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The Most Popular Alternatives to WordPress – Compared

It goes without saying that WordPress has emerged as a leading option when it comes to building a website for all kinds of different online endeavors: from small personal portfolios to enterprise-level business and eCommerce sites. It’s got a large community of devotees and users, and a huge list of developers forever coming up with all kinds of different plugins to expand its capabilities. That said, WordPress isn’t the be-all and end-all. Indeed, there are in fact a number of different alternatives on the market.

In this post, we’ll be comparing the 14 most popular alternatives to WordPress available — covering general website building tools, content management systems, website management platforms and e-commerce platforms. In short, systems that can all be used by relatively inexperienced users as tools for building new websites. We’ll cover their basic features, their pros and cons and how each one compares to WordPress.

Knowing the full range of what’s available will not only help you choose the technology best-suited to your individual needs, but also make sure you’re able to run your website without too many hiccups.

Whether you’re a beginner to websites and website building, or a fairly web-savvy enthusiast — there’s something here for everyone.

Joomla

Joomla Logo

Joomla is one of the three most popular content management systems (CMS) on the web (the other two are Drupal and WordPress). It provides a ton of functionality right out of the gate, and can be used to run any type of site — from simple brochures, to blogs, e-commerce, informational or official sites (e.g., gov sites), and even social networks.

In a nutshell: Software that runs your website with extensive content management functionality

Price: FREE, plus web hosting costs

Basic features:

  • Multilingual, offering more than 64 languages
  • Integrated contextual help system
  • Media manager for uploading and managing any type of media file
  • Banner/adverts management
  • Contact management for multiple contact details for your site
  • Search management/advanced search feature
  • Advanced categorization for nested content categories
  • Front-end editing from both admin panel and live site
  • Create and manage multiple menus
  • Front-end and back-end templates available
  • Large library of nearly 10,000 extensions

Pros:

  • Joomla delivers great features in terms of advanced user management, user groups, and even contact management. WordPress provides only basic functionality in those departments.
  • It’s got many built-in features (like cache management, banner management, advanced content permission settings, etc.). With WordPress, you need plugins to get most of those.
  • Great multilingual capability (you can manage the languages used on your site). With WordPress, this is only available through plugins.

Cons:

  • Joomla may seem a bit intimidating due to the technical appearance of the admin panel. WordPress is a lot more user-friendly.
  • There’s no official library of designs/themes. There’s an official library with WordPress.

Perfect for:

  • Sites with lots of content.
  • Advanced web projects that require good content management.
  • Gov sites, educational sites, social networks, corporate sites, large publishing houses.

Although Joomla was once an extremely popular — and influential — platform, it’s no longer commonly considered to be an ideal solution for those new to the idea of operating their own website. In short: there are arguably now a range of considerably better solutions (see below) if all you’re wanting is a relatively simple business site.

Official Website

Drupal

Drupal Logo

Drupal is another member of the Big Three most popular CMS on the web. It’s perhaps the most technical and the most powerful of the trifecta and requires the most skill to use to its full potential.

In a nutshell: Software that runs your website, with extensive content management functionality

Price: FREE, plus web hosting costs

Basic features:

  • Advanced administration panel with five sections: Content, Appearance, People, Structure, and Configuration
  • User and permission management
  • Multi-site use for a single installation across several sites
  • Multilingual, offering more than 70 languages
  • Advanced content management and control over your users’ rights to view, administer, and create content.
  • Complete control over content presentation, including themes, views, jQuery integration, and more

Pros:

  • Over 16,000 additional add-ons available. With WordPress, however, you still get double that number.
  • Great multilingual capability. With WordPress, this is only available through plugins.

Cons:

  • At the time of writing, there are only 584 actively maintained themes. With WordPress, you get thousands of themes.
  • Drupal has a learning curve. Building a good-looking, quality site from start to finish takes time. The learning curve of WordPress is much smaller.

Perfect for:

  • Advanced web projects that go above the standard definition of what we normally understand as a website.

