This article was published 6 years ago, therefore the contents of this post may be out of date.

The value of a Content Management System (CMS) is the ability to control content, functionality and even layout through an easy-to-use UI. Everyone from the solo blogger to all the way to the big corporations uses a form of a CMS because of how they simplify site management.

On the other hand, some CMS’s can be real hogs of resources weighed down with heavy amounts of code and slow databases, which can be a bit of overkill for a basic site.

That’s why I have this list of the 10 real alternatives to widely-used platforms like WordPress, Joomla! or Drupal. Each of these platforms are great, so they’re viable options you can test on your own.

1. Fork CMS

Fork CMS is dedicated to creating a user-friendly environment to build, monitor and update your website. It is jam-packed with cool apps. It comes with the territory of being a kick-ass Content Management System. Fork CMS is jam-packed with a collection of beautiful themes build by talented designers.

With Fork CMS, being a marketing guru is super easy. It also plays nicely with existing services like Campaign Monitor and Google Analytics.

2. Ghost

Ghost started basically as a response to the bloated nature of WordPress, citing that WP was no longer meant for blogs, and it was more of a CMS. Ghost, therefore, focuses purely on blogging.

Ghost relies on Markdown, though you can change that by means of extensions. Ghost is available in two variants: self-hosted, which you can download and setup on your own server, or hosted, that lets you run your blog on Ghost’s servers.

3. Grav

Grav is a fast, simple, and flexible, flat file CMS, there’s 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.

You’ll also find some powerful features like the ability to create custom fields, create unlimited taxonomies, a smart caching system and command line tools.

4. Pagekit

Pagekit is built on Vue.js, which means it’s quite fast. Its use of Symfony Components means that the system architecture is both modular and extendable.

Creating content is made easier with an included HTML & Markdown editor with the ability to preview changes in real-time. Managing content, menus and widgets is a simple drag-and-drop. User permissions can be set to allow team members access to only the areas they need.

There’s a nice Marketplace, with a selection of Extensions and Themes where you can use to make the most of your website.

5. Anchor

Anchor is a lightweight CMS designed to be simple but effective, its core promise is to keep the writing process as simple as possible. It gives you full freedom over your words, where you can write in Markdown or HTML, whatever you prefer.

Creating and modifying a theme is as simple as knowing some very simple PHP and HTML/CSS. You can add or remove an infinite amount of custom fields to any post or page at the click of a button.

6. Kirby

Kirby is a flat file CMS that cost money. Content can be manually created as text files and uploaded to the server, or using the Kirby Panel.

Kirby supports custom user roles and permissions. Its jQuery inspired API is both powerful and intuitive, letting you access every bit of data and site settings within the templates. When writing your content, you can use an editor with plain Markdown or Kirbytext.

7. Typesetter

Typesetter was designed to be an easy to use, but lightweight and fully functional content management system. Typesetter design approach is a fast and simple installation that doesn’t require a database to the integrated admin interface that allows users to instantly see page edits and configuration changes in one window.

8. October

October is a free, open-source, self-hosted CMS platform based on the Laravel PHP Framework. It aims to be both simple and modular. The back end is quite minimal, with only a few basic and intuitive features. The system uses Twig, it has also extended that language with items that relate directly to the CMS.

You’ll also find a nice collection of free and paid plugins and themes. Pages, Layouts and code snippets (which called Partials) are saved as .htm files.

9. Bolt

Bolt is an open source Content Management Tool, which strives to be as simple and straightforward as possible. It is quick to set up, easy to configure, uses elegant templates, and above all: It’s a joy to use. All content in Bolt is structured in ContentTypes. They are easily accessible and you can filter it to quickly find things. Adding a new page in any ContentType is at most two clicks away.

The backend interface is fully responsive, so it works on desktop computers, laptops, tablets and phones alike. Very convenient, either on the road or on the couch. Bolt uses Twig for its templates: an elegant, flexible and concise templating language that allows you to write templates the way you want. You don’t have to know PHP or know how databases work in order to get whatever content you need from the backend.

10. Siteleaf

Siteleaf is a smart, powerful and lightweight CMS. It seems to be the choice for agencies and solo developers looking to build big or small sites. Siteleaf is a flexible CMS that can work for any type of content.

To build your own theme you can use the Liquid Templating Language. You’ll probably need to have some programming experience to get the results you want. The admin interface is a joy to use and requires no coding skills.


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