With over 15 years of experience with website content creation, I’ve had the privilege of working with various Content Management Systems (CMS). My journey began in 2005 when I first stepped into the realm of website and blogging CMS options. I started with Joomla, ventured into Drupal, and later embraced WordPress from its early days, starting with version 2.5. My exploration of ClassicPress began in 2018, adding another layer to my understanding of these dynamic systems.
Throughout my journey, I’ve witnessed the growth and transformation of these platforms, each with its own set of strengths and capabilities—some weaknesses too. As someone who has spent considerable time with Joomla and WordPress, I’ve come to appreciate their capabilities, extensive plugin ecosystems, and thriving communities.
Yet, the CMS landscape is more diverse than ever, and it’s essential to explore alternatives, especially when seeking cost-effective options without compromising functionality and flexibility. In this article, I will compare three notable free alternatives to WordPress: ClassicPress, Joomla, and Drupal.
Blogging CMS Options
We will explore the unique features, usability, customizability, and community support that each of these platforms offers. By drawing upon my extensive experience, I’m here to provide you with brief, yet valuable insights into how ClassicPress, Joomla, and Drupal stack up against the blogging CMS giant, WordPress.
I won’t delve too deep into each platform, otherwise, you will be reading a 10K word article. I might consider writing additional in-depth reviews of each one.
There is one thing that we need to consider. Does Joomla and Drupal belong here?
Joomla and Drupal for Blogs
While Joomla and Drupal are known for their versatility and suitability for complex websites, they can also serve as platforms for blogs. However, it’s essential to consider the unique characteristics of these CMS platforms when deciding whether they are ideal for your blogging needs.
- Joomla for Blogs: Joomla offers a balanced approach for bloggers who seek more than a simple blogging platform but don’t require the level of complexity provided by Drupal. With Joomla, you can create a blog section within your website, manage categories and tags, and customize your blog’s layout and design using available templates and extensions. Joomla’s user management features can be beneficial if you plan to have multiple authors or contributors to your blog.
- Drupal for Blogs: Drupal, with its focus on scalability and customization, can be a robust choice for bloggers with specific requirements or those planning to expand their blogs into more extensive websites. Drupal’s content modelling capabilities allow you to create intricate content structures, making it suitable for content-heavy blogs or online magazines. While Drupal may have a steeper learning curve, it provides a high level of flexibility and control over your blog’s functionality and design.
In summary, while Joomla and Drupal are versatile CMS platforms that excel in various scenarios, including blogging, they may involve a learning curve that some bloggers may find unnecessary for their needs. If your primary goal is to run a straightforward blog without the need for advanced features or extensive customization, platforms like WordPress and ClassicPress may offer a more streamlined and user-friendly experience.
However, if you foresee your blog evolving into a more complex website in the future, Joomla or Drupal could be viable options to consider. The last thing you want to discover is that you made the wrong choice at the beginning. Changing your CMS after a period of time generating content could be a challenge.
I should mention that Joomla and Drupal are more of a website CMS as appose to a blogging CMS.
ClassicPress – Blogging CMS
My journey into the world of Content Management Systems (CMS) introduced me to ClassicPress in 2018. ClassicPress, often regarded as a WordPress fork, was born from the desire to preserve the classic editing experience while embracing modern security practices. As an alternative to WordPress, this blogging CMS instantly piqued my interest due to its mission to provide a stable and secure environment for content creators.
Popular Branded Websites Using ClassicPress
As much as I would love to list some websites here, ClassicPress is still growing, albeit, slowly. If you know of any known company brands using it, let me know in the comments below. But don’t rule out ClassicPress as an alternative.
Key Features of ClassicPress
Central to ClassicPress is its commitment to preserving the Classic Editor experience, a feature that sets it apart from WordPress and its Block Editor. For those who have a strong preference for the traditional editor over the newer block-based version, ClassicPress remains a steadfast choice.
It provides a familiar and efficient environment for content creation. For users who find comfort and productivity in the Classic Editor’s simplicity and straightforwardness, ClassicPress ensures that you’ll never have to transition to a block editor, even as the digital landscape evolves.
If you are familiar with the classic editor of past WordPress versions, then this will bring memories back. This is why ClassicPress came to fruition, to maintain the editor experience without worrying about the WordPress block editor (Gutenberg).
Compatibility with WordPress Plugins and Themes
Another noteworthy feature of ClassicPress is its compatibility with a vast library of WordPress plugins and themes. This compatibility extends the functionality and design options available to ClassicPress users, allowing you to enhance your website without compromising the experience you prefer.
Pros and Cons of ClassicPress
ClassicPress shines when it comes to stability and security. The platform’s commitment to the Classic Editor allows users to maintain a workflow that feels like home. However, it’s essential to recognize that while ClassicPress preserves the classic editing experience, it may not offer some of the modern features and functionalities found in the latest versions of WordPress.
