Although WordPress is the most popular, easy-to-use, and free platform, there are other CMS-based programs that can also have a good run for your money.
When it comes to content management systems (CMS), WordPress is the dominant player, hosting about 25% of all sites. However, WordPress is trapped by its own success: a typical WP site needs at least a dozen of PHP-based plugins to handle SEO, caching, and spam. There is also a bland sameness to WP sites due to its restrictive theming structure.
There are excellent modern alternatives to WordPress such as Ghost, October CMS, and Craft CMS. In this post, we will cover the pros and cons of each platform, compare them to WordPress, and offer some guidance – especially to IT managers, CTOs, and agency partners who support some form of a content management system.
If you’re in the market to add a content marketing platform to your digital presence, consider Ghost as an alternative to WordPress. Kick-started by a former WordPress team member in 2013 as a blogging-focused CMS system, Ghost has been steadily growing. More and more sites are using this platform, as well as plugins and themes.
While there are volumes of free and premium themes on WordPress, Ghost has plenty of both, and even provides theme developers with a far richer environment.
Another thing is that Ghost sites tend to require minimal ongoing maintenance compared to WordPress sites. This is due to fewer plugins to update constantly, more flexible theming, and a robust community to turn to when things go wrong, which leads to fewer support hours.
Ghost is meant for developers who are skillful in working from the command line of a Linux environment. Even so, it is not a good choice for an online store or community, and it can’t compete with Shopify or Discourse.
If you are looking for a writing-centric system, Ghost is an excellent go-to platform.
October gets right a number of things that plague WordPress sites:
- Plugins go through the review process, much like iOS apps. A plugin needs to meet certain stated criteria for quality, be malware/spyware-free and plays well with October CMS before it’s listed in the October CMS MarketPlace.
- Based on Laravel PHP, October’s use of Laravel PHP means fewer updates and concerns for IT Managers or support personnel.
- Reusable and easy to maintain partials and components, which can be used anywhere when needed, in October is a more flexible structure than “widgets”.
October’s disadvantages are typical of any CMS that’s not WordPress:
- There are 472 plugins for October versus 53,319 WordPress plugins.
- October has, as of now, 100 themes. WordPress, well, no one knows for sure, but there’s ThemeForest, a popular source for premium WordPress themes with over 11,000 templates.
Bottom line: If there’s a specific theme or plugin that is a must-have, October CMS is not likely to be in the running. On the other hand, if you want a fast performing, PHP-based content management system with secure plugins and has a good range of themes, definitely pick October CMS.
Craft is designed to simplify the process of building custom CMS implementations. Some of the leading brands on the web like NetFlix have used the platform already. Created by longtime ExpressionEngine developers Pixel & Tonic, Craft focuses on easing up the creation of complex pages.
It has two key features – Advanced Custom Fields and Matrix page builder – that help agencies to deliver complex turnkey content environments cleanly and easily.
Craft has some flaws, though. To create a perfect CMS, expect to put some extra time and effort into Craft. For example, if you want a premium theme, ThemeForest presently has only 33 Craft themes available.
Another comparative disadvantage is that Craft is not free. Unlike October CMS, Ghost or WordPress, a client needs to throw down a one-time fee of about $199 to $299 in order to unlock Craft’s awesome features. The cost is not a hard sell on the agency level, but freelancers may have a second thought.
So, what should you pick?
While WordPress is a powerful CMS, there are better options depending on your site requirements.
If you are a technically-minded writer looking for something better, cleaner, and much faster than WordPress, Ghost is an excellent choice.
If you want a CMS that is simpler, easier to set up and maintain, and not so prone to hacking than WordPress, October CMS is definitely worthy of your consideration.
Yet, if you’re running or setting up an agency and want to build both custom company sites and in-house expertise in a single CMS, Craft CMS is going to be on your shortlist of options.
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