Hosting a website can be expensive.
But it doesn’t have to break the bank, and open-source web content management software can be the first step to an affordable website.
I know what you’re thinking: Why shouldn’t I just use WordPress?
WordPress is a very solid, popular web content management (WCM) option, but it isn’t without faults. Before you jump on board the WordPress train, check out some of the other open-source choices and decide if they potentially fit your use case more effectively.
|Tip: Read more on what is a CMS to help you better understand a complex topic.|
The language a WCM is written in impacts how it handles content, and some systems might be better at creating certain types of websites than others. Businesses might also require in-house developers with proficiency in the language a given CMS is written in to create functions for a website.
|TIP: Interested in open-source e-commerce website specifically? Check out this blog on the best open-source e-commerce platforms.|
For products with G2 verified user reviews, we have included:
Product reviews and G2 star ratings were updated as of June 11, 2019
Product Name: Wordpress.org
Written in: PHP and MySQL
G2 Star Rating: 4.3 out of 5.0 stars (7,138 reviews)
WordPress.org is the undisputed king of web content management, and part of its success can be attributed to being an open-source offering. One of the major benefits of WordPress’ popularity is the multitude of plugins and add-ons available; for businesses, this means less time coding custom tools and plugins in-house and faster delivery.
WordPress can handily support practically any type of website thanks to all of its available plugins, enabling users to manage everything from job boards to online shops to knowledge bases. WordPress is a fantastic choice if you’re looking for a functional, fully featured site without getting your hands too dirty.
“First of all, it is open source. It has everything you need. Fully extendible. You can do anything with it. You don't even need to write a single line of code. Amazing. Simply amazing. Lots of plugins and themes are available. Rest API is an amazing feature. I can build an app from it. Another amazing feature is that you can build an e-commerce website free of cost.”
— WordPress.org review by Sandesh J.
"Occasionally WordPress will require someone with programming skills to do complex customizing. WordPress has ready themes but sometimes you might lack a specific one that gives you the look or functionality you want."
— WordPress.org review by Maureen S.
“Before starting to program a plugin or theme from scratch I recommend that you search the internet if what you need has already been created by another person, WordPress is a very popular application and has thousands of plugins and themes available so it is very possible that what you need for your website already exists.”
— WordPress.org review by Dana K.
Product Name: Pimcore
G2 Star Rating: 4.3 out of 5.0 stars (15 reviews)
If you’re looking for an open-source CMS capable of more than just web content management, look no further. Pimcore is capable of serving as an externally facing content management system like e-commerce sites and websites as well as internal storage repositories like digital asset management systems and product information management (PIM) systems.
A common complaint among open-source WCM users (with the exception of WordPress) is a lack of support and prebuilt functionality. Pimcore stands out among the as an open-source CMS with dedicated, intentional support for specific use cases.
“Pimcore provides a very clear overview of the content we manage in our company. Compared to all other CMS systems we have worked with so far it has a clearer and better user interface and is a lot more intuitive to use. In the past we also worked with HubSpot, Adobe Experience Manager and WordPress — with Pimcore we can work a lot faster and have a better content editing experience.”
— Pimcore review by Katharina K.
“Being a very flexible framework solution, Pimcore generates code (such as ORM) in order to maintain system performance – which is a good thing. On the other hand, this results in some file system dependencies making cloud-scale deployment a challenge. As this is a known issue, there are of course solutions, too. Please note: You are going to need some implementation support to get the maximum out of Pimcore - similar to all PIM solutions on the market.”
— Pimcore review by Christoph L.
“Pimcore as open source allows solutions that customers can use in an elastic way including PIM, CMS and DAM. The interface is extremely intuitive and thanks to various roles defined in the panel, the user can complete the content, products, attributes, prices, etc. What's more, the system was created to maximize the work of developers, and its scalability and intuitiveness mean the update does not require a lot of commitment on the part of employees. The noticeable increase in Pimcore's management is an added benefit to the fact that it is becoming more and more popular in the e-commerce industry.”
