Finding the best CMS software for your business requires research and careful comparison. Most companies implement CMS as their websites grow to retain consistency in the look and layout of their site.
There are more than 1.6 billion websites currently online. The advantage of using CMS is that it allows nearly anyone to build a complex site where multiple writers and editors can work on projects and publish content. CMS software gives everything a uniform look.
The best CMS software for you may be different than the right choice for another company. Here are 16 favorite software options and what makes each unique:
No article about the best CMS software would be complete without mentioning WordPress. It’s the most popular content management software, with 60.1 percent of websites using CMS utilizing this particular platform. You can add as few or as many users as you’d like with varying permissions.
WordPress takes the No. 1 spot because it is easy to use, even for those without a lot of technical experience or coding knowledge. Users create posts in a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) platform reminiscent of Microsoft Word. The base software is free, but there are many add-ons for personalizing your website, such as plug-ins and themes.
Cost: Free with free code snippets, forums and plug-ins.
Drupal is a bit different than WordPress in that it has more community platform features. It is valuable as an e-commerce platform but is also used for forums and wikis. A website run on Drupal looks like a community of like-minded people all working on one giant project. Universities and government agencies use Drupal — about 71 percent of the top universities in the country use the open-source software.
Joomla allows anyone without technical knowledge to create an online repository of content. Effortlessly organize information with a few clicks of the mouse. It is a little more complicated than WordPress, but the platform offers a section on its site called Learn Joomla, which provides video training at no cost.
The platform is mobile-friendly with plenty of plug-ins for customizing the look and flexibility of your website. It’s possible to add multiple users with different permissions.
If you’re looking for an all-in-one solution, cloud-based Acquia might be the best CMS software for you. Acquia offers e-commerce capabilities and was recently ranked No. 1 in web content management systems. This platform is best suited for medium to large businesses with a budget and the need for added features.
One of the main advantages of this platform is the secure open cloud, which is scalable as your business grows. Some features also allow customization, so each user’s experience is personalized.
Cost: Prices start at $141 per month for personal sites and blogs to customized solutions running thousands a month.
HubSpot is already known for its marketing platform, but the ability to create website pages through its CMS is something it’s adapted in recent years. One of the most significant advantages of using HubSpot is that you can fully integrate your marketing with your landing pages. The platform features pages that are mobile-friendly and have a modern look, unlike some WordPress themes.
One drawback is that anything you’d like to customize may require a developer well-versed in how to work within HubSpot’s platform. You can use a prebuilt template or create a page from scratch. The site also utilizes a content delivery network (CDN) to ensure your pages load at lightning speed.
Cost: A marketing starter package runs $50 per month, and the CMS platform is an add-on that runs $300 per month with a $1,000 onboarding fee.
It’s arguable whether Squarespace is a CMS or merely website-building software. Regardless, for someone with zero design experience, it is a simple solution to get a business website up and running and for anyone in the company to make quick changes. It offers a range of templates that have a modern, professional look particularly suited to professionals such as photographers and artists. However, you can also build an online store with Squarespace.
Cost: A personal page on Squarespace runs $12 per month or $18 per month for businesses. Add a basic online store for $26 per month or $40 for advanced features.
Shopify offers precisely what its name sounds like: an e-commerce platform for online stores. The platform is simple to use and is fully optimized for different device types. It also integrates marketing tools into its platform so you can run a campaign on Facebook or Google and analyze the results.
In addition to getting your store online quickly, the system also tracks inventory and helps with logistics.
Cost: Basic starts at $29 per month and prices go up to $299 per month. One difference between tiers is the number of staff you can have helping you — two for basic up to 15 for advanced. You’ll also pay a tad more for credit card processing with the basic plan.
Sitefinity boasts big names, such as Gatorade, as clients. The platform uses a drag-and-drop base, so users easily create a website and make changes on the fly. In addition, Sitefinity integrates A/B testing, e-commerce options and the ability to manage multiple brands or sites from one platform.
Connect with additional features, such as Marketo, SharePoint and Salesforce. There are a limited number of templates, as the platform isn’t as large as some of the open-source software out there, but it also is effortless to use.
Cost: Prices aren’t posted on the website, but it offers a free demo and an invitation to contact them for more information.
PrestaShop holds about 1.4 percent of the CMS marketing share, which might not sound like much, but ranks it close to many other popular CMS choices such as Squarespace and Magento.
It focuses on helping small businesses get an online store launched. It is a complete e-commerce solution and offers features such as driving traffic, selling to a global audience and managing orders. The platform is home to over 300,000 merchants and offers community advice, with over 1 million members answering questions and giving information.
