Have you ever googled “how to make a website” only to find a bunch of WordPress guides?
The reason is simple, it’s the most popular Content Management System in the world.
Still, it’s not a perfect fit for every website and every website owner.
Here’s an overview of some great WordPress alternatives divided into different technology groups.
Content Management Systems
A Content Management System is a computer application that allows users to easily create, modify and publish content on the web without knowing how to code (HTML, CSS, JS, etc.).
The primary focus of a CMS is to make is easy to create and update content, making it ideal for websites that frequently update their content. That could typically be websites such as blogs, news sites, portfolios, and online-stores.
The second most popular CMS in the world.
It Shines with its great content and structure flexibility, ability to handle complex navigation structures and out-of-the-box access control.
Joomla has its sweet spot as a community platform.
Its extensive number of buttons and settings does, however, result in a small learning curve.
Summed up, Joomla is great CMS that can handle everything from large websites with complex navigation structures and restricted user access to simple blogs and one-pager websites. That being said, its strengths are leaning towards managing content complexity. Hence it can come across as a bit too much for those only requiring the basics.
The third most popular CMS in the world.
Drupal is by many considered to be the most customizable and secure CMS out of the top three CMSs. Combine that with robust APIs and extensive access control and you get a system that excels at sites that require a certain level of flexibility and customization.
Drupal is also considered to be the CMS with the steepest learning curve.
With all this in mind, its sweet spot as a CMS is towards business websites that require integrations, extra security considerations, and a larger degree of content customizability.
When working with website builders you will be editing your website directly in the browser. There’s nothing to install.
All you have to do is to sign up and start building your website with drag-and-drop functionality.
There’s no coding required, which makes it a popular choice among beginners.
Wix stands out from the crowd as being one of the most innovative website builders out there. The main reason for that is their ability to deliver new user-friendly features/designs on a monthly basis.
Wix also offers a completely free version that does not have an expiry date. The downside is that you’ll get some small Wix ads on your page and a domain name that looks like this: YourUsername.WixSite.com/MyDomain.
Summed up, Wix is a really good allrounder with a wide variety of templates, features and innovative solutions.
Squarespace have made it their goal to provide stunning design templates to their users.
Their templates are truly stunning, but it’s worth noting that the templates also rely heavily on good high-resolutions images.
Squarespace only offers a 14-day trial, and not a completely free version like some other website builders.
All-in-all, Squarespace is a website builder that provides its customers with some well thought out gorgeous templates. It fits well for people that value style and visual impression highly, like an artist or a photographer that wants to create a portfolio site.
Weebly has put a lot of effort into building a user interface that is user-friendly and intuitive. They’ve managed to keep the user interface minimalistic so that even non-technical beginners will not get overwhelmed.
Weebly also offers a completely free version that does not have an expiry date. The downside is that you’ll get some small Weebly ads on your page and a domain name that looks like this: YourDomain.weebly.com.
With its minimalistic intuitive user-interface Weebly is probably one of the easiest website builders to get started with.
Much like website builders, all the editing happens directly in the browser. There’s nothing to install.
The difference is however that you’re no longer in control of the layout and look of your blog. The only thing you have to be concerned about is writing the content.
A great option for those who are only interested in getting their content published, and don’t want to spend any time on setup, design and everything else that comes with setting up your own website.
Medium is a very popular publishing platform.
Their goal is to make it easy for authors to publish their content and reach an interested audience.
The platform is focused around the community aspect. You can follow authors, follow topics, like and comment on articles you enjoy. The result is that your content gets exposed to a large audience from your very first post. That is usually not the case when you create a personal website on your own.
Worth checking out for anyone who is entirely focused on writing and publishing content and want to reach a large audience right away.
Static Site Generators
A static Site Generator(SSG) will take whatever data and content it has available, apply templates to it, and generate static HTML files of it. These static files can then be uploaded to the server where they would become viewable to a visitor.
It’s worth noting that this is a more technical option compared to the options above. That said, it also comes with advantages such as fast load-times and enhanced security.
Gatsby is a static Progressive Web App (PWA) generator based on React.js. It’s still a Static Site Generators, but is setting a new standard for what SSGs can do.
It combines some of the latest web technologies such as React, Webpack and GraphQL. Which is one of the reasons it has become a popular choice among web developers.
Another thing that stands out is its rich data plugin ecosystem. Together with GraphQL, it can build up its data layer from basically any source you might think of. That could be a headless CMS, third party API, Markdown, JSON and many others.
Hugo is a very user-friendly Static Site Generator. It’s easy to install, and there’s really not a lot of config required before you can have a site up and running.
It’s written in Go, and is known for its fast build speed.
One downside is that there is no easy way to add a plugin or extension. This means you’ll need to rely on the features built into Hugo. Luckily, Hugo has a lot to offer out of the box such as menus, sitemap, multilingual support and much more.
Jekyll is the oldest static site generator on this list, but is still one of the most popular choices with a large directory of plugins.
It might not have the fastest build times, or entirely keeping up with what the static site generators above are accomplishing. Still, it’s definitely worth checking out for smaller websites and blogs.
One of the main selling points is its range of importers allowing easy migration of existing websites to Jekyll.
Another reason why a lot of developers choose Jekyll is due to its tight integration with GitHub Pages.
As you can see from the list above, there are plenty of alternatives to WordPress, and this is just the top of the iceberg.
I hope this article gave you a good overview of some of your options, and also gave you some insight into the different technology options to choose from.
If you like the post or have any questions, let me know in the comments below.