There are lots of great ways to build a website but in my opinion, WordPress is the best jack of all trades option however depending on your needs it might not always be the best platform for you.
WordPress is by no means the only content management system available so let’s take a look at some of the competitors.
So let’s look at some of the best blogging platforms you can use for your website other than WordPress.
Here’s a breakdown of WordPress Alternatives
Despite being obsessed with WordPress I assure you I will try to be as objective as possible in breaking down the advantages and disadvantages of using the following alternatives to WordPress.
We are going to look at cost, ease of use, flexibility and some other variables in deciding what’s a good option to use and what really isn’t.
Squarespace needs little to no introduction as it has been around since 2004 and has been promoted by a wide range of celebrities, YouTubers, and Podcasters like Joe Rogan, Ethan Klein of H3H3 and Phillip DeFranco.
If you need a simple website and have a very limited budget meaning you need to do it yourself then Squarespace is a decent option that can also be used for a blog or online store.
It does lack the level of control you would expect with a more open platform and it doesn’t have the same kind of controls for technical SEO features but the essentials can still be managed like meta titles and descriptions.
If you need a simple and affordable web presence to get started then it’s a pretty good place to start.
In 2014 Squarespace also added eCommerce features so you can sell your own products online via your own eCommerce store.
Advantages of Squarespace
- Aimed at beginners with no web design experience so it’s very user-friendly.
- You are able to create business websites, blogs or eCommerce sites with Squarespace.
Disadvantages of Squarespace
- Doesn’t compare with WordPress when it comes to flexibility and extendibility.
- You are entrusting Squarespace to control every aspect of your website including the hosting. This means you aren’t as independent as when you own your website by self-hosting.
- Ability to refine the technical SEO aspects of the site aren’t as easy as with WordPress.
Price: Starts at $18 per month with tiered accounts for eCommerce stores.
Webflow is one of the new kids on the block but it’s well deserving of all the hype since this do-it-yourself drag and drop website builder offers a codeless and user-friendly experience that puts designers first.
One of the standout features of Webflow that’s unique and not found in any other solutions is the emphasis on animation and the wide range of options to choose from.
Now, I’m not always a fan of animation and usually as a minimalist prefer things that put functionality and user experience before snazzy design features however when it’s done well it can look amazing.
Some of the most interesting websites I have seen designed over the past couple of years have been built using Webflow. You can browse some of the latest and greatest examples of websites built with Webflow on their discover page.
Webflow has also now incorporated an eCommerce solution which is going to lead to some very nice looking online stores.
Advantages of Webflow
- Easy to use drag and drop website builder with beautiful design possibilities.
- Granular control over unique animations and transitions to really make your website unique.
- Allows you to build an informational website, portfolio site and can be used for building blogs and eCommerce stores.
Disadvantages of Webflow
- They are still a young company and there’s plenty of progress still to be made. They don’t have a long track record yet but everyone starts somewhere.
- Everything is hosted with Webflow, no option to self-host.
- Not as easy to control and manage technical on-page SEO.
- A lot of pricing options to choose from can be confusing for beginners.
Price: Free to set up test sites without using your own domain name, $12 per month for basic, $16 per month for CMS, $36 per month for Business and then there are three different plans for eCommerce sites at $29, $74 and $212 depending on the features you need and the size of your business.
This is similar to Shopify in fairness though so in-line with one of the market leaders.
Wix is another web builder that has been around for quite some time and is often the preferred option for people who are struggling with WordPress because Wix definitely does make it easy to build a website.
The problem, however, is that it is not as flexible as proper content management systems and also means you don’t have access to the best SEO tools and features that you might expect with something like Yoast SEO on WordPress.
Wix was designed with complete beginners in mind and those who need something simple but attractive.
To build a website with Wix all you need to do is select your template, add your own content and images and then use the drag and drop editor to fine-tune things. You can be done in a couple of hours.
They do continue to add new features however it’s still not a tool I personally use as I think with WordPress page builders we have the best of both worlds, an easy to use drag and drop editor but still with the power of the WordPress CMS.
Advantages of Wix
- Beginner-friendly do-it-yourself website builder that uses a drag and drop editor.
- One of the simplest options to use based on feedback.
Disadvantages of Wix
- Simplicity comes at a cost, Wix is very limited in terms of what you can do when compared with a proper CMS like WordPress.
- Hosting is locked to Wix so you can’t self-host.
- You are reliant on the performance of the Wix platform and their development roadmap of features. With WordPress you have access to the latest features pretty much as soon as they exist, other platforms can take months or even years to catch up.
