Attracting as many visitors as possible and maintaining their interest depends primarily on engaging content. Texts and audiovisual elements offer added value to the Internet user and, at the same time, have a positive impact on search engines. This content, however, has to be managed, published, updated and communicated; a task that, depending on the size of the page, can be of Herculean dimensions and impossible to carry out if it is not with the appropriate content management system ( CMS ). Below we take a look at the most important requirements for a CMS and compare the most popular open source solutions.

Definition of content management system (CMS)

A content management system (CMS) is a program that allows one or more users to create, edit and publish web content (text, video, image) without programming knowledge in a graphical user interface.

What is the best CMS for me? make the right choice

In the search for the content management system that best suits the interests of each one, it is easy to lose perspective, since today there are between 250 and 300 different programs on the market, ranging from simple modular systems to blogs to more complete managers for the professional field. The central question that determines the choice revolves around the requirements that a content manager must meet so that it can effectively support the project.

Fields of application of content managers

There are usually three fundamental fields of application for content management systems. When opting for a solution for a new project, it is essential to consider what is the primary factor that has marked the development of the program. Normally, a difference is usually made between web content management ( web content management) , publication on blogs and news pages (blog publishing/news) and publication on social platforms (social publishing/communities).

web content management

In the classic content management for the Internet, it is usually necessary for several editors or administrators to be able to access the backend, something that does not work without a minimally elaborate permissions system. It is also convenient to optimize the web page with multimedia content. Other important factors are: good authorship management, a full-text search function, efficient news management or the possibility of presenting the content in several languages.

Blogs and news pages

This is the quintessential blogging format. Here, it’s essentially about editing and publishing content, hyperlinking it, organizing it into a coherent category structure, and coupling it with social networking and other web 2.0 features. To this are added the options for interaction with the reader and the scheduled publication of entries, without forgetting the possibility of creating content without complications and, if possible, on a mobile terminal.

Posting on social platforms

Developing an online community and presenting it to a wide circle of users requires a much broader range of functions than just a blog. This is because the focus is on an active group of users and not passive readers. In this model, content is not only created by community administrators, but also by participating members themselves (ideally, mostly them). It is what is called user generated content or content generated by the user. Generally, the system underlying social publishing solutions is usually modular, so that it can be expanded with the necessary functions for the social web.

Proprietary or open source CMS

Many content management systems are made available by their communities as open source solutions. These are open source solutions and they receive this name because the system and the program code can be freely accessed, which allows users to carry out modifications, improvements and extensions to the code and thus adapt the CMS to personal needs.

Opposite these are proprietary solutions , developed by a particular company and, as a rule, commercially distributed. To use a proprietary CMS it is usually necessary to purchase a license. The source code is not freely available.

On the other hand, open source software does not require a license fee , which makes it especially attractive for companies from an economic point of view. Concerning their level of development, the consolidated open source solutions are not behind the proprietary ones. Behind projects as well known as WordPress or TYPO3, there are communities of developers with a high technical level. Extensive documentation and transparency in the development process also help ensure that bugs and vulnerabilities are fixed quickly.

Now, what is the real market share of open source programs in the management of web pages compared to proprietary solutions?

Global comparison of CMS for web management

By far the most popular solution for publishing web content quickly and cheaply is WordPress. According to the analytics company W3Techs , more than 40% of the web pages worldwide are based on this open CMS, followed by other solutions such as Joomla! or Drupal, open source projects that have managed to be among the top ten CMS.

Open source content management systems, available to users in free versions promoted by their communities, are capable of competing with even established HTML editors such as Adobe Dreamweaver.

Las soluciones más populares para gestionar páginas web

CMSmarket share
adobe dreamweaver0.3%

Open source solutions for web shops are also very popular around the world, according to the graph. Many online merchants rely on the Magento eCommerce platform, the Shopify system or the French PrestaShop program for online stores, a success that proves that free products also belong to the standard registration in the field of website business management. Also the systems of commercial providers to design web pages enjoy certain popularity.

With the good reputation of open source as an excuse, we present below the most popular free content managers and compare their main functions for web management. MyWebsite Now and Dreamweaver complete the comparison as proprietary options. A detailed description of the different systems is followed by a comparative table in which these aspects are taken into account:

  • Installation and configuration
  • Users Management
  • Use and creation of content
  • SEO and responsive design
  • security and service

These are the most popular CMS

Open source systems like WordPress, TYPO3, Joomla!, Drupal, Contao, and Neos are considered the standard solutions for professional website management , but not all systems are fit for every purpose. We have analyzed the core functions, fields of application and technical requirements of these CMS to facilitate the task of choosing the best CMS for each case.


