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Top 10 best open source CMS


How to choose the right CMS, our ranking, how to install it... we explain it all.


Top 10 best open-source CMS

Do you hear people talking about “open-source CMS”, but don’t really understand what’s at stake or the implications of this decision? Are you hesitating between WordPress, Drupal, Joomla and the others? This article will help you decide.


Choosing open-source (or not)


The open-source culture is rooted in the values of transparency, trust and sharing, which are rooted in the origins of the Internet, when the Web’s mission was to disseminate knowledge. What does this mean in practice for CMS (“Content Management Systems”)?

What is an open-source CMS?


An open-source CMS is a content management platform whose source code is freely accessible and modifiable by all. This means that users can download, install and customize it free of charge. This is in contrast to so-called “proprietary” software. For example, Apple’s MacOS operating system is proprietary, while Linux is proprietary.


There are several reasons why a software publisher might choose open source:


  • Opening up the code allows a community of developers to contribute to it, helping to correct bugs and suggest improvements, which can lead to improved quality and greater adoption.
  • It also makes the software’s functionality and performance more transparent, so that people know how it works, which builds trust.
  • In short, developers can spread their technology more widely!


The advantages of open-source CMS


Open-source CMS are regularly updated and improved by a large community of developers. If you choose one, your company will benefit from these evolutions. It’s a real time-saver for your technical team!


What’s more, the number of additional modules (or “plugins”) being developed is growing all the time, on a huge variety of subjects and themes. Here, too, you benefit from the work and support of the community.


Likewise, if you want to add a function that doesn’t exist, you can decide to develop it yourself, which is not possible with proprietary software.

The disadvantages of open-source CMS


One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to believe that, because software is open-source, it won’t cost anything and won’t require in-house technical resources.


In fact, even for a personal blog, a minimum level of expertise is required. If you want to offer a complex and ambitious product, technical resources are still essential to adapt the solution to your needs.


Another major drawback is that, while the source code is accessible to all, it is also accessible to hackers. So you need to be extra vigilant and keep your sites up to date, to make sure you’re always offering the most secure version.


Finally, using open-source software often requires extra rigor on the part of developers to ensure excellent performance and demanding ergonomics.

Our ranking of the best open-source CMS


Still not sure? Here’s a brief overview of the different CMS available, to help you understand what makes them different from each other.

1.WordPress, a tool for everyone


WordPress is the undisputed leader among open-source CMSs, thanks to its ease of use and active community. It’s designed for beginners and advanced users alike, with thousands of themes and modules available to customize your site.


It’s also known as an SEO-friendly CMS, which means it’s easy to optimize for search engines.


Some examples of WordPress sites: LVMH, The Walt Disney Company, Techcrunch, Microsoft News.


2. Joomla, more complex, but not too much 


Joomla is another popular open-source CMS ideally suited to businesses and organizations. It’s considered more complex than WordPress, but with greater flexibility and many advanced features.


Joomla is also highly customizable, with a wide range of themes and modules available to enhance your site.

Some examples of Joomla sites: EDF, Peugeot, Bayard Presse, Unesco


3. Drupal, for ambitious projects


Drupal is a powerful CMS designed for large-scale projects. It is highly customizable, offering great flexibility and advanced features such as complex workflows, role management and custom layouts.


Drupal is also known for being a secure solution, making it perfect for corporate websites. It requires solid technical knowledge.


Drupal features modules such as DrupalGap or Services API, which enable developers to create mobile and web applications.


Examples of Drupal websites: RadioFrance, Tesla, SNCF, French government portal


4. Magento, specialized in e-commerce


Magento specializes in the design of e-commerce sites. It offers a wide range of features for online sellers of all sizes.


These include flexible payment options, cross-selling and up-selling features, and advanced product customization. Note: Drupal and WordPress offer modules for deploying online stores.


Examples of Magento sites: Burger King, Marie-Claire


5. Typo3, for large companies


Typo3 is a European CMS designed by a Dane and widely supported in its early days by the French Dassault Group. It is robust and reliable, and is currently used to create websites for major companies such as Air France and Lufthansa. Like Drupal, it requires a high level of technical knowledge.


