Looking for the Best CMS in 2022? We Reviewed the Top 9

Over the last few years, CMS solutions, such as WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla, have grown leaps and bounds in popularity.

Whether you’re starting a new website or redesigning your current one, there’s a good chance you’ll be using a CMS.

The question is, though…what CMS solution should you choose?

CMS solutions can save time and money (free up valuable developer time) in the long run, but getting started with them can be challenging.

If you are looking for the best CMS platform for your website, this article should help you find one.

What is a CMS (Content Management System)?

You’re not a programmer and don’t want to be one. You want to manage your own content, but you don’t want to throw away all the great features other platforms offer.

That’s where a content management system comes in.

A content management system (CMS) is a software application that allows end-users to easily create, edit, and manage content on a website or web application. A CMS will enable you to change the layout and content of your site simply by logging in to a back-end dashboard – without having to be a web developer.

There are WordPress, Drupal, Magento, and Joomla, just to name a few of the most popular ones.

What Features to Look for in a Good CMS?

There are tons of aspects to consider when choosing a CMS, but I’ll cover the most important:

  • Flexibility – Not being able to make specific changes to your website will undoubtedly leave you frustrated in the future. To prevent this situation, be sure to choose a flexible CMS that can deal with some of your future demands.
  • Intuitive Content Management Dashboard – Your CMS should be easy to learn and fun to use. Not everyone is a developer. Most of us don’t have the patience/time/willingness to be all that into code, CSS, HTML, XML, or the like. We just want to create great content, format it the way we like or need it, and publish it.
  • SEO Tools – Your CMS should have “built-in” Search Engine Optimization tools. A marketer should be able to type in the URL, edit a few fields and bring traffic to the website – without contacting any Developers.
  • Third-party Plugins and Extensions – CMSs like WordPress are powerful because you can extend them via plugins. Add a contact form plugin to your site, and you’ve made it possible for readers to let you know what they think. Adding a newsletter signup plugin lets you build an email list and start conversations with your audience.
  • Multilingual – CMS solutions often have the ability to translate text and data. They can be handy and help you expand your business without investing in expensive translation.
  • Pre-designed Templates – I’m not going to lie to you, designing a blog can be a tedious process. There are colors to pick, fonts to choose and pictures (lots of pictures) to locate. But you don’t have to! With a proper CMS at your side, you can choose from pre-designed templates instead of designing everything yourself. All it should take is copying, pasting, formatting, and customizing it to align with your brand – and you are good to go!
  • Backups and Version Control – Your CMS should be providing basic backups and version control services. You should be able to restore your site if it gets hacked or revert to a page if you accidentally delete it.

Additionally, you should also consider features like publishing controls, digital marketing automation tools, security, customer support, scalability, user-friendly interface, and more.

The Best CMS Solutions in 2021.

Here are some of my top picks for the best and most popular CMS options in 2021:

1. HubSpot CMS

Best For: Medium and large-sized businesses.

G2 Score: 4.5

HubSpot markets itself as the best all-in-one marketing platform for inbound marketing. Whether you’re creating content, managing leads, or monitoring your website’s success, HubSpot has the tools you need. They provide CRM, CMS, SEO, Social Media Management, and more features that will impact your business growth.

Coming to HubSpot CMS, the content management system from HubSpot helps you easily organize and add all of your content to your website. It’s the easiest way to add blog posts, images, social content, and more to your site.

It has all the core features you’d expect from a content management system, including drag-and-drop content editors, customizable website themes, and even SEO recommendations.

HubSpot may seem intimidating at first and not as approachable as WordPress – but you’ll change your mind right after signing up for their 14-day trial – just as I did.

For one, you’d get access to tons of self-help content as soon as you sign up.

You’ll also get a step-by-step checklist of tasks to get started. For example, you’ll be prompted to select your style, followed by building the website and so forth.

Building your website would include pre-creating popular pages, customizing your homepage, and setting up your header and footer.

If you choose to build a website, HubSpot will automatically create all the essential pages for you. Select the pages you’d like them to create for you. And don’t worry, you can create more later.

The website builder is easy to use with a drag-and-drop interface. You can also select photos and layout and even customize all these elements later on.

Setting up your blog is also a straightforward process with HubSpot. You get access to plenty of mobile-friendly themes (both paid and unpaid), SEO tools, an easy-to-use editor, a stellar A/B testing tool, and more.

HubSpot CMS also comes with security features like a global CDN, a dedicated security team, and a free SSL certificate.

All in all, the HubSpot CMS makes it easy for anyone to create, manage and publish content to your website – without having to worry over the security.

Other than this, HubSpot offers the “smart content” functionality with its “Professional” plan – which is basically HubSpot’s version of dynamic content. It entails automatically changing the way your content looks and behaves depending on who’s viewing it, such as showing different content to specific users or visitors.