If you’re a beginner and have no prior experience building websites, you’ll almost certainly struggle to build a site with Drupal and get it to a level where it actually looks good, is usable, and is understandable to unskilled admin users.

Official Website

Wix

Wix Logo

Wix advertises itself as the perfect tool to create your stunning website for free. To make this possible, Wix delivers a step-by-step wizard-like environment where you’re taken by the hand through the whole process of building your site. In addition, Wix is a hosted solution that also takes care of housing your site. This allows you to focus on creating the content and leaving the technical stuff to them.

In a nutshell: Website builder, website hosting service

Price: FREE-$18.00/month

Basic features:

  • More than 500 pre-made designs to choose from
  • Designs are optimized for mobile devices and tablets
  • Build your site with drag-and-drop
  • Functional editors for text content and images
  • Blog module available
  • Integrated social media features
  • Extend your site’s functionality with Wix App Market extensions
  • All sites come with a default subdomain (e.g. YOURSITE.wix.com), with custom domains (e.g. YOURSITE.com) for a price
  • 24/7 support

Pros:

  • Choose from hundreds of quality, optimized templates and designs. With WordPress, the “quality” part is not always consistent.
  • You can customize your site’s appearance through drag-and-drop editors. In WordPress, that’s only available with plugins.

Cons:

  • Since your site is hosted with Wix (most often on a subdomain), you don’t really have full control over the site. In theory, Wix can take it down at any moment if they find it non-compliant with the terms of service. With self-hosted WordPress, you’ve got sole control.

Perfect for:

  • Users who want to be able to build and customize a website on their own, by hand.
  • Users (both business and personal) who don’t have a budget for a custom-built website.
  • Users with no prior experience.

Although providing a nice selection of designs and giving you access to the Wix App Market, this still isn’t a solution that lets you introduce any wider changes to the site’s main functionality. If you want a site that can grow alongside your business for the long haul, this isn’t the tool for you.

For an in-depth comparison of Wix and WordPress, take a look at another post of ours: “Wix vs WordPress – Choosing The Right Platform”.

Official Website

Squarespace

Squarespace Logo

Squarespace provides a great tool for website creation, whether you need a blog, an e-commerce store, a portfolio, or all of the above. Even though it’s a paid solution, there’s a free trial available. Squarespace also houses your site, takes care of the software running it, and allows you to focus on creating content.

In a nutshell: Website builder, website hosting service

Price: $8-$24/month

Basic features:

  • Nice range of modern-looking website templates
  • Can use multiple templates on a single site
  • Designs are optimized for mobile devices and tablets
  • Customizable own CSS styling
  • Integrated image editor via Aviary
  • Social media integration
  • Modules for blogging, e-commerce, and portfolios
  • All sites come with a default subdomain (e.g. YOURSITE.squarespace.com), with custom domains (e.g. YOURSITE.com) for a price
  • 24/7 support

Pros:

  • Squarespace offers a really impressive set of pre-made designs that are optimized for all kinds of professions and purposes. With WordPress, finding the right theme that’s truly optimized for your site’s purpose can be particularly time-consuming.
  • Its site builder is really easy and intuitive to use; it takes you by the hand through the entire site-building process. To build a site on WordPress, you have to be ready to get your hands dirty.

Cons:

  • Like with other similar solutions, if your site is hosted with Squarespace on their subdomain, you don’t have full control over the site. Squarespace can take it down should it find the site non-compliant with their guidelines. With self-hosted WordPress, you’ve got all the control.

Perfect for:

  • Businesses, artists, as well as hobbyists who want to build a professional site themselves and would prefer not to spend a lot of money doing it.
  • Users with no prior experience.
  • Brick-and-mortar businesses and stores.

If you don’t have a design muscle in your body, you might experience some difficulties making a Squarespace site look good (due to the platform’s reliance on good stock imagery to be part of your site’s final look). Also, Squarespace offers a good range of features from the get-go, but above that, there’s not much you can do when there’s a feature missing. Just like with Wix, if you want a site that can grow alongside your business, this might not be quite the solution you’re looking for.

For an in-depth comparison of Squarespace and WordPress, take a look at another post of ours: “SquareSpace vs WordPress – Choosing the Right Platform”.

