What is a CMS Platform?
A CMS platform (content management system platform) is a piece of software that allows you to easily manage content and create a website.
CMS platforms solve this problem by allowing you to make a website without writing code or learning programming.
Unless of course, you’re looking for a developer-friendly CMS which means you already know how to code.
How to Choose the Best CMS Platform for Your Website
There are lots of different CMS platforms out there, so which one should you pick? Before you we jump to our CMS platform comparison, here is what you should look for in a good CMS.
Ease of use
You want a CMS that makes it easy for you to create and edit content. This often means having a drag and drop interface, so you can add different elements on your pages.
It should be quick and straightforward for you to make changes to the content on your site after publishing it.
Your CMS software should offer you plenty of website design templates to choose from. It should also allow you to easily customize those designs to your own requirements (ideally without writing code).
A great CMS platform should have tools for you to easily export your data and move it elsewhere.
For instance, you may later decide to choose a different platform or a different hosting company. Data portability makes it easier for you to move around with complete freedom.
Extensions and addons
Not all websites are the same. This is why it is impossible for any CMS platform to come with all the features that would fulfill requirements for every website.
Extensions and addons fix that problem. These are separate software that you can just install on your CMS software to extend its features and add new ones when needed. Think of them as apps for your CMS platform.
Help and support options
Although CMS platforms aim to make building a website as straightforward as possible, you still might have some questions. Find out what help and support is available if you get stuck.
Some CMS providers will have a handful of FAQs and a customer service team that’s painfully slow to respond. Others will have a big supportive community that can help you any time of the day or night.
How much does it cost?
Some CMS platforms are completely free. Others charge a monthly fee. Even with free CMS platforms, you’ll often need to pay for third-party extensions, designs, and/or web hosting services.
Try to find out as much as you can about the pricing before you choose your CMS, so you don’t have any nasty surprises.
With these things in mind, let’s take a look at the best CMS platforms to choose from.
WordPress.org is our number one choice for the best CMS platform. It’s the world’s most popular CMS software, and it powers around 43% of all websites on the internet.
It’s important to not confuse WordPress.org with WordPress.com. WordPress.org is a free open source CMS originally designed for blogging, but now it’s used by all sorts of websites / online stores. WordPress.com is a blog hosting platform.
If you’re not sure about the difference between the two, check out our detailed comparison of WordPress.org and WordPress.com.
Note: When we talk about WordPress on WPBeginner, we normally mean WordPress.org. We specify WordPress.com where appropriate.
You need to host your WordPress site yourself, which means finding a suitable WordPress hosting provider.
- WordPress offers you the flexibility and freedom to build any kind of website (online store, auction site, membership site, etc).
- It does not require any technical skills or coding knowledge. The WordPress block editor makes it really easy to create great looking pages on your site.
- You have complete freedom to make money online from your website in any way you want.
- There are thousands of WordPress themes and plugins available, both paid and free. These let you add all sorts of useful extras to your site, like contact forms, photo galleries, and much more.
- WordPress is really well designed for search engine optimization (SEO). It’s easy to create SEO-friendly URLs, categories, and tags for your posts. You can also choose from plenty of SEO plugins to help you do more.
- There’s a huge and supportive community around WordPress, as it’s an open source CMS. You can join groups like the WPBeginner Engage Facebook group to get help with any problems you run into.
- WordPress offers a lot of extensibility which is what makes it an ideal CMS platform for both beginners and developers alike.
- WordPress lets you download all your content in XML format, making it easy to move to a different system in the future if you choose to do so.
- You’ll need to set up your hosting and domain name, and you’ll be responsible for managing things like security and backups.
- Because WordPress offers so many options and so much flexibility, it can sometimes feel a little daunting when you’re getting started. This is why many beginners use drag & drop page builder plugins for WordPress.
WordPress itself doesn’t cost anything. However you’ll need a domain name (around $9 – $15 per year) and a hosting account with a web host that can run WordPress (normally from $7.99/month).
We have a special deal with Bluehost where you can get WordPress hosting for just $2.75/month which includes a free domain and free SSL.
If you need some help getting your WordPress site started, check out our guide on how to make a website with step by step instructions.
HubSpot CMS Hub is a fully integrated content management system that is specifically designed for marketers and business owners.
Because it is built on top of HubSpot’s CRM platform which includes all sorts of marketing automation, sales, service, and operations tools, CMS Hub is an ideal solution for growing businesses as well as large enterprises looking for an all-in-one system to manage their website.
- HubSpot website builder is easy to use even if you have little to no technical skills. Their drag-and-drop editor, built-in SEO tools and contact attribution all makes it easy to create and optimize your web content.
- They have smart content features to personalize your website page to specific visitors or larger segments.
- For developers, there are serverless functions, flexible theme options, and command line tools, so you can make changes and customize assets faster.
- CMS Hub comes with built-in security features — including a global CDN and Web Application Firewall along with a dedicated security team to keep your site safe from DDoS attacks, hackers, and other anomalies.
- HubSpot CMS seamlessly integrates with their email marketing tool and sales CRM, so you can streamline your operational workflows.
- There is no free version, but they do offer a free trial.
- HubSpot CMS isn’t as well suited for e-commerce websites. The good news is that it easily integrates with WordPress and WooCommerce.
CMS Hub comes in three tiers: Starter, Professional and Enterprise.
The Starter plan is $25/month and has all the features you need to build a fully-functioning website. The higher tiers are better suited for building more complex web apps with dynamic personalization and internal processes.
A lot of smart business owners use HubSpot’s free marketing tools while using WordPress as the CMS platform to build their website.
Joomla is another popular free open source CMS platform that comes with lots of different templates and extensions. It’s free to use, but you’ll need hosting and a domain name.
