Indispensable when it comes to having an effective site that has good SEO, a website CMS helps a business organise and curate all the content that it publishes on its site – from blogs and webpages to the images and videos on your site.
They can feel complicated or technical, and there is often a lot of jargon surrounding CMS’, but in reality, they are just ways of keeping the back end of your website nice, neat, and tidy. Due to their importance, the ability to collate content is big business and plenty of businesses make millions of pounds a year offering CMS for customers.
So, in this blog, we’re going to break down 12 of the biggest website CMS’, describe them, and look at their pros, and cons, and why they may (or may not) be perfect for your business.
By the end of this guide, we hope you’ve found the right one for your website. If, on the other hand, you’re still a bit confused and would rather work with a business that can sort it all for you and manage your website to an incredibly high grade then why not get in touch with us today instead? You can call us on 0161 327 2635 or email [email protected].
What is a Website CMS?
A content management system is used as a system for websites to create, organise, and manage your website’s digital content. Usually, they support multiple users and bring many advantages for large businesses, such as cost savings, increased collaboration, and complete control of all content housed on the website.
A website CMS (Content Management System) platform lets you easily create a website without understanding any code. There are a wide variety of CMS options available, often leading to a struggle when it comes to choosing the best website CMS for your needs.
Over the rest of this post, we’ll be explaining why it’s so important to choose the right CMS platform for your website, and we’ll also share our top picks for the best CMS platforms along with a comparison.
How to Choose a CMS That Is Right for You
As mentioned, there are so many different CMS platforms out there, but, which one should you pick? Before comparing CMS platforms, it’s important to know what is featured within a good website CMS:
Ease of Use
- A CMS that makes it simple for you to edit and produce content is what you desire. To add various features to your pages, you frequently need a drag-and-drop interface.
- You should be able to quickly and easily edit the material on your website once it has been published.
- A wide selection of website design templates should be available in your CMS software.
- Also, you must be able to readily alter such designs to meet your needs (ideally without writing code).
- A great CMS platform should have tools for you to easily export your data and move it elsewhere.
- For instance, you may later decide to choose a different platform or a different hosting company.
- Data portability makes it easier for you to move around with complete freedom.
Extensions and Plugins
- Any capabilities or website requirements that are missing are fixed by extensions and plugins.
- These are independent programmes that you can simply install on your website CMS software to increase its functionality and add new features as necessary.
Help and Support Options
- Although CMS platforms aim to make building a website as straightforward as possible, you still might have some questions.
- Some CMS providers will have a handful of FAQs and a customer service team that’s painfully slow to respond.
- Others will have a big supportive community that can help you any time of the day or night.
What’s the Cost?
- Whilst some CMS platforms are entirely free, others may charge a monthly/annual fee.
- Even with free CMS platforms, you’ll often need to pay for third-party extensions, designs, and/or web hosting services.
To put it bluntly, there are thousands upon thousands of CMS available to businesses, and each has its own strengths depending on its use.
With those things in mind, let’s take a look at the 12 best website CMS platforms to choose from.
The world’s most popular website CMS software, it powers around 43% of all websites on the internet. An open source CMS, it was originally launched as a blogging website, but nowadays, due to its intuitive interface and website themes that are fairly simple to use, it’s now used for smaller businesses that are just building out their web strategy or have less experience with design.
For those of us who are tech-savvy web editors or developers, who require customisations to be added to a site, WordPress allows a number of plugins and other personalization opportunities.
On the other hand, WordPress.com is solely a blog hosting platform (more on this later).
- WordPress offers the flexibility and freedom to build any type of website.
- No technical skills or understanding of coding is actually needed. The WordPress block editor makes it really easy to create great-looking pages on your site.
- There are over 57,000 plugins in the official directory and around about 31,000 WordPress themes available for download or purchase from the official repository and third-party marketplaces – some free and some paid.
- WordPress is really well designed for search engine optimisation (SEO). It’s easy to create SEO-friendly URLs, categories, and tags for your posts.
- There’s a very supportive community around WordPress, as it’s an open-source CMS.
- WordPress offers a lot of extensibility and this is what leads to it being an ideal CMS platform for both beginners and developers alike.
- WordPress lets you download all your content in XML format, making it easy to move to a different system in the future if you choose to do so.
- You’ll need to set up your hosting and domain name, and you’ll be responsible for managing things like security and backups.
- Because WordPress offers so many options and so much flexibility, it can sometimes feel a little daunting when you’re getting started. This is why many beginners use drag & drop page builder plugins for WordPress.
- WordPress itself doesn’t cost anything to download.