Official Website

Weebly

Weebly Logo

As the Weebly team states, the idea behind the platform is to make website creation available for everyone — not only programmers. Weebly remains one of the easiest-to-use site-building solutions out there. It delivers great tools for creating straightforward sites that serve specific purposes. Weebly is another hosted solution, which means that it takes care of housing your site and all the technical details related to it.

In a nutshell: Website builder, website hosting service

Price: FREE-$25/month

Basic features:

  • Offers 8 categories of 100+ pre-made designs
  • Designs are optimized for mobile devices and tablets
  • Drag-and-drop content builder
  • Social media integration
  • e-commerce, and blogging modules
  • All sites come with a default subdomain (e.g. YOURSITE.weebly.com), with custom domains (e.g. YOURSITE.com) for a price

Pros:

  • The drag-and-drop site-builder is both intuitive and user-friendly. With WordPress, drag-and-drop building is something you only get through external plugins or themes.
  • It’s optimized for building single-purpose sites like resumes, portfolios, or online business cards. With WordPress, you still have to install the whole WordPress software, so you’ll end up with many superfluous features.

Cons:

  • If you’re on the free plan, you can only create five pages for your whole website. With WordPress, there’s no limit.
  • Like with other similar solutions, if your site is hosted with Weebly on their subdomain, you don’t have full control over the site. With self-hosted WordPress, you’re the only person in control.

Perfect for:

  • Single-purpose sites like resumes or portfolios.
  • Users with no prior experience.

Probably not the best solution out there if your website is meant to serve more than a single purpose (like being just a resume site, or just a portfolio). There are tools on this list that provide more well-rounded solutions.

For an in-depth comparison of Weebly and WordPress, take a look at another post of ours: “Weebly vs WordPress – Choosing The Right Platform”.

Official Website

Medium

Medium Logo

Medium is a very interesting concept when it’s compared to its competitors. In short, it allows you to write and then publish your content alongside other authors at Medium.com. You also get to follow other people’s work and be a part of the Medium community. In other words, it’s a large web publication website where you’re one of the members and can submit your own content.

In a nutshell: A platform where you can write and publish your stories, articles, or blog posts

Price: FREE

Basic features:

  • Very good WYSIWYG interface for content composition
  • Community support for content before publishing

Pros:

  • Medium provides ostensibly the best writing experience out of all solutions on this list.
  • Medium disperses your content for you based on algorithmic and editorial curation. With WordPress, you’re on your own when it comes to distributing your content.

Cons:

  • There are no themes/designs to choose from. Medium doesn’t give you much in terms of branding your work differently from everyone else’s. With WordPress, there are thousands of themes available.
  • Can’t currently use your own privately-registered domain name (more info).

Perfect for:

  • Writers who want a home for their work. It’s great for longer form articles. The social aspect and content dispersion means people are likely to read what you post.
  • People who want to combine creating content with the social consumption of it. Right after you sign up, you get to choose the topics you’re interested in and the people you want to follow.

Medium’s applicability is rather narrow and doesn’t really support much else other than writing — however, if writing and publishing articles is all your after (and you don’t mind doing it on Medium’s website rather than your own), the Medium is a superb solution.

For a really detailed comparison of Medium and WordPress in particular, check out an earlier post of ours entitled “Medium vs WordPress – Choosing the Right Platform”.

Official Website

Ghost

Ghost Logo

Ghost is a nice blogging platform, with easy-to-use interfaces and an intuitive way of creating content. In addition, Ghost delivers two basic versions of their product. You can either subscribe to the pro version ($8-$200/month depending on the plan) or download the free software and install it on your own web server.

In a nutshell: Hosted blogging platform as well as downloadable blogging software

Price: FREE, plus web hosting costs; or up to $200/month

Basic features:

  • Ghost only supports blogging
  • Content creation and editing through a nice side-by-side interface with Markdown syntax on the left and the preview on the right
  • Add media with drag-and-drop
  • Designs are optimized for mobile devices and tablets
  • (Pro version) Unlimited transfer and storage, the possibility to upload any theme, and priority support

Pros:

  • It’s a blogging platform that’s aware of itself. It’s not trying to be anything else. You’ll only find features that enrich your blogging experience. At this point, WordPress is much more than a blogging platform.

Cons:

  • Ghost’s focused simplicity is also its flaw. It’s perhaps not the best solution for building a business site, or a website project of a larger scale. WordPress can handle e-commerce, business sites, and more.

Perfect for:

  • Web developers who want to stay on the cutting edge of what’s out there (Free version).
  • People who want to build good-looking blogs for themselves with easy to follow administrator interfaces (Pro version).

Although an extremely promising blogging platform, Ghost is not yet a particularly convincing solution for building a general purpose business-type website

For a detailed comparison of Ghost and WordPress, check out an earlier post of ours entitled “Ghost vs WordPress – Choosing the Right Platform”).

Official Website

Tumblr

Tumblr Logo

Tumblr allows you to submit short-form content (short blog posts, articles, quotes, images, videos) and publish it on a microblog. You can also connect with other bloggers on the platform and follow what they post, too. Tumblr is a hosted solution that provides you with all the tools and the hosting space required to run your microblog.

In a nutshell: Microblogging platform and social networking website.

Price: FREE

Basic features:

  • Pre-made styles for standard content types like text, photos, quotes, links, chats, audio, and video
  • Queue posts and set publication times for each posting
  • Many blog themes to choose from
  • Inbox browsing messages sent to you from other Tumblr users

Pros:

  • Tumblr is built on a very simple idea — providing microblogs to every user. There really isn’t much to do there other than sign up and start posting. With WordPress, there’s a bit more setup needed.
  • It gives you access to a whole community of content publishers. With WordPress, it’s a bit harder to find like-minded bloggers and reach out to them.

Cons:

  • Not a lot of free, quality blog themes available. With WordPress, there are thousands.

Perfect for:

  • Anyone who wants to launch a very simple microblog and then use it to publish their thoughts and opinions.

If you want to build a complete website with a number of subpages, or a business site, Tumblr is not the solution for you.

Official Website

Jimdo

Jimdo Logo

Jimdo delivers a way for you to build a beautiful website and have it optimized for the search engines. Your Jimdo experience starts by picking the design for your site; then you’re led through the process of having your site launched to the world. Jimdo is also a hosted solution, which means that they take care of the technical details and giving your site a home.

In a nutshell: Website builder, website hosting service

Price: FREE-$21/month

Basic features:

  • Modern site templates in 4 categories: business, store, portfolio, and personal
  • Designs are optimized for mobile devices and tablets.
  • Upload and display high-resolution photos in galleries
  • Google Maps integration
  • Social media integration
  • Blog functionality
  • E-commerce module
  • Front-end content editing with drag-and-drop
  • All sites come with a default subdomain (e.g. YOURSITE.jimdo.com), with custom domains (e.g. YOURSITE.com) for a price

Pros:

  • The front-end content editing feature is really intuitive. You can build your whole site and create your content from start to finish in a true WYSIWYG manner. With WordPress, this is only available through third-party plugins.

Cons:

  • If you’re on the free plan, you only get 500MB of disk space, no website traffic statistics, and you can only sell up to five products in your online store. With WordPress, the only limits are those imposed by your web host.
  • There aren’t many designs available. With WordPress, there are thousands of themes on the web.

Perfect for:

  • Someone with very few website-building skills looking to put together a simple, presentable website with minimal fuss.
  • When you need basic SEO taken care of for you, and if you’re planning to introduce a small e-commerce component.
  • Users with no prior experience.

Jimdo is a very simple alternative to things like Squarespace. However, if you’re looking to build a site for free, other site builders will give you a better user experience and potentially an overall better result.

Official Website

Blogger

Blogger Logo

Blogger is a hosted blogging platform. Signing up is easy since you can use your standard Google account. After that, you just have to pick a name for your blog and then you can immediately begin creating content. You don’t have to worry about any technical details as Blogger takes care of all that.

In a nutshell: Hosted blogging platform

Price: FREE

Basic features:

  • Basic blog functionality; write, manage, and publish blog posts
  • Traffic stats and analytics
  • Google+ integration
  • Google AdSense integration
  • A basic layout editor, where you can change what’s in the sidebars, the header, footer, and navigation

Pros:

  • Creating content is easy, with interface that resembles Google Docs. WordPress offers similar ease when it comes to content creation.

Cons:

  • Outdated designs. With WordPress, you get a much livelier community of theme designers.
  • There are no external plugins. With WordPress, there are over 30,000 plugins in the official directory.

Perfect for:

  • Creating a personal blog that you don’t intend to turn into any sort of a commercial project.
  • When you need a blog fast. Launching a new blog on the platform takes literally less than 60 seconds (tested).

Not really very good for anything other than building a personal blog that doesn’t serve any direct business purpose. For anything business-related, there are better solutions on this list.

For an in-depth comparison of Blogger and WordPress, take a look at: “Blogger vs WordPress – Choosing The Right Platform”.

Official Website

Shopify

Shopify Logo

Shopify is one of the most popular e-commerce solutions on the web. While with Magento Community you do have to take care of hosting your online store yourself, Shopify handles that part for you. You can simply concentrate on selling your products.

In a nutshell: Hosted e-commerce solution

Price: $14-$179

Basic features:

  • Advanced e-commerce functionality, with shopping cart module, inventory management, payment gateway options, automatic tax handling (based on location), and more
  • Over 100 themes/designs
  • Optimized for mobile devices and tablets
  • Integrated blogging module
  • Customized branding for your store
  • Multilingual by default
  • Option to accept credit cards.
  • Customer profiles and groups
  • SEO-friendly
  • Social media integration
  • Email marketing module.
  • Web hosting handled by Shopify
  • Traffic analytics (integrated with Google Analytics)
  • Customer support

Pros:

  • There are 70 payment gateways available and you can easily accept credit cards.

Cons:

  • On the cheapest Starter plan, you can only offer up to 25 products in your database.
  • Credit card rates depend on your plan. You get higher credit card handling rates if you’re on the Starter plan (2.9% + $0.30). The more expensive your plan, the lower your rates.

Perfect for:

  • Business owners who want to launch an e-commerce store, but don’t have much technical knowledge in that area.
  • Building your own store without any outside help.
  • Handling other additional elements of your site, such as a blog.
  • Having an online store with additional standard website functionality.

If you’re knowledgeable about site building and e-commerce, you’ll find solutions on this list that give you better extension possibilities, more overall features, and the freedom to potentially do anything you want with your online store (since you’d be hosting it on your own server). That said, if you’re just getting into selling things online and want to do everything yourself, Shopify can often be a great place to start for new businesses and less technically-savvy folk!

Looking for more info on the three major eCommerce platforms, i.e. Magento, Shopify and WooCommerce? – here’s a handy article comparing all three!

Official Website

Magento

Magento Logo

Magento is an e-commerce software that you can use to run online stores. The basic Community version of Magento is available as a free download. There’s also the Enterprise version, but that comes with a hefty $18,000, so we’ll skip that one for now.

In a nutshell: e-commerce software and platform

Price: FREE, plus web hosting costs

Basic features:

  • Advanced e-commerce functionality, including inventory management, calculating shipping charges, coupon management, payment gateway options, shopping cart, and more
  • Web services API
  • More than 5,000 extensions and add-ons
  • Customize your store’s design through themes
  • Built-in multilingual capabilities
  • Blogging module available through a free plugin
  • Optimized for mobile devices and tablets
  • SEO-friendly

Pros:

  • First and foremost, Magento is an e-commerce platform. It offers advanced features and is capable of giving you anything you might need from your online store. With WordPress, e-commerce is only available through plugins.
  • A number of good PDF user guides available on their website. With WordPress, you do get the Codex, but it’s very technical in nature.

Cons:

  • The themes are not that great-looking … some of them are even a bit outdated.
  • There aren’t many default payment gateways available.

