WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world with statistics claiming around 60% market share. But big is not always beautiful or best. Some people are looking for an easier solution to build a site without coding knowledge, without having to worry about hosting, plugin updates, security, etc that all come with WordPress. So, for you to be able to choose the best for you, you need to carefully look at some of the alternatives out there. What they are, what are their advantages and disadvantages, and what they are especially suitable for. Once you’ve got the information for such an important choice then you can go ahead and make a decision.
We’ve gathered and collated a guide to 10 WordPress alternatives in no particular order, without being too technical, that might suit your needs.
1. Craft CMS
Netflix is just one of the big brands that use Craft CMS. It has many features, and is open-source and therefore free. However, Craft is pitched at professional developers and focused on the site’s back-end development, and as such doesn’t offer any front-end themes to style your site. Although, all is not lost as there is a Twig-powered template system you could use for design.
In general, Craft CMS is more flexible than WordPress regarding content fields, allows you to run several sites from one installation, and allows for simple site translation. You can also break up posts into smaller blocks making it easy to edit, organize, and add images.
So let’s look at the Pros & Cons
- Developer friendly – a very popular option with the professionals.
- Side by side site and admin – for making changes this allows you to view both aspects.
- Complete control of organization and placement – great flexibility of content fields.
- Allows several sites to be run from one installation.
- Multiple environment support – you can develop the site locally and stage it elsewhere.
- Built in security.
- Knowledge of coded needed – not appropriate for beginners.
- Limited plugins – therefore limited functionality.
- Still contains some minor bugs and has some issues.
- Expensive – especially for smaller businesses.
Expert or Professional developers.
More complex sites.
Personal (solo) use is free, for a single admin account.
Pro use, $299 per project plus $59 per year for updates after that.
Enterprise (pro +) option – specific quote depending on requirements.
Squarespace is one of the best-known website builders and is specifically designed to allow beginners to create a static or eCommerce site. It’s user-friendly and very simple but it doesn’t offer a great deal of flexibility. You are reliant on the template prebuilt layout and as such are limited to replacing content or moving it around to other predetermined positions. There is however an option for coders whereby you can create a website using the designer platform available.
There are of course pros & cons:
- Beginner-friendly – almost no experience necessary for interface or editing.
- Quick -you can get a working website within a very short space of time.
- Great range of templates – well design and numerous options.
- No need to buy a domain.
- No need to sign up for hosting.
- Specific eCommerce and business tools available.
- Your site is secure and has quick loading speeds.
- Expensive compared to similar website builders.
- No mobile editor.
- Limited features – limiting the type of website that can be built (eg. membership sites).
- Limited features depending on the price structure.
- Single currency sales.
Small scale projects and sites.
Beginners with little or no experience.
Squarespace offers a 4 price structure paid monthly or yearly depending on features offered:
$12 per month for Personal use
$18 per month for Business
$26per month for Commerce (Basic)
$40 per month for Commerce (Advanced)
American based Bigcommerce is a big name in the growing world of eCommerce. It is a paid-for site requiring a monthly fee and is perfect for setting up online shops and stores and generally selling things and then managing and running the business through the site. It’s set up allows for anyone to create a site from beginners to professionals. Very user friendly, it’s perfect for commercial sites offering specific features such as customer grouping and pretty good for blogging but not great for other types of site.
So let’s look to it’s good and not so good points.
- No transaction fees – a major plus.
- Decent selection of templates – 12 free options and others paid.
- Allows you to sell outside your site – you can link to Amazon, eBay, etc.
- Sell in different currencies – a useful option.
- Allows product options – a good option is your products have many different formats.
- Sync to physical site – some features and looking to develop this area.
- Extremely secure with multiple security layers including PCI compliance.
- A limit of annual sales from the various plans – worth checking the details here.
- Hidden costs – better themes are paid extras (between $160 to $250).
- Comparatively expensive – pricing plans vary.
- Ecommerce based – not great for other types of sites.
Ecommerce sites for all ranges of skills, even beginners.
Sites with physical and online presence.
Bigcommerce offers four month-to-month pricing plans, which are as follows:
Bigcommerce Standard: $29.95 per month
Bigcommerce Plus: $79.95 per month
Bigcommerce Pro: $249.95 per month
Bigcommerce Enterprise: pricing varies, depending on your business requirements
Wix has over 180 million users in more than 80 countries. It has been specifically designed as a website builder and not a Content Management System so it’s not necessary to install their software onto your site. . Here you build your website from Wix’s interface. It is ideal for beginners as it’s about as simple as they come. You create your site by simply dragging and dropping into a template, then editing. Something this easy must come at a cost and that is what you gain in simplicity is lost in the control and flexibility of what you are able to achieve. That said Wix does have features that mean you can set up various types of websites and certainly cover most of your needs.