— Pimcore review by a validated reviewer
Product Name: Concrete5
Written in: PHP
G2 Star Rating: 4.3 out of 5.0 stars (11 reviews)
Concrete5 is a hidden blogging gem in web content management. Everyone loves a robust drag-and-drop editor, and Concrete5 absolutely delivers. Designing a website can sound like a daunting task, but Concrete5’s WYSIWYG content editor and in-context editing capability take the load off. It even comes with a built-in commenting system and an online form builder, both of which aren’t typically provided by WCMs. Concrete5 has been used to create everything from blogs to CMS-based intranets.
“Very flexible system with a lot of built-in tools like inline editing, page versioning, built-in blocks like image-slider, forms, SEO features, flexible theming, layout-columns in pages, user permissions and roles. Secure and robust core! One of the coolest things is to build custom blocks for controlling the look and feel and giving a simple and flexible solution to a site editor.”
— Concrete5 review by a validated reviewer
“The somewhat small community, since WordPress is THE biggest CMS and most people ‘heard’ WordPress is good and they only want that. Concrete5 is a little gem that has only been discovered by a small group of people and needs/deserves more attention. Since the community is not huge, the amount of plugins/add-ons/themes isn't that big either. So it can use a bigger !”
— Concrete5 review by Ramon L.
“Go look at it, you will not be disappointed. Don't be scared off by the relatively (compared to WP) small amount of free add-ons; it is a GOOD thing that Concrete5 does not need much of them because of its strong core!”
— Concrete5 review by a validated reviewer
Product Name: django CMS
Written in: Python
G2 Star Rating: 4.3 out of 5.0 stars (11 reviews)
Having been released back in 2007, django CMS is by no means the new kid on the block. It may not have the name-dropping power of some of its peers, but it definitely brings as much to the table in terms of usability and performance. django CMS offers many sought-after features like multi-site capacity, drag-and-drop content management, and scheduled publishing.
“The user interface for front-end editing is very easy to handle and intuitive. Most of our content editors don't need a long time to understand the CMS and this helps us to save some budget. Furthermore django CMS's flexibility allows us to add more and more plugins and keep our websites updated and on top of the latest trends.”
— django CMS review by Alex H.
“With so many pages, it can be a bit slow to make changes. The nuances within a page can also be difficult to learn as a non-engineer.”
— django CMS review by a validated user
“Django is quite powerful and flexible. Keep in mind, that it might be too powerful — and thus too complex — for small- to mid-scale web projects. If you are coming from platforms like WordPress you might miss the ease of trying out gazillions of plugins; my supplier had to develop apps for certain features we had expected to be readily available.”
— django CMS review by Simon W.
Product Name: dotCMS
Written in: Java
G2 Star Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0 stars (17 reviews)
People are consuming content on more types of devices than ever before, and headless CMS can accommodate all the display types where content can be presented. For those looking for an open-source, headless CMS, look no further than dotCMS. The Community version of dotCMS is completely free, but its two paid versions, Cloud and Enterprise, come packed with business-centric features. One of the most notable features dotCMS provides is multi-site hosting for all its offerings, a boon for agencies looking for headless CMS options for multiple clients.
“dotCMS allows you to use it in the way you want. You can go from purely headless with APIs to simply hosting all your site(s) in the platform. It provides you with the ability to organize the content the way it makes more sense for each different project/site. On the top of it, the cache system is impressive. You could have your DB in maintenance, if your content is cached, it'll be served like if nothing was wrong.”
— dotCMS review by Benjamin M.
“The interface and learning curve can be intimidating for first-time or casual users. However, it had improved significantly over the last few years with more improvements constantly coming down the line.”
— dotCMS review by Tad L.
“Be prepared for the engineering requirements for this software. If you plan to host your own instance, you will need someone versed in setting up Java application servers and databases. If you plan on going with their cloud offering you will still need a programmer versed in enough Java to learn Velocity (the templating language behind the software).”
— dotCMS review by Christopher F.
