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4 WordPress Alternatives: the What, Where, and Why

This guest post is by Matt Setter of MaltBlue.com.

As bloggers, we’re all familiar with WordPress, whether as a self-hosted setup, or via WordPress.com. I think that, if you’re a blogger and you’ve not used it, then you’re likely in an odd minority.

If you do a Google search for “blogging software,” WordPress will likely be among the first results you’ll see. But is it necessarily the best choice?

Yes, “everybody’s doing it,” but does that make it the right choice? Just like in the 90’s when Microsoft seemed like the only choice, but then we found alternatives like Mac or Linux, there are alternatives to WordPress too.

Now maybe you’re quite happy with your WordPress installation, it meets your needs, and your site’s humming along nicely. Well, that’s perfectly fine. But what if you’re not? What if you want to change, or have the opportunity to change?

What if you’re:

  • just starting out
  • about to rebuild or redesign your blog
  • moving hosts
  • concerned WordPress is not meeting your needs
  • contrarian in your thinking?

Well if you’re any one of these, you’ll love this post. Today I present to you four alternatives you may never have heard of, showing you the pros and cons of each, how much they cost, and where you can get them from. Ready? Great! Let’s begin.

Habari

habariHabari is a secure blogging platform designed from the ground up with the current and future needs of the blogging community firmly in mind. It’s also designed to be open and transparent, using modern software development techniques in its design.

Some examples of blogs run on this platform include:

The Habari project screencast linked below gives a great introduction to the CMS.

Features

  • Support for a wide variety of plugins and extensions, including:
    • contact forms
    • Last.FM
    • spam management
    • Amazon
    • Google Maps, AdSense, and Analytics
    • star ratings
    • members-only access
    • LinkedIn
    • Twitter
  • modern theme support
  • support for multiple users and multiple sites in one installation
  • support for tagging
  • support for a wide variety of media, including Viddler and Flickr
  • custom RSS feeds and statistics
  • Feedburner integration
  • modern spam filtering techniques
  • automatic Twitter updates
  • Disqus integration for commenting.

Cost and availability

Habari is available as a free download from the project home page. You can even try out a demo version without needing to install it.

Support options

Habari support is available via:

  • FAQ
  • users group
  • IRC (internet chat, similar to ICQ, MSN, Google Chat etc).

Is it for you?

If you’re keen to roll up your sleeves and manage things yourself, or you have great tech support, try out Habari. However, if your host doesn’t support it or you’re not able to do it yourself, then this may not be the best option for you.

CushyCMS

cushycmsCushyCMS is, as the home page says, “A Truly Simple CMS.” It was designed to be implemented with as little effort as possible; to be “Super Easy To Use!”

Where Habari is more like WordPress in that you can download, install, and configure it yourself, CushyCMS is a fully hosted solution.

Minimal manual effort is required on your part, other than the work required to implement modest customisations. Have a look at the introductory video below to see just how easy it is.

Blogs that use CushyCMS include:

Features

Depending on the package that you choose, different features will be available to you. In the free package, you get:

  • five sites
  • unlimited site editors
  • availability in 20 languages.

If you take the pro package, you can:

  • brand your installation
  • customise the interface via a wysiwig editor
  • remove all ads from the site
  • use your own domain name and logo
  • configure access rights for each user
  • customise the CSS classes.

Cost and availability

CushyCMS is available from Stateless Systems and comes in two forms:

  • free
  • pro, for US$28 per month.

Support options

This depends on the package that you’ve chosen. If you’ve chosen the free package, you get:

  • videos
  • documentation
  • package FAQ
  • access to the Google user group.

If you upgrade to the pro package, you get all that, plus direct email support from Stateless Systems.

Is it for you?

Depending on your needs and requirements, CushyCMS could be just what you’re looking for. You can sign up and get started in minutes. There’s no need to worry about what your current provider does or doesn’t support, as this system is fully hosted. You can get started with the free version, but you’ll have limited branding and domain control privileges.