Are their positives and negatives about Wix, of course
- Easy-to-use – drag-and-drop, ideal for beginners, no coding required.
- Numerous features – for pretty much any type of business, and help features.
- Excellent range of nicely designed templates.
- Growing Wix App Market – an expansive range of third-party apps offering even more options.
- Free plan options.
- Free hosting.
- Wix Code available for experts to fully customize sites.
- Ads included in free plans.
- Templates and drop & drag limit creativity.
- Can’t switch templates after going live.
- Can be difficult for absolute beginners – lots of information, options, and choices.
- Search Engine performance has not had great press but improvements have been made.
- Limitations on mobile site especially regarding design.
- More expensive than some other options.
Great entry-level builder to get you up and running quickly and easily.
Free plan is excellent to test before committing.
Wix prices range from $13 to $500 per month (when paid yearly upfront) across eight pricing plans. But more expensive when paid per month. The Combo plan is the cheapest at $13 per month and gives you an ad-free site. The $17 per month Unlimited plan is best for freelancers, while online sellers can start with the $23 per month Business Basic plan. Whilst the monthly plan gives you flexibility to quit it should be noted that there are certain features that aren’t included in monthly plans – for example, free domains, and premium apps and vouchers.
Combo plan: $13/month paid yearly
Unlimited plan: $17/month paid yearly
Pro plan: $22/month paid yearly
VIP plan: $39/month paid yearly
Business Basic plan: $23/month paid yearly
Business Unlimited plan: $27/month paid yearly
Business VIP plan: $49/month paid yearly
Enterprise plan: $500/month paid yearly
These prices do not include VAT, so make sure to check the final price before paying to avoid any unwelcome surprises!
There is however a free plan option but with adverts, this is a good way to dip your toe into the water.
The webs second most used CMS after WordPress (60%) is Joomla with 6.7% – there are many competitors around this figure. Featuring a very flexible interface, powerful SEO tools, scope of extending your site’s functionality, and an intuitive menu-building system it is easy to see why Joomla is extremely popular with some people. The system is based around templates and extensions, although the plugins are relatively limited compared to WordPress, and give you great control over layout and content. A common issue is that it is not renowned as being as beginner-friendly as some sites but work has been done to improve usability. Joomla can also be used to create any type of website with applications for eCommerce, businesses, blogs, etc. And it is free without a paid option, which sounds great but can bring about issues.
Positives, yes and some negatives too:
- Free open-source software plus thousands of free plugins.
- Multilingual platform.
- Mobile friendly – administration and templates.
- Flexible layout, allowing the user to easily manage content and numerous subpages.
- Great SEO tools and therefore rankings.
- No need for advanced or expert technical skills.
- Easy administration and allowing access to others – Access Control List.
- Build-in Cache management system – boosts performance and speed.
- Needs some experience and skills to produce more creative sites (design & code).
- Takes some time to get used to the system, especially the interface – numerous functions.
- Can be difficult to get support – free source means you have to search through forums and communities for help.
- Occasional plugin issues.
Sites with lots of content.
Multimedia sites without a great deal of coding.
Mid-range developers with some experience and skills.
Free (open-source software), paid premium extensions. You will need to pay for a domain name ($10-$70) and site hosting which supports Joomla ($100 – $500).
After WordPress & Joomla, Drupal is the next most popular CMS. Drupal, however, is aimed specifically at more experienced technically aware developers, with beginners having difficulties creating all but the most basic sites, certainly in comparison to some other alternative providers. Whilst being more complex Drupal offers a great deal of flexibility, customization options, control, and security and as such is hugely popular with sites that required these elements particularly educational, healthcare, and government sites. These sites typically manage a large amount of client data and are large complex sites and this is right up Drupal’s street. Drupal also offers prepackaged solutions for such organizations.
So to the pluses and minus of the Drupal option:
- Excellent for handling large amounts of data.
- Flexibility for very creative advanced sites.
- Large numbers of themes and extended functionality.
- Reliable and secure.
- Multi-Language modules – easy to handle non-English sites.
- Great control over granting site access and permissions.
- Complex requires technical experience and ability.
- Some difficulties with installation.
- Complexity leads to time-consuming and resource-heavy.
- Weaker for blogging sites.
- Expensive – need for development specialists.
Experts and advanced technical users.
Very complex sites – developers, marketing, larger corporations, and enterprises.
Large data sites – Governments, Educational.
Open source and free.
Hosting and Domain not included.
You may, of course, need to pay for the specialists to design and develop the site as well as maintenance and scaling. This can be pricey and so is well worth taking into account.
Ghost is another open-source platform option more specifically for blogging sites and magazines or online publications but not particularly complex or heavy sites. It’s a lightweight option but used by some of the world’s biggest brands. An easy-to-use platform with plenty of themes gives you a high level of control and versatility for customization. Ghost offers a paid-for hosting service but it is possible to install on your own server. There are key features including subscription management, automated backup, and great user admin tools.