- However, you’ll need a domain name (around £7 – £13 per year) and a hosting account with a web host that can run WordPress (normally from £6.99/month).
If you need some help getting your WordPress site started, be sure to get in touch, to find out how our Creative team can deliver you an exceptional website to be proud of.
WordPress.com is the commercial, hosted version of WordPress. This is in contrast to WordPress.org, which is open source, and a self-hosted version of WordPress.
There are differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org, in fact, WordPress themselves have given more information here.
With WordPress.com, you get an all-in-one CMS platform that’s hosted for you. However, in what can be seen as a break from the norm, whilst you can purchase a domain name, you can still use a free subdomain with WordPress.com branding!
- WordPress.com is easy to get started with. You can add and edit content easily, and beginners tend to find it a straightforward CMS to use.
- You can create a site with WordPress.com completely free of charge. You’ll probably want to pay for at least the cheapest plan, though, so you can use your own domain name.
- There are different themes (designs) available for your WordPress.com site. You can easily switch between these in your WordPress.com dashboard.
- As your site grows in size and popularity, you can upgrade to a new plan. There are lots of options, including a plan with eCommerce features.
- WordPress.com has built-in analytics, which means you can see statistics about how many people are visiting your site in your dashboard. This does mean you can’t use Google Analytics, though, unless you’re on a Business Plan.
- It’s quite straightforward to switch from WordPress.com to WordPress.org in the future if you decide to change to a more powerful and flexible website CMS.
- WordPress.com has limited monetisation options even with its business plan.
- You can’t add a custom domain name unless you pay for at least the cheapest paid plan.
- The number of plugins is limited compared to WordPress.org.
- You don’t have the same amount of freedom and control over a WordPress.com site that you’d have with WordPress.org.
- There is a free WordPress.com plan available, but if you’d like your own domain name (and you want to avoid WordPress putting ads on your website), you need to choose one of their paid plans.
Specifically designed for both marketers and business owners, the HubSpot CMS Hub is a fully integrated CMS.
Built on top of HubSpot’s CRM platform, CMS Hub is an ideal solution for growing businesses as well as large enterprises looking for an all-in-one system to manage their website, due to the inclusion of marketing automation and operations tools.
- The drag-and-drop editor, built-in SEO tools and contact attribution all make it easy to create and optimize your web content without technical skills and knowledge
- The editor features intuitive content features, that allow you to personalise your website page to specific visitors or larger segments.
- The CMS Hub comes with built-in security features — including a global CDN and Web Application Firewall along with a dedicated security team to keep your site safe from DDoS attacks, hackers, and other anomalies.
- HubSpot CMS seamlessly integrates with the HubSpot email CRM, so operational workflows can easily be streamlined.
- Currently, there isn’t a free version, but they do offer a free trial.
- This particular CMS isn’t as well suited for e-commerce websites as other CMS’.
- CMS Hub comes in three tiers: Starter, Professional and Enterprise.
- The best approach would be to use HubSpot’s free marketing tools, whilst also using WordPress as the CMS platform to build a website.
Joomla, yet another free open-source website CMS platform, is popular due to the numerous different templates and extensions that it comes with. As with the others before it, you’ll need hosting and a domain name. According to the WP Beginners CMS market share report, Joomla powers 1.72% of all websites across the world.
First introduced in 2005, Joomla’s been available for 18 years now. Despite being packed with features, arguably it’s really an ideal CMS for experienced developers and website creators, so many see this CMS as not such a good option for beginners.
- Joomla provides lots of flexibility and plenty of options, making it a strong option for those who are looking to build a site that is complicated or bespoke.
- Like WordPress, Joomla is open source, meaning there’s lots of community support available.
- Extensions are available which allow Joomla to run an e-commerce store.
- Joomla is known to be quite complex.
- There aren’t that many options for additional extensions outside the ones that are already available.
- Compared to a CMS such as WordPress, which has numerous themes and plugins available to extend the core functionality, Joomla is quite disappointing.
- If numerous different extensions and modules are installed, it can cause some compatibility issues.
- Joomla is once again free, but the costs will come from domain names and web hosting that support Joomla.
- Some extensions need to be paid for.
Shopify is another all-in-one hosted website CMS platform. Due to its reliable setup, you won’t need to buy hosting, install any software, or manage updates and backups.
It has a simple drag-and-drop interface and it also supports in-store sales, which is helpful for websites that support a brick & mortar store.
- Shopify features a renowned integrated payment solution – Shopify Payments, which allows websites on the platform to accept credit and debit cards.