Perfect for:

  • Business owners who want to launch an advanced e-commerce store with a big inventory and many employees working together on a single database of items.

Although a real contender for large high-street-chain-type shops requiring extremely capable platforms with which to build custom eCommerce sites, this isn’t the easiest software to learn, run or modify for inexperienced users.

Looking for more info on the three major eCommerce platforms, i.e. Magento, Shopify and WooCommerce? – here’s a handy article comparing all three!

Official Website

Expression Engine

ExpressionEngine Logo

Expression Engine is an extremely capable CMS built on top of a popular web development framework called CodeIgniter. The idea behind it is similar to that of Joomla or Drupal — to deliver advanced content management functionality for websites and web applications.

In a nutshell: Software that runs your website, with extensive content management functionality

Price: FREE, plus monthly web hosting costs; also offers premium plans up to $1,999

Basic features:

  • Extensive content publishing capabilities
  • Search engine optimized URLs
  • Advanced traffic analytics
  • Templates and sub-templates
  • Advanced anti-spam tools
  • Advanced admin features: logs, data export, and more
  • Create custom content beyond articles and text
  • Advanced user management with multiple user groups and access rights
  • Various built-in modules: discussion forum, wiki, mailing list, simple e-commerce, RSS, and more
  • Over 2,200 third-party add-ons
  • Customer support

Pros:

  • Expression Engine offers a load of features from the get-go, and it doesn’t restrict what you can do with your content. With WordPress, the default has fewer features.
  • Great user management features. You get powerful capabilities for working with user groups and setting access rights. With WordPress, there’s only basic functionality in that department.

Cons:

  • The free version of the platform offers only limited functionality. With WordPress, every default feature is available right away.
  • With only just over 2,200 third-party add-ons, choice is comparatively limited. WordPress offers ten times that.

Perfect for:

  • Larger website and web development projects.
  • Web applications where advanced content management is a must.

If you just need a standard website, this is almost certainly not the solution for you — it’s hard to learn and hard to modify. Leave this one for those with extremely large corporate-types sites wanting highly bespoke, complex websites — and with huge amounts of money to spend on them!

Official Website

Google Sites

Google Sites Logo

Google Sites is a website creation tool, optimized primarily for simple websites and wikis. Although the tool is still available, it doesn’t appear to be the best alternative, especially compared to other, less dated tools on the market.

In a nutshell: Hosted website and wiki platform

Price: FREE

Basic features:

  • By default, all sites are available as a sub-directory under “sites.google.com/site”, but you can also buy a custom domain (e.g. YOURSITE.com)
  • Three levels of permissions: Owner, Editor, and Viewer

Pros:

  • It’s free. That’s about it.

Cons:

  • Not very functional, and not very pretty.

Although once relatively cutting edge, Google Sites now feels more than a little outdated and arguably falls quite a bit short of it’s rivals — such as Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, and of course WordPress.

Official Website

Your choice?

Wow, that took a while! So what do you think? Have you found your perfect website platform within the above list? Or are you still firmly on ‘Team WordPress’?

Did we miss anything? Thoughts?

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By Karol K

Karol K. (@carlosinho) is a freelance blogger and writer, published author, and online business figure-outer. His work has been featured all over the web, on sites like: NewInternetOrder.com, MarketingProfs.com, About.com, Optimizely.com, Adobe.com, ProBlogger, and others. Feel free to contact him to find out how he can help your business grow by writing unique and engaging content for your blog or website.
Comments (policy)
  • Ian Shires

    I used to use a cms called OC Portal, before I moved to wordpress in a network setup. it was the only other cms that had networking really built in, but lacked some advancements that wordpress brought in that drew me away from ocportal. Would be interested in a real comparason.

    • Sounds interesting – I’ll look into it. Thanks. :)

  • Claire C

    Nice list, however you haven’t considered concrete5.org very simple for all users including designers/developers and clients.

  • Steven

    prismic.io is a simple hosted CMS (free for 1 user), working with an API so you can integrate the content in any theme. If has configuration options that offer similar things as the ACF WP plugin (to set up your own content fields).

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