Pro and Cons…why not.
- User friendly – even beginners can be up running in no time, simple dashboard and interface.
- Free customization.
- Nice selection of themes.
- Allows multiple distributions – more readers.
- Automated backup system.
- Great editor – side-by-side preview for content and editing.
- Can be expensive – especially for smaller more basic blogs.
- No website build option – only suitable for blogging and publishing.
- No plugins available as yet.
- While Ghost has an array of themes available, there are no plugins developed to install and use.
Free open-source software or paid hosted plan:
Basic – $36month or $348/year.
Standard – $99/month or $948/year.
Business – $249/month or $2,388/year.
PageCloud is an innovative cloud-based web development platform and drag-and-drop website builder based in Canada, which allows individuals and businesses to create and maintain websites. The site is based around theme with great customization options as you can delete or edit features within the themes as you wish, and drag-and-drop there by reposition almost anything. PageCloud is an option for any type of site including eCommerce with apps for many kinds of features from maps to music but it’s not fantastic for heavy sites with vast amounts of information. You also get a 14-day free trial after signing up.
Does it have negatives as well as positives, you bet it does…
- Fantastic visual editing – easy to use, fully customizable.
- No coding skills required.
- Provides hosting and Security.
- Responsive mobile-friendly.
- Fast and reliable.
- High SEO rankings.
- Easy to use app integration with other builders.
- Can be expensive.
- Limited eCommerce tools – you need to integrate.
- No analytics.
- Limitations for blogging.
People who want flexibility of design options.
Uniquely PageCloud has only one price plan that includes everything (eCommerce, apps, templates, domain) and costs $20/month billed annually, or $24/month billed monthly. There is also a free trial period of 14 days.
Weebly is a website builder which has altered its focus to eCommerce in 2018. Whilst lacking the flexibility of some other eCommerce platforms, it remains at the lower end of the price bracket. Weebly is a quick and simple way of getting your product out to the online market expensive. The tools editing tools such as drag and drop are intuitive and beginner-friendly and the builder is capable of handling larger sites.
So, how about some pros and cons.
- Easy-to-use – beginner-friendly, no coding required, arguably the easiest system.
- Affordable – good price plans.
- Good selection of templates -easily, and effectively modifiable.
- App center – with own and third-party apps.
- Mobile device responsive themes.
- Help available.
- Limited design options – unless you have coding experience and skills.
- SEO customization – not easy for beginners, need advanced knowledge.
- Difficult migration – you need to copy and migrate content to other platforms.
Smaller sites – minimal and simple.
Lower budget options.
Weebly operates a 4 tier pricing strategy including a free option that includes ads.
Free – with ads and without a domain name.
$6 Personal – with a domain name, but the Weebly ad shows in the footer.
$12 Professional – Ad-free and Including additional features such as video and audio players and phone support.
$26 Performance – Comes with additional eCommerce features for larger web stores.
Monthly prices based on a 1-year period. Free domain the first year. It renews at $19.95 per year.
Shopify is the leading eCommerce platform with over 1,000,000 active users. A builder that allows you to create a complete online store, customize it and sell online through your site or online marketplaces but also allows you to manage invoicing, shipping, payments, stock, etc. It can also be linked to your physical premises. A huge number of customizable themes plus a large array of features and plugins, enabling a great deal of flexibility and creativity. As a host Shopify also allows you to build and run your site directly through the system. There is also a support team to help when needed.
Sounds good but there must be some downsides as well as the ups.
- All in one solution for your eCommerce needs.
- Easy to set up – no coding necessary.
- Great SEO performance.
- 24/7 support – live chat or email.
- Huge range of themes and plugins (over 1200).
- Marketing tools.
- Inbuilt payment gateway.
- Transaction fees.
- eCommerce – not suitable for other sites.
- Payment gateway is only available in selected countries.
- Limited free themes (8).
- Plugins subscription fees.
Larger Shop sites.
Small sites that want to grow.
There are five Shopify pricing plans to choose from:
‘Shopify Lite’ — $9 per month
‘Basic Shopify’ — $29 per month
‘Shopify’ — $79 per month
‘Advanced Shopify’ — $299 per month
‘Shopify Plus’ — fees are negotiable, but generally in the region of $2000 per month.
Here are 10 of our favorite WordPress alternatives but there are many, many more out there. WordPress is still the big boy in the market but others are trying hard to catch up in this fast-paced, competitive world. Some are general website builders, others more specifically focused on blogs or eCommerce, so it is important that you look around for the most appropriate solution for you are: resources, budget, experience, and specific needs.
We’ve given you a guide but a simple search will bring you more information on each. Look carefully and weigh up the options. Happy searching.
You may also be interested in some of these related articles: