WordPress is the most popular CMS platform in the world. However, it is not always the best solution and one of these WordPress alternatives might actually do a better job for you.
Being an all-in-one platform, WordPress has its pros and cons. A year ago I’ve written about it here (oddly enough some of the points still stand). Besides the post is more of a case in point for static site generators and Jamstack than a showcase of the best WordPress alternative options available, a lot has happened in the world of WordPress and web dev in general since then.
For one, the ability to go headless with WordPress, either by using WordPress API or WPGraphQL or utilizing services such as Shifter or Stratic not only tackled a few of the ‘problems’ WP have had previously but it also made running a WordPress on Jamstack so much easier. This alone is a huge step forward for WordPress, adding up a lot to an already versatile platform.
For two, the abundance of available website building solutions. While it makes choosing so much harder, it is actually a good thing. A competitive climate creates better products for the end-users. In 2020 there’s an array of options, good WordPress alternatives on the market, made to fit certain roles/needs/businesses.
With all this in mind, this time, I’ve made a list of options to help you learn about their strengths and weaknesses and then decide which one may be the best option for you and your business.
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If your main interest is blogging, voicing out and sharing your views and stories, Medium is a great WordPress alternative. This platform was created specifically for those who want to share stories and other types of content with a community. It has a social networking feature built into it and it figures out which of your Twitter or Facebook connections are on Medium. Then, it connects you there as well.
Medium is known for having a clean, clutter-free look that brings your content to the forefront. It offers feedback on how many people read your stories until the end and how much time visitors spend on your page.
Simple import tools for your content from pretty much anywhere. You can reach a new audience with your writing as Medium shares your writing within its community. You can run your publication or even a company blog there.
Downsides? Although Medium accounts are free and open to anyone (or any brand) to start writing, best writings are usually behind dreaded 5\$ membership. This membership is distributed among writers in certain percent but other than that if you are trying to earn with your writing by serving ads, for example, your in for a letdown as your options are limited to, let’s say, direct deals you may be able to pull with someone.
So, you have heard of Jamstack web dev architecture and static sites, and you are eager to try it but have zero to none coding experience? Go with Stackbit. Even if that first sentence doesn’t resonate with you, give it a try.
Stackbit makes the whole process of creating a static website a lot simpler and more approachable. It takes all the necessary parts ie theme, static site generator, CMS, and deployment solution, mashes them together, and serve you a full-blooded Jamstack website. It is a cheat tool for building Jamstack websites in a matter of minutes but also a perfect look at the world of Jamstack.
Yes, you can run your eCommerce with Stackbit as well but it requires a bit of coding. The best use case scenario is if you want to host your own static site for your blog, portfolio, presentation, or move away from Medium, and other similar options.
Wix is a website builder that helps you create your own website, without coding. You’ve most likely heard about Wix since it is a very simple, popular, and well-advertised solution (did anyone said YouTube ads!?). The pros of Wix are that it has a bunch of template and design options, the hosting service and SEO tools are included and it’s very user-friendly and price-friendly as well with prices starting at \$4 per month. It is ideal if you want to get a website up and running quickly and you have zero dev/designer skills but a keen eye and clear idea.
Famously simple drag and drop builder allows users to place elements wherever they like, so you can customize everything visually. You can add various apps to your pages, such as the live chat software, newsletter tool, and many more.
Unfortunately, you can’t switch templates after your website goes live and you are bound by the template design. And in case you plan on moving to another platform keep in mind there is no data export option with Wix. So, you are stuck with Wix unless you have a backup stored somewhere.
Still, for newbies, no coders, MVPs, small businesses, and even small eCommerce stores Wix can be a decent solution.
Similarly to Wix with Squarespace, you don’t need any technical knowledge to work with it. Their visual site builder may be a central part of their platform but unlike most of their direct competitors, like Wix, they allow for more customization and code access. It’s mainly used for portfolio sites and blogs, but also online stores.
Squarespace has a very nice selection of templates and you can tell that they are very careful about details, such as font and image sizes. If the aesthetic part of the website is very important to you, you will enjoy using this platform.
The prices start at \$12 per month, but you can take advantage of the free trial. There is also a Squarespace app that allows you to work on nearly all aspects of your website from your phone which is kind of cool when you have to work on the fly.
While templates space is neatly done apps and extensions, on the other hand, are not. Yes, they’ve covered the basic needs but there is no support for third-party apps, plugins, or extensions making announced ease of customization harder than it seemed.
Shopify is a platform focused on eCommerce only and people love it because of its stability, flexibility, and wealth of options exclusive to eCommerce businesses. Even if you’re an absolute tech beginner, you won’t have problems getting around it!
It is much more than a simple shopping cart solution for websites. With it, you can run your own store with an unlimited number of items/products, have 24/7 customer service, and complete order, payment, and shipping management backend. What more it offers seamless integration with several different social channels including Facebook, Amazon, Pinterest, and certain mobile apps as well. On top of it all, it has a unique feature Shopify “Buy Button” that allows you to embed any product and add a checkout on your website.
Like most website builders you do sacrifice customization ie you are dependent on the theme/template options. However, the number of apps/addons brightest that gap a bit (at least when it comes to added functionalities) though the downside is that most of them will cost you.
If you need to get your shop off the ground in just a few days Shopify may be the best solution indeed. Keep in mind many report problems occur when your startup store, your MVP, starts to grow and you become dependent on paid apps to take care of your problem.
You can’t mention WordPress without mentioning Drupal and vice versa. Not only they were released just a few years apart (Drupal in 2000, WordPress in 2003) but they have a lot of similarities as well. For one, they both are free to use open-source CMSs. For two they both have a wide range of plugins and modules for additional functionality, For three, incredible communities are backing both of them.
Of course, there are differences most notably level of complexity Drupal brings with it and a fairly steep learning curve compared to ease of use WordPress has. At the same time, that same complexity allows much more in terms of customization and website architecture/template flexibility. For example, if you need multiple page templates in one project, Drupal might be better equipped to handle your needs than WordPress.
Drupal is best known for its strong infrastructure and ability to handle large quantities of client data, which is why it’s recommended for large companies. Because of this, it’s often used for university websites, government departments, large enterprise websites, etc. For example, Drupal powers the White House website, as well as The Economist.
Drupal is great for projects that are too complex for WordPress to handle. I’d dare to say that it is a more dev oriented or dev dependent platform than WordPress. After all, it is designed by the devs for the devs and that in itself is both a strength and a weakness.
Other options: Joomla.
Of course, you can always opt-out for a custom solution. If you have enough dev power within your company choice boils down to the stack most appropriate for your website. Or you can go with an agency, much like Bejamas, to do the job for you.
Yes, WordPress can be slow/insecure/hard to maintain if done wrong (take a look at our recent research on the speed and performance of the marketing and web dev agencies websites). But that can be said for any other stack as well. With enough dev knowledge, you can make your WordPress work with the best performance numbers.
But if you don’t have enough dev knowledge, or you need a different approach, one of these mentioned in the list can be a better solution.
Web development is not just about the platform or the stack you used. For us, it is answering clients’ and their audience’s wishes and expectations in the best possible way.
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