12 Content Management Systems Recommended by Readers

by Steven Snell

April 26, 2009 in Resources

I recently published a post, CMS Toolbox, that described a number of leading content management systems and provided links to resources for each. The post drew some very good feedback and a lot of suggestions for others that readers would like to see included. So as a result I thought it might be helpful to publish this list of recommendations that were made by readers (and in fact this follow up was also suggested by a reader).

Here you will find 12 content management systems and quotes from reader comments about each. Since I haven’t used these systems before I thought it would be best to simply let the readers do the talking. Some of the comments included more descriptive information than others, so for those CMSs that didn’t have much of a description from readers I have also included some information from their website.


I noticed ModX was not on the list – any particular reason?
Gabe Harris from Green Flip Flops

I second: Where’s MODx? MODx is both simple to use and incredibly powerful. It’s all we use here at my work for delivering sites to clients. Not only is MODx highly extensible, but the app itself is easily customizable as well. We’ve created a heavily modded version that we use that cuts our development time down to a fraction of what it would be without MODx.
Chris Pratt

I’d agree that Modx should be included, it is pretty easy to use and seems to do a good job.
Paul from Minnow Web Design

Completely agree with Chris Pratt. I know many people are complaining about this or that CMS is missing, but MODx is the only one which is really a awesome CMS which decreased our development time with at least 40% compared to other CMS tools.


I think Symphony (symphony21.com) is a really powerful CMS that’s missing on this list. It’s not very popular yet, but it’s very flexible, and I began to use it in place of wordpress.
Zhuoshi from Bordertop

I also vote for Symphony its a very extensible and adaptable cms. Custom fields out of the box its the most important thing in a modern cms.
vik407 from Acalora


I am disappointed, but not surprised, not to see ocPortal listed. It has only recently gone ‘Open Source’ and it may take a little while for CMS users to discover this gem.

I could list ALL the features, but that would take too long. Take a few minutes to check them out and you will be pleasantly surprised.

I cannot close this comment without mentioning the support offered by the developers who are determined to make this the premiere CMS. My record for a response to a ‘ticket’ is 6 minutes, and that is almost par for any query, whether by ticket or by asking in the Forums!
Fletch from Anglo-Indian Portal

I would like to point out one missing platform: ocPortal. This package can easily run with the “big boys” and I would venture that it would outpace most of them as well. Solid platform, friendly growing community and fantastic developer support, second to none.
Soccer Dad


I am missing TYPOlight. I switched from Joomla to TYPOlight, because it is easier to handle for my customers. It has a nice clean layout, modern techniques, a rich feature set and a acrtive community. Ok, one big plus for me is the fact that the key developers are germans, so i can ask my questions in my native language :-)

CMS Made Simple

I use CMS Made Simple and love it. It is easy to template, has a great community, and is easy for clients to use.
Chris from Automatic Lifestyle Dispenser

From CMS Made Simple: “If you are an experienced web developer, and know how to do the things you need to do, to get a site up with CMS Made Simple is just that: simple. For those with more advanced ambitions, there are plenty of addons to download—and there is an excellent community always at your service.”

Mango Blog

I will also like to contribute a mention of Mango Blog. A ColdFusion powered blog, in case any of your readers are not PHP developers.
Mark Aplet from Visual28

From Mango Blog: “Mango Blog is an extensible blog engine released under the Apache license, built with ColdFusion. It provides the core engine to administer and publish entries and the necessary architecture to extend its basic functionality by adding plugins. Mango Blog can be easily customized by the use of exchangeable and completely customizable skins.”


FlexCMS is light, easy, functional. Not too fancy, but more than adequate for most “little to medium” sites. And, if you like to tweak your PHP, it is dandy. Plus, support from FlexCMS makes it a great choice for those who are scared to even think about joomla! or Drupal.
H from atrocityarts

From FlexCMS: “FlexCMS is a user-friendly website content management system.  With FlexCMS you can easily build dynamic websites within a matter of minutes with just the click of your mouse!  Maintain your web content, navigation and even limit what groups or specific users can access, from anywhere in the world with just a web browser!  With an emphasis on security and functionality, FlexCMS is a professional and robust system suitable for any business or organization website.  Built on the PHP programming language and the MySQL database, FlexCMS delivers superb performance on any size website.”


Great list, I would also add IzzyWebsite here, fully branded CMS for designers/developers with database of compatible templates on Templateo.com.
Simon from SuperSiteMe

From IzzyWebsite: “IzzyWebsite is easy to install & manage Content Management System (CMS), absolutely no technical experience is required! IzzyWebsite is designed to be as easy to use as possible.”


Nice list and good Article. I am missing Zikula.
Charlie from PostNuke-Themes

From Zikula: “Welcome to Zikula – an open source application framework. No matter what your needs, Zikula can provide the solution. Be that an corporate presence with ecommerce, a simple blog or a community portal, Zikula can do it all.”