WordPress is the most widely used open source CMS in the world. Originally conceived as a system for blogs, today the basic installation includes several extensions that turn the software into a complete content management system.

Página de inicio del proyecto WordPress


  • 58,000+ extensions and countless free themes
  • “Installation in 5 minutes” with the WP Wizard
  • Generate SEO optimized URLs
  • Publishing and management tools for mobile solutions

WordPress 5.6 system requirements:

  • Web server: any server that supports PHP and MySQL/MariaDB (recommended: Apache or NGINX)
  • Middleware : PHP 7.4 or higher
  • Database: MySQL 5.6 or higher or MariaDB 10.1 or higher
  • Other recommendations: HTTPS support

The WordPress user community benefits from a huge variety of themes, plugins and widgets , although the most critical consider that this has not only made the system more complex, but above all more confusing and slow. Add to this the fate of all popular software: due to its great popularity, the CMS has become one of the favorite targets of cybercriminals , which means that users have to carry out frequent security updates. These updates, while released fairly quickly after some compromising event, are not always compatible with the myriad extensions necessary for effective use of the software, so a software update can be tied to intensive administration work, especially in those big projects.

Since the installation of the basic version is so easy , WordPress is especially suitable for small web pages with a simple structure. Those bloggers whose objective is to offer new content to their readers frequently with an attractive design will find in WordPress a very effective CMS with a very intuitive web interface. However, as the complexity of the project increases, the usability of the software also decreases and, although it is true that WordPress allows to make large business projects a reality, it is also true that, in these cases, this increase in functions inevitably goes linked to a larger management job.

If the website is to have a stable operation, WordPress places high demands on the server when the visitor traffic increases. Those users who plan to run complex multi-language multi-domain projects should consider an option like TYPO3.

Great support communityCMS features require additional extensions
Installation and configuration require little effortPlugins often reveal security gaps
very intuitive interfaceLimited stability and performance with high traffic
Extensions and plugins integrate easilyFrequent security updates complicate administration

Have we piqued your interest in WordPress? More information about the popular blogging software can be found in our WordPress article.


TYPO3 is, together with WordPress, the best-known open source content manager and has the support of a specialized technical team that deals with its continuous development and maintenance, although it shows further expansion in other countries, where enjoys a good positioning for large corporate portals and e-commerce platforms.

Página informativa de TYPO3


  • CMS for companies
  • Huge range of functions
  • Very extensive authorship management
  • Connection with other systems (CRM or ERP)

TYPO3 CMS 10 LTS system requirements:

  • Web server: Apache, MS IIS, NGINX, Caddy Server
  • Middleware: PHP 7.2 or higher
  • Database : MySQL 5.5 or higher, MariaDB 10.2, MS SQL server, PostgreSQL, SQLite
  • Hardware : 256 MB RAM minimum
  • Other recommendations: GraphicsMagick or ImageMagick; GDlib; freetype; zlib; if an Apache server is used: mod_gzip, mod_deflate, mod_rewrite; PHP cache (eg APCu, PHP-Accelerator, OPcache or Zend Accelerator); individual extensions may require other software.

TYPO3’s strong point is an extensive community that quickly assists with questions and problems from less experienced users. At the same time, corporate users have a large number of agencies specialized in providing professional support for TYPO3.

Using a CMS as powerful as this at a professional level requires some technical knowledge, but if you have it, it is even possible to create complex structures with content in several languages. Its extensive functionality guarantees the ability to manage copyrights at the highest level, while allowing connection with business applications as classic as CRM and ERP systems. On the other hand, the most critical sectors point out the greater degree of difficulty involved in learning to use and manage the application compared to other content managers.

In principle, the extensive range of TYPO3 functions allows you to carry out any type of web project, an ability that is reflected in the complexity of its installation, configuration and maintenance. Despite this, the popularity and good reputation of the software contribute to its continued use as the basis for small projects, in which administrators would be investing more work than necessary. When you don’t need all the features that this professional CMS contains, it is better to resort to a modular software with an easier basic installation. On the other hand, those complex projects managed by a computer team do well to trust TYPO3 as the technical foundation of a functional and efficient page.

Widespread CMS with a large community (including many experts)Deployment, configuration and administration require extensive technical knowledge
Great variety of functions, flexibility and extensibilityIts extensive range of functions places more demands on hosting than other systems
Extensive rights management at a professional levelRequires a lot of practice at first, especially for newbies

In our guide you will be able to follow the steps to install TYPO3 without problems and, if you are looking to get to know this content manager for companies and its full range of functions, do not miss our basic article on TYPO3 in the Digital Guide.


