Popular content management systems (CMS) like WordPress or Drupal are great, but if you are building a small website you probably don’t need the rich functionalities that get offered. What you really need is a simpler, more elegant and lightweight solution, that what you get with a flat CMS.

The most noticeable difference you will see in a flat CMS is that it doesn’t need a database as a flat CMS stores any website data or content in files and folders only. Without querying to retrieve content from a database, you will enjoy the accelerated loading of your website and you can also skip the cumbersome installation process, merely upload files to the server, and the site is ready.

If you want to give flat CMS a go, here are ten you can have a go with, most of them feature a Markdown editor that can render your .md files into web-pages.

1. Kirby

Kirby Cms

Kirby is a lightweight CMS that  adapts to your projects like no other and it’s probably fits somewhere between feature-rich platforms such as Drupal, and static site generators. With other flat CMS Kirby has a web interface named Kirby Panel, which lets you post your content as a page, blog, or gallery, as well as to manage the users and roles.

Price: $115.00

2. Pico

Pico Flat File Cms

Pico is a stupidly simple, blazing fast, flat file CMS. That’s definitely a mouthful, what does it even mean? In the most basic sense, it means that there is no administration backend or database to deal with. You simply create markdown files in the content folder and those files become your pages. There’s much more to Pico than that though.

Pico trades one-click setups and complex management interfaces for blazing speed, flexibility, and a lightweight footprint. If a little bit of reading and some basic configuration sounds like too much then Pico is probably not for you. That being said, Pico is incredibly extendable and customisable. With a very small amount of configuration, you’ll find yourself with a very personalized experience.

Price: Free

3. Grav

Grav Cms

Grav is not your average CMS. It’s an open source, flat-file NoDB CMS written for PHP 5.6.4+ that is focused on being crazy fast, easy to learn and use, with powerful features to enable it be easily extended.Content is just simple markdown files in folders, with no complicated databases to deal with. A powerful API and extensive hooks allow for plugins to extend Grav and a comprehensive package manager provides easy installation and updating of extensions. Flexible Twig templating allows easy realization of your designs.

Price: Free

4. October

October Cms

October is a Content Management System (CMS) and web platform whose sole purpose is to make your development workflow simple again. It was born out of frustration with existing systems.

October doesn’t impose any restrictions on the website page structure, HTML or CSS markup. There is not much difference between writing your markup in a text editor or in the October administration area, in the end you will get the same final markup in the browser.

October is built on Laravel, the best existing PHP framework. The framework includes all of the tools and classes that are necessary for building quality websites and applications. October adds even more power to Laravel with a collection of simple and flexible features.

Price: Free

5. Statamic

Statamic Flat Cms

Statamic cuts out the database and creates a faster, more productive way for you to build, manage, and version control beautifully creative, bespoke websites. Statamic is built on Laravel, the most modern, powerful, and secure PHP framework ever created.

Statamic stores all of your content and configurations in files. Text files, Markdown files, YAML files, and so on. You can see them, touch them, edit them in any editor of your choosing, and even email them to a friend for editing. Combine these files with HTML, CSS, and our Antlers template language, your site comes alive with possibilities.

Price: $199.00 (Single Site License) or $895.00 (Master License)

6. Bludit

Bludit

Bludit is a web application to build your own website or blog in seconds, it’s completely free and open source. Bludit uses files in JSON format to store the content, you don’t need to install or configure a database. You only need a web server with PHP support.

Bludit supports Markdown and HTML code for the content, also provide Markdown Editor and WYSIWYG Editor. Bludit takes care of the security and privacy of the users. Bludit doesn’t track or uses external libraries, frameworks and other resources. Extend Bludit’s functionality with amazing plugins.

Price: Free

7. Mecha CMS

Mecha Content Management System

Mecha is a file-based CMS that survives on principle that a database-less site should be personal, portable, light and easy to be exported and backed up.

Mecha is as simple as files and folders. Yet, that doesn’t mean that Mecha is weak. Mecha has fairly flexible set of API that you can use without having to make it bloated, keeping you happy focused on developing your own site, according to your personality.

Price: Free

8. Automad

Automad Cms

Automad is a flat content management system and template engine written in PHP. All content is stored in human readable text files instead of a database. An Automad site is therefore fully portable, easy to install and can be version controlled by using Git or Mercurial.

It nevertheless offers database features like searching and tagging. The built-in template engine allows even inexperienced developers and designers to create beautiful themes and templates.

Price: Free

9. WonderCMS

WonderCMS

WonderCMS is a free and open source flat file CMS, aimed to be extremely small and simple. It’s built with PHP, jQuery, HTML and CSS, developed since 2008. There’s no initial configuration is required and the installation process is pretty straightforward, simply unzip and upload 5 files. All files can be easily moved, backed up and restored by copy/pasting all files to another location.

Moving them to another host does not require any re-configuration.WonderCMS also doesn’t require a traditional/relational database like MySQL. The flat file technology enables WonderCMS to save all data to a text file (flat file) called database.js which is structured in JSON format .

Price: Free

10. Batflat

Batflat

Batflat was created as a lightweight alternative to heavy and outdated CMS’. Many people use complex solutions for simple pages, unnecessarily. Building this content management system, we focused on simplicity – even novice webmaster adapt his template and writes his own module. To achieve this, we implemented a simple template system and trivial application architecture.

Batflat does not require MySQL database, because all the data are collected in a single file. This provides perfect portability when changing your hosting provider. Just copy all the files from one account to another. That’s all. There’s nothing to configure or to change. However, if you SQLite does not meet your requirements, you can quickly change the database type thanks to PDO.

Price: Free

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10 Flat CMS for Lightweight and Simple Websites