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10 Best WordPress Alternatives - Which CMS is Right for You?

WordPress is still the most popular content management system in the world. Up to 65% of all websites using a CMS were built using WordPress. Many website owners opt for this particular system somehow out of habit, convenience or a lack of enough information regarding WordPress alternatives. But is it really a good idea?

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For a variety of reasons, WordPress is not the ideal product for every project. Moreover, there's plenty of evidence to suggest that WordPress is often not a good solution at all – regardless of whether it's implemented in a traditional, monolithic way or as part of the newer Headless/Jamstack approach.

We created this article for those looking for alternative ways to manage website content. And what will it cover?

  • Why use a CMS other than WordPress?

  • Popular monolithic WordPress alternatives

  • Best Headless CMS alternatives to WordPress

  • WordPress vs alternative CMS: factors to consider when choosing the right CMS

  • Tips and Tricks for a seamless migration from WordPress to a new CMS

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Why Is It Worth Taking A Look At WordPress Alternatives?

You’re likely to look at WordPress as your first platform if you considering building a website. However, technology has evolved and there are many modern alternatives to WordPress today.

Using WordPress offers you a convenient CMS and simplicity but is also associated with a couple of limitations and disadvantages:

  • WordPress is fast to start with but gets difficult to maintain with many plugins and integrations. It’s certainly not an all-in-one solution.

  • Adding plugins can get the functionality you need but may make the site very slow, seriously impacting your SEO.

  • The WordPress platform is built using PHP, which isn’t always the ideal web technology for all uses and tasks.

These monolithic, WordPress limitations inspired many developers to look for another approach to creating websites and web applications. This movement, called Jamstack, paved the way for the emergence of headless CMS.

Whether in blogging or e-commerce, headless has been all the rage in recent years. Among the many benefits of decoupled architecture are greater design freedom, speed, and lower TCO (Total Cost of Ownership).

However, headless content management is not a brand-new concept. Before WordPress even rose to its global dominance as the world’s most popular CMS, websites stored content in databases, and queries were used to pull it from databases to the users.

The headless approach to web architecture is only a more modern take on this design and something that has been increasingly gaining traction in a multi-device world. In a headless content management system, the system exists solely for content input, editing, containing, and sorting on the back end.

WordPress, on the other hand, is a popular example of a monolithic CMS – a setup where the back end and front end constitute one entity. Headless systems follow a design philosophy in which such a setup is decoupled. Among the many design advantages of the architecture, a headless CMS helps you future-proof your site.

Now that you know the difference between the two approaches, let's move to what you were looking for - best CMS alternatives to WordPress.

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Popular Monolithic CMS Similar to WordPress

For those looking for a similar experience for content creation, many platforms offer the simplicity of WordPress.

Wix

Wix is a super-simple website builder. Because it's great for small sites like portfolios and simple business sites, it is often used by restaurants and stores.

A limited range of customization options are available, including custom domain names and the ability to add certain functions.

Squarespace

Squarespace offers a broader range of features than WordPress. There is a subscription-based billing model available for this SaaS website builder. Squarespace has the following features:

  • Website templates

  • Domain names

  • CMS

  • Hosting

  • E-commerce

  • E-mail marketing tool

Nevertheless, website builders are, in general, very limited in terms of design. Unfortunately, this means you cannot alter your website as you wish.

Medium

Medium is a popular publishing platform that takes a different approach to WordPress. It is not a fully-fledged content management system and is mainly dedicated to blogging. It connects people to stories and ideas that matter to them.

Medium provides publishers with a clutter-free writing area and readers with similar reading experiences. The platform looks great on all screens and devices and users don't have to worry about themes or plugins because there are none.

Medium allows users to leave in-line notes and responses to content. As Medium is a hosted platform, you don't have to worry about the software. Unfortunately, Medium does not allow custom domain names anymore. They also had a WordPress plugin that made it all easier, however, it’s now unsupported.

Best CMS Alternatives to WordPress - A Headless Deep Dive

Ditching WordPress and going headless is an excellent solution for developers who want to deliver content to other apps and platforms from one back end. Headless structures can also be used for websites or applications built using JavaScript frameworks like NextJS, VueJS, or React.