Price: Free if you are just using a subdomain of the wix.com URL or $8.50 per month if you are using your own domain.
Ghost is a lightweight CMS specifically for bloggers so if that’s all you need then it might be a good option for you.
It is clear Ghost’s plan is to remain lean and carry on the blogging mantle where WordPress left off as WP expanded to become a more multi-purpose CMS.
If you aren’t ever going to need to extend your blog into something that requires more bespoke functionality it’s definitely an option to consider but for those who need more then WordPress is still the best option in my opinion.
Ghost definitely beats WordPress when it comes to speed though so if that’s a priority for you and you want something clean and minimal take a look at either their free hosted plans or the paid version and see for yourself.
Advantages of Ghost
- Ghost is a lightweight CMS without the bloat found in many others.
- Clean and minimal interface specific for bloggers.
Disadvantages of Ghost
- Only really works for blogs so isn’t ideal if you plan on expanding or adding eCommerce later down the road.
- Not the most ideal for beginners but not as complex as other options either.
- Fewer designers and developers use Ghost so it might be harder to find help or resources to learn from.
Price: Free if you use the self-hosted version which is open source or $29 per month for a hosted-for-you plan.
Joomla is one of the earlier competitors of WordPress and I actually spend some time working with it in the earlier days but I decided to dedicate my time to mastering WordPress instead, as it seemed to be taking off and its userbase was outdoing anything else on the market (It still is).
To its credit, Joomla is a very flexible CMS that is used by professional web designers and developers to build bespoke content management solutions and websites for businesses of all shapes and sizes.
Joomla excels by providing community and user management features which means if you plan to build a website that requires these types of features you can do it by default with Joomla whereas you would require additional plugins to do this with WordPress like BBPress and BuddyPress for example.
It also allows you more control over content permissions for different user levels which is handy for tiered communities.
Advantages of Joomla
- Ideal for community websites due to it’s built-in features.
- Comprehensive bilingual support for people who don’t speak English.
- Fairly flexible and extendible but not as much as WordPress at least not without building your own solutions with PHP.
Disadvantages of Joomla
- The third-party plugin repository is much smaller than on WordPress.
- A less clean user experience when compared with WordPress and other alternatives.
- More useful for large websites and institutions with data to present than simpler websites.
- You will likely need to enlist the services of a web developer if you get stuck or need a feature that doesn’t exist.
Price: Free, Joomla is an open-source project. You will, of course, need to pay to host it somewhere though.
Drupal has been around since 2000 making it older than both WordPress and Joomla and is a powerful CMS aimed more at developers than the DIY audience so it’s definitely not for beginners.
When I was starting to work with web design clients professionally I also spend around a year or so building websites with Drupal and helping others with any issues they were having.
Much like Joomla, it’s a very comprehensive CMS that allows for a lot of flexibility which is why it’s still commonly used by institutions, government, and large corporations.
You can build your own “modules” to add additional functionality but of course, that involves understanding PHP. Modules are what they call plugins in the Drupal ecosystem.
Drupal is ideal for websites with large amounts of data that needs to be organized and filtered for presentation using taxonomies.
You can add taxonomies in WordPress beyond the default categories and tags but it requires using a plugin like the Types Toolset or Pods.
Advantages of Drupal
- Can be heavily extended and customized if you know how to use PHP, HTML, and CSS.
- Great for developers because of the above.
- Ideal for large data-centric websites that need to filter lots of data and produce tables, charts, and graphs.
Disadvantages of Drupal
- Not beginner-friendly. Drupal will require you to at least be pretty computer-literate to use and will require you understand the necessary programming languages to customize.
- The add-on and theme community is not as healthy as WordPress.
- If you lack programming skills you will likely need to hire a developer to help.
Price: Drupal is open source and free. You will, of course, have to pay for a web host to host the files.
Medium is a little unique when compared to some of the other WordPress alternatives because there’s no way to really customize your Medium page and there isn’t a self-hosted version like there is with WordPress that you can have full control over.
Medium is a platform that has more similarities with WordPress(dotcom), Blogger and Tumblr in that you are building on top of their platform.
With Medium, you are just going to be creating content and sharing it in different pre-existing categories that exist in their system.
You can also create your own magazine and invite other Medium members to contribute, in this case you can have a custom logo in the header but other than that it’s pretty vanilla.
I think Medium is a good place to test ideas or try and tap into an existing audience but it’s no substitute for your own website.