With almost a 3% market share, Joomla! It is one of the most popular CMS in this market. Oriented equally to experts and amateurs, it is however more demanding than WordPress in its application. Unlike this one, it already contains many basic functions to manage content. A positive aspect for those less versed in computer issues is, of course, the good quality of the documentation in the form of online manuals prepared by the community, as well as the active user forum.

Página principal del proyecto de código libre Joomla!


  • Currently, more than 6000 extensions available
  • Object-based content management
  • Large international user community

Joomla! 3.x:

  • Web server: Apache HTTP Server 2.0 (2.4 recommended) with mod_mysql , mod_xml , and mod_zlib ; NGINX 1.0 (1.8 or higher recommended); MS IIS 7
  • Middleware: PHP 5.3.10 (recommended 7.3 or higher)
  • Databases: MySQL 5.1 with InnoDB support (5.5.3 or higher recommended), MS SQL Server 10.50.1600.1 (10.50.1600.1 or higher recommended), PostgreSQL 8.3.18 (9.1 or higher)

Born from the open source CMS Mambo, Joomla! It is especially popular in the United States and is characterized by a fully object-oriented software design based on a stand-alone MVC framework. This is what allows CMS users to write their own extensions and share them with the community through the Joomla! repository itself. , with which you can also install the extensions in the backend. It is also possible to create individual templates from the combination of pre-designed elements.

Joomla! It categorizes extensions into plugins , components, modules, templates, and languages and can be used on both the frontend and backend , which is quite a common source of irritation among users. Author and access management is sometimes perceived as incomplete in large projects, something where extensions can be useful (although they are not always free).

Easier installation and configuration than other CMSManagement of rights with deficiencies
Large bank of layouts and extensionsThe most mature extensions are, in part, paid
Intuitive template creationPart of the extensions have to be updated manually

In it NGO>article about Joomla! in our Digital Guide we delve into this intuitive free content manager.


Open source and modular, Drupal was originally developed as a student bulletin board. It is currently available as a fully valid open source CMS. The strong point of the project continues to be its community. The basic installation of the software is extremely easy and can be extended with a large number of modules. The basic module already contains numerous functions for the social web such as weblogs, forums and tag clouds.

Página principal del proyecto Drupal


  • Flexible and modular architecture
  • Very simple basic installation with more than 46,000 expansion modules
  • Emphasis on social publishing and communities (forums)
  • More than 1,300 distributions as a comprehensive solution for typical application cases

Drupal 9 system requirements:

  • Web server: Apache 2.4.7. or higher, NGINX 0.7 or higher, MS IIS or any web server that supports PHP
  • Middleware: PHP 7.3 or higher
  • Database: MySQL 5.7.8. or higher, MariaDB 10.3.7, Percona Server 5.7.8 or higher, PostgreSQL 10 or higher (with the pg_trgm extension), SQLite 3.26 or higher

Drupal’s modular architecture allows for a high degree of customization , but users who know exactly what they need can save themselves from assembling modules by resorting to predefined distributions for various fields of application based on the Drupal framework.

By prioritizing social publishing above all, Drupal is ideal for projects based on small and medium-sized communities, although its wide range of extensions also allows you to create corporate portals with complex multi-domain structures. However, managing a kernel with many extensions requires technical knowledge as well as subtlety. If the basic functions of the software are not enough, the additional modules, in complex relationships of interdependencies, have to be installed by FTP. Its lack of backwards compatibility makes updating extensions difficult.

Drupal’s main field of application covers building social publishing platforms and communities. Because of its flexibility, this is the best CMS for highly dynamic platforms that build on user-generated content.

Compact software coreComplex setup due to lack of backwards compatibility
Wide variety of modules and predefined distributionsThe basic version is very simple and requires many subsequent installations
Supports multi-domain managementInstallation of additional modules is only possible via FTP

Drupal is also featured in an article in our Digital Guide.


The CMS Contao is a clear and friendly application to manage web content. The system stands out for an intuitive and multilingual backend and a clean and well-structured administration interface , but the aspect that pays the most attention is the compatibility with web standards and the accessible presentation of content in HTML 5.

Página de inicio del proyecto libre Contao


  • Intuitive CMS with a wide range of functions
  • More than 1400 extensions available
  • multilingual backend
  • online demo
  • Two-factor authentication (since Contao 4.6)

Contao 4.9 Long Term Support (LTS) system requirements

  • Web server: Apache, NGINX or IIS compatible with PHP and MySQL
  • Middleware: min. PHP 7.4.
  • Database: min. MySQL 8.0
  • Other recommendations: in order to take advantage of all its functionality, the following PHP extensions are necessary: DOM, PCRE, Intl, PDO, ZLIB, JSON, Curl, Mbstring, GD

Contao already has a very extensive range of functions in the basic configuration and its more than 1400 extensions provide great flexibility. The web content management system also includes a theme manager that allows you to customize the layout and layout of the page with the help of predefined modules. Website owners also have the possibility to resort to professional themes for various application cases and industry sectors on the same CMS page and from other Contao theme providers. The themes are offered in a paid and a free version.