One thing worth knowing: you can develop a website with a headless WordPress alternative. Although it's technically doable, we don't recommend you to do so. Why? Head over to the article where we explain it.

If you want to enjoy the benefits of a headless CMS without sacrificing the ease and convenience of WordPress, you may want to consider some of the alternatives that we will discuss in this article. These are CMS platforms that are designed to be headless from the ground up, and offer features and integrations that make them more suitable for modern web development.

Storyblok

Storyblok, the next-gen API-based CMS, is built to augment your web framework or the technology you already use with powerful front-end editing capabilities to bring your static websites to life. Unlike other API-based CMS solutions, Storyblok’s editor can directly work on the front end of the website.

Storyblok was designed to be scalable and flexible whether you're building a portfolio site or a big corporate site. Storyblok can even be used in existing projects and provide editorial content to any system.

Storyblok is a headless, API-based SaaS CMS built with Ruby on Rails and VueJS at its core, but there is no need to know Ruby or VueJs to use it. You can go with your favorite technologies.

Who uses Storyblok:

  • Adidas

  • Deliveroo

  • Netflix

  • T-Mobile

  • Harvard Business School

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Sanity

Sanity is a headless CMS whose decoupled architecture saves a lot of effort when restructuring or redesigning the website. Like with any headless setup, the content lives on the back end for multiple iterations of your website.

  • Sanity comes with Sanity Studio, an open-source editing environment which you can customize using JavaScript and a real-time hosted data store.

  • Sanity offers robust collaboration functionalities, giving editors version control in the editor and custom editorial workflows, where Trello-style "kanban" boards can be created, allowing editors an editorial workflow tool out of the box.

  • In Sanity, documents (aka pages) can be edited and published individually and editors working on them can be assigned custom roles and permissions, supporting the review and approval process.

Who uses Sanity:

  • InVision

  • CornerStone

  • Eurostar

  • Rich Brilliant Willing

Ghost

Ghost is a popular headless alternative to WordPress. It's an oper-source publishing platform built during the peak of the popularity of Node.js development, designed for teams who need power, flexibility, and performance. In addition, Ghost provides a clean writing and browsing experience for bloggers and readers.

  • Ghost uses RESTful JSON API. The admin back-end is decoupled from the front-end, but there is a default Handlebars.js front-end to get the site running as quickly as possible, as well as detailed documentation for working with the API directly or using provided SDKs and headless front-end framework integrations.

  • Ghost is completely open-source, built as a JSON API, has webhooks, and gives you full control over the front-end. It integrates with absolutely everything – if the integration you need is not found, you can always build a custom one using JavaScript and Markup.

  • Ghost ships with the Bookshelf.js ORM layer by default, allowing for a range of databases to be used. Currently, SQLite3 is the supported default in development, while MySQL is recommended for production. Other databases are available, and compatible, but not supported by the core team.

  • Additionally, while Ghost uses local file storage by default it's also possible to use custom storage adapters to make your filesystem completely external. There are a fairly wide range of pre-made storage adapters for Ghost already available for use.

Who uses Ghost:

  • Buffer

  • Unsplash

  • Duolingo

  • Revolut

  • Cloudflare

  • DuckDuckGo

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Strapi

Strapi is a relatively young, open-source, JavaScript-based headless CMS which debuted on GitHub in 2015. Strapi works with various frameworks including Gatsby, Nuxt.js and Next.js, which is a huge advantage from the developers' point of view.

  • Strapi enables content-rich experiences to be created, managed and exposed to any digital product, channel or device.

  • Strapi offers a high degree of granularity for building your own API. It applies to both configuring content types, fields, and components, as well as building content and managing it all in one place. Additionally, it is completely independent of the type of code editor.

  • Strapi doesn't support TypeScript without custom modifications. It is planned to be introduced to the core, but there is no specific date for this feature yet.

  • As a downside, when it comes to developing and hosting production servers, Strapi requires slightly more sophisticated DevOps resources than traditional CMS like WordPress running on PHP and Apache or Nginx. This also creates a need to implement continuous integration and development processes, which helps to improve the stability of the codebase and maintenance over time.

Who uses Strapi:

  • Toyota

  • Walmart

  • Accenture

  • IBM

  • NASA

Netlify

Netlify is an extensible CMS that can be used with any static site generator. With NetlifyCMS, all digital assets are optimized and served from cookieless domains. In addition to fast static hosting, web-based command-line services are also available.