You can upgrade to the pro version, but unless you’re making regular money with your blog, you might not want to pay the monthly fee for it. However, you do get a company backing the product with 24/7 support, should you have any questions or queries.

concrete5

concrete5Just like WordPress and Habari, concrete5 is available to be downloaded, configured, and installed at your web host and is a blogging platform built from the ground up to satisfy the needs of website editors, designers, and developers alike on a foundation of proven open source technologies.

The underlying philosophy of concrete5 is to make running a website easy. As you can see from the demo video below, in just about all aspects of site administration, you can simply click on a region of the page and edit it to your heart’s content.

A couple of blogs that run on concrete5 are:

Features

Concrete5:

  • is easy to theme yourself, or you can choose from a wide variety of pre-made themes
  • supports a wide variety of plugins and extensions including:
    • digital download support
    • discussion forums
    • ecommerce
    • ad servers
    • configurable menu navigation
    • star reviews
    • scrolling ticker
    • image gallery
    • traffic and statistics management
    • Google Maps
    • user chat
    • country-based redirect
    • Vimeo and YouTube support.
  • easy to configure, whether by hand or via the wysiwig editor
  • easy to update, right from your browser
  • open source and completely free to use
  • easy to install and configure.

Cost and availability

Concrete5 is available from the concrete5 website and is open source, so it’s free.

Support options

Similar to Habari, concrete5 doesn’t have a paid support option, however it does have:

If you are a developer, or have access to development support, training and integration packages are also available.

Is it for you?

Concrete5 is a good mixture of the best parts of the two previous packages. You can install it yourself, but training and custom build support are also available. So, depending on your needs and your available budget, concrete5 may be the right option for you. Why not give a trial version a go today to see?

TomatoCMS

tomatocmsLast, but by no means least, is TomatoCMS. Like Habari and Concrete5, TomatoCMS is an open source, modern blogging and CMS platform designed from the ground up to meet today’s needs and demands.

Examples of blogs that run on this platform include:

Two key aspects set TomatoCMS apart: Widgets and the Layout Editor. Let’s look at its feature list.

Features

Among a vast array of compelling features are:

  • a variety of built-in modules (extension) including:
    • banner advertising support
    • category management
    • comment management
    • simple menu management
    • multimedia management
    • in-built news system
    • tag support
    • poll support
  • built on the Zend Framework, jQuery, and 960grid, making it fast, light and flexible.

In addition to this it’s also:

  • SEO friendly
  • secure
  • highly themable
  • packaged with a simple visual editor allowing you to drag, drop, and resize almost any interface element.

Cost and availability

As with Habari and Concrete5, TomatoCMS is also a free download available to be installed and configured on your host as your needs demand.

Support options

Also like Habari and Concrete5, TomatoCMS doesn’t offer a commercial support package. However it does have a solid project wiki and a thriving forum. If you have troubles with it, then you’re likely to find the solution there without too much hassle.

Is it for you?

If you’re keen to control most, if not all, of the aspects of the system on your own host, then this is the option for you. However, if you need support then this option may not be the best choice.

Choices, choices

So there you have it. If you want to change from WordPress, have an opportunity to change, or are just starting out, now you have four additional options to WordPress to choose from.

Take a closer look and evaluate them. When you find the one that ticks all your boxes, give it a try and let me know how it goes for you.

Do you run your blog on an alternative to WordPress? Why is it your platform of choice? What makes it the best one for your blog and your business? Let us know in the comments.

Matthew Setter is a freelance writer, technical editor and proofreader. His mission is to help businesses present their online message in an engaging and compelling way so they’re noticed and remembered.

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Comments

  1. I run a personal blog on Jekyll. It’s very customizable, there is no database (the content is pulled from Markdown files) and no control panel. It’s extremely writer-friendly and great for technical-savvy bloggers.

    • Jekyll is great, so is Kirby.

      Overall an interesting post, thanks for the round-up Matt.

      • Hi Gregory, I’ve just had a look at Jekyll, (I’m sure my host would much prefer it) so if Kirby’s anything like it, then I think I’m stuck for choice – what a great position to be in. Thanks for the link and I’m glad you liked the post.

    • Natalia, I’ve heard of Jekyll but in part haven’t really tried it because of the lack of a database; yet at the same time I’m a huge fan of Markdown and use a great app on the Mac for it called Mou (mouapp.com). I’ll check it out. Thanks for the reference about it.