For example, you could create alternative content pages for visitors coming from a specific ad source or a different country or those viewing on a mobile device.

HubSpot also markets itself as an all-in-one tool, and rightly so. If you choose to use HubSpot, you won’t find yourself rushing from one site to another to access features like newsletters, additional marketing tools, CRM, customer service tools, and more. You’ve got everything under one single umbrella, which is the biggest USP of HubSpot.

Cons:

  • A bit on the expensive side.
  • Not suitable for ecommerce sites, although it allows integration with WooCommerce and WordPress.

Pricing:

Starts at $25/month with all the core features required to build a website and a fully-functioning blog. There’s also a 14-day free trial.

2. WordPress

Best For: Bloggers, small and mid-sized businesses.

G2 Score: 4.3

When it comes to the best CMS solutions, there is always one that gets the most attention, and that’s WordPress. One of the reasons WordPress is the preferred CMS is because it’s easy to use, and most of all, it’s free. It’s best for beginners who don’t really have a lot of expertise in coding and maintaining websites and blogs.​

At first glance, you may think it’s only for blogging, but WordPress is so much more than that. It has tools and multiple themes to help you build landing pages, ecommerce sites, membership sites, and a lot more.

WordPress’ Classic Editor is also easy to use, and the functions may seem limited at first, but it lets you add every type of content you want.

If you’re on the internet, you are most likely familiar with this Classic Editor:

This will be your playground on WordPress. It’s where you insert text, photos, add alt text to images, forms, tables, Yelp reviews, testimonials, maps, and much more.

Edit these elements. Customize them. Delete them. Move them. You already know how to do it!

You can also switch to the modern WordPress block editor, where each block has its own settings.

 

Different blocks make it easier to align specific blocks of text, change their font, and more.

I also love how easy it is to add plugins to WordPress, and the best part is that there’s a plugin for everything. Almost anything you can think of, there is a plugin for that. This makes the experience of building your WordPress website more powerful and easier than ever imaginable.

Do you want to make sure your web page is SEO-compliant? Install the Yoast SEO plugin for free from the plugin section.

There are plugins for everything from slideshows to advanced comment tools. Moreover, there are custom post types, shortcodes, and widgets to meet just about any need you have.

The process of creating URLs, meta descriptions, tags, titles, etc., is also effortless with WordPress.

Other key features include:

  • Hundreds of mobile-friendly WordPress themes.
  • Active community forums and documentation.
  • The ability to create photo galleries and embed audio, video, and more.
  • The editor saves your work automatically every second.
  • Built-in social sharing buttons.
  • Built-in stats, site maps, and SEO tools.
  • The ability to monetize your site the way you want.

Cons:

  • You have to set up your own domain name and host with WordPress (at an extra cost).
  • You need to install multiple plugins for advanced SEO and analytics features.
  • The user interface is not as intuitive as some of the more advanced CMS solutions (like HubSpot, for instance).

Pricing:

You can use WordPress for free, although you’ll be paying for a custom domain, WordPress hosting, paid themes, additional plugins, and more. Expenses will depend on your requirements and use.

3. Contentful

Best For: Best for businesses and teams that need to create websites that include other digital platforms.

G2 Score: 4.3

Contentful is a unique CMS solution that will help you unify content, structure it for use in any digital channel, and integrate with other tools through open APIs.

It is not your regular CMS solution.

It’s a “headless CMS,” which refers to decoupled content management system architecture that breaks the traditional page-centric approach and brings flexibility to content delivery. Content in a headless CMS gets delivered via APIs for better adaptability and seamless display across different devices.

In a nutshell, it means that the whole website isn’t visualized as a bunch of static HTML files and images anymore. Headless CMS platforms encapsulate the content for websites, mobile apps, mobile sites, digital displays, conversational interfaces, and much more.

Dealing with enormous amounts of content? Running into scaling issues when adding new content to the website? Want content delivery to unlimited devices? Your best bet is to choose a headless CMS.

You can use the CMS platform to build a blog, a marketing site, an ecommerce platform, a knowledge base, a mobile app, and more.

And while it may seem too complex, the content and the blocks of the site are structured in a way that makes it easy to reuse and work with any layout you want.

Here’s how Contently works with Gatsby.js to help you deploy a website:

However, if you want to create a regular, web-based website, it’s best to stick with traditional CMS solutions like WordPress.

Some of its key features include:

  • Cloud-based app.
  • It has an API-first approach, making it easier to replicate apps across the organization.
  • Open source components for apps and web editor interface.
  • SDKs for the most popular languages.
  • Provides regional autonomy and lets you publish in multiple languages and at different time zones.
  • Suitable for all types of content, including text, JSON snippets, collections, entry references, and more.