Where is Dotnetnuke?

From DotNetNuke: “DotNetNuke® is the most widely adopted open source framework for website content management and web application development on Microsoft ASP.NET. DotNetNuke has been downloaded over 6,000,000 times, is in use on over 400,000 production websites, has a thriving user community, and features a huge array of available third-party extensions.”

Smallbox CMS

I’d like to add one more option to the mix, Smallbox CMS. While not open-source, it’s a great product that offers professional results, design flexibility, reasonable development costs and a base service level agreement. Smallbox CMS was developed by designers for designers, so there are many unique features that cater to developing creative user interface design. Additionally, the product offers a rich suite of functionality modules (blog, eCommerce, eMarketing, etc.) to power even the most content heavy site.
Shawn Bouchard from Smallbox Software


What about xoops?

From Xoops: “XOOPS is an extensible, OO (Object Oriented), easy to use dynamic web content management system written in PHP. XOOPS is the ideal tool for developing small to large dynamic community websites, intra company portals, corporate portals, weblogs and much more.”

Have You Used Any of These Content Management Systems?

If you have any experience working with a CMS on this list, please share your thoughts in the comments.

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About Steven Snell

Stephen Snell is the owner and editor of Vandelay Design.Connect with Stephen on google+

  • izzat aziz

    Apr 27th

    to be honest, i never heard any of them. thank for the post.. now i know.

  • john

    Apr 27th

    I wonder if any of these CMS products would be good for creating a place where people in my organization can upload files to share with others (.jpgs, .tiffs) and a little preview icon can be automatically be generated and shown next to each file that can be downloaded.

  • Michael E.

    Apr 27th

    Symphony has become my CMS of choice. It’s small but really flexible. It’s fun to work with on the developer end, and it’s very easy to understand for authors. I have built many websites with it, from small (half a dozen pages) to medium size (more than 1000 pages, more than 40 different content sections).

    In order to work with Symphony you must learn XSLT – but in my eyes this makes more sense than learning those “hand-made” template languages of all the other CMSs. XSLT is a powerful web standard.

  • MorayWeb

    Apr 27th

    A few old faces, but some new ones to check out…

    Great post, thanks!

  • pelfusion

    Apr 27th

    this list is really helpful to me

  • Joshua Parker

    Apr 27th

    I’ve tried a few of these and some of them are new to me. I am surprised that Joomla/Mambo did not make the list.

  • Nick

    Apr 27th

    Symphony. I’m a front-end developer and I’m already comfortable with XML and DOM manipulation. Because Symphony is built on XML/XSLT, my skills are instantly transferable — I don’t need to learn PHP and I don’t need to learn a new proprietary templating language.

    Have used Symphony for one-pagers, blogs and brochureware up to building social networks and web applications.

  • Steven Snell

    Apr 27th

    Joomla was on the original list CMS Toolbox. This list is just a follow up of those recommended by readers after that list.

  • Eric

    Apr 27th

    I’m surprised glFusion didn’t make the list? I’ve been using it for almost a year, and find it easy to customize and administer. It’s consistently rated among the top 10 CMSs at opensourcecms.com, and is a powerful CMS with Mootools AJAX support, integrated forums, CAPTCHA/Spam filters, calendars, polls, file & media gallery solutions, and more, all right out of the box! The level of support is top notch, and it is very well documented. They have an almost 400 page manual! http://www.glfusion.org

  • Josh Nichols

    Apr 27th


    This is a CMS built for front-end developers. Content is separate from presentation. No proprietary templating system, just XML, XSLT, and XHTML. You have complete control of your code.

    The core install is lean and elegant: You create sections, with custom fields for your data; Pull that data any way you want with Datasources; and present that data on your pages using XSLT.

    The best feature of all is the ability to use *any* valid XML as a Datasource. Any RSS, Atom or API is available to you right out of the box.

    If you’re good with PHP, you can extend the system with your own extensions. If not, you can use the some of the many existing ones.

    I’ve tried a ton of CMSs and none are as flexible or as elegant as Symphony. If you want to do more than blog, this CMS is great option.

  • jason

    Apr 27th

    How can you overlook Drupal and Joomla? I haven’t even heard of most of these CMS’s.

  • Steven Snell

    Apr 27th

    Drupal and Joomla were not overlooked. They were both included in the orginal post, CMS Toolbox. As the first paragraph of this post indicates, this list is a follow up to that post. This list includes those that were recommended by readers.

    glFusion would have made the list if it had been recommended by a reader on the first post :) That’s all the list was, a collection of recommendations.

  • Sigurd Magnusson

    Apr 27th

    It’s great to get feedback from your readers.

    If you are after genuine comments about SilverStipe, search for it on twitter. There’s generally a very nice vibe there.


