost

Ghost was Kickstarted with the idea of bringing WordPress back to basics, to cut through all the bloat and fluff, and produce a kick-ass blogging platform.

It provides a wonderful experience for both readers and writers alike and is simple to use.

Installing it on the other hand isn’t so simple and unless your host has a built in installer, non-technical folk should steer clear.

As Ghost focuses on the blogging experience, creating a blog is a joy. Sadly, that benefit means that creating any other type of site is impossible.

Pros

  • Simple
  • Easy to use
  • Focuses on content

Cons

  • Too simple for anything other than blog style websites
  • Pain to self host

#7 Google Sites

google sites

Another offering from Google, Google Sites allows you to create basic sites quickly, easily and for free.

From a marketing or business point of view, they may not be ideal and certainly don’t match the other offerings when it comes to features.

Perhaps useful for satellite sites, but that’s about it.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Free
  • Has a (limited) permissions system

Cons

  • Very limited feature wise
  • Limited template options

#8 IM Creator

IM Creator

IM Creator allows you to get a good looking and professional looking site built very quickly. It uses a “polydom” builder system, which takes all the necessity of HTML and CSS out of the equation.

Unlike some other CMS’ it has a built in E-commerce system which is great to see. The CMS allows you to take control of the different aspects of your site and content and provides 70+ good looking themes to get you started.

It’s not all roses though as the simplicity it offers can mean you have fewer customization options available to you, but for a basic, blog or business site, IM Creator has a lot to offer.

Pros

  • Beautiful looking templates
  • Easy to use
  • Drag and Drop editor
  • E-commerce built in
  • Hosted
  • Can use your own domain

Cons

  • Costs a monthly or annual fee
  • Limited customization
  • Template count is still limited

#9 Jekyll

Jekyll

The fastest sites you can create are static HTML websites, no bells and no whistles. Jekyll takes this idea once step further and allows you to add plain text content and turn it into a website.

This CMS is not for the faint hearted, in fact its design is geared towards developers and power users with no fear of the command line.

Pros

  • Free
  • Creates fast websites

Cons

  • Complicated to use for non-developers
  • Virtually no features
  • Impossible to add in ecommerce or anything complicated

#10 Jimdo

jimdo

As site builders go Jimdo is focused on personal sites and small business sites. It has a decent number of features, but most of those are only active for premium users. Luckily the pricing is at least affordable, with the top tier only being €15 a month (about $20 bucks).

Pros

  • WYSIWYG editor
  • Affordable pricing

Cons

  • Limited templates
  • Limited space for free users
  • Free option has ads

#11 Joomla

joomla

Another heavy weight in the CMS world, Joomla has been around for 10 years or so and has the feature set to prove it.

If there’s a rival to WordPress, then Joomla is it. It offers pretty much every feature that WordPress has and probably a few extra to boot.

It has a strong template and addon library and has built in features that WordPress users can only get via plugins, such as advanced permissions and caching.

If you’re already a WordPress user, swapping to Joomla is likely pointless as it’s just another learning curve for essentially the same features.

Pros

  • Advanced feature set
  • Lots of templates and addons

Cons

  • Large learning curve
  • Can seem more technical to use

#12 Magento

Magento

If you’re looking for a pure e-commerce solution rather than a CMS, then give Magento a look.

As it focuses primarily on the commerce side of things, Magento offers a wealth of features that modern online business need: payment gateways, inventory, shipping, coupons, carts , etc.

As well as the built in features, there’s also a large extension library as well.

Pros

  • E-commerce beast!
  • Large extension library
  • Free version available

Cons

  • Templates are a bit crappy
  • Support means an expensive licence
  • Requires a beefy server to run
  • Not easy to customise

#13 Medium

medium

Launched in 2012, Medium has become a haven for writers looking to showcase their words in an easy to use and beautiful way.

It’s not a true CMS, as it focuses on blogging and it does that well. It has a minimalist writing area and even the comments system is minimalist: it uses inline notes rather than the traditional comment list.

With its popularity, content on the platform can certainly do well.

However, as an alternative to WordPress it doesn’t perform so well. It has very few features and can only be used for blogging. As well as that, there’s currently no way to brand yourself there.

It is however perfect for offsite content.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Awesome writing experience
  • People can see your content without you marketing it

Cons

  • No control
  • No designs
  • Blogging only
  • Not brandable

#14 Perch

Perch

Perch is designed as a way to turn HTML sites into CMS’. As such it’s a very light weight CMS. If you have a HTML site that you want to update without having to edit files or want a way to create light and lightning fast sites, then Perch might be the way to go.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Light weight
  • Perfect for managing HTML websites

Cons

  • No built in features like ecommerce
  • Small community
  • Requires you to do the initial design of the site

#15 Shopify

shopify

Like Magento, Shopify focuses primarily on building online stores. It provides all the basics any online business will need, and even has a reasonable amount of good looking themes.

Pros

  • Lots of ecommerce features
  • Lots of gateways

Cons

  • They set the processing fee rates
  • And they charge a monthy fee

#16 Squarespace

Squarespace

A site builder, Squarespace makes it easy to get a decent business or personal website built and online.

It offers a lot of features, including templates and allows you to modify them. It isn’t a CMS though so you are limited to what features Squarespace currently offers.

Pros

  • Good looking templates
  • Built in e-commerce
  • Easy to modify templates with its drag and drop builder

Cons

  • No control
  • Limited templates
  • Costs a monthly fee

#17 Statamic

Statamic

This CMS is interesting as it offers dynamic content, but without a database. This makes sites built with it much faster as there is no time wasted querying a database.

Pros

  • Allows fast and dynamic sites

Cons

  • Costs quite a bit
  • Limited addons
  • No templates
  • Requires templating language

#18 Textpattern

Textpattern

In a lot of ways you can describe Textpattern as a simpler version of WordPress: it’s open source, it’s free, it’s a CMS.

While it has a small following, they’re a loyal bunch. From a general point of view though, Textpattern has a small theme library of just over 150, and a plugin library of (surprisingly) 750+.

Pros

  • Open source
  • Free
  • Fast

Cons

  • Small community
  • Comparatively small number of themes and plugins

#19 Tumblr

tumblr

Tumblr is a popular and free blogging platform. You can use either free and premium templates, though the free ones tend to be quite poor.

It’s feature light with no plugin system, making it perfect for basic blogs but little else.

Pros

  • Free
  • Easy to use
  • Access to other like-minded bloggers

Cons

  • Overly simple
  • No control
  • No plugins or extensions
  • Owned by Yahoo

#20 Weebly

weebly

A hosted website builder that supplies pre-built templates and allows you to modify them via its drag and drop builder. It’s easy to use but the number of templates is limited (about 100) and is designed for basic blogs or static business websites.

Pros

  • Free for basic sites (subdomain only)

Cons

  • Monthly cost, even just to have your own domain name
  • Limited features
  • No control
  • No plugins or addons

#21 Wix

wix

Wix is designed to make creating a website easy. It provides access to hundreds of pre made templates to make this easier.

Its drag and drop builder allows you to modify the templates quite easily.

As with most hosted website solutions, Wix has limited features when compared to self-hosted options like WordPress.

Pros

  • Hundreds of templates
  • Drag and drop editor
  • E-commerce option
  • Quite large app (plugin) market

Cons

  • No control or ownership
  • Adverts unless you pay
  • Monthly fee to get most features
  • E-commerce system is quite basic

The Bottom Line

I’m a WordPress fan, so I will always recommend it. Sure it has its issues, but overall it provides a solid web platform that’s continually being updated and improved.

On the other hand, your needs will vary and perhaps an alternative to WordPress is just what you need.

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