Which is the Best Free CMS?

I’ve been building websites for several years now, and my default setting, like many others, has become to use WordPress for nearly everything.  Wordpress has such a wide user base now that it powers “over 60 million” websites (source wordpress.org).

In reality the true number of WordPress powered sites is probably far more than 60 million, but whatever the actual figure, it’s a large portion of the web.

It set me wondering whether we all use WordPress so much because it’s the best, or just because of the internet herd mentality that says we need to do what others are doing.

There are so many themes and plugins for WordPress that its tempting to think we may as well use it because we’ll be able to achieve pretty much anything with it.  And once we’ve made that decision it seems counter productive to even test other systems as there will inevitably be a learning curve that takes us away from the process of building the website, and adding a theme and content.

Why bother learning something new when we already have something that works?

In this series of posts I’m going to highlight my journey as I create websites using a few of the alternative CMS’s.  I will go throught the process of setting up a website with each of the chosen CMS’s and review each one for the following:

  • Installation
  • Changing theme
  • Customizing theme
  • Content creation
  • Plugin availability
  • Plugin quality
  • How easy is it to perform basic on-site SEO.


The Websites

My test websites will go into production.  Each will be a similar website with:

  • Information Web pages
  • Contact form
  • Custom theme
  • Events calendar
  • Image galleries
  • Blog section
  • Google Analytics and Adwords
  • W3C compliance

I know for a fact that I can knock this up in WordPress within a few hours, but I have had a lot of practice so it will be interesting to see whether any of the other systems come close.

CMS’s to test

From a quick trawl of reviews and from my own personal experience I will test the following:

  • Joomla
  • CMS Made Simple
  • Concrete 5
  • Typo 3

I have avoided Drupal.  I’ve used it before and found it non-intuitive.  While I believe it is an excellent system for robust, professional level websites my experience tells me that it’s over complicated for basic users and couldn’t become as user friendly as WordPress without becoming a different system.

Once I’ve finished I will provide links to the websites so you can see the differences and let me know what you think.  Of course there will also eventually be a verdict from me.

Let the testing commence….


I used to use CMS Made Simple a few years ago.  Eventually I found the WordPress suited my needs better – I wonder whether anything has changed in the intervening time.

I fully expect WordPress to remain on top of the pile, but I intend to be open about it and give the others a fair chance.


The CMS Reviews

CMS Made Simple

Concrete5 Review

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