CMS, or content management system, is software that helps you edit, manage and publish content. Open-source CMS platforms we know today emerged in the mid-1990s and, by the 2000s, dominated the internet. Since then, easy-to-use website-building CMS examples such as WordPress and Squarespace have helped nontechnical folks build blogs using templates and zero coding knowledge.
If you wanted to create a website without using a CMS platform, you would have to upload HTML files to the web server and download them whenever you want to make changes. While most content management systems make the website-building process easier, they offer different features you should consider when choosing the best CMS platform for your website.
In this article, I’ll show you the best examples of content management systems and their different features to help you pick the right CMS platform for your content.
Why is a content management system important?
Content management systems are important because they host and manage the content on your website in an organized environment that offers content security and easy accessibility. A CMS platform allows you to focus on implementing your content strategy to drive traffic instead of worrying about technical infrastructure for your blog, e-commerce store, or portfolio website.
Content management system examples for SEO
Choosing the right content management system can significantly impact your content workflow. Some CMS platforms don’t require web development knowledge and are easy to set up, while others have a steep learning curve and are better suited to large enterprise requirements.
Here are 9 of the most popular content management systems.
The WordPress content management system is the most popular platform in the CMS software market, powering 64% of CMS websites on the Internet. It’s also one of the oldest CMS systems, dating back to 2003 when open-source CMS platforms started dominating the web.
Many people choose WordPress because it’s free, which is a huge advantage. However, it’s worth noting that you must buy a domain name and hosting service. A domain’s cost will depend on the one you pick and is paid annually. You can purchase web hosting services starting at $3 a month.
Apart from being reasonably affordable, WordPress is easy to learn for nontechnical folks but also allows developers to customize code. You can start by setting up a simple website to publish content quickly and learn more as you go along.
Because WordPress is such a popular content management system, tons of resources on the internet can help you build all kinds of websites, from membership sites and course platforms to forums and blogs. Additionally, WordPress has a great community formed through the years that can help you with troubleshooting.
The cms platform also offers a Wordpress plugins library to add increased functionalities to your website. These include everything your website may need, from ad networks to security and cache management.
For example, here's what a WordPress plugin search to compress images looks like.
WordPress also offers permission settings to assign to multiple users on your website.
On the less positive side, it’s important to note that WordPress doesn’t provide enterprise level backup and security features or a content delivery network. There are various helpful plugins, but you must take care of these yourself.
Even though WordPress is free, it costs about $40 a year for domain and hosting charges. The best themes and layouts are often paid products, so it’s important to consider this.
Webflow is a powerful CMS software that targets designers, developers, and marketers with design experience. While you don’t necessarily need to be fluent in HTML and CSS, it’s a plus, especially if you want extended CMS functionality. It’s unique from other content management systems because of its highly customizable designs.
The platform has several pricing options starting at $18 per month and a custom enterprise plan. A free option is available, limited to 1GB of bandwidth and a webflow.io domain. Webflow includes hosting so you don’t need to worry about purchasing web hosting services separately.
Webflow gives you total control over the appearance of your website with a drag-and-drop interface similar to design software but easy enough for anyone to use, designer or not.
To help style your site, Webflow offers a template library where you can choose from over 1,500 pre-built templates you can customize.
Another advantage of Webflow is high security. The platform provides SSL certificates, backup, hosting monitoring, and two-factor authentication to protect your website.
Webflow has unmatched customization options making it quite possibly, the best content management system in the market if you want a great looking website and are obsessing over little design elements. That being said, it has a steep learning curve and is better suited to experienced designers.
Webflow is also a comparatively expensive example of a content management system but provides excellent security features and hosting, so you don’t need to worry about site performance.
Drupal, similarly to WordPress, is a free content management system. It takes second place among the most popular CMS platforms and is popular for its flexibility. Drupal mainly targets web developers, businesses, or agencies that need to manage high levels of data and digital content.
A Drupal installation offers optional modules with various features like forums, user blogs, OpenID, and profiles. Because of the platform's modules and templates, you can use Drupal if you have a basic knowledge of CMS tools. You can filter through the various themes and modules as shown here.
However, this is the most technical tool among free CMS platforms. It takes more time to configure than WordPress, for example, but is really flexible at the same time. If you are a web developer or you have some understanding of HTML, CSS, and PHP, you can get the most out of Drupal. The good news is that this CMS software has a big and supportive community, similar to WordPress and Webflow.