Free software is known for its high security standards. The Long Term Support (LTS) version is guaranteed technical support for four years. During this period the LTS version gets bug fixes and security updates, but no new features. This version is stable and is recommended for productive web pages.

There is also a development version that receives bug fixes and security updates for half a year and contains new features that the LTS version lacks and that will not be incorporated until the next LTS release. This version is recommended for everyone who wants to try new features.

On its website you can access the presentation of a trial version of the application that, together with abundant documentation material , make it easy to start working with it. On the same page it is also possible to carry out an analysis to evaluate the compatibility of the server.

This highly flexible content manager adjusts to web pages of any size. The software offers a high-performance architecture that already contains many functions in the core system, but can be tailored to individual needs through its extensive collection of extensions, making it possible to create intranet solutions, e-commerce platforms, corporate portals or completely satisfactory microsites in terms of SEO and web analysis.

However, the standard configuration of Contao does not allow the implementation of multi-stage workflows, although there are extensions that can render a workflow in Contao 4.

Scalable, high-performance architectureThe base system does not support staged workflows, but they can be implemented with extensions
Intuitive installation, management and upgrade of installationsIt has a smaller community, but very active
Good balance of safety
easy updates

If you want more information about this CMS and a detailed description of its basic structure, be sure to visit our article on Contao in our Digital Guide.

Neos CMS

Together with TYPO3, Neos is a true open source content management system for businesses. It is especially attractive for editors and developers and stands out for two reasons: on the one hand, because with this CMS publishers create content in a real WYGIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor and, on the other, because developers have a state-of-the-art system with planned expansion, living Styleguides and atomic design. In addition, it is an ideal system to link content with external systems (ERP, CMR, stores, etc.).

Página de inicio de Neos

Data :

  • Open source content management system for companies
  • Real WYSIWYG editor (Inline Editing)
  • Search Engine Optimized URLs
  • Management and publishing tools for mobile solutions
  • Planned expansion to link other systems such as store solutions, CMR and ERP

Neos CMS 7.x system requirements

  • Web server : Apache, NGINX
  • Middleware : PHP >= 7.3.0 (for development, PHP CLI must have the same version)
    • PHP modules: mbstring, tokenizer, xml, pdo_mysql, imagick or gmagick
    • PHP functions: exec(), shell_exec(), escapeshellcmd() and escapeshellarg()
  • Database : Official support: MySQL > 5.7.7, MariaDB > 10.2.2 and PostgreSQL > 9.4
    • Optional: Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, SAP Sybase SQL Anywhere, SQLite, Drizzle
  • Hardware : at least 256 MB RAM
  • Other Recommendations : Individual extensions may require additional software

“Content’s first choice” is not only Neos’ motto, but also defines the program. Neos was designed so that it could be used with ease , the WYSIWYG editor known as Inline Editing being especially striking. Thanks to this feature, the user can edit the content directly in the template of the page being created, instead of having to fill in the fields for titles, subheadings, paragraphs, etc., as is usual in CMS traditional, which only provides a preview of how it will look on the frontend if this option is selected.

The same happens with the design of other screen formats such as tablets or smartphones or even Google results : users can switch from one view to another without having to leave the page. This allows for fast and effective content optimization across different channels.

Another of the peculiarities of this CMS are those known as Content Dimensions , which allow editors to create the content versions they need for different target audiences. Not only can content be generated in different languages, but also for different profiles (gender, culture, country, religion, etc.), all with fallback options. That is why with Neos it is much easier to control campaigns closely, focusing on the objective. Furthermore, maintaining different multisites on a Neos system belongs to the standard repertoire.

From creation to publication, content goes through a series of review and approval phases. To manage work efficiently and easily integrate into processes, Neos offers user and group workspaces.

Despite focusing on content, Neos is not a simple CMS, since in its development it was taken into account that it include integration and scalability options. That’s why it integrates an equally effective PHP framework called Flow. Developers can customize Neos according to their own needs.

The Neos community refers to the CMS as a “ Content Application Platform ”, a name with which it is intended to emphasize the strengths of Neos: in addition to the creation of web pages, it is also very appropriate for more complex projects that include, for example, the integration of third-party software, the connection to external systems (ERP, CRM, etc.) or the integration of online stores, among other things. Existing extensions can be easily installed through Composer (eg Google Analytics, IBM Watson, Elasticsearch, etc.).