  • Steven Snell

    Apr 28th

    Hi Sigurd,
    SilverStripe was included in the original CMS Toolbox post in case you didn’t see it.

  • Ivan

    Apr 28th

    Do you know the new Contrexx Open Source CMS? Please check the Demo of this modular cms.


  • Jess

    Apr 28th

    A few new ones here I’ve never seen before, thanks! It would also be nice to hear about more simple content management systems. I’ve found a few that are template independent and really easy to integrate into existing designs. While not nearly as powerful as the ones you’ve listed above they do provide the client the ability to update their written content and images and for a lot of people that’s more than enough.

  • Steven Snell

    Apr 28th

    Can I ask which content management systems you’re referring to? Simple options are great for many projects.

    No, I’m not familiar with that one. I’ll look at it. Thanks.

  • Diane

    Apr 29th

    I tried Terapad and it works for me! Their site is http://www.terapad.com.

  • Zhuoshi

    Apr 29th

    Many CMS’s I haven’t heard of before. Thanks for this list.

  • Mike L

    May 5th

    Know some of them, but think it’s worth mentioning:

    Cushy CMS – http://www.cushycms.com/
    eSuiteOne – http://www.esuiteone.com/
    Light CMS – http://www.speaklight.com/

    All very designer friendly, hosted web cms (SaaS or software-as-a-Service) For those who love design (XHTML/CSS) and doesn’t want to mess with php/asp.net etc etc…

  • Steven Snell

    May 5th

    LightCMS and Cushy CMS were both mentioned in the original post, this one is a follow up.

  • Joshua Parker

    May 5th

    @Steven, my bad. I thought this list was more user driven than the other one, that is why I was surprised that Joomla did not make this list.

  • Steven Snell

    May 5th

    No problem. This list was more user driven, but only based on suggestions that weren’t part of the initial post.

  • Mark F.

    Jun 9th

    I have to say as a user of Indexhibit, that for a quick and simple portfolio it’s near impossible to beat.

    All of these CMS’s require just a bit more knowledge than the basic print designer would have. However, indexhibit allows you to get up and running really quickly. Also, it is highly customizable for the coders out there.

    Thanks for the great list!

  • LaTulipe

    Jun 19th

    and the winner is …! my god, how to make a good choice between all the CMS ? They all seems to be the best one. Drupal or …

  • Misty

    Jun 26th

    I was researching CMS for a client and your list was very helpful. Now we have a lot to choose from. Thanks for providing the information.

  • Josef Telmer

    Jul 12th

    Very useful information. Thanks for this. You got a great blog .I will be interested in more similar topics.I’m very interested in CMS and all its related subjects.

  • Chris

    Jul 31st

    Steven, I just launched GetSimple – http://get-simple.info/ – I would love if you could try it out or add it to your list!

  • Mitch

    Nov 4th

    I’ve taken over the position as web master for a college web site that uses Dotnetnuke as it’s CMS, it’s bloody awful. Not very user friendly, bugs/glitches galore. I’ve been spending more time fixing problems that occur due to the CMS more than anything else on a day to day basis. I’m waiting for the day I get the go ahead to create a web refresh from scratch so I can toss it out and move to something better.

    The site is currently not running the current version due to many custom modules that would potentially break if we updated. So maybe the newest version is better, but I doubt it’s changed much since.

  • Joseph Freeman

    Dec 3rd

    Hi there,
    just to mention the “new kid on the block” –
    Just for change have a look at the instant demo


  • Robert Bravery

    Jan 4th

    A great list. Loads of wonderful product to choose from. Spoilt for choice.

    I use Dotnetnuke. My website and blog use DNN. I have a website development company that develops DNN websites, portals as well as host them.

    IT certainly is the best .NET CMS out there. Not perfect, can be improved, and I believe that it is actively been improved and developed.

    For me DNN is great, it’s user friendly and intuitive. But like anything else. If you do not know what you are doing, then you can so easily screw things up.

  • Stuart

    Feb 3rd

    Another really great CMS for managing videos and podcasts is http://getmediacore.com

    Interestingly it is also written in Python which is definitely different from a lot of the PHP platforms mentioned.

  • vuitton

    Aug 14th

    The site is currently not running the current version due to many custom modules that would potentially break if we updated. So maybe the newest version is better, but I doubt it’s changed much since.

  • Juicy

    May 3rd

    Maybe it is useful for many pepole,thanks for your article!

  • konteyner

    May 26th

    For all you people who are so desperately trying to find a purpose in life–scrutinize something else, and leave Google alone.

  • nike sb blazer

    May 27th

    I have been surfing online more than 3 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. Itâs pretty worth enough for me. In my opinion, if all site owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the web will be much more useful than ever before.

  • ray

    May 31st

    BTW: TYPOlight is now called Contao.

  • Charles

    Jun 2nd

    I will strongly recommend Drupal and WordPress, they are too powerful, flexible and so much of users support are available in online.

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