Cons:

  • A bit difficult on the backend.
  • Entry-level coders may require more documentation than the platform offers.

Pricing: Free initially.

4. Wix

Best For: Beginners to create a static website and store content.

G2 Score: 4.2

Wix is a cloud-based website builder that comes with drag-and-drop tools and social publishing features to quickly create professional-looking websites, online stores, eCommerce catalogs, and more.

With drag & drop editing tools, interactive features, and hundreds of creative themes for every industry, it lets you build your own custom website in minutes with no technical knowledge required.

The editor is also pretty easy to use and makes it easy for you to create and customize content:

Adding the “Content Manager” to your account to store all of your site content in collections, including text, images, and files, is also a straightforward process. You can display the stored content on dynamic pages and control it from the manager without updating page layouts.

You can also choose from different layouts to display your content.

Take the pre-designed “Teams” template, for example.

All you’ll need to do is to add your content, including text, images, URLs, or anything else.

While Wix has some components that let you use it as a CMS, it’s not a “pure” CMS and is more design-driven than anything else. It does come with the Content Manage function to help you create and store content.

That said, that platform comes with severe limitations. For instance, you don’t own your code or data and are essentially paying for a website building service.

If you need to create an aesthetically pleasing static website, look no further! But if you need a full-fledged CMS tool with all the bells and whistles like role-based administration, then this is not the platform for you.

Cons:

  • It’s not a full-fledged CMS tool.
  • You don’t own your code or data.
  • Website templates are not interchangeable.

Pricing:

14-day free initially; then starts at $14 per month.

5. Squarespace

Best For: Beginners who want to create a basic website or portfolio.

G2 Score: 4.4

We’ve all heard about Squarespace. If you haven’t, it’s a super-hyped yet easy-to-use website builder that provides you with a ton of genuine value.

Squarespace is all about simplicity and ease of use, with beautiful templates and a drag-and-drop interface. If you’re looking for a way to build your online presence quickly and effectively, Squarespace is worth a look.

However, like Wix, Squarespace is primarily a website builder and only has ​​basic content management functions. It lets you store your data, but you won’t get flexibility in terms of coding.

It’s a beginner-friendly platform where you don’t have to worry about the coding part to deploy your site and manage all the content in one place. Ease of use is its major USP.

There are tons of themes to build an attractive website, but extensions and plugins are limited. It also provides the ability to create and store data from gallery boxes, newsletter signup forms, and more.

You also get access to email marketing tools to store and run email campaigns, SEO tools, social media tools, and more.

So, if you’re just trying your hand at blogging or creating a simple online store and want basic content management functions like adding, editing, and storing content in one place, then it’s an excellent tool.

Otherwise, it’s no Contentful or even WordPress in terms of advanced content management features.

Cons:

  • No support for third-party plugins and extensions.
  • Not as customizable as its counterparts like WordPress.

Pricing:

Starts at $12 per month. There’s no freemium plan.

6. Shopify

Best For: Building an online store.

G2 Score: 4.3

Shopify is a platform for building a business online. The business model of Shopify is simple: Sell products from an ecommerce site hosted on the Shopify store. You can start small—selling a few hundred or a few thousand custom products — or grow your ecommerce website.

The possibilities are limitless – in terms of themes, checkout experiences, custom storefront tools, international selling tools, and more.

You also have complete control of your theme, which means you can create exactly what your customer wants. You can build anything from a one-page ecommerce site all the way up to a massive online marketplace like Amazon or eBay.

Shopify’s SEO-friendly content management system also lets you easily add your own blog posts, products, product descriptions, news, events, or anything else you want to add to your online store. The CMS interface is streamlined and makes it easy to add, list, edit, and organize products.

The editor appears similar to WordPress’s classic editor and makes it easy to add customizable H1, titles, meta tags, and URLs.

With Shopify, you won’t have to worry about indexing either. It automatically generates sitemap.xml files, so new products and site changes get indexed right away, and your content appears on search engines quickly.

The platform also comes powered with built-in analytics to help you monitor your sales and progress.

And, as you can see, the statistics are easy to comprehend and appear similar to WordPress’ stats.

Other key features include:

  • Drag-and-drop ordering of product images.
  • Display multiple versions for each product.
  • Allow products with different inventory tracking options, prices, weights, etc.
  • Keyword tags to easily search for items and browse in your store.

Overall, Shopify is a great CRM platform. But it only makes sense to use their CRM functions if you require them in conjunction with their ecommerce tools.

Cons:

Some online reviewers had trouble uploading their photos to the platform.

Here’s one of them:

Pricing:

Starts at $29 per month. There’s also a 14-day free trial.

