5 Excellent Open Source Content Management Systems To Start A Website

Joel Lee 31-01-2012

content management systemAfter the dot-com boom in the ‘90s, the Internet has grown to be less of a novelty and more of a necessity. Whether you’re the CEO of a big corporation or just an everyday Joe Schmoe, it’s nearly impossible to live in complete isolation from the online world. According to Internet World Stats, over half of the Western world has regular access to the Internet. That means that Internet users are no longer in the minority and being online is slowly becoming a critical aspect of living in the West.


There are few examples that show this best than the sheer number of personalized websites, forums, and blogs that litter the online landscape. Every day, more and more people are building their own websites and leading their own communities. Soon, owning a website will be akin to owning a car or a house.

If you’re looking to start a website of your very own but don’t have much technological knowledge or experience, your best bet would be to get familiar with content management systems, or CMS’s. They are built to take care of all the backend programming and database maintenance, allowing you to focus on creating the website that you want.

Here are some of the most well-known free and open source content management systems that will help you get started.


content management system

It’s impossible to talk about CMSs without mentioning WordPress. Even though WordPress started off as nothing more than a simple blog publishing product back in 2003, it has since evolved into something much more.


With such a large and passionate modding community behind it, WordPress has become one of the best CMSs on the market. By playing around with various plugins and widgets The Best WordPress Plugins Read More , you can transform an unremarkable WordPress blog into a beautiful, fully-functional website. In fact, if you weren’t aware, MakeUseOf runs on WordPress, and we have lots of WordPress tutorials for you to take advantage of.

WordPress is powered by PHP and MySQL.


web content management system

Joomla first came on the scene back in 2005 as a derivative of its predecessor, Mambo. Since then, Joomla has been downloaded over 23 million times and remains as one of the most popular CMSs in the world. Take a glance at any list of CMSs and you’ll always find Joomla in one of the top 3 spots.


The great thing about Joomla is that your website can be as lightweight or as heavyweight as you need it to be. There are hundreds of extensions 10 Best Free Joomla Extensions You Can't Live Without Read More available that will help you mold your website into doing exactly what you wish.

Joomla is powered by PHP and MySQL.


web content management system

In the world of CMSs, Drupal is one of the oldest contenders still around. It was initially released back in 2001, making it older than both of its biggest competitors, WordPress and Joomla. It wasn’t until 2007 that this CMS started booming in popularity.


Drupal is somewhat unique in that its continued survival is due in part to the huge community of volunteer contributors. The developers have embraced the open source aspect of Drupal, thus splitting the CMS into 2 main portions: the core, which is maintained by the developers, and the modules, which are maintained by community contributors. At this time, there are over 9,000 of these modules available for download.

Drupal is powered by PHP and any of the following databases: MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQLite, Microsoft SQL Server, MongoDB, or MariaDB.

CMS Made Simple

web content management system

CMS Made Simple has a pretty clever name. Its initials are CMS, which makes it recursive. For those of you that are tech-geeks, I know that you just smirked on the inside.


In the world of CMSs, CMS Made Simple is a late comer, having been introduced in 2009. However, despite its youth, this CMS has received millions of downloads already and has quickly burgeoned into popularity – and for good reason.

Unlike other CMSs, which encourage their users to fiddle around with code and programming, CMS Made Simple aims to provide its users with an easy road towards developing and customizing a website without having to deal with a lot of the technical mumbo-jumbo behind the scenes. If you don’t intend to hack around with the underlying code that powers your website, CMS Made Simple was made just for you.

CMS Made Simple is powered by PHP and MySQL or PostgreSQL.


content management system

Interestingly enough, b2evolution has the same roots as WordPress. In 2003, both CMSs branched off of a preceding blog system called b2/cafelog, of which WordPress became the official successor. While b2evolution isn’t as widely known or respected as WordPress, it does have its fair share of features that prove useful and worthwhile.

b2evolution is perhaps best known for its inherent support for multiple blogs, admins, and users under a single installation. Most other Content Management Systems would require some sort of extension or plugin to support these features – particularly the multi-blog feature. b2evolution handles it all straight out of the box.

And even though b2evolution has a unique feature set right from the get-go, the system can be extended by installing third-party plugins and skins.

b2evolution is powered by PHP and MySQL.

Have you ever used any of these open source CMSs? Tell us about your experiences with them.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Related topics: Blogging, Content Management System, Web Development, Webmaster Tools.

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  1. Dorris
    November 11, 2016 at 6:09 am

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  2. imran
    April 30, 2015 at 10:58 am

    concrete5 is also a very good CMS. It’s easy to use. And has a large number of web design templates and add ons.

  3. Daniel Keith
    April 11, 2015 at 5:53 am

    Squarespace is also a very good CMS. It's easy to use. And has a large number of web design templates.

  4. Tripytrev
    February 2, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    You forgot one of the best CMS's that is in development:


    • Joel Lee
      February 3, 2012 at 2:51 pm

      There are so many open source CMSs out there (literally hundreds) that it's hard to view them all. But ImpressPages does look pretty good. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  5. Cell Travis
    February 1, 2012 at 7:01 am

    gpEasy is another open source CMS worth looking into.

    • Joel Lee
      February 1, 2012 at 3:03 pm

      It does look nice. Thanks!

  6. Tobias Dokken
    February 1, 2012 at 6:55 am

    Great examples! However, I would have expected at least one solution that is not based on php, for instance Umbraco. Do you have any pros and cons for using php vs .net /c# ? Would be interesting to hear your point of view

    • Joel Lee
      February 1, 2012 at 3:02 pm

      I'm not a web development expert, so my opinions should be taken with a grain of salt here.

      The advantage of PHP is that the language itself is free and open source. ASP.NET (the dot-net web development language by Microsoft) is not open source. With that said, choosing which language to use is ultimately your preference.

      I had a dot-net CMS on this list (Dot Net Nuke) but ended up cutting it because I wanted to stick to full open source -- including the language. Thus, most of them are PHP and MySQL based.

      Umbraco looks nice, though. For anyone that wants a dot-net CMS, it's sure worth a try.

      • Tobias Dokken
        February 1, 2012 at 5:04 pm

        Thanks for a great answer! I will have your suggestions in mind when I choose platform for my next project

  7. diogo
    February 1, 2012 at 1:04 am

    There's a very recent Open Source CMS called ProcessWire. Have a look at it, and you will be surprised with how much you can do with it without much effort and without having to tweak the system to your needs. All I can say is that it's a pleasure to work with it :)

    • Joel Lee
      February 1, 2012 at 3:22 am

      I saw the intro video for ProcessWire and it looks interesting. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

      • diogo
        February 2, 2012 at 4:57 pm

        you're welcome!

  8. Akit
    January 31, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    Joomla is a nice one. I think Fork cms would have to be my favorite though. :)

    • Joel Lee
      February 1, 2012 at 3:20 am

      What about Fork CMS do you like best?

  9. Deadend
    January 31, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    PHP Fusion , Pimcore

    • Joel Lee
      February 1, 2012 at 3:21 am

      I've never heard of Pimcore. I'll look into it. Thanks!