Individual extensions are also not a problem for the CMS. With Neos 4.0, for example, the Assets API was introduced, which allows direct access to external media resources (Google Drive, Dropbox, OwnCloud, etc.). Also, photo services like Fotolia, Unsplash, etc., can be edited without leaving the page.

The scalability of Neos has hardly any limits. For example, the “Neos Award 2018” award was given to a project that exports a publishing client’s online content directly from Neos into a printable InDesign template, including special margins for prepress. With such a project, the need to review content twice is eliminated.

After the recent adaptation of the user interface in React, the developers are currently working on the integration of machine learning or the new implementation of the Neos Content Repository with CQRS and EventSourcing. The latter, in particular, makes Neos especially interesting for banks, insurance companies and institutions, as it stores the various content reissues securely against subsequent changes.

Real WYSIWYG editor (Inline Editing) that allows you to create the content at the same time that shows what the final result would be likeThe effort required for the creation of smaller projects is generally high
It is not necessary to have knowledge of PHP to create pages of a certain complexityRelatively high adaptation process for beginners
Community with great willingness to help and more than 2000 users in the official Neos SlackNeos’ wide range of features places a number of professional demands on hosting
The combination of the CMS and the PHP framework makes it much easier to extend Neos
It supports two-tier CMS architecture for large projects with maximum scalability, resiliency, and security.

MyWebsite Now: a hassle-free alternative

Apart from the best-known content managers, modular web design is becoming an increasingly popular option. One of the latest representatives of this design style is MyWebsite Now, GOSB’s simple and effective alternative to conventional CMS. The robust web hosting provider offers its website solution in a monthly subscription package that includes a personal domain and a TLS/SSL certificate. With it, users not only benefit from a non-professional web design program that requires no programming knowledge, but also get a hosting environment managed and maintained by GOSB.

The web editor is the true heart of MyWebsite Now. Intuitive and simple, it allows you to freely drag the various elements that make up a web page to the desired place, although it also includes predesigned modules with content proposals that significantly simplify the creative process. With multiple layout, layout and color options, there is still room for personal creativity, and if desired, a template designed to fit different types of projects, such as a private site, home page, can be used as a starting point. of an association or a commercial website. They are all responsive to work seamlessly on any device.

MyWebsite Now frees users from maintenance and administration tasks, which fall into the hands of the provider, so that they can dedicate themselves body and soul to their project. With more than 30 years of experience behind it in the sector, GOSB knows how to convince in safety and efficacy. All projects are hosted in high-performance, ISO-certified data centers that offer maximum data security and are protected against system failures. However, in case of eventual technical problems with the program or the page, clients have the support of a personal adviser.

Includes domain, hosting and TLS/SSL certificateDependence on external service providers
Modules prepared to design any web project
Hosting in certified and secure data centers
Updates and maintenance of the software and the page are the responsibility of the provider

Dreamweaver: Creative Cloud web design software

If we take a look at the W3Tech statistics again, it is obvious that a large number of web page owners prefer to design their project from scratch, opting for the Dreamweaver HTML editor , which thus becomes a solid alternative to free content managers. The web design software, originally developed by Macromedia, is now part of Adobe Systems’ Creative Cloud as a proprietary product for macOS and Windows.

For graphical editing of web pages and mobile content , Dreamweaver combines a WYSIWYG editor with a high-performance coding engine, which provides developers with features such as syntax highlighting, automatic code completion, validation and live preview. In addition to HTML5 and CSS, the software supports web standards such as PHP, Java, JavaScript, ASP or XML, as well as the CSS preprocessors SASS, Less and SCSS. Naturally, responsive design is also counted among its faculties thanks to the integrated Bootstrap CSS framework.

Due to the large number of functions it contains and the high price involved in acquiring the user license , this complete software is designed, rather, for the professional sector (designers and agencies). In our article on Adobe Dreamweaver you can get more information on this, as well as a presentation of various open source alternatives.

Newcomers: new CMS arrive stomping

Along with the best-known programs, in recent years other systems have appeared which, although without the same expansion as the first ones, enjoy the support of very active communities. These CMS could be adequate for many purposes, even without being interesting for the vast majority of users. At the same time, they provide a significant boost from which even the competition can benefit.


The Craft content management system was born in 2012, but it continues to occupy a niche area. This could be due to two reasons: on the one hand, the difficulty for new products to establish themselves in such a competitive market and, on the other, without really being a disadvantage, the fact that while WordPress is committed to simplicity and any layman You can have your blog online in a few minutes, Craft is more for the professional user.

