Top 10 open source CMS for building a website

For quite some years now, Content Management Systems (CMS) have been on the rise and are growing at a fast pace. Surrounded by very active open source communities or developed by large tech companies, CMS are increasingly used by developers, web agencies and IT companies to improve productivity and simplify the process of developing complex websites. It's also a way to collaborate effectively with your team, take advantage of the community's many resources, helpers, and extensions and give your client access to an advanced administrative interface that is already ready to go.

But in this great environment of content management systems, there are multiple solutions: free, open source, paid, with or without databases, with more or less features ... and it can sometimes be difficult to navigate and choose the right tool for your website project showcase, blog, e-commerce website ...

In this list, I'll only focus on open source solutions because otherwise there would be too many choices but I'll also talk about paid solutions in another list.

So here's a selection of ten content management systems that I think are incredibly powerful and very used nowadays.

Paul
Paul List by Paul , last updated 2018-04-04
  1. WordPress icon

    When you think about content management systems, WordPress is the first that comes in mind. Besides powering more that 30% of all websites in the world, WordPress is very user-friendly, has a large community and a lot of free and paid ressources like themes, plugins and tutorials ... WordPress can also be used as an e-commerce platform with WooCommerce but I'll talk about that in an upcoming list about e-commerce solutions.

    • Blog Publishing Tool
    • FreemiumOpen Source
    • Mac
    • Windows
    • Linux
    • Online
    • Android
    • iPhone
    • Android Tablet
    • iPad
    • Self-Hosted
    • PHP
    • Cloudron
    • ...
    WordPress screenshot 1
  2. Joomla icon

    Joomla is for those who are looking for a little bit of a challenge, at least in terms of coding power. In many ways, Joomla has been built with medium to large sized sites in mind. Joomla’s code base is much more sophisticated than that of WordPress, but it comes at the benefit of more scalability and more back-end integration. Regardless of the kind of business you operate, you need to maintain your website in a proper way to create a good impression with potential customers. Small businesses reputed Joomla as the best option for their needs. This open source platform is easily customized and handled. There are lots of themes and extensions available for Joomla.

    • CMS Tool
    • FreeOpen Source
    • Self-Hosted
    • PHP
    • ...
    Home Dashboard
  3. Drupal icon

    Drupal goes even deeper into the architecture of the content management system itself, and because of how widely adopted it is to professional coding standards, a lot of engineer and developer-type webmasters have adapted to Drupal as their primary content management platform. Drupal offers more than 30,000+ extendable modules to bring your site to a whole new level, as well as 2,500+ individual and unique themes that will help to build the site that you’ve always wanted to build. Thousands of members participate in daily forum discussions, meaning that finding support for Drupal is really not a problem, rather a question of whether you really need help or are there resources available that can solve your problem without having to visit the community forums.

    • CMS Tool
    • FreeOpen Source
    • Windows
    • Linux
    • Online
    • Self-Hosted
    • NGINX
    • Apache HTTP Server
    • Software as a Service (SaaS)
    • PHP
    • Microsoft IIS
    • ...
    In 2009 the White House choose Drupal to power its website. The White House also contributed multiple Drupal modules at https://www.drupal.org/u/whitehouse
  4. MODX icon

    MODX is a content management system that was first released in 2005 by Ryan Thrash, Raymond Irving and Jason Coward. They created it to give them freedom of design and yet retain robust security which they felt other CMSs didn’t allow. If your website is critical to your business, MODX delivers power and creative freedom. Freedom for designers, freedom for non-technical content authors and freedom for your site to grow and change with your business. Web pros get a customizable core to fit almost any requirement or scale. Whether it be a multi-domain global presence, a mobile API, or anything in between, MODX meets your needs today—and tomorrow.

    • CMS Tool
    • FreemiumOpen Source
    • Self-Hosted
    • Software as a Service (SaaS)
    • PHP
    • ...
    MODX screenshot 1
  5. ProcessWire icon

    ProcessWire is a content management system (CMS) distributed under the Mozilla Public License version 2.0 (MPL) and MIT License. It is designed from the ground up to tackle the issues caused by exactly this kind of opinionatedness (which, inevitably, results in frustrated developers and users) by being — you guessed it — non-opinionated. At its heart, it is based on a few simple core concepts and offers an exceptionally easy-to-use and powerful API to handle content of any kind.