Joomla – Website CMS
My CMS journey began in 2005 with Joomla, an open-source platform known for its versatility and extensive community. Joomla is particularly appealing to users who require robust user management and access control, making it a powerful choice for various use cases.
Popular Branded Websites Using Joomla
Unlike ClassicPress, there are a lot of well-known branded companies that use Joomla. If you can add more here, or perhaps know of any changes, please let me know in the comments:
- MTV (Greece)
- Lipton Iced Tea
- Linux: Linux is an operating system.
- The Hill: A USA congressional online newspaper reports about Congress sessions
- Harvard University: One of the top universities.
- Holiday Inn: Hotel chain.
- Roger Federer: Famous tennis player.
Key Features of Joomla
One of Joomla’s standout features is its extension system. Users can access a vast library of extensions, including templates and plugins, to enhance their websites. Additionally, Joomla offers a template system that allows for intricate design customization.
Let’s take a quick look at the core Joomla editor. As you can see in the screenshot below, it’s quite robust to what a content management system would have. For me personally, I prefer to use the JCE Editor extension, which is even more robust and extensive.
Pros and Cons of Joomla
Joomla’s strengths lie in its strong community support and its ability to cater to complex, content-rich websites. However, its learning curve may be steeper for beginners compared to platforms like WordPress. It’s essential to consider your specific project requirements when choosing Joomla.
Drupal – Website CMS
In my CMS journey, I also explored Drupal, a powerful platform favoured for its scalability and flexibility. Drupal is powered by an open-source community, just like WordPress. Drupal’s ability to handle complex data structures and content modelling sets it apart in the CMS landscape.
Popular Branded Websites Using Drupal
On the concept of full content management systems, Drupal has its share of popular branded companies using this CMS. If you can add more here, or perhaps know of any changes, please let me know in the comments.
- Tesla: Electric car production, led by Elon Musk.
- Nokia: One of the biggest mobile phone producers
- The City of London: The website for London.
- Oxford University: Top educational institution.
- UNICEF Innovation Fund: The UNICEF Innovation Fund provides financial support.
- NASA: NASA’s online portal.
- Pfizer: A known pharmaceutical company.
- The British Royal Family: The official website of The British Royal Family.
Key Features of Drupal
Drupal’s robustness shines in its flexibility and scalability. It excels in content management for websites with extensive data needs. Drupal offers strong security features and a vast selection of modules to extend its functionality.
The difference between the Joomla and Drupal is substantial enough. Drupal’s editor is solid with aspects of creating content, but not quite as extensive as the core editor in Joomla.
Pros and Cons of Drupal
Drupal’s advantages lie in its ability to handle large and complex projects. However, its learning curve can be steep, especially for those new to CMS platforms. The level of customization it offers comes with added complexity that may not be necessary for all users.
Website and Blogging CMS Options Compared
Let’s get into a little detailed comparison of ClassicPress, Joomla, and Drupal, covering various aspects such as usability, customizability, community support, security, scalability, and performance. By the end of this blogging CMS comparison, you’ll have a basic understanding of how these platforms stack up against each other and WordPress.
Usability and User Experience
|User Interface||Familiar Classic WordPress Style||Robust Backend||Professional Backend|
|Ease of Use||User-friendly||Moderate Learning Curve||Steeper Learning Curve|
|Content Editing||Classic (WordPress) Editor||Customizable Content Editor||Customizable Content Editor|
Customizability and Flexibility
|Themes and Templates||Limited ClassicPess Themes||Extensive Selection||Highly Customizable|
|Plugins/Extensions||WordPress-compatible||Joomla Extensions||Drupal Modules|
|Custom Development||Limited customizability||Extensive customization||High-level flexibility|
Community and Support
|Community Size||Smaller community||Large community||Large community|
|Documentation||Limited documentation||Comprehensive Guides||Extensive Resources|
|Support Forums||Limited support forums||Active support forums||Active support forums|
Security and Updates
|Security Features||Decent security focus||Strong security focus||Strong security focus|
|Update Frequency||Regular updates||Regular updates||Regular updates|
|Security Track Record||Limited history||Solid track record||Siolid track record|
Scalability and Performance
|Scalability||Limited scalability||Scalable to large websites||Highly scalable for complex projects|
|Performance||Good performance for small to medium||Good performance for medium to large websites||Excellent performance for large-scale sites|
Making Your Choice
After thoroughly exploring the features, pros, and cons of ClassicPress, Joomla, and Drupal, you’re now equipped with the knowledge needed to make an informed decision about which blogging CMS aligns best with your specific needs and goals. Here are some key factors to consider as you contemplate your choice:
1. Project Requirements
- Consider the nature and scope of your project. Are you building a personal blog, a business website, an e-commerce platform, or a complex enterprise-level site? Your project’s requirements will play a significant role in determining the most suitable CMS.