The best situation is having a Medium account to compliment your own blog or website and as a way to bring more relevant traffic to your self-published content.
Medium is a great tool and if you dedicate yourself to it you can build a great audience but it takes a lot of work and you never really own your medium account, you need to be sending that audience somewhere else, like a mailing list and/or to your own blog.
I personally use Medium to write about subjects that would make Mazepress incoherent if I added them here.
Advantages of Medium
- You can tap into the platforms existing audience by publishing in pre-existing categories and getting your work seen by Medium users.
- No technical skills required.
- No setup involved.
- Prevents you from wasting time on design because the options are limited.
Disadvantages of Medium
- No options to customize your blog design. Yes, this can be a good and a bad thing depending on where you are at in your journey and your goals.
- You can’t self-host so you are at the mercy of Medium’s success as a platform in the long run. If Medium gets sold or even worse shuts down then you will need to move your content elsewhere and likely have to take a massive step backward.
Price: Free for a basic account or you can pay $5 per month to be part of the partner program where you can earn money from Medium for having your content gated and only shown to other paying users.
Some people do this as a full-time job and make 4 or even 5 figures a month. Those on the higher end are usually combining their Medium earnings with affiliate marketing and list building.
CraftCMS is more of a back-end only tool for website developers who want a content management system they can connect to their front-end designs.
As such this is definitely not for beginners and DIY websites as you need to understand how to build the front end of the website and how to connect it up to work with CraftCMS.
Craft is definitely an interesting solution for developers looking to use something different for their back end website management as it’s lightweight and flexible.
Its popularity seems to be continually growing and there’s a wide range of integration with popular 3rd-party tools and services like MailChimp, PayPal and Salesforce plus you can build your own but the WordPress plugin repository is much larger.
For some people, that’s not a bad thing and that is totally fine. If you want to take the digital-minimalist approach then CraftCMS might be for you.
Much like Drupal, the content management side is very flexible and it’s easy to add custom content types and fields so you can manage every aspect of your HTML templates output from the back-end.
Advantages of Craft CMS
- Craft CMS is very flexible.
- Easy to add custom fields to content types.
- Easy to add custom taxonomies.
- Ideal for developers.
Disadvantages of Craft CMS
- Requires programming knowledge or hiring a programmer to build your front end. This is a back-end only CMS tool.
- Not as many features available as on alternatives, particularly because this is a back-end tool and not concerned with front-end functionality.
- New and not as many people with experience and limited resources compared with WordPress.
Price: Free for personal use or $299 per project for professional use with a $59 per year service fee to access software updates.
Gatsby is both free and open-source and one of the new generation of website building tools that are aimed at developers.
You won’t find a drag and drop editor here but the interesting thing is, you can actually use Gatsby with WordPress to make your website extremely fast but still benefit from the WordPress dashboard for managing content.
That’s Gatsby’s main aim as you can see from their slogan on the website because this CMS framework is built with React and helps devs build extremely fast websites and apps.
There are lots of major startups and companies using Gatsby to power their website as you can see on their showcase page.
Gatsby is an extremely flexible and powerful tool that is sure to only grow in popularity in the future and there is already a growing demand for developers with Gatsby experience.
If you want to build a website that loads pretty much instantly then try this tool out, provided you have the dev skills or you are willing to hire someone to help that is.
Advantages of Gatsby
- With Gatsby, you will have a lightning-fast website or blog.
- Can be used to create a static front-end for your WordPress CMS or other content management systems. In that respect, it can be used as a WordPress companion or as an alternative.
Disadvantages of Gatsby
- Makes updating your site more difficult when you are using a static front-end rather than a page builder at least unless you are a dev.
Price: Free and open-source.
Blogger was launched all the way back in the last millennium, okay it was 1999 but still, that makes it older than anything else on this list and they are also credited with popularizing the blogging format.
Blogger was purchased in 2003 by none other than Google and while it still operates to this day there’s been little in the way of development or innovation over recent years to make it a legitimate alternative to WordPress other than for hobbyists who really don’t care about owning their own platform.
It’s a pretty user-friendly system that uses themes much like WordPress and allows you to customize some aspects via drag and drop but the options are more limited. There are a lot of third party themes available but the functionality isn’t that flexible when it comes to plugins.
In my view, Blogger isn’t the best place to start a blog in 2021, ten years ago? maybe but it’s not the option I would recommend today.
You would be far better off using WordPress.com if you need something that is free because it’s easier to export it later to a self-hosted WordPress install when you are ready.