  • The web-based interface includes rich-text editing, a real-time preview, and drag-and-drop uploads.

  • At its core, Netlify CMS is an open-source React app that acts as a wrapper for the Git workflow, using GitHub, GitLab, or Bitbucket API. This provides many advantages. Content is stored in your Git repository alongside your code for easier versioning, multi-channel publishing, and the option to handle content updates directly in Git.

  • Netlify is an extensible CMS built as a single-page React app. You can create custom-styled previews, UI widgets, and editor plugins or add backends to support different Git platform APIs.

Who uses Netlify:

  • Nike

  • Peloton

  • Twilio

  • Victoria Beckham

  • LiveChat

Contentful

The Contentful CMS platform is one of the earliest and most popular WordPress alternatives. It pioneered headless CMS with structured content, providing a unified content hub that enables content to be published on various devices.

  • With Contentful's CLI-first approach, developers can work from the command line using their favorite code editor. Contentful also allows developers to customize web app experience using React components.

  • Editors can take a content form and create compelling experiences around it. Using Contentful, most businesses can customize their marketing content on a campaign by campaign and channel by channel basis. Content can be shared and utilized between different devices, such as a website and an Apple Watch.

  • Contentful's API allows you to distribute content at the click of a button. As soon as you publish your content, it will be available on mobile, web and any other platform you can think of. Contentful's CDN ensures that your users receive content 24/7.

  • Contentful offers a simple, uncluttered UI with extensions allowing you to customize and enhance the user experience. You can also integrate the Contentful web app with third-party systems to decorate structured content with metadata.

Who uses Contentful:

  • Atlassian

  • Siemens

  • Notion

  • Milwaukee Bucks

  • Costa Coffee

  • Asics

Prismic

The Prismic CMS was designed to be user-friendly for both developers and amateurs. With Primacy, content teams can create new pages independently, without involving developers in the process. In addition, there are many front-end development frameworks and languages to choose from (React, Angular, Node, Laravel, Rails, vanilla JS/PHP/Ruby, etc.)

  • When developing custom features and integrations for Prismic, options are virtually endless. You can integrate with different third-party software and quickly launch new pages or landing pages without a developer.

  • SliceMachine provides another benefit that makes Prismic more flexible: you can add a new section to your website after it is developed and then use that section on any other page (content type) in Prismic. You can, for example, add a new section to your homepage with no additional code.

  • Prismic's pricing gradually goes up depending on the number of users you need and how many repositories (independent working spaces) you need.

Who uses Prismic:

  • Decathlon

  • Ebay

  • Virgin Mobile

  • Amnesty International

  • Axon

Factors to Consider when Choosing the Right CMS Alternatives To WordPress

Selecting the right CMS alternative to WordPress requires careful consideration of several key factors to ensure the platform meets your current needs and is capable of adapting to future growth.

When exploring CMS alternatives, it's essential to evaluate the following aspects to make an informed decision:

1. Scalability

Scalability is a critical factor when selecting a CMS solution. You want a platform that can adapt and grow with your business needs. Whether it's accommodating increased traffic, handling larger content volumes, or supporting multiple websites, a scalable CMS ensures that your digital presence remains flexible and capable of meeting future demands.

2. Customization

Customization capabilities play a vital role in tailoring your digital experiences to align with your unique brand and business requirements. Look for a CMS solution that provides extensive customization options, allowing you to design and build your content management system according to your specific needs.

The ability to create custom workflows, define user roles and permissions, and personalize user interfaces empowers you to create a distinct online presence that truly represents your brand.

3. Security

Security is of utmost importance when choosing a CMS solution. Your platform should prioritize robust security measures to protect your valuable content and user data. Look for features such as two-factor authentication, granular access controls, content versioning and rollback, and automated backups.

A secure CMS ensures that your information remains protected from potential threats and vulnerabilities, providing a safe environment for your digital assets.

4. Functionality richness

You'll want a platform that offers a comprehensive set of features and capabilities to meet your content management needs. Look for key functionalities such as content scheduling and publishing, SEO optimization tools, media libraries with advanced image editing capabilities, and built-in analytics and reporting.