- PayPal is also included as one of Shopify’s default payment providers.
- There are lots of extensions and themes available for Shopify. You can buy third-party Shopify apps that let you add all sorts of features to your online store.
- Shopify has 24/7 support through live chat, email, phone, and even Twitter. There’s also lots of documentation available (including written how-to guides and video tutorials) plus online forums.
- The costs can easily end up quite high. For websites that use a lot of third-party apps this is quite often the case.
- You may find that you want to add functionality that simply isn’t available: Shopify’s numerous apps are limited when compared to WordPress’s plugins.
- Shopify’s pricing plans are similar to BigCommerce’s options. There’s one major difference, though. Shopify doesn’t make you move up to the next plan based on a certain dollar figure in sales.
- The cheapest plan is $29/month. The most expensive is $299/month and includes more features. You get a discount for paying for a year upfront.
Another open-source CMS platform is Drupal. It is the CMS that powers numerous university websites.
For developers or those who can afford a developer, Drupal is a good alternative. It’s especially beneficial if you want to create a fully customised website that can manage a lot of data.
- Drupal makes adding content simple. There are many options and flexibility in the custom content kinds.
- There are numerous different modules that you can include on your website (these work like WordPress plugins).
- Help is offered through community support channels, much like other well-known systems like Joomla and WordPress.
- With a built-in system that allows you to establish new roles and define their rights, user management is simple.
- With Drupal, it can be tricky to figure out how to change the appearance of your site or add extras. It’s definitely not as beginner-friendly as WordPress.
- Most Drupal websites have a heavily customized theme created by a developer, which can be very expensive.
The same principles govern Wix and Squarespace. Although you must utilise a Wix subdomain, it varies from Squarespace because it offers a free CMS plan.
Despite its popularity, we frequently receive requests from clients asking them to migrate from Wix to WordPress because WordPress is unquestionably superior to Wix. Having said that, Wix is a very approachable, beginner-friendly CMS that may be worth taking into account if you are fresh to the world of website CMSs. It also provides a free plan!
- Wix’s drag-and-drop interface makes it really easy to create pages that look just how you want. You can select any part of your page and start editing it.
- At Wix, there are several pre-made templates to pick from. They are completely responsive and look fantastic on both computers and mobile devices.
- Through the Wix App Market, you can add a variety of apps to your website. They work similarly to WordPress plugins to add new features to your website.
- On Wix, you cannot switch to another template after making your selection. This can force you to use a layout that isn’t ideal for your website.
- You can’t run an eCommerce store on Wix unless you upgrade to a paid plan, and even then, you can only accept payments using PayPal or Authorize.net.
- Wix doesn’t allow you to easily download your data and export it. You can download your blog posts (though not your images) to move them, but if you have any pages on your site, you’ll need to copy and paste these manually. We have full instructions on how to move your Wix site to WordPress.
- If you’re using the free plan, you’ll have a Wix-branded domain name and ads on your site. The ads make money for Wix, not you.
- If you don’t mind having Wix-branded domain names and adverts on your website, you can use Wix for free. The premium plans begin at $13 per month and provide additional flexibility (paid upfront annually).
- You must spend at least $23 each month if you want to accept online payments (again, upfront annually).
BigCommerce is an all-in-one platform that is a fully hosted eCommerce platform. If you’re a newbie, getting started is simple.
BigCommerce offers the CMS platform itself as well as hosting for your website. It also takes care of backups and security for you.
- There is a trial plan available, so you may try out BigCommerce before deciding.
- BigCommerce offers free domain names that resemble mystore.mybigcommerce.com; alternatively, you can pay for a custom domain name.
- Using BigCommerce, you can accept payments in a variety of ways. Consumers have the option of paying using credit or debit cards or digital wallets like PayPal, Apple Pay, and Amazon Pay.
- If you want the best of both CMS platforms, you can utilise BigCommerce in conjunction with WordPress.
- BigCommerce doesn’t give you as much control over your store as WooCommerce. There are limited themes and integrations which may hold you back from using a third-party service to grow your business.
- Once your sales reach a certain threshold per year, you’ll be automatically moved up to the next level of the pricing plan. This could be difficult for you if you have a lot of expenses.
- You need to pay a monthly subscription to use BigCommerce, which means it’s not as cost-effective as some other solutions. With all the plans, you can save a bit of money by paying upfront annually instead of paying monthly.
- The cheapest pricing plan, Standard, is $29.95/month, for up to $50k/year of sales. The priciest is the Pro plan for $249.85/month, which will cover you up to $400k in sales. You’ll need to get a custom Enterprise plan after this.