Product Name: Joomla
G2 Star Rating: 3.9 out of 5.0 stars (258 reviews)
Joomla is considered one of the three titans in web content management, accounting for almost a tenth of all known business websites. Joomla has been applauded for combining power with user-friendliness without sacrificing flexibility. The software is supported by a dedicated community that has produced an impressive amount of extensions. Joomla has carved a niche for itself between WordPress and Drupal; it’s more technical than the former, but less so than the latter.
“Joomla is amazing in organizing content for a website. It allows that everything you post can be listed by title in alphabetical order so that in this way it facilitates the search of different parts of the content; besides that it is being updated constantly. I like that the templates are flexible to use. Your page version control is very effective, I like in turn that has incorporated the cache control, since it gives a more responsive to the requests.”
— Joomla review by Alfredo D. M.
“We've been using Joomla for years and while it worked well for us as a small business, as we've grown and wanted to add more to our website, it's struggled. There are always new updates and changes we have to make to keep our website looking the same and it’s difficult to make big changes to the format of our website. Its a good base for our website, but it's not user-friendly and we often have to ask for help.”
— Joomla review by a user in law practice
“Joomla is free, but it offers a plethora of extensions and plugins that help to improve the viability of your business website. Since it is so rich in basic services, there is a learning curve in figuring out how to make your website work. If you stick to it, watch the videos on YouTube that show you how to create your website, and then add extensions, plugins and content, you should be up and running in no time!”
— Joomla review by Katrina B.
Product Name: Ghost
G2 Star Rating: 3.8 out of 5.0 stars (15 reviews)
Blogging has been a staple of the internet for decades, and businesses have adopted blogs as a main focus of their marketing strategies. Ghost delivers a modern CMS framework for online editorials that has become the backbone for several notable blogs. From OpenAI to Tinder, companies trust Ghost’s straightforward content and site design editor to create a unique, clean web presence.
“What I like best about Ghost is the sophistication. It is easy to use once you get the hang of it, but there’s a lot of learning to do before. What I love about Ghost is the Pro subscription of it. It is very difficult to update your Ghost if you are on your own server, but if you’re a Pro subscriber, it is very easy.”
— Ghost review by a user in real estate
“Although it's been around a few years, the adoption of Ghost is still slow and steady, meaning things like plugins are still being introduced at a slow rate, making it hard to find specific plugins.”
— Ghost review by an administrator in computer science
“If you are looking for something more blogging-focused and are wanting to get away from WordPress, this is a great option for you.”
— Ghost review by a validated reviewer
Product Name: Drupal
Written in: PHP
G2 Star Rating: 3.7 out of 5.0 stars (287 reviews)
Drupal is the third option in the trio of popular WCM systems. It doesn’t account for as much of the CMS market as WordPress and Joomla, but this can’t be blamed on it being the weakest of the three. Instead, Drupal comes packed with a lot of capability and is the most technically demanding of the popular web content management systems. Drupal is a powerful WCM behind applications and sites used daily. Many government and university websites rely on Drupal to reliably support their sites (and with good reason).
“Drupal is great for very large sites, when you want to display content from the same source, but shown many different ways, with active updating, and even on the fly page creation in response to a query or changing requirements, so that you don't have to manually re-edit content at the individual page level. You can edit in the original content page, and then it is automatically shown all the places it appears. It's relatively easy to administer for someone with previous CMS experience, especially with versions 7 and 8.”
— Drupal review by Steven B.
“Compared to other CMS platforms like WordPress, I find Drupal to be much more complex and harder to understand. I think it takes a decent amount of technical knowledge to be able to implement and modify a Drupal install successfully. Some of the common themes are rather poorly designed and virtually useless for professional business purposes.”
— Drupal review by Oscar S.
“I would recommend to gather your requirements and create a roadmap, then identify whether Drupal is the right solution for you. If you are in the B2B world, Drupal has seamless integration with top automation tools and CRMs. I don't have any issue with API and scripts as well.”
— Drupal review by Tauseef M.
Also looking for a website host? Check out our blog on website hosting and how to pick the best host for your website.
* User reviews may have been edited for grammar and spelling
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