Best Content Management Systems: 8 to Use in 2021

7 Mins read

Are you on the lookout for the right Content Management System to create a website, or eCommerce store this new year?

Here are 8 Content Management Systems you should consider using. We’d look at necessary information such as their key features, brands that use them, and most importantly, their pricing options.

What Is a Content Management System?

A Content Management System (abbreviated as CMS) is an application that helps you to manage digital content through a user-friendly interface. They provide a way for you to create a website and manage its content without necessarily delving into the technicalities involved in setting one up.

Here is a detailed article on how Content Management Systems work.

Key Features to Look for in a CMS

Before looking at the list of Content Management Systems to use this year, you should have an idea on the features a good CMS offers. Knowing this would aid you in selecting a good one that would have fewer drawbacks.

Here are 7 features you should look out for when choosing a CMS.

i. An Easy-to-Use Content Editor

Content Management Systems make use of a content editor to create or edit posts or pages.

You should pick a CMS that uses a WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) editor. Using this type of editor would help you to easily add essential and interactive elements (blockquotes, third-party items) to your content without the need to write code.

ii. User Role Management

Content Management Systems serve as an ideal collaboration tool for your team. Let’s say you have an online magazine where your team is split into distinct roles like an author, contributor, editor, and publisher.

A good modern CMS would provide built-in support to define custom capabilities for each specific role your team is made up of. For example, an author can be restricted to only write content, an editor restricted to review the content the author has worked on and a publisher that handles scheduling, publishing, or removing the content.

iii. Flexibility and Responsiveness

You should pick a CMS that grants you necessary customization features to reflect your brand, and at the same time looking consistent on any device that accesses it. Content Management Systems make use of themes to do just that.

Take your time to search for a CMS that offers a plethora of native or third-party themes for you to choose from.

iv. Built-in SEO Support

What is the use of managing your content if they can’t be seen by your target audience? For content to reach the right people, it has to be optimised for search engines.

Pick a Content Management System that offers built-in support to add key-phrases, meta descriptions, and other vital information necessary to help optimise your content for search engines.

v. Security

One fear every online entrepreneur has is the fear of losing sensitive data which commonly occurs through website hacks.

To avoid such a scenario, pick a CMS that has built-in security measures to help protect your data and that of your customers and visitors. Some notable security measures are firewalls and Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) to prevent DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks.

Also, ensure they’d give you the freedom to use high-grade third-party security and back-up tools. This leads us to the next point, Extensibility.

vi. Extensibility

Finding a CMS that natively offers all the features that you need is the same as searching for a dragon or unicorn. In other words, it is hard. So, when selecting a Content Management System to use for your website, check to see if it permits integration with other tools, commonly referred to as plugins or extensions, that would help you to achieve what you need.

For example, let say we need a website that would display a weather forecast of a visitor’s current location. A CMS doesn’t natively have such a feature. So, when we are on the search for a CMS, we will ensure it would support a third-party weather forecasting service that would help us achieve that need.

vii. Top-Notch Marketplaces

Now that we’ve added “Flexibility & Responsiveness” and “Extensibility” to our toolbox of decisive factors in choosing the right CMS, we should also think of the best places to get themes and extensions.

A good CMS would have a plethora of themes and extensions you can use in your website. There are also third-party marketplaces that offer thousands of premium third-party themes and extensions.

When your website is powered by a good CMS, you’d be rest assured that whatever need you have to improve it, you can easily get it right from the CMS, or a third-party marketplace.

The List of Best Content Management Systems

Now that we are aware of factors necessary in choosing the right CMS, let’s have a look at 8 examples that fulfil some of these factors.


a screenshot of the website

Over 38% of websites on the internet are built with WordPress, making it the most popular CMS in the world. It comes packed with a plethora of customization options making it suitable for both beginners and experienced developers.

Speaking of customization, WordPress has a library of over 54,000 free plugins (excluding paid ones) that help extend its features and functionalities.

Pricing is open-source and free to use. But to build a website with it, you’d need to purchase a domain and a suitable hosting plan.

Some brands using are LinkedIn, eBay, and Stack Overflow.

There are two versions of WordPress, and While is free to get started with, but requires a domain and hosting, is different and serves as a premium hosting service. The major drawback with this variant is that it lacks a lot of customization features compared to

#2. Squarespace

a screenshot of Squarespace's website

Squarespace is an all-in-one solution for people who need to get their website up and running. It offers domains, a Content Management System, and an intuitive website builder.

What differentiates Squarespace from other Content Management Systems are its beautiful aesthetics designs and layouts. So, if you’re a creative professional looking to create a portfolio that showcases your creativity, Squarespace might just be your best choice.