  2. You don’t often see a list of WordPress alternatives. Great read. Thanks for the list.

    • Hi Mike,

      yeah, all too often it seems to be “WordPress or nothing”. Not that WordPress is bad, it does a great job to be fair. But it’s not the only game in town.

  3. Ben Troy says:

    I love CushyCMS blogging flatform, its style is similar to Thesic , very friendly and the speed is to fast and very for navgation.

    • Hi Ben,

      How do you find the support when you need it? Are they really supportive? It looks like a good model. Speaking of speed, is it faster, on average, than an equivalent in WordPress?

      • Ben Troy says:

        yes used to try, It must be faster than wordpress, However, not offer varieties of plugin and theme like wordpress does and I am not sure It can be used for powerful application, script .

  4. Graham Lutz says:

    I’m a wordpress guy through and through. I’m sure some of the others are good, but if it ain’t broke, right?

  5. Richard Ng says:

    Wow, all the alternatives shared here are completely new to me, will check them out.

    Thanks for posting.

    Cheers!

  6. Nial Robbins says:

    Great article with a lot of very useful information. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Amanda says:

    I love wordpress too much to switch to anything else. If you think outside the box you can do so many things with it. I do however still like blogspot’s easy layout for simple blogs. ;)

    • It can be addictive with all the plugins and simplicity of creating and customising templates to be sure. And a lot of great companies, including Copyblogger.com have invested a lot in the platform such as with their Genesis design framework.

      But there are great alternatives out there. That’s what makes blogging so much fun; it’s never a case of one size fits all.

      What’s your favourite feature of WordPress?

  8. Nick says:

    Thanks for the article. I will look into this CushyCMS blogging platform and get back to you.

  9. Matt – It is a known fact that WordPress enjoys sort of a monopoly when it comes to blogging platforms. You have done a great job at listing out these other alternatives for new bloggers. I have heard about the CushyCMS from a couple of others, but others were new to me.

    • Hey Praveen, thanks for the feedback mate. Yes, it definitely has a monopoly, at least in terms of mindshare. Thanks for the feedback. There’s more alternatives that I was keen to cover, but didn’t want to write war and peace. If you’re keen to try out CushyCMS, like Ben above does, it would be great to get your feedback and thoughts about it. I’m sure we all could benefit.

  10. As Mike said above; You don’t see these comparisons very often. This is an interesting group and I will remember them for future reference.

    Thanks for the article Matthew.

    Steve

    • Hi Steve, Yes, it’s not something that I see too often myself. thanks for the kind words also. Would you be interested in hearing about more of them?

  11. wow !! Thanks a lot you introduced these WordPress alternatives. I’ll check’em out…

  12. Mahesh Mohan says:

    Where is Typepad on the list?

    • Hi Mahesh, it’s not excluded specifically, but I didn’t want to write war and peace as I said just now to Praveen. If people are keen, maybe a follow up post or two could be written adding Typepad in the list. If you’re keen, let me know in the comments and I’ll talk to the good folks at Problogger about it.

  13. Nico says:

    The main reason why I stick with WordPress, is because it’s easy to find information, tutorials, plugins and support about it. As long as WordPress does the job, I’m not switching.

    • darkduck says:

      Everyone selects what is better for him. If you’re ok with WP, then why not. If you want to experiment, then try something new.

      Same is valid for operating systems too. If you are happy with Windows, use it. If you’re not, then Linux has huge variety of choices. Try some, and then decide. (This is what my blog is about)

  14. Sanjib Saha says:

    I never knew about these alternatives. The only two names that i knew are blogger and WordPress.When i opened the sample blogs, these looks good but i am definitely not going to try these. I feel WordPress is best ( very user friendly ) and many of the bloggers will stick to WordPress.

    • Hi Sanjib,

      That’s some good advice, WordPress is very user friendly. They invested quite heavily some years ago in the user interface to make it what it is today and there’s a lot to be respected about that and how much satisfaction it gives so many sites. But it’s also good to know that there are alternatives, should you want a change or want to experiment.