It was first released in 2005, so like WordPress, it’s been going for years. Joomla is packed with features, and many web hosts offer a 1 click installation. However, it’s really an ideal CMS platform for developers and experienced website creators, so it’s not such a good option for beginners.
- Joomla gives you lots of flexibility and plenty of options. It’s a good choice if you’re building something complicated or bespoke.
- Although Joomla is particularly useful for developers, you can still use it even if you don’t want to ever touch a line of code. It’s easy to edit your content.
- Like WordPress, Joomla is open source, and there’s lots of community support available if you get stuck.
- You can use Joomla to run an e-commerce store as there are extensions available for this.
- Even Joomla fans will admit it can be pretty complex. Depending on what you want to do with it, you may well need to hire a developer to help out.
- There aren’t that many options for additional extensions. If you’re used to a CMS like WordPress, which has thousands of available themes and plugins that extend the core functionality, you might be disappointed by Joomla.
- There can be some compatibility issues if you have a lot of different extensions and modules installed.
Joomla itself is free, though you’ll need to pay for a domain name and web hosting that supports Joomla. SiteGround is a good option here, as they have specific Joomla hosting plans with lots of handy features.
You may find yourself paying for some extensions to add more functionality to your website. You might even want to budget for getting help from a developer, depending on what you’re trying to achieve.
WooCommerce isn’t technically a CMS platform itself. Instead, it runs as a plugin on WordPress, so you’ll need to have WordPress on your site in order to install WooCommerce.
If it was a CMS platform, though, it’d have 5.8% of marketshare, according to W3Techs. That’s the percentage of all the websites in the world that use it.
- WooCommerce is available as free software, but you’ll need WooCommerce hosting and domain name to get started.
- There are lots of WooCommerce themes available, which makes it really easy to get your site looking exactly how you want.
- WooCommerce has lots of available extensions (known as WooCommerce plugins) that let you add extra functionality to your site.
- You can sell physical or digital products using WooCommerce. You can even sell affiliate products through affiliate links.
- You can fully manage your inventory through WooCommerce, making it easy to keep track of what you have in stock.
- WooCommerce comes with PayPal and Stripe payments by default. You can also add any other payment gateways through extensions and add-ons.
- There are a lot of different options in WooCommerce, which can be a bit daunting when you’re new to setting up a website.
- WooCommerce technically works with any WordPress theme, but you may want to stick with themes made specifically for WooCommerce for extended support.
The WooCommerce plugin itself is free, but you may need to pay for extra plugins and extensions for your online store.
You’ll also need to pay for a domain name and a web hosting account. Bluehost is a great web host to pick as they’ll install WooCommerce and the Storefront Theme for your site for you.
Drupal is another open source CMS platform. It’s the CMS behind some major websites, including The Economist’s site and a number of university’s sites.
Drupal is a good option for developers, or for people able to hire a developer. It’s especially good if you’re aiming to build a highly customized site that needs to handle a lot of data.
You can host a Drupal site on SiteGround. They offer free installation and can even help you transfer an existing Drupal site.
- It’s easy to add content on Drupal. The custom content types are flexible and offer plenty of options.
- There are lots of different modules available that you can add to your site (these work like WordPress plugins).
- Support is available via community support options similar to other popular platforms like Joomla and WordPress
- User management is easy, with a built-in system where you can create new roles and specify their permissions.
- With Drupal, it can be tricky to figure out how to change the appearance of your site or add extras. It’s definitely not as beginner-friendly as WordPress.
- Most Drupal websites have a heavily customized theme created by a developer, which can be very expensive.
Wix is a popular CMS platform, though it has some limitations. We often get readers asking how to switch from Wix to WordPress that’s because every smart business owner knows that WordPress is definitely better than Wix.
With that said, Wix is beginner-friendly and it might be worth considering. It offers a free plan, too.
- Wix’s drag and drop interface makes it really easy to create pages that look just how you want. You can select any part of your page and start editing it.
- There are lots of pre-made templates you can choose from in Wix. These are fully responsive, so they look great on mobiles and computers.
- You can add lots of apps to your site from the Wix App Market. These work like WordPress’s plugins to give your site new features.
- Once you’ve chosen a template on Wix, you can’t change to a different one. This could mean that you get stuck with a layout that’s not quite right for your site.
- You can’t run an eCommerce store on Wix unless you upgrade to a paid plan, and even then, you can only accept payments using PayPal or Authorize.net.
- Wix doesn’t allow you to easily download your data and export it. You can download your blog posts (though not your images) to move them, but if you have any pages on your site, you’ll need to copy and paste these manually. We have full instructions on how to move your Wix site to WordPress.
- If you’re using the free plan, you’ll have a Wix-branded domain name and ads on your site. The ads make money for Wix, not you.
You can use Wix for free, if you’re happy with a Wix-branded domain name and ads running on your site. The paid plans offer more flexibility and start from $13 per month (paid upfront annually).
If you want to take online payments, you’ll need to pay $23/month or more (again, upfront annually).
BigCommerce is a fully hosted eCommerce platform, which is sometimes called an all-in-one platform. It’s easy to get started with if you’re a beginner.
BigCommerce hosts your site for you, as well as providing the actual CMS platform itself. It also handles security and backups for you.
- There’s a trial plan, so you can give BigCommerce a go before committing.
- You can use a free domain name from BigCommerce, which will look something like mystore.mybigcommerce.com, or you can pay for a custom domain name.
- There are lots of different ways you can take payments through BigCommerce. Customers can use digital wallets like PayPal, Apple Pay, and Amazon Pay, or they can pay by credit or debit card.
- BigCommerce has support options that you can access straight from your dashboard, 24/7. These include live chat, email, phone support, community support, and more.
- You can use BigCommerce with WordPress if you want to, which can give you the best of both CMS platforms.