Here at MakeUseOf, we’ve covered a number of WordPress competitors, like Drupal or Joomla. However, for this use, a really simple CMS (Content Management System) is ideal – because it would make it easy to add new content quickly.
For such a small site, you really don’t want to install WordPress, because it would consume a fair block of your hosting space. During my search for a good, light (and free) CMS, I ran through and tested 5 systems including CMSimple, CMS Made Simple, SkyBlueCanvas, and WolfCMS.
I actually blew my entire Saturday attempting to install and test these systems – only to discover that the installation process was just to complex or required too many “tweaks” and modifications. I wanted something that could install as quickly and easily as WordPress, but was scaled down. Finally, on my fifth try, I discovered a very simple CMS called gpEasy.
Installing gpEasy in Three Ridiculously Easy Steps
The installation for gpEasy is unbelievably small compared to WordPress. It’s just over 2MB, compared to WordPress, which is about 10 Mb. Once you download the zipped file, just place all of the files into your public web directory. Then, open up the website (which should be the directory where all of the files you just uploaded are stored.) You’ll see an install screen with a status of what is or isn’t configured correctly.
Oops! Forgot to set permissions on the data folder so that it’s writeable (should have set it to 777).
With other CMS systems, you have to edit a config file or tweak the code to define your database – not the case with gpEasy. It’s so easy that someone without a bit of coding experience could set it up. Once you’ve got everything set up right, enter your admin ID and Password, and refresh the install page again, you’ll get a successful install notice.
That’s it! Your site is now live, and you can log in and start editing it or playing around with the template to make it look however you like. If you thought the install was easy, wait until you see the administrator area.
This is the default template of the site. It’s nothing terribly impressive, but then again, it’s a website that lets you instantly update components of it – pages, sidebar, footer, and header – with just a few quick mouse clicks and keystrokes. Absolutely no coding required.
My favorite feature of this CMS is the ease with which you can modify the menu bar, which will show up on every single page. The formatting and font choices are a bit standard, but then again, much of the style will come from how creative you are with your writing and image placement.
Once you log into the admin area, I am certain that you’ll be just as blown away as I was at how functional the editing areas are. As you can see here, there’s a lot that you can modify about your website – you can even choose from a dozen or so alternative themes, and the CMS will automatically change the theme for you (see below).
Every component of the website – header, footer, sidebars or content area – is editable using the very functional WYSIWYG editor. As you can see in the screenshot above, this editor is a lot more functional than many of the other free CMS systems out there! When you click on the “configuration” button, you’ll find many of the same fields as you’d find in your WordPress blog setup – complete with meta-keywords and description fields.
When you want to add, remove or edit new pages on your website, just click on the “File Manager” and you’ll see the coolest graphical interface that you’ve ever seen. The parent and child pages are displayed in a very cool, easy-to-follow hierarchy, which you can click on and modify as you please. Want to edit a page? Just click on the green arrows, go to options, and Edit File.
If you click on the “Themes” button in the admin area, you’ll have the opportunity to change your Theme to one of the dozen or so preloaded themes. These themes are the ones displayed when you click on the link to browse the available themes. Just make a note of the name of the theme you like, and then click on that button in the theme area. The system switches themes for you – no file upload, no tweaking, no nothing. Done. Here’s my new theme.
Now, gpEasy redefines the word “Easy” with this interface. Once you have a theme you like, you can edit different areas of the page by just hovering your mouse over that area and then clicking on “Edit.” I have never seen a CMS interface that you can host on your own web server that is so amazingly intuitive and functional, even though it’s free.
The beauty of gpEasy really stands out when you’re in the situation that I described at the start of this article – when you want a quick and simple website that looks good, but is also easy and convenient to update whenever you like. gpEasy is for creating those sites where you just don’t need a lot of extra plugins or bells and whistles – you just want to deliver content to your readers.
With gpEasy CMS, you’ll have a new page up and adding your content in less than 30 minutes. Once you’ve formatted your page with the theme and style you like, adding new pages is just as easy (if not easier – dare I say) than using WordPress.
Have you ever used gpEasy? What do you think about it? Do you have a different easy CMS system that you like more? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.