Advantages of Blogger
- Easy to set up a simple test blog in under an hour.
- Has a selection of themes to choose from.
- It’s owned by Google. But this doesn’t mean it’s in any way favorable in terms of SEO and Google.
Disadvantages of Blogger
- It’s not very flexible and doesn’t feature the kind of plugins WordPress has.
- You don’t have a lot of control over on-page SEO.
- It’s owned by Google, yes this is on the pros and the cons and for good reason. While Google is one of the biggest companies in the world they are also notorious for shutting down services as they did with Google+ and Hangouts. Who knows, it might be curtains for Blogger one day.
The platform gained a lot of popularity amongst youngsters and in particular risque niches.
One of the biggest subcultures on Tumblr was adult content and after they banned such content in December 2018 the site lost around 30% of its userbase overnight.
Tumblr might be an interesting platform to share your content but I don’t think it’s an alternative to WordPress for building a proper blog or any sort of website for your business.
It might work well as a social network for promoting arts and crafts but I can’t see much more runway beyond that. I always considered it more of a look book and visual social network like Pinterest.
You might find it a useful tool for running a low maintenance hobby blog but it’s not a content management system as such and won’t allow you to flexibly build out a more complete blog or website later.
It’s only really on this list because a lot of people do consider it an alternative but that’s usually due to a lack of experience.
Advantages of Tumblr
- An easy way to create a micro-blog.
- It’s free.
Disadvantages of Tumblr
- It’s more of a micro-blog whereas WordPress and most other CMS tools allow you to create more flexible blogs and websites.
- They have been bought and sold a few times and who knows what’s in the future for Tumblr, especially after the debacles over the past two years. (Source 1, Source 2).
- It’s not a very professional platform.
Bonus: eCommerce specific WordPress Alternatives
Here are a few honorable mentions for alternative solutions for building an eCommerce website. With WordPress, there’s no shortage of eCommerce plugins but my personal preference is WooCommerce and it’s the most popular too, but there are alternatives that offer more functionality out of the box and they are worth mentioning in this roundup list.
Shopify has largely become the defacto standard in the minds of eCommerce store owners and its popularity can be attributed to great advertising and a wide range of integrations.
As of 2018, it was in third place according to research that looked at over 300 different eCommerce options, behind both Magento and WooCommerce.
There’s not much you can’t do with Shopify when it comes to running an online store as there are plenty of bells and whistles available in the add-ons library.
I am personally a big fan of using WooCommerce with WordPress but if there was ever a legitimate competitor for my attention then its Shopify and I have used it for a number of stores and experiments but still opt for WooCommerce on most occasions.
Shopify makes it very easy for beginners with no website building experience to get started in no time.
Advantages of Shopify
- One of the fastest and easiest ways to set up an eCommerce store.
- Plenty of nice free and premium Shopify store themes to choose from. Though I would start with the free Debut theme and keep it simple.
- A user-friendly interface with great reporting features.
- Some standout features and ideas are first seen on Shopify stores, like social proof sales pop-ups and roulette wheel pop-up giveaways. There seems to be a lot of innovation at Shopify HQ.
Disadvantages of Shopify
- App costs can add up. If you are adding apps for different features and they have a recurring cost then you need to clear that before you are making a profit. You might sign up thinking you will spend $29 per month but with a few apps, this monthly cost can increase quite a bit.
- Not as flexible as WordPress.
- Not as easy to customize your design and layouts exactly how you want when compared with using WordPress and a page builder plugin like Elementor or Beaver Builder.
Price: $29 per month for the basic package. the next package up is $79 and then $299 per month. Each package has a range of differences including the number of admin users allowed, features and transaction fees.
Most people will want to start out with the basic package and upgrade if necessary. It’s likely you will end up investing in Shopify Apps to add more functionality.
BigCommerce was founded in 2009 and has quickly made a name for itself as a premium option for individuals and businesses looking for an intuitive eCommerce solution.
If you want to sell online then BigCommerce should be one of the platforms you test out to see if it’s right for you.
BigCommerce is very flexible and features lots of useful functions like API’s and integrations to sync your store with pretty much anything you want.
It is a hosted-for-you platform that runs on Google’s cloud servers offering great speed and meaning you don’t have to set up your own web server.
It’s fairly user-friendly for beginners and extremely powerful in the hands of the right developers and a legitimate competitor to Shopify and the other big eCommerce platforms.
You can choose from the essentials version or the extensive version depending on your requirements.