    • CMS Tool
    • FreeOpen Source
    • Mac
    • Windows
    • Linux
    • Online
    • Self-Hosted
    • PHP
    • ...
    ProcessWire screenshot 1
  6. Grav icon

    Grav is a fast, simple and flexible file-based web-platform. There is zero installation required. Just extract the ZIP archive, and you are already up and running. It follows similar principles to other flat-file CMS platforms, but has a different design philosophy than most. Grav comes with a powerful package management system to allow for simple installation and upgrading of plugins and themes, as well as simple updating of Grav itself. The underlying architecture of Grav is designed to use well-established and best-in-class technologies to ensure that Grav is simple to use and easy to extend. Some of these key technologies include Twig templating, Markdown, YAML and much more.

    • ...
    The dashboard
  7. Jekyll icon

    Jekyll is a simple, blog-aware, static site generator perfect for personal, project, or organization sites. Think of it like a file-based CMS, without all the complexity. Jekyll takes your content, renders Markdown and Liquid templates, and spits out a complete, static website ready to be served by Apache HTTP Server, nginx or another web server. Jekyll is the engine behind GitHub Pages, which you can use to host sites right from your GitHub repositories. Jekyll does what you tell it to do — no more, no less. It doesn't try to outsmart users by making bold assumptions, nor does it burden them with needless complexity and configuration. Put simply, Jekyll gets out of your way and allows you to concentrate on what truly matters: your content.

    • ...
    Jekyll screenshot 1
  8. Ghost icon

    Ghost is a free, open source, hackable and simple yet powerful blogging or online publication software written in Node.js. It is a collection of modern publishing tools designed for easily building and running online publications.

    • ...
    Ghost screenshot 1
  9. Anchor CMS icon

    Anchor is a super-simple, lightweight blog system, made to let you just write. Anchor gives you full freedom over your words. Just write in Markdown or HTML, whatever you prefer.

    • ...
    Anchor CMS screenshot 1
  10. Pagekit icon

    Pagekit is a modular and lightweight CMS built with Symfony components and Vue.js + many more modern tools like Composer, Doctrine, UIkit, jQuery, Gulp.js, Webpack and other open source projects. It gives you the tools to create beautiful websites. All wrapped up in a clean and intuitive user interface.

    • ...
    Pagekit screenshot 1

Before stating my conclusion, some honorable mentions to https://alternativeto.net/software/hugo/, https://alternativeto.net/software/hexo/, https://alternativeto.net/software/october/, https://alternativeto.net/software/bolt/, https://alternativeto.net/software/pelican/, https://alternativeto.net/software/monstra-cms/ and https://alternativeto.net/software/pyrocms/.

All these content management systems are different and do not necessarily use the same technologies or the same approach in their step. I won't be able to say which is the best or the most appropriate for this or that situation. Ghost is more blog oriented whereas a CMS like Grav also allows you to build a showcase site or an e-commerce website. You also need to see if you prefer to use an open source system and participate in the community or pay for a turnkey solution with professional support to help you in your project. It's up to you to try them out and see which one is best for your project.


This list was created by Paul Nov 29, 2017 and was last updated Apr 4, 2018. The list has 10 apps.

You can create your own lists from our large database of apps either for your own sake or if you want to share some great apps with other people.


Comments

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noelboss
CommentDec 1, 2018

My absolute favourite: ProcessWire icon ProcessWire ! I have never loved working with a CMS/CMF as I love working with ProcessWire (thats the same for everybody else I know who tried it). It’s so powerful, yet so easy to pick up. It’s not a click-click system like WP, but the best option I know for developers – still with an extremely low learning-curve. You have to give it a try and wonder like the rest of us; why is ProcessWire so little known?!

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werdnada
CommentMar 26, 2018

Thanks, great list, have recently worked on a Grav project and have been very impressed.

Would be great to see SilverStripe on here. They're not a CMS giant but do have a solid global open source community and have recently released version 4.

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Gu