Cost: Free software, but add-ons cost $50 and up for each module.
Magento is another open-source platform ideally suited for an online store. This platform is now part of the Adobe Experience Cloud, so it offers flexibility and scalability for almost any type of business. Each of its products works together to create a powerful CMS package that integrates order fulfillment and marketing.
It is one of the few platforms with a mobile-first focus. The platform works with solution partners to customize your site and meet the needs of your customers.
Costs: Prices run anywhere from $1,500 to $100,000 to get started, depending on which sources are used. Your best bet for accurate pricing is to contact Magento directly with your needs.
TYPO3 is unique out of the CMS platforms listed because it can also be used for an intranet structure to keep internal communications on track. There are 900 members in the TYPO3 Association, and the number grows consistently. Members add details and flexible free features to the platform. You can join and get involved in the movement helping others build customized websites and adding various applications. Joining a growing group is a fun way to learn coding and grow in your back-end capabilities.
Cost: Free. You can join the association for 7.92 euros per year up to 500 euros on-boarding, and 1,000 euros per year for a silver small-business membership.
Bitrix24 is a CMS solution you may not have heard of, but it offers both a CMS portal and communication features for your entire team. Track tasks and projects so you know who is working on what, and contact clients via social media, email or live chat. Build a website and add eCommerce in minutes. The platform solves all your business’s communication needs.
Cost: Free for up to 5GB and 12 users, $35 for up to 24GB and 24 users, $89 for up to 100GB and 50 users, and $179 for unlimited space and users.
This free software is also open source but built on the Zope application server. It’s used frequently for intranets in more substantial organizations but works for smaller ones as well. More than 800 contributors provide over 196 add-ons in 40 different languages. Some of the features most revered by users include strong security with the Python backend. WordPress is rife with vulnerabilities and often targeted by hackers. However, that’s not the case with Plone.
It’s better known as an enterprise-level CMS and may require a bit more coding knowledge than other out-of-the-box solutions. According to their website, they are in the top 2% of all open-source projects worldwide. They offer extensive free documentation and a community forum rivaling WordPress. If you run into a specific problem with the installation or customizing your CMS, the community helps figure it out.
If you have multiple people working on content, you’ll appreciate the flexible workflows. You can even set it to publish at a certain time and go into storage later. You can effortlessly lock content and digital assets to only specific roles or groups. Collaboration is just as adaptive, allowing you to give access to only those you want.
14. Kentico CMS
Kentico CMS is a bit different than some of the other systems, running on ASP.NET and Microsoft SQL Server. Their website describes them as “powered by modern net MVC technology.” It’s an all-in-one platform built by the same company, so everything functions seamlessly. You’ll learn web content management, e-commerce solutions, online marketing integration and collaboration or intranet features. You’ll also gain the ability to create and manage online communities.
It is much more customizable than some solutions and ready for the MVC development model. As a result, you won’t have to update it in a few months as frameworks change. Kentico is one of the more expensive options on the mark, however. Unless you’re buying it for an organization, it may not be the best option for you. There are too many other choices that let you get started for free and upgrade as you grow.
Cost: The subscription license is $7,999 per year, and the Perpetual license is $14,999 once
The next on our list is a hybrid CMS system written in Java. It’s also open-source, so it has numerous contributors and options for expanding capabilities. The system is on an API-first infrastructure. The hybrid allows people to edit from anywhere through their SPA editor. You can do inline editing, drag and drop or fix layout design on the fly.
One thing DotCMS does well is its multi-channel experience. From a single platform, you can manage as many sites or channels as needed. The expanded features also allow you to share content across multiple channels and create a consistent experience for users.
The system integrates seamlessly with technology such as Marketplace, Mango and Google Analytics.
Concrete5 is another open-source CMS that works both on the World Wide Web and for intranets. It’s straightforward to use, meaning even those lacking in technical savvy pick it up quickly. Users can edit content directly on the webpage as long as they have the appropriate permissions.
Some of the features available with Concrete5 include mobile readiness, marketplace capabilities and intuitive editing, like drag and drop abilities. Like most other CMS systems, the focus is on mobile readiness, ability to market and ease of editing. You’ll gain access to templates to match the style you most want.
Cost: The software is free, but developers offer add-ons. Fees for those vary from $0 to $35 and up. It depends on how extensive the add-on is and how popular.
Try Various Platforms
Most of the CMS platforms listed above offer free demos or trial periods. Since every business has unique needs, test the various features until you find the best CMS software for you.
This article was originally published on 2/28/2019 and updated on 6/8/2020.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks in the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dog, Bear.