Página de inicio de Craft

While other CMS offer predefined templates to make design easier, Craft assumes that specialists prefer to write HTML and CSS themselves. This starting point contributes to the tidy appearance of the system. The code on the page is accessible and clear, and the file structure is logically organized: Instead of using chronologically organized folders, Craft users create rules that define what type of file is saved in what directory.

Craft also features an intuitive and easy-to-understand backend where writers can easily post new content. Meanwhile, the CMS also has some plugins that extend its range of functions. The fact of being a CMS for developers is also reflected in the pricing plan: if the intention is to create a single page for personal use, a free license is obtained, but designing pages for other users is not possible without a license.

High costs in exchange for the license to use the full range of functions

clean and tidy codeIndicated for professional developers
Good support in content creation and strategy


Content management systems are usually supported by databases and, when a user visits a page, the browser requests the data registered in them, but some CMS have broken with this tradition. CMS without databases store all the information in files that in turn are integrated into a directory structure. Included in this CMS group is Grav , which only requires a web server with sufficient memory and at least PHP 7.6.

Página de inicio del proyecto Grav

Grav places special emphasis on speed without neglecting design. On the official page, together with the installation data in ZIP format, more than 100 topics are offered to define the design of the project. More than 350 plugins allow you to expand the spectrum of functions of the software and set up, for example, a backend for administrators. For those who do not want to deal with settings and extensions themselves, the software offers so-called “Skeletons”, which are nothing more than all-in-one predefined packages that even contain sample web pages.

fast and effectiveBest suited for small projects
Can be extended with themes and plugins
Skeleton (predefined software packages)
Open source with MIT license
Works without a database management system


Also the so-called flat file CMS , like the German Kirby , do without a database to a greater or lesser extent. This means that content management systems without databases and flat file CMS are often confused. The difference is mainly that the second ones are built on flat files, which means that no complex relational database management system like MySQL or MariaDB runs underneath, but rather this type of CMS, on the contrary. , a folder structure is used in which flat files are stored unrelated to each other. In this way even flat data banks can be integrated.

Página de inicio del proyecto Kirby

Like Grav, Kirby also doesn’t need much more than installing the starter pack files on a server (Apache 2, NGINX, LiteSpeed, Caddy) with PHP. In principle, there is no need for an administration interface with a WYSIWYG editor either, because the content can be created with a text editor and saved to your web server folder or use the Kirby panel, a very simple and clear backend.

fast and effectiveit’s not free
Can be extended with themes and plugins
Works without database management system


A very popular flat file system, especially among lovers of purist solutions, is Pico. This CMS focuses its attention on simplicity and speed and for this it does not only give up the database, but also the backend. Pages are created by writing Markdown files that are categorized in the server’s directory structure. Markdown is a simple markup language that allows you to format text. So a page for Pico can be created quite easily in a text editor and edited with markup.

Página de inicio del proyecto Pico

By doing without a backend and with it its corresponding WYSIWYG editor , Pico is perhaps not the best choice if you want to transfer content creation to a writing team. Developers, on the other hand, do find it easier, since they do not have to track the configurations in a complex database, but have them available in a simple text file. This makes this flat file content manager very suitable for modest projects, although Pico also supports themes and plugins to extend the range of functions.

Very fastBest suited for simple projects
plain designIt is not managed in the backend
Can be extended with themes and pluginsNot suitable for working with a team of writers
Open source with MIT license


Another “featherweight” among CMS is Bolt. The starting point of its developers was to program an orderly system that only offered what users really needed. This does not mean, however, settling for a reduced spectrum of functions, since with the specific knowledge and the right extensions, highly complex online projects can be carried out.

Página de inicio de Bolt

The development of Bolt comes from a Dutch marketing company that with the CMS aspired to create web pages for its clients. Today, with broader funding, it continues to be addressed to web developers as it originally was because, although it has a simple backend where editors can write their texts, working with the content manager is not as intuitive and simple. like in WordPress, to name an example.

Good performance and lightnessRequires extensive knowledge in web development
Open source with MIT license

What conditions must the best CMS meet?

Before deciding on one of the numerous content managers that compete in the market, it is convenient to define the objectives of the project based on the following questions:

  • What type of content will be offered?
  • Who is going to be in charge of creating the content?
  • What is the target audience of the project like?
  • What resources are available for web administration?

Along with these factors, it may also be relevant to estimate how many people will be working on the app at the same time and what workflows will have to be implemented: will it be a single writer addressing the audience, a team of writers responsible for content editing or even the readers themselves?

