I honestly see no reason for hating WordPress. Millions of people simply can’t be wrong. Just look at the numbers. 13,800,000 blogs running as self-hosted installations, and 13,900,000 active blogs on wordpress.com (2010 data). Many of them use wordpress hosting. Of the top 1 million websites (according to Alexa) 12.4% use WordPress. That’s a whopping 124,000 of them.

But still, you don’t have to be preaching WordPress if you don’t want to. So if you’re about to launch a new website you might as well use a different web content management system (CMS). Or don’t use any CMS at all, and build the site from the ground up with pure PHP and HTML. Although this is probably not the best possible idea since there are tons of great systems out there.

Here’s a list of 13 top web content management systems you should consider if you’re not really into this WordPress thing.

1. Joomla!


I had been a Joomla! (don’t forget about the exclamation mark) programmer for a couple of years before I switched to WordPress. Joomla! is an advanced, full-blown open source content management system that powers 2.7% of the entire web (as it’s claimed on joomla.org). Joomla! provides many functions you would expect from a CMS, plus has an impressive directory of extensions (8,065 of them at the time of writing). This CMS is great for all sorts of corporate websites or portals, online magazines, e-commerce stores, small business websites, and other.

If you want a social proof here’re some websites that use Joomla!: http://gsas.harvard.edu, http://www.outdoorphotographer.com, http://www.quizilla.com.

2. Drupal


An open source platform as well. Drupal is close to the top of this list not without a reason. It’s a great CMS for building corporate websites, information portals, enterprise applications and even blogs. Plus, you can choose from more than 8,000 modules (extensions).

Some websites that use Drupal: http://www.fastcompany.com/, http://www.popsugar.com/, http://www.symantec.com/connect/, http://www.observer.com/.

3. CMS Made Simple


The name itself is pretty self-explanatory. CMS Made Simple is the winner of the “overall best open source CMS award 2010” by Packt Publishing. It’s a scalable platform (suited both for small businesses and large corporations) and provides a really big list of features. Some of them are: SEO friendly URLs, user and group management, multiple language support, multiple themes per website, forms, polls, newsletters, guestbookÖ there’s no point to mention every single feature here, just go to cmsmadesimple.org and find out for yourself.

4. Plone


First non-PHP CMS on this list. Plone runs on Python. But what it runs on is not important to the end user. What is important though is its simple and easy to use interface. “Elegant minimalism” they call it. The new version of Plone is claimed to be 50% faster than the previous one and to be one of the fastest open source CMS platforms on the market. Its many features and constantly growing community makes it the top non-PHP choice.



Back to PHP systems. Easy to use, feature-rich, and fully modularized ñ this pretty much sums it up. Some interesting features are: expanded users management and theme-based GUI (with over 1,000 currently available themes).

6. PHP-Nuke


This one is old-school. It was one of the most popular systems when I was starting out as a PHP programmer. Fortunately, it hasn’t been forgotten and it’s still developed by a devoted community. The counter on phpnuke.org indicates more than 8,450,000 downloads, which is impressive to say the least.

7. e107


“e107, it’s pimp, init?” ñ one of the random sentences you see when you visit e107.org. This is a great, developer-friendly CMS with many interesting features, and if you think there’s something missing you can suggest a new feature. There’s a special section on the site for that. If you happen to be a product owner yourself then here’s a hint ñ there’s no better way of showing your community that you care than by letting them suggest new ideas for improvement.

8. Magnolia CMS


It’s targeted mainly towards business users, so it’s no surprise it’s the CMS of choice for many government and large corporate websites. Among its many features there’s a possibility to preview content exactly as it would be seen by the website visitor. If you’ve been working with other CMS platforms you know that it’s not always the case. Sometimes it’s quite difficult to explain to your client why in the end the content looks differently from what they see in the editor. No such problem here.

9. dotCMS


This one is a Java-based content management system. You can choose from two available versions (free ñ Community version, and paid ñ Enterprise version). Similar to every CMS on this list this one provides a wide range of features as well. You can use it to manage small, micro-sites as well as large online magazines. If you’d like something built around Java this is basically the route to go.

10. b2evolution


This is a blog content management system (similar to WordPress). Free and open source. It provides some classic, blog features but also many additional ones. It lets you manage files and photos, launch multiple blogs, use detailed user permissions and more. Of course, there’s a lot of available plugins too.

11. CuteNews


If you need something really simple you should consider this CMS. It’s basically just a news management system that uses some standard files instead of a normal database (like MySQL for example). Somehow it still manages to support things like commenting, archives, search function, file uploads, and even backup and restore.

12. CushyCMS


This CMS is probably one of the easiest to use platforms on this list. A “truly simple CMS” as the authors say. And it’s hard to disagree. I was really surprised when I learned how the CMS works because it uses none of the industry-standard ideas. The first surprising thing is that there’s no software to installÖ yea, how about that? I encourage you to find out for yourself. The video on cushycms.com is just 5 minutes.

13. Nucleus CMS


Basically a blog content management system running on PHP and MySQL (same as WordPress). What’s interesting about it is the fact that you can use it to launch multiple sites with a single installation. If you like to you can extend it with a number of plugins (which is kind of a standard for top-shelf CMS platforms these days). One of the more interesting features is the possibility to backup and restore the whole database with just a single click.

Which one is the best?

There’s no best or worst here. If you need a good, feature-rich, and safe content management system you can go with either one from this list. It’s best to check them all out and see which one appeals to you the most. And when you do, don’t forget to come back and let me know in the comments which one is it.

P.S. My favorite one is still WordPress sorry.

About the author: Karol K. (@carlosinho) is a 20-something year old web 2.0 entrepreneur from Poland who hates to work but loves to train capoeira. But anyway, tune in to get his blogging tips and tutorials.