Advantages of BigCommerce
- No transaction fees, unlike Shopify.
- 10 Free templates to choose from, not much but they are pretty good and you can easily procrastinate and waste time when there are too many choices.
- Easy to use eCommerce content management system.
Disadvantages of BigCommerce
- Not as many integrations as Shopify or WooCommerce, at least without using Zapier of IFTTT.
Price: Like Shopify, there are 3 price levels, $29.95 $79.95 or $249.95 per month depending on your requirements and size. There’s a 10% discount if you pay annually.
Magento, not to be confused with Magneto the supervillain from the X-Men, is one of the old guards when it comes to eCommerce content management systems and is still one of the best options on the market, hence it’s market dominance in the eCom space.
It first launched in 2008 and was purchased in 2018 by Adobe for $1.68B and it will be interesting to see how it develops over the next few years and if it’s ever rolled into part of the Adobe CS suite of tools.
Magento is arguably the most flexible content management system for eCommerce and the ideal choice for very unique and bespoke requirements or stores with an extremely large product inventory.
Advantages of Magento
- Ideal for large and complex eCommerce stores that need to be built to bespoke requirements.
- Very flexible in the right hands, a developer can do just about anything with Magento.
- Bought by Adobe in 2018, I can imagine this is a good sign for the future of this software, though I wonder if it will always be open source or how Adobe plans to monetize it to recover the money they spent on the acquisition.
Disadvantages of Magento
- Too technical for beginners to set up and build.
- Costly if you have to hire web developers who specialize in using Magento.
- Not suited to smaller online stores and bootsrapped startups.
Price: The software is open source and free but there are hidden costs in that you will likely need to buy a theme, you will need to host the site and due to it’s more technical nature you might need to hire a professional Magento developer.
We have already mentioned Webflow as an alternative to WordPress but I wanted to cover it again under the eCommerce section as they now have a great eCommerce solution that looks great and is extremely easy to customize, more so than any other eCom platform I have seen to date.
Webflow eCommerce is extremely intuitive and is quickly winning me over as one of the best platforms for any kind of website.
If you are looking to try something new for your next online store I definitely recommend trying out Webflow eCommerce. I think a lot of people who are experienced with Shopify but frustrated with the workflow when customizing certain aspects of your store will absolutely love Webflow.
Advantages of Webflow eCommerce
- Makes it very easy to design unique and beautiful product templates and you can also customize your cart and checkout in the same drag and drop fashion.
- Overall it is a great design tool that’s pushing boundaries.
- From my tests, it seems to be a pretty user-friendly experience.
Disadvantages of Webflow eCommerce
- A little more expensive than running a WooCommerce store but still in line with Shopify etc.
- Includes a 2% transaction fee per sale for basic packages. 0% on Plus and Advanced packages.
- A new eCommerce solution that hasn’t passed the test of time yet.
Price: The basic package is $29, the Plus package costs $74 and the Advanced package costs $212 per month. Each tier offers additional benefits including lower fees, more features etc.
As you can probably tell WordPress is the one to beat and as an all-purpose tool, it’s still leaps and bounds ahead of the competition.
With that said, depending on your unique circumstances you might find one of the alternatives is better suited to your needs.
If you want to build an eCommerce store and not have to deal with lots of setup and customizations then Shopify would likely be the ideal first choice.
If you want to have full control and build an extremely data-centric website with user levels with different access permissions without it being bloated and slow then you might want to try out CraftCMS or Drupal.
If you have no development skills at all but excel at design and still want to build the site yourself then WebFlow might be a better choice.
A notable mention also goes to BoxMode if you are looking for an alternative that allows you to easily set up a simple website.
Ultimately for most people with broad requirements, WordPress is still the best content management around and the proof is demonstrated by their 30+% market share.
Yes, there are options that are more user-friendly out of the box but with the right WordPress theme and using page builders you should be able to set up a WordPress website with the same user-friendly drag and drop editor to customize it to look the way you want.
If security is one of the reasons you are seeking an alternative to WordPress take a look at this guide to learn how you can harden your WordPress install and ensure it never gets hacked.
One of the few valid arguments against using WordPress is that its popularity has led to it being the most common target online for hackers, the guide above teaches you how to secure your website from attacks but we also have a guide on how to fix a hacked WordPress website.
So unless you have a valid and specific reason not to use WordPress then you are likely best to stick with it and take the time to learn how to use it more thoroughly but I encourage people to try alternatives out and see for themselves.