Depending on the purpose, each owner or webmaster has to consider what priorities are going to be established in relation to the installation, configuration, use, administration and functionality of the application. While for some the most important thing is usability or connection with other systems, for others the focus is on SEO, unhindered access to content or security functions at a professional level.

In this process of selecting the best CMS for each project, the user comes face to face with a huge variety of functions. Individual needs are as diverse as the users themselves, so CMS comparative tables become a good tool to differentiate the areas for which each option is best suited and what technical requirements must be ensured to obtain good performance..

Deployment, installation and configuration

The first front in carrying out a project that is based on a web content manager is the installation of the software. The more complex the system, the more difficult it is to set up and maintain. Joomla! and WordPress win by a landslide thanks to a wizard that greatly reduces the time required for installation, so that small projects can be launched within a few minutes. The basic installation of Drupal is very simple, but often, depending on the project, it has to be extended with additional modules via FTP.

The installation of the self-described CMS for companies, TYPO3, is also complex. This manager is aimed primarily at users who plan to carry out large-scale projects, such as corporate portals or e-commerce platforms. Website owners should thus have a sound knowledge to be able to carry out installation, configuration and administration tasks.

All of the open source solutions included in our CMS comparison are based on the PHP programming language. TYPO3 users are additionally required to know SQL database language and JavaScript server-side scripting language. If you want to design your own templates or customize them, in Joomla!, WordPress, Drupal and Contao it is enough to know PHP, but in TYPO3, on the other hand, the own template language TypoScript is used.

The content managers from our selection are scalable with extensions, plugins , widgets or modules and many functions can only be used if the corresponding extensions are installed. The following table shows which features are offered natively and which need to be installed later:

Categoryweb blogging softwareSoftware for companies (Enterprise CMS)Software for web content (Web CMS)Software for web content (Web CMS)Software for web content (Web CMS)Software for companies (Enterprise CMS)
LicenseGNU GPLv2+GNU


OSMulti platformMulti platformMulti platformMulti platformMulti platformMulti platform
Supported web serversWeb server that supports PHP and MySQLApache, NGINX, MS IIS, Caddy ServerApache, NGINX, MS IISWeb server that supports PHPWeb server that supports PHP and MySQLApache and NGINX recommended (also works with others)
Supported databasesMySQL, MariaDBMySQL, MariaDB, PostgreSQL, MS SQL Server, SQLiteMySQL, MS SQL Server, PostgreSQLMySQL, MariaDB, Percona Server, PostgreSQL, SQLitemysqlMySQL, MariaDB, PostgreSQL, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, SAP Sybase SQL Anywhere, SQLite, Drizzle
language for templatesPHPTypoScriptPHPPHPPHPFluid, AFX
expansion modules
Browser-based backend
Reporting functions (eg for data mining)only with extensiononly with extension

< /td>

only with extensiononly with extension
XML Schnittstelleonly with extensiononly with extensiononly with extensiononly with extensiononly with extensiononly with extension
Integration of own scriptsonly with extension
Consider current web standards
Categoryvery light CMSCMS without databasesFlat file CMSFlat file CMSvery light CMS
OSMulti platformMulti platformMulti platformMulti platformMulti platform
Supported web serversApache, NGINX, MS IISApache, NGINX, MS IIS, LiteSpeed, Lightly, etc.Apache, NGINXWeb server with PHP supportApache, NGINX
Supported databasesmysqlSQLite,


SQLite, MySQL, PostgreSQL
Template languagetwigtwigPHP/HTMLtwigtwig
expansion modules
Browser-based backendonly with extension
Reporting functions (for data mining, e.g.)only with extensiononly with extensiononly with extension
Integrate your own scripts
Consider current web standards

Users Management

All the managers included in our favorites list can be used as a multi-user system. The question is to define who will be authorized to access the application and how. That is why, if it is planned to allow access to several users, then one of the priority criteria in choosing the best CMS should be how each one manages user permissions. It is clear from the table below that almost all of them support the essential user management functions natively. It’s only in the realm of staged workflows that Contao, the CMS aimed primarily at midsize businesses, relies on extensions.

multiple tenancy
user groups
permissions inheritance
Limitation of user rights
Permission control at various levels
Staged workflowsonly with extension

d style=”border-bottom:1px solid black; border-left:none; border-right:1px solid black; border-top:none; vertical-align:top; width:80px”>

multiple tenancy
user groupsonly with extension
permissions inheritanceonly with extension
Limitation of user rightsonly with extension
Permission control at various levels
Staged workflows

Ease of use and content creation

Website owners who opt for a CMS do so in order to simplify the creation and publication of web content, because a good content manager does not require programming knowledge. In this sense, the fundamental criteria when deciding on one or the other are an intuitive and easy-to-use WYSIWYG editor that includes preview and spell checking, options for importing audiovisual elements such as videos, interactive animations in Flash or audio content, as well as a full-text search function.