This doesn’t mean you’re restricted to build only portfolios with Squarespace. It can also be used to build blogs and eCommerce stores.


Squarespace offers a flexible pricing model which offers these four plans:

  • Personal at $12/month
  • Business at $18/month
  • Basic Commerce at $26/month
  • Advanced Commerce at $40/month

These plans can be paid monthly or annually.

HBO, Wattpad, and Accenture are examples of brands using Squarespace.

#3. Shopify

a screenshot of Shopify's website

Shopify is a Content Management System primarily for building and managing online stores. It comes packed with a website builder and built-in payment processing to handle purchases.

It also has a ton of features that are highly beneficial for eCommerce businesses. Shop owners can access tools to help them build their brand and sell on social media. It requires little to no programming knowledge and is easy to use.


Shopify is a subscription-based CMS and offers 3 plans;

  • Basic Shopify – $29/month
  • Shopify – $79/month
  • Advanced Shopify – $299/month

Just in case you want to try it out to see if it would be a good fit for your online store, they offer a 14-day free trial you can opt into, without requiring your credit card details.

Hasbro, Gymshark, and Heinz are popular brands that make use of the Shopify platform.

#4. Contentful

a screenshot of the website

Contentful is a headless CMS that primarily focuses on API-driven content management. It can be used with any language or framework and allows content to be edited on any internet-enabled smart device.


The Contentful CMS isn’t free and open-sourced like WordPress but comes packed with both a free and paid plan. Its paid plan is split into a ‘Teams’ and ‘Enterprise‘ tier.

Its Team plan starts at $489/month while Enterprise offers a customized plan which can be gotten here.

It is trusted and used by top brands like Bang and Olufsen, Spotify, Twilio and Lyft.

A Headless CMS is the opposite of the traditional ones we know of. This is because they don’t have a frontend attached to it. In a headless CMS, content management tasks are handled via the backend and through APIs. Developers usually attach them with frontend stacks of their choice.

#5. Drupal

a screenshot of Drupal's website

Just like WordPress, Drupal is a free, open-source CMS. What stands it out from other open-source Content Management Systems is its robust security features.

Drupal isn’t easy to use like WordPress. To build sites with it, you’d need to have extensive knowledge of web development.


Drupal is free to use, but you’d need to purchase a domain and hosting to get a site running with it. Costs of building a Drupal-powered site can be expensive as you’d need the services of an experienced developer if you’re non-technical.

RedHat, Gatwick, and The Economist are some notable companies using Drupal.

#6. Ghost

a screenshot of the Ghost CMS website

Ghost is a free and open-source CMS primarily built to ease the online publishing process for blogs and publications. It can be used as either a traditional or headless CMS. With Ghost, you can also build a membership and subscription site with total control of your recurring revenue with no hidden cost.

Just like other Content Management Systems, it can be integrated with third-party services.


Ghost has a paid option, Ghost Pro, a paid hosting platform for its CMS, offering customers automatic backups and updates. It offers three plans;

  • Basic at $29/month
  • Standard at $79/month, and
  • Business at $199/month

DigitalOcean, Unsplash, and OpenAI are examples of top brands that make use of the Ghost platform.

#7. BigCommerce

a screenshot of BigCommerce's website

BigCommerce is a SaaS platform for building eCommerce apps. It provides you with not just hosting, but a powerful CMS packed with a visual editor, plus tools to perform analytics and mobile optimisations.

It can also be used as a headless platform, so you can integrate it with either WordPress, ReactJS, or any frontend framework/stack of your choice.


BigCommerce offers four pricing plans which can be paid on a monthly or annual basis;

  • Standard at $29.95/month
  • Plus at $79.95/month
  • Pro at $299.95/month, and
  • Enterprise, which is offered on a custom pricing plan based on your needs

You can try BigCommerce for 15 days if you need to tests its capabilities before purchasing a subscription plan.

SkullCandy, Burrow, and Woolrich are some top brands that make use of BigCommerce.

#8. Joomla!

a screenshot of Joomla's website

Joomla! is an open-source CMS and has more in-built (native) features than its counterparts. Such features include multi-language support, custom post types, and the ability to handle and set permissions for a large number of users.

It is also customisable and extensible having over 10,000 extensions and templates. Compared to other open-source CMS, installing and managing extensions on Joomla can be tasking and difficult.


As with other open-source CMS, Joomla! is free to use but would require a domain and hosting service to successfully run a website.

Wrapping Up

This concludes our list of the best Content Management Systems to use this year.

There’s no doubt that Content Management Systems are the optimal way to build an online platform that handles content. And it is also true that there are lots of options to pick from.

You should now have a clear idea on not just what Content Management System to use for your next web project, but a checklist of features to go through to help you select the perfect one.

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