  15. I love wordpress and have several WP blogs. However I also have a Drupal site and that has a blogging option so I have a blog there too.

    My hosting company has a huge selection of blog software which we can download from the cpanel some of which say they are blogging software. However I have never heard of them elsewhere. What does anyone know about Geeklog and Nucleus for example?

  16. Martin says:

    Thanks for educating the masses that there are alternatives to WordPress ;-)

    I’ve been using the free and opensource Blosxom blogging engine for a number of years, and chose it because it suits my requirements. I know Blosxom will not suit the vast majority of people out there, and posts like yours will help people make an informed decision which blogging engine they should be considering.

    • Martin, when I decided to start looking at the alternatives to WordPress, I didn’t expect that there would be such a raft of options available. Do you have a link for Blosxom? What got you behind it and keeps you there?

  17. This is a very cool and interesting list. I’ve been venturing into Drupal a bit lately, looking to try something new other than WordPress, which I still like very much. What do you think about Drupal, is it a good alternative to WordPress?

  18. darkduck says:

    You have missed Joomla. Was it for purpose??

    • Hi darkduck, no, not intentionally. I wanted to go with some lesser known alternatives, at least at first, over ones such as Joomla and Drupal.

  19. AUDIOMIND says:

    Why change what works? WordPress ftw!

    • If it’s rocking for you – keep on going mate. I don’t want to convert you, just give choice. What’s your best WordPress tips?

  20. Brad says:

    Great information here! THANKS!

  21. In a time where WordPress seems to be the only real solution, it’s great to see some different opportunities.

    However, I really love WordPress and will stay that way ;-)

  22. Dion Lynk says:

    I think squarespace is good too. Aesthetically pleasing templates, great support, and iphone and android apps that work really well. Concrete 5 is on the up n up. Good stuff!

    • Dion,

      Squarespace, from quick reading looks nice, with the blog importing and iOS/Android integration. Is that what got you using it?

  23. Although we use WordPress for most of our websites it is great to see some more options, thank you!

  24. aditia says:

    today so many php framework out there, and developer used to make it great CMS, like TomatoCMS, Concrete5 based on Zend Framework, I know other one is hero cms based on codeigniter

  25. Marc Ensign says:

    I think it’s less about following the masses and more about having a solid platform. Who knows if any of these guys are going to survive over the next few years. I know WordPress will. Another benefit of WordPress is the mass of support you get in terms of plugin and theme developers. You don’t get that with any of these other platforms…at least not to that level. It’s tough to compete with that.

  26. HeroCMS looks pretty nice. I might have to download it and give it a go. I’m more of a Zend Framework developer myself, but CodeIgniter’s got a lot going for it.

  27. Great post Matthew ;-)

    I used to use Mojoportal (C#/ASP) which was great and very solid and fairly easy to setup. I’ve also worked heavily with Kentico for bigger sites and that has its strong points too but setup time can be pretty substantial.

    However when I (re)stumbled across WordPress I was blown away by how far it had come, how easy it was to install, and how it seemed to be that everytime you needed to do something there was a plugin freely available (even if it wasn’t quite right it was normally a very good head start.)

    With such a huge following it the development is rapid and extremely well tested with any bugs fixed quickly and as a platform that takes some beating!

  28. roberto says:

    I’m a still stuck with movabletype and i like it. Never had the pleasure to try those platform but i can say, i’m not a big wordpress fan. Anyway what matter is what we like to use

    Thank you

    • James Dean says:

      Hi Roberto, if you are movabletype fan, then you should try out the melody it is fork out version of movabletype and created by ex movabletype programmers. you can catch their site at openmelodydemo.org, and read the official movable type, movabletype.org/2009/06/meet_melody.html

  29. Robert says:

    Hi Matt, thanks for interesting article.

    I don’t know anything about blogging, but when I retired a while ago, I took up graphic design, webpage design and video editing as a hobbyist. I can well imagine that these capabilities would come in handy when putting together a blog. I am about to take the plunge into what is for me unexplored teritory. WordPress seemed to dominate Google searches, so it’s useful to know there are alternatives. My plan
    is to leave no digital stone unturned while able to do so.
    Thank you
    Robert