5 Content Management Systems You Should Know About

Posted by Rachel Gillevet on August 8, 2013

meerkat-162217_640Choosing the right content management system can make a big impact on how you develop and manage your website. CMSs range from the very simple to the very complex, from user friendly to developer friendly, and from free to quite expensive.

In recent years, there has been some exasperation with the shortcomings of the most popular content management systems, like WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. Many new content management systems have sprung up to compete for the content management crown, but, unless you really have your ear to the ground, it’s hard to distinguish the winners from the also-rans.

To help you choose a content management system, we’re going to take a look at 5 that might not already be on your list. The list will include both mature and new CMSs and both those that require a paid license and open source free options.


ExpressionEngine from EllisLab is a PHP-based content management system focused on deploying content-heavy sites. It is designed to be extremely flexible while making it relatively easy to tailor sites to the specific needs of users.

ExpressionEngine is a “true” CMS, not a blogging engine that has accrued content management features. It is well suited to sites that have complex content management requirements, but it’s also relatively easy to deploy simple sites with — though WordPress is probably easier to get up-and-running out of the box.


Concrete5 is an open source CMS that’s very easy to set up and use. It’s slightly less flexible than alternatives like ExpressionEngine and Modx, but the upside of that is that it’s rather more user friendly to non-developers. One of the most interesting features of concrete5 is that you can edit a site from the front end using drag-and-drop. Content can also be edited in place without having to retreat to the dashboard.


Habari is an open source CMS that bills itself as a “next-generation publishing platform and application framework.” Habari aims to be simple to use, without all the clutter that the WordPress admin dashboard has developed over the years. It is easy to install, flexible enough to build most types of business sites, and easy on the eyes (which can’t be said for a lot of content management system backends).


Perch is something of a curiosity. It’s a very minimal content management system. Rather than developing the site within Perch, you can add PHP tags within the code of an existing site to allow selected content to become editable from Perch’s interface. This is great for designers and developers who don’t need the overhead of a full-blown content management system, but require that some of the site’s text is editable without having to tangle with HTML.


Statamic is one of the new breed of content management systems that focus on creating static content to reduce the overhead of generating dynamic pages. Statamic somewhat straddles the divide between traditional dynamic content management systems and static site generators like Jekyll. Unlike Jekyll, Statamic is PHP-powered and does generate some content dynamically, but it’s similar to Jekyll in that it uses a flat file system to manage content rather than a database like MySQL. Content is added to Statamic by writing it in Markdown, plain text, or HTML.

That’s only 5 options out of what is becoming a rapidly expanding selection. Feel free to let us know in the comments if you approve of our suggestions and give a shout out to your favorite content management systems.

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  • mjatharvest

    I would add Craft to this list too.

    • Nicholas LeBlanc

      You beat me to it. Definitely agree.

  • jackmcdade

    Statamic also has a responsive control panel with 20+ fieldtypes. Much more client-friendly than Jekyll.

    • http://www.northcutt.com/ Corey Northcutt

      Love the responsive design, going to have to check this out!

  • davidnew

    I would also add a new one to the list – Cody CMS – it is incredibly easy to use and suprisingly powerful.

    • RachelGillevet

      Thanks for the input David. We’ll have to check that out.

  • http://420creative.com/ Angie Herrera

    Love seeing ExpressionEngine & Statamic on this list. Agree that Craft could be on it as well. :)

    • RachelGillevet

      Thanks for the feedback, Angie!

  • Nicholas Gerber

    Another new one that just came out live beta in Sept is Microweber.com

    • RachelGillevet

      Thanks for the head’s up. I will definitely check that out.

  • Grog Jones

    Haven’t used Perch but from what I hear, Couch is a very similar open source alternative. Statamic and Kirby are cool too.

  • Gregg Murray

    Thanks Rachel. Great summary. I will look at all the recommendations. Wondering if you or any commenters may have a recommendation for my situation. I’d like to find a free CMS that can be integrated into a basic 10-page vanilla PHP site to serve as the site’s blog? WordPress is fine, but it’s overkill. Also, can a decent dev integrate the new blog into the current site’s look? Meaning, if I ever have to update the header, nav or footer on the main site, that it would also be changed on the /blog pages?

  • Asis Gochhayat Bapi

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