Examples of sites with : Smile, The Economist, Total, Bayer

6. PrestaShop, your online store made easy


PrestaShop is focused on e-commerce for small and medium-sized businesses. It offers essential online sales features such as shopping carts, flexible payment options and order management functionality.


PrestaShop is also highly customizable, with a wide variety of themes and extensions to enhance your e-commerce site.


Examples of PrestaShop sites: Nat&Nin, Naturabox


7. OpenCart, the easy solution for small stores


OpenCart is an excellent option for small online stores. It offers essential e-commerce functions such as shopping carts, flexible payment options and order management features.


OpenCart is also known for being easy to use.


Example sites with : GTOmega

8. SilverStripe, for agencies


SilverStripe is a New Zealand solution based on an MVC (Model-View-Controller) framework, which requires a good knowledge of development.


It is ideally suited to agencies, with options for workflow management, role management, collaboration tools and third-party integrations.


9. Concrete5, for absolute beginners


You want to create a blog and WordPress is still too complicated for you? Take a look at Concrete5. With its block-based functionality, it’s known as a CMS for beginners.

10. Umbraco, for .NET users


Umbraco is based on Microsoft’s .NET framework. It is designed to be easy to use for .NET developers, with full documentation and a wide variety of tools.


How to choose an open-source CMS?


Ready to make your choice? Here’s a summary of all the criteria to consider when making your decision.

Criteria to take into account


  1. Features such as content management, personalization and governance management.
  2. Ease of use for administrators and users, with an intuitive, user-friendly interface.
  3. Flexibility to meet your specific needs, with a wide range of themes and modules to choose from.
  4. Technical support, and in particular the responsiveness of the active community of developers and web users, available to help you in the event of a problem.
  5. Security. On this point, you can also check how often the core is updated, as well as extensions and other modules.
  6. Scalability. Over time, your project will grow (we hope you do!) and so will your needs. Will the tool you’ve selected be able to support you over the long term? For example, for internationalization, multilingualism, etc.
  7. Compatibility and technologies used. The CMS must be compatible with current technologies and standards, such as HTML5, CSS3 and accessibility standards.
  8. A living ecosystem and… trained developers… are all points that will guarantee the viability and evolution of your tool.


Comparison with proprietary CMS


Proprietary CMS offer several advantages over open-source CMS, such as :


  • a simpler, more user-friendly interface for beginners,
  • personalized technical support with a dedicated contact person.However, there are also disadvantages to consider for proprietary CMS:
  • licensing and support costs can be high, especially over the long term,
  • less flexibility and customization.
  • since the source code is proprietary, only the development company can make updates and enhancements, which may mean less frequent updates and less regular enhancements than those offered by open-source CMS users as a whole.



How to install and configure an open-source CMS?


Where to start and what are the first steps? Here’s what you need to know to give you a vision of this decisive moment in the management and launch of your project.


Technical requirements


Before installing an open-source CMS, it’s important to check that your server meets the necessary technical prerequisites.


This may include PHP and MySQL version requirements, as well as web server requirements such as Apache or Nginx.


It’s important to follow the specifications of each CMS, which are often available on their website, to ensure that your server is ready for installation.

Manual installation and via a hosting provider


There are two main installation methods:


  • manual installation involves downloading the CMS from the official site, decompressing the files on your server, then configuring the database and other parameters.
  • Installation via a hosting provider can be simpler, with “1-click” options available for the most popular CMS. This method can also include pre-installed configuration options, such as themes and extensions.


Basic configurations


Once the CMS has been installed, it’s important to configure it correctly for the site’s stability and smooth operation. This may include configuring the database, creating an administrator and implementing security measures such as SSL certificates, strong passwords and security plugins.


It’s also important to configure basic CMS settings, such as layout and content management options, to ensure that the site functions as intended.

In conclusion, using an open-source CMS offers many advantages, such as transparency, customizability and regular updates thanks to an active, participative community.


What’s more, open-source CMS offer a wide variety of add-on modules to meet a multitude of needs and themes.


However, it’s important to bear in mind the disadvantages, such as the need for technical skills for optimal use, the security risk, and the need to remain vigilant about site maintenance to guarantee security and performance.