To facilitate the user’s navigation on the page, a good CMS should also have a tag system, with which to classify the content based on relevant keywords.

If the focus is on news publishing, the chosen CMS should support blogging features that allow you to promote new content through web feeds and options for user feedback, such as a guestbook or comment fields. If an international project is planned, then it must be taken into account that the content can be edited in different versions for each language.

WYSIWYG editor
Multimedia elements (videos, audios or Flash animations)only with extension
blog systemonly with extensiononly with extensiononly with extension
spell checkonly with extensiononly with extension
multilingual supportonly with extensiononly with extension
search functiononly with extensiononly with extensiononly with extension
Labelledonly with extensiononly with extension
WYSIWYG editoronly with extension
Multimedia elements (videos, audios or Flash animations)only with extension
blog systemonly with extensiononly with extension
spell checkonly with extension
multilingual supportonly with extensiononly with extension
search functiononly with extensiononly with extension
Labelledonly with extension

Search engine optimization and responsive design

Good content is the key to the success of a web page. In addition, SEO has an increasingly important role. However, to earn a good position in search engines, web page owners also have to meet certain technical requirements that affect the structure of the URL, the editing of metadata and the orientation of the design to mobile terminals.

Of the free solutions that we have presented here, there is none that does not allow you to rewrite a parameterized URL to make it a friendlier one that can be interpreted by both humans and machines, although not all of them natively (without extension).

In the classification of a website in the search engine, the metadata (title and description) are of paramount importance. This information is what the Internet user receives as a snippet in the search engine results list next to the URL, so that they act as a lure or advance, motivating, in the best of cases, to click on it. All managers on our list allow you to manually create the title and description for each project subpage.

Thus we come to the most important aspect in our days, that is, mobility. With the increasing number of accesses from mobile devices, the demands of users towards web content have also changed, to the point that, if you continue to keep only the desktop user in mind, you are not only wasting great potential, but it has to have a decrease in positions in the search engine. In short, today mobile friendly web design should have the highest priority and, in principle, CMS respond to this new need by strictly separating design and content. The solutions presented here have templates that automatically adjust to the changing screen size of different mobile devices. You have to be careful, however, as they are not always offered for free.

Search Engine Optimized URLs
Manual editing of metadata and keywords
Supports responsive web design
Search Engine Optimized URLswith extension
Manual editing of metadata and keywordsonly with extensionwith extension
Supports responsive web designwith extension

security and service

Service and support are decisive factors in choosing the best CMS. Small and medium-sized companies, in particular, often do not have the necessary means to hire a professional agency to deal with the conception, realization and maintenance of the website. Hence, to guarantee its proper functioning, it is essential that an open CMS provides the necessary information and resources in the form of themes, extensions and regular updates. In our comparative analysis, we have therefore concentrated on systems that have a large community of users and developers and that have the back of the user with sufficient detailed project documentation to ensure safe operation of the software. All of these projects offer public release plans, regular updates, and transparent reporting of security breaches.

support community
support community

In conclusion: what is the best CMS?

As we have seen, each solution is based on a certain development objective that largely characterizes the direction of the project. Finding the perfect CMS that meets all the requirements of web administration in equal measure is mission impossible and no winner is raised in this article either. As mentioned above, the only thing that can be done is to study the pros and cons of each depending on the purpose of the project and individual needs.

While WordPress is primarily aimed at blogs and needs to be equipped with extensions, a system like TYPO3 already contains a large number of functions in its basic version, which, however, for a small project are rarely used to their full extent..

The modular Drupal , born as community-oriented software, still satisfies users today with a wide palette of features for the social web, but if these are not necessary, it is better to opt for a different CMS, such as Joomla!. Also in your case the extensive collection of extensions makes it possible to adjust it to the particularities of each project.

And if the priority is usability and accessibility, then Contao is a good solution. In this case, yes, you have to resign yourself to having a more modest community and fewer extensions available than in the other options. The same can be said of the variety of professional subjects.

Finally, we present a comparative table of the CMS selected based on the most important criteria:

Installation and configuration
Easy and intuitive (for writers)
Easy and intuitive (Admin)
Costs for extensions or for additional service or support
Scalability/degree of customization
Installation and configuration
Easy and intuitive (for writers)
Easy and intuitive (Admin)
Costs for extensions or for additional service or support
Scalability/degree of customization