How to pick the best CMS for your website

Whether you run a global enterprise or a promising startup, want to become an influencer or build your personal brand, you’ve probably given content a little thought.

But, how do you manage your content and present it to your audience? We can help you with that.

From various Content Management Systems (CMSs) to social media platforms, there are plenty of ways to publish your content. In this article, we’ll give you an overview of the most popular and best CMSs out there.


  • Reflect on your needs before you pick your CMS
  • WordPress, Drupal and Joomla! are the most popular open source options for small to medium-sized projects, while TYPO3 is the right choice for enterprises
  • If you’re considering a Headless CMS, have a look at Contentful and GraphCM

Step one: What do you need?

Before you decide on which CMS is best suited for your needs, you need to have a clear idea of what those needs are.

Different CMSs serve different purposes. The better you know what type of website and content you want to publish, the better your decision will be.

So, make sure you talk to everyone involved in your operation. Developers, website designers, UX people, sales staff, content creators and managers, and so on.

While you’re having those talks, you can have a look at this table – featuring six of the best CMSs available, and their pros and cons.

CMS Price-effective Customizable Good for large corporations Good for small companies Headless CMS
WordPress x x x
Drupal x x x
Joomla! x x x
TYPO3 x x x
Contentful x x x
GraphCMS x x x



According to W3Techs, around one third of all websites on the internet use WordPress. If you exclude websites without a CMS or with an unknown CMS, the market share goes up to around 60%.

And, with good reason: WordPress is a cost-effective and quick open source solution for many scenarios. It used to be a blogging platform, and now transformed into a CMS -powerhouse. Thanks to its various extensions, plugins, widgets and themes, you can turn the basic installation into anything from a portfolio website, magazine, or even e-commerce shop.

However, this swiss army knife quality comes at a price. Not necessarily monetarily, as many extensions and plugins are free. But when it comes to usability, WordPress works very well for websites with little to low complexity. However, it can be a hassle for more complex websites.

To a degree, WordPress is a victim of its own success. Because so many websites are based on it, it is an attractive goal for hackers. This requires frequent security updates – not just for the basic installation but all the plugins, widgets and themes that you use for a more complex site. Compatibility can also become an issue.

Pros: Versatile, cost-effective, open source, large community, quick setup, easy to use for simpler websites

Cons: Usability decreases with complexity, security and stability can be an issue



Joomla! is the second most popular CMS, with a market share of around 7% (excluding websites without a CMS or with an unknown CMS). It is another open source solution, and while not as beginner-friendly as WordPress, it offers some advantages for users with a bit of development experience.

Joomla!’s basic installation includes many of the functionalities for more complex websites – for instance, multilingual support. The CMS offers great support for custom post types (content that is not mostly text) and user management. And, there are no plugins or extensions needed.

Joomla! has a strong online community that supports less experienced users in online forums and with a well-documented online handbook. There are plenty of extensions for Joomla!, with many coming out of the community. However, they can be expensive, and often cannot readily be plugged in but require manual implementation.

Pros: Great for membership-based websites, more complex websites with various custom post types, good online support

Cons: Requires some IT-knowledge (or effort to acquire such) to setup and build a website



Drupal is another popular open source CMS, with a market share of around 5%. It is known for its flexible toolkit system. The basic installation is light, and can be extended with a plethora of available modules (more than 30,000).

This is great for custom type posts, and in general makes the CMS super adaptable to your needs. There’s a catch, though. You will very likely have to add quite a few extra installations to the slim software core. Installations are not extremely user-friendly, as they are only possible via FTP. On top of that, updates for extensions are not always compatible with the backend.

Drupal is well-suited for community projects with a lot of user-generated content, as it provides advanced user management and permission settings. It’s highly regarded for its security.

Pros: Super flexible, great for social publishing, more secure than many other CMSs

Cons: Requires some web development experience, not always user-friendly



While all three of the above-mentioned CMSs are adaptable for different purposes, their strengths are perfect for small to medium-sized projects. On the enterprise level, you’ll want to consider TYPO3.

The open source CMS has a market share of 1,5%. Its biggest advantage over many competitors is scalability. TYPO3 is designed to power complex websites, such as e-commerce platforms. The software is continuously updated by top-notch developers.

There’s a big online community that will help you out with technical issues and other questions. You will find plugins, widgets and templates for all kinds of purposes. TYPO3 is extremely adaptable.

Still, a powerful CMS like this requires expertise. If you’re looking for a quick setup and easy administration, TYPO3 is not for you.

Pros: Scalable, flexible, high-performance CMS for enterprise-level, complex websites

Cons: Effective usage requires long training, too complex for simple websites



Contentful is a so-called Headless CMS, while the four above are Traditional CMSs. A Traditional CMS is an all-in-one solution for storing data, managing content through a user interface and the delivering and displaying of content, for instance as a website. Headless CMSs don’t bother with the display of content.

Contentful offers a powerful content infrastructure on top of which developers can build their applications. User interfaces to manage the content and applications to display it connect to the database via a varied set of APIs.

This decoupling of functionalities has a couple of advantages. For one, it reduces the CMS’s complexity. It also allows you to pair a top-notch system for managing content with the best third-party solutions for functionalities like display of content, targeting or personalization. You’re not stuck with whatever solutions your CMS-provider came up with.

Thanks to its powerful APIs, Contentful is extremely adaptable. They can be used with any coding language and front-end framework, which gives your developers a lot of freedom.

Pros: Scalable, super flexible, language-agnostic, frontend-friendly, great for large enterprises

Cons: Dependence on third-party solutions for content display, lack of control for site-manager, not suited for small businesses, not open source



GraphCMS is another cloud-based Headless CMS. It offers an intuitive content model editor that allows you to create different forms of content without requiring technical knowledge. For developers, it offers a dedicated infrastructure and a flexible webhook system.

The CMS uses a GraphQL content infrastructure that is extremely efficient. It is easy to connect the CMS to other platforms and applications via API. Apps can be developed for mobile and web, as well as VR or IoT, among other platforms.

GraphCMS is well-suited for medium-size to large businesses, as it is known for enterprise-level security and provides scalability by removing bottlenecks. Its roles and permissions feature allows you to assign different roles, while at the same time managing multiple projects.

Pros: Easy user interface for content creation, well-suited for complex multi-platform projects on the enterprise-level

Cons: No content versioning, not open source, dependence on third-party solutions for content display, lack of control for site-manager

Philipp Nagels

About the author

Philipp Nagels is a freelance writer and psychologist based in Berlin. He has years of experience in online journalism and copywriting. Among other places, he’s worked for Die Welt, Axel Springer Brand Studios, Upday, and Deutsche Bahn.