A feature-rich CMS empowers you to efficiently manage and optimize your content, drive engagement, and make data-driven decisions.

5. Integration

Seamless integration with other tools and services is essential for an optimized content management workflow. Look for a CMS solution that offers flexible integration options with third-party systems, such as CRM platforms, email marketing services, social media platforms, and payment gateways.

Integration capabilities allow you to streamline data exchange, automate processes, and create a connected digital ecosystem that enhances the overall user experience.

6. Pricing

Surely, pricing is also an important factor when evaluating CMS solutions. It's crucial to consider the overall cost and value provided by the platform. Look for a CMS that aligns with your budget and offers transparent pricing, considering factors such as licensing models, hosting options, and additional modules or plugins.

Additionally, consider the long-term scalability of the pricing structure to ensure it remains viable as your business grows and evolves.

Migration from WordPress to a New CMS Alternative - Tips and Tricks for a Seamless Process

Transitioning from WordPress to a new CMS alternative can significantly enhance your website or application's functionality and user experience. To ensure a smooth migration, consider these essential tips and tricks:

1. Define Your Goals and Requirements

Before migrating from WordPress to a new CMS, it's crucial to define your goals and requirements. Consider what features and functionalities are essential for your website or application. Evaluate whether you need advanced content modeling, multi-channel publishing, e-commerce capabilities, or personalized user experiences.

By understanding your specific needs, you can identify a new CMS that aligns better with your long-term objectives.

2. Evaluate Content Migration Strategies

Content migration is a critical aspect of the transition process. Evaluate different content migration strategies to ensure a smooth transfer. Depending on your requirements, you may choose manual migration, automated migration tools, or professional assistance.

Assess the complexity of your content structure, including pages, posts, media files, and metadata, and plan the migration accordingly. It's also essential to test the migration process thoroughly to identify and address any potential issues or data loss.

3. Plan Your Website Redesign

Migrating to a new CMS presents an opportunity to refresh your website's design and user experience. Consider planning a website redesign alongside the migration process. Assess your current website's strengths and weaknesses, gather user feedback, and create a design that aligns with your brand identity and supports your business objectives.

Ensure that the new CMS alternative chosen instead of WordPress provides the necessary design flexibility and customization options to bring your vision to life.

4. Maintain SEO and URL Structure

Preserving your website's search engine rankings and URL structure is crucial during the migration. Set up proper redirects to ensure that existing URLs are redirected to the corresponding pages in the new CMS.

Perform an SEO audit to identify any potential issues that may impact your search rankings. Update internal links, and meta tags, and optimize content for keywords in the new CMS. By maintaining SEO best practices, you can minimize any negative impact on organic traffic and preserve your website's visibility.

5. Train and Educate Your Team

A successful migration requires proper training and education for your team. Ensure that your staff, especially marketers and content creators, are familiar with the new CMS's interface and features.

Provide training sessions or access to educational resources to help them understand the platform's functionalities and workflows. This empowers your team to make the most of the new CMS, enabling them to create and manage content effectively without disruptions to your digital operations.

6. Gradual Rollout and Testing

Consider a gradual rollout approach when launching the new CMS. Test the migrated content and functionalities thoroughly before making the switch entirely. Deploy the new CMS on a limited scale, such as a specific section of your website or for a particular audience segment, and gather feedback.

Monitor performance, user experience, and any technical issues that may arise. Gradual rollout and thorough testing help ensure a seamless transition and minimize any potential disruptions to your website or application.

The Wrap-up - Finding A WordPress Alternative Solution That Works For You

There are many factors to consider when selecting a headless CMS solution, and the choice of a CMS platform should not be based on popularity alone. You don't have to use WordPress, even though it is the best option for certain use cases.

As evidenced above in this article, many alternatives on the market may turn out to be the perfect match for your business needs.

Due to its simplicity, WordPress is a very popular platform for blogs and simple company websites. However, when it comes to creating a powerful, secure, and functional website platform, it may not be the best option around – WordPress is regularly hacked, offers slow performance, and requires continual technical attention.

If you need any assistance in choosing a CMS other than WordPress, feel free to contact us. Just drop us a line and we'll provide you with the analysis of your business needs!

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