Drupal is a common choice for an enterprise content management system. The platform powers well-known sites such as The Economist, UNICEF, World Economic Forum, and Tesla.
Joomla is another free, open-source CMS example where you will need to take care of domain registration, hosting, themes, and maintenance separately. Joomla’s installer is meant to work on commonly shared hosting packages and is easy to configure with high flexibility.
Joomla has a great array of built-in functionalities that you can use to manage hundreds of users, build web pages in multiple languages, and create custom post types that use different templates or themes. The CMS also supports access control protocols like LDAP, OpenID, and Gmail.
The site showcase library displays websites that have been built using Joomla to help you decide before using the cms platform.
You can also configure many of your site’s settings to modify your articles, banners, menus, media, redirects, and SEO settings. However, you’ll have to do this on the backend of your site. Joomla has a steep learning curve for beginners but on the flip side, it has a supportive community that can help you through any challenges.
Wix is a ready-to-use CMS solution for building just about any website. It’s a cloud-based content management system that offers web hosting and design capabilities.
The platform caters to beginners because it’s easy to set up and use. A step-by-step wizard walks you through the configuration of your website and guides you through the template selection process. Wix also offers features ranging from email marketing to social media as part of its content management suite.
There are tons of pre-built templates available, and the drag-and-drop interface makes it easy to personalize your website. Wix also has an app market where you can buy add-ons to help you run your website.
Wix is a free CMS tool. However, you need to pay to remove the branded domain. You will also need a paid plan to run an online store.
Squarespace, like Wix, is another example of a cloud-based web content management system. It’s a user-friendly platform that offers a drag-and-drop builder and beautiful templates.
Squarespace takes care of security and web hosting so you can focus on creating and managing content. It is a paid content management system with a monthly subscription plan. You can choose from a wide range of templates designed for all types of websites.
The platform also offers intuitive social media and CMS marketing integrations.
If you want to create a simple aesthetic website, Squarespace is a good choice.
Content management system examples for e-commerce
We’ve discussed the most popular examples of CMS platforms for hosting blogs and other kinds of websites. While some of these can also host online stores, e-commerce stores require a dedicated digital asset management system with specific features. Here are three examples of content management systems for e-commerce.
Shopify is a popular example in the e-commerce content management system market used to build online stores. This content management system is great for new sellers and physical store owners that want to go online.
Shopify is easy to set up, and you don’t need to buy hosting or additional software separately. It has a marketplace where you can buy apps to help run your online store. These apps work like plugins in WordPress. You can add them to your store to communicate with customers via live chat, set up a newsletter, or optimize your site for search engines.
Shopify also offers analytics and marketing tools for it's users so you don't have to use other software to run your website.
Shopify’s Basic is a paid CMS tool but offers a free trial to get started.
Magento [Adobe Commerce]
There are two versions of the Magento platform. Magento Open Source is a free option that anyone can use. On the other hand, Magento's Adobe Commerce is dedicated to enterprise e-commerce and starts at $20,000.
It is a powerful CMS software that can handle many products and traffic in bigger e-commerce stores. It’s highly secure, fast, and scalable. In addition, Magento offers loads of customization features and over 3,500 add-ons.
The free version is open to anyone if you purchase a domain and hosting. Although it’s self-hosted, the paid version needs technical expertise and caters to businesses rather than individual users. Brands like Nike and Coca-Cola use the platform.
WooCommerce is actually a plugin that turns your WordPress site into an e-commerce store. It is a customizable, open-source e-commerce platform built on WordPress. WooCommerce isn’t technically a CMS but combines WordPress website features and e-commerce functionalities.
To use WooCommerce, you first need to set up a WordPress website, which means you need to get a domain name and a web hosting account. Then, you should download the WooCommerce plugin.
Both the WordPress account and the plugin are free, so the only cost is the domain and the hosting. Though, you might want to pay for some themes and extensions. WooCommerce is a good choice if you’re familiar with WordPress and want to add an e-commerce store.
What to do after selecting a content management system (CMS)
Choosing the right CMS is only the first step to reaching your content's audiences. You must establish topical authority with content that is optimized for search engines to find and rank you in the SERPs.
Search engine optimization is crucial to delivering results from your content. It’s not sufficient to just publish content that you think is relevant. Using a keyword suggestion tool like Surfer’s Content Editor can help you find the most relevant keywords for your article so you don’t have to spend hours in keyword research.
Let me know if you’re using any of these content management systems or if there’s an example you think should be here.