2. Familiarity and Expertise
- Reflect on your experience and comfort level with CMS platforms. If you’re well-versed in WordPress, transitioning to ClassicPress may be seamless due to its compatibility. On the other hand, if you have experience with Joomla or Drupal, leveraging that expertise might be advantageous.
3. Usability and User Experience
- Evaluate how intuitive and user-friendly you find the interface of each CMS. Does the editing process align with your preferred workflow? ClassicPress retains the Classic Editor experience, while Joomla and Drupal offer more complex but customizable content editors that I would consider to be “true” content editors.
4. Customization and Flexibility
- Assess the level of customization your project demands. If you need extensive customization and flexibility, Drupal might be the ideal choice. Joomla offers a balance between customizability and user-friendliness, while ClassicPress focuses on preserving the Classic Editor.
5. Community and Support
- Examine the size and activity of each CMS platform’s community. A thriving community ensures that you have access to resources, plugins, themes, and support when needed. Consider the availability of documentation and active support forums.
6. Security and Updates
- Security is paramount. All three CMS platforms – ClassicPress, Joomla, and Drupal – prioritize security. Ensure you keep your CMS and associated plugins/modules up to date to maintain a secure website.
7. Scalability and Performance
- Project scalability and performance expectations should align with your long-term goals. If your project is expected to grow significantly, Drupal’s scalability and performance advantages may be appealing.
- Assess your budget for your project. Keep in mind that ClassicPress, Joomla, and Drupal are free to use, but you’ll need to consider additional costs for hosting, themes, plugins/modules, and potential development.
- Consider the long-term sustainability of your chosen CMS. Ensure it can evolve with your project’s needs and adapt to changes in the digital landscape.
Your choice among ClassicPress, Joomla, and Drupal should be a well-considered decision based on your specific project requirements and personal preferences. As you embark on your blogging CMS journey, keep in mind that each of these platforms has its own unique strengths and characteristics that can cater to a wide range of website projects.
This comparison provides an overview of how ClassicPress, Joomla, and Drupal stack up in various critical aspects. Your choice among these CMS platforms should align with your specific project requirements, familiarity with the CMS, and preferences in terms of usability, customizability, community support, security, scalability, and performance.
Content Management Systems – Market Share
This report shows the market share trends for the top content management systems since January 2018. If you would like to see more details regarding other CMS options and market share dating back to 2012, check out the W3Techs website. But here is a sampling of the stats:
You won’t see ClassicPress on this chart because, at the moment, W3Tech shows CP as less than 1% market share.
Wrapping Things Up for a Blogging CMS
With content management systems (CMS), the choice of the right platform can make a significant impact on your web project’s success. We explored three compelling free alternatives to WordPress: ClassicPress, Joomla, and Drupal. Drawing upon my over 15 years of experience, which began with Joomla in 2005 and later encompassed Drupal, WordPress, and ClassicPress, I’ve uncovered the unique strengths and characteristics of each platform.
ClassicPress, with its steadfast commitment to preserving the beloved Classic Editor experience, provides a haven for those who cherish simplicity and familiarity. It ensures that the Classic Editor remains at the forefront of your content creation workflow, offering stability and user-friendliness with this blogging CMS.
Joomla, a versatile and robust CMS, stands as a middle ground between user-friendliness and customization. Its extensive extension library and strong community support make it a powerful choice for various projects, particularly those requiring complex content structures.
Drupal, known for its unparalleled scalability and flexibility, excels in managing large-scale, data-rich websites. Its content modelling capabilities and security features have made it the go-to choice for organizations with intricate digital needs.
As we wrap up this exploration, remember that each CMS has its strengths and is ideally suited for different scenarios. The choice among ClassicPress, Joomla, Drupal, or even WordPress should align with your specific project requirements, expertise, and preferences as you seek out a blogging CMS.
Consider factors such as:
- Your project’s scope.
- Your familiarity with the CMS, desired customizability, community support, security needs, scalability, performance expectations, and budget constraints.
Ultimately, the success of your web project lies not only in the CMS you choose but also in your ability to leverage its capabilities effectively. Stay committed to staying updated, implementing best practices, and engaging with the community for ongoing success.
With my brief comparison and the insights gained, you should now be better equipped to make an informed decision for your website and blogging longevity.
Just remember that there are alternative options to WordPress. In fact, there are a lot more than just the three we talked about here. You could even consider Squarespace or Wix as your blogging CMS—although these are paid options.