WooCommerce is the most popular eCommerce platform in the world. It’s really flexible and it’s easy to manage.
WooCommerce isn’t technically a CMS platform itself. Instead, it runs as a plugin on WordPress, so you’ll need to have WordPress on your site in order to install WooCommerce.
If it was a CMS platform, though, it’d have 5.8% of the market share, according to W3Techs. That’s the percentage of all the websites in the world that use it.
- WooCommerce is available as free software, but you’ll need WooCommerce hosting and a domain name to get started.
- There are lots of WooCommerce themes available, which makes it really easy to get your site looking exactly how you want.
- WooCommerce has lots of available extensions (known as WooCommerce plugins) that let you add extra functionality to your site.
- You can sell physical or digital products using WooCommerce. You can even sell affiliate products through affiliate links.
- You can fully manage your inventory through WooCommerce, making it easy to keep track of what you have in stock.
- WooCommerce comes with PayPal and Stripe payments by default. You can also add any other payment gateways through extensions and add-ons.
- There are a lot of different options in WooCommerce, which can be a bit daunting when you’re new to setting up a website.
- WooCommerce technically works with any WordPress theme, but you may want to stick with themes made specifically for WooCommerce for extended support.
- The WooCommerce plugin itself is free, but you may need to pay for extra plugins and extensions for your online store.
- You’ll also need to pay for a domain name and a web hosting account. SiteGround and Bluehost are great web hosts to pick as they’ll install WooCommerce and the Storefront Theme for your site for you.
Adobe’s Magento is a sophisticated open-source eCommerce platform. Magento Open Source is a free version that you may download and set up on your own web hosting account.
You have the option to purchase Magento Commerce if preferred. Although it is hosted for you and comes with complete support, the cost is prohibitive.
- You may add more functionality to Magento using the many third-party extensions that are readily accessible.
- You may manage numerous goods and customers with Magento. It enables easy business expansion without causing your website to load slowly. (Your hosting package will likely need to be upgraded, though.)
- Magento is used by some incredibly well-known companies, such as Nike, Ford, and Coca-Cola.
- Magento may appear overwhelming if you’re just getting started in eCommerce.
- Finding competent Magento developers can be challenging, and hiring them can be highly expensive.
- The level of support can differ, especially if you use Magento Open Source and rely on internet forums for assistance.
- Costs for Magento Commerce are high. It’s so expensive, in fact, that the Magento website doesn’t even provide a price at first glance.
- Prices start at about $22,000 per year, which is beyond the means of many start-up enterprises. Yet it might be a choice to take into account if your established firm needs a strong eCommerce CMS platform.
- But a lot of bigger retailers are switching to WooCommerce, Shopify, or BigCommerce.
A ready-to-use solution for building just about any kind of website, Squarespace is so simple, anyone can make a website – physical store owners, professionals, bloggers, and artists.
It comes with intuitive social media and CMS marketing integrations, as well as a drag-and-drop builder, beautiful templates, and one of the cleanest dashboards you can find.
Whilst it doesn’t necessarily align with our CMS definition – it’s more of an online website builder – but this category of software is beginning to transition to become more of that, anyway.
- Squarespace is a hosted website builder, so you don’t need to purchase your own web hosting. Everything comes packaged in for a small monthly fee.
- Easy to use and build your own website within its backend.
- You’ll not need to worry about technicalities or wonder what is a content management system. Instead, you can focus on content creation and quick, easy CMS marketing.
- Squarespace is not a free CMS for website building; it’s a paid tool with subscription fees.
- Though you get to choose from a wide range of impressive templates and modules, you’re pretty much stuck with what you get.
All Things Considered, Which Is the Best Website CMS?
Having used a number of the CMS listed above, we at Embryo believe that WordPress.org is the best website CMS platform and website builder out there, and over 43% of all websites on the internet are powered by WordPress, suggesting that many people across the world agree with me on this one.
WordPress has everything you want in a perfect CMS platform. It’s easy to get started on, you can extend the functionality in almost any way you can think of using the near-infinite number of plugins.
Through WordPress, we, at embryo have created eCommerce stores, an online forum, lead generation sites, membership sites, marketplaces, and more!
Honestly, I’ve found that, if you have the vision there are no limits on what you can do with WordPress (it also doesn’t hurt if you have an experienced Creative team to implement the website vision), and if you find that you need more space for your site as it grows, you can easily upgrade your hosting to managed WordPress hosting company.
To get started with a WordPress site, be sure to get in touch, to find out how our Creative team can deliver you an exceptional website to be proud of.