7. SiteCore

Best For: Large enterprises looking for a headless CMS solution.

G2 Score: 3.9

SiteCore is another headless CMS on this list that helps you create, manage, store, and deliver content across multiple channels and markets. It entails writing the code just once or one set of content and deploying it to multiple digital platforms, and even sharing it between thousands of domains and sites at once.

Rather than being a simple blogging platform or brochure website maker, it is a full-featured, robust and intuitive application for creating, editing, and sharing content.

It’s built on ASP.net and works well as a unified platform with solid support in marketing, personalization, order management, customer data management, web analytics, etc.

Some key features include:

  • Intuitive UI that lets you launch and store websites, intranets, portals, apps, and landing pages centralized platform.
  • Enable framework of your choice, including Angular, React, Next.js, and more.
  • Front-end separation with Headless.
  • Create and deploy content across multiple touchpoints and in different languages.
  • Write your code once and deliver it everywhere via a high-performance global cloud CDN.
  • Integrates with all major marketing tools on the market.

Cons:

  • Steep learning curve.
  • Pricier than other tools on this list.

Pricing: Quote-based.

8. Drupal

Best For: Small, mid-sized businesses and individuals with proficiency in programming languages.

G2 Score: 3.8

​​Drupal is a free and open-source content management framework (CMF) written in PHP and distributed under the GNU General Public License. It’s built on an open-source software platform and allows for powerful features, including content creation and management, community building, commerce solutions, and customization.

Used to publish, manage and organize a wide variety of content, it’s most often compared to WordPress in terms of use and function. That said, building a site with Drupal isn’t as much of a cakewalk as it’s with WordPress.

Drupal also offers an array of tools to simplify user management, including functions like creating and deleting users with the permission system.

Adding, editing, and storing content is also straightforward – and works somewhat akin to WordPress.

Here are some of the essential editing tools you get with Drupal:

(Image Source)

Drupal’s key features include:

  • “Mautic open marketing automation” to personalize your data and marketing campaigns.
  • It allows seamless content translation.
  • Multichannel messaging and unlimited accessibility.
  • Front-end and back-end decoupling to scale content.
  • Built-in project modules.

With that said, you should be aware of some of the shortcomings when working with Drupal.

Drupal has one massive problem: The learning curve! The UI is outdated and the clutter of elements can confuse new users. It appears as if Drupal hasn’t been touched for ages.

So, if you are thinking about building a new site with Drupal, make sure you get a developer who knows how to work with it well.

Cons:

  • The user interface is a little outdated when compared to other CMS tools.
  • The content management system and the website builders appear archaic.
  • Not many tutorials and documentation to help get started with the platform.
  • Customization is complicated unless you are good at coding.

Pricing:

Drupal is entirely free of cost. However, you would need to pay for third-party web hosting services.

9. Joomla

Best For: Small and mid-sized businesses.

G2 Score: 4

Joomla is another free, open-source CMS platform on this list. You can take Joomla to the ends of the world, thanks to its built-in publishing tools, extensions, multilingual capability, and extensible architecture.

Its SEO tools are also worth mentioning. For example, it automatically replicates its default PHP string every time you create a new item or article. This leads to links directing to particular pages being search engine friendly.

Joomla is also a community-driven content management system like WordPress and Drupal.

There are tons of tools to make content editing and publishing straightforward. You have the WYSIWYG editor, content versioning, article management tools,

Here’s a quick overview of Joomla’s article manager:

You can open the “New Article” screen from here, which contains options for categorizing, naming the article, editing, and selecting parameters.

While not complete, it’s also somewhat similar to WordPress’s content editor’s UI. So, you might like it if you’re already a WordPress fan.

Cons:

  • Slightly complex to use.
  • Limited modules and add-ons.

Pricing:

Joomla is free of cost. However, just like Drupal, you would need to pay for third-party hosting services.

Wrapping-Up!

Good CMS software is an invaluable tool in your arsenal. These platforms will help you create websites faster, streamline your workflow, and build more robust sites. They’ve also evolved to become easier to use and more customizable than ever before, so you’ll be able to get even more out of them by learning how to leverage their full potential.

Ultimately, you should determine your needs and find the best solution that fits your business model.

For instance, if you want to deploy your content to multiple channels simultaneously, go for headless CMS platforms like SiteCore and Contentful.

On the other hand, WordPress, Wix, and Squarespace are better options if you are a complete beginner and don’t want to dabble with the coding part. They’re also suitable for small businesses.

And when it comes to building an ecommerce store, Shopify definitely tops the list.

It’s always a good idea to try out a variety of platforms and approaches when you first get into web design, as there’s no one solution that will fit all projects.

 

Deepti Jain

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