When we talk about building a website or hosting a blog, the top option that comes back as a suggestion is to build it with WordPress. WordPress powers majority of websites and blogs on the internet however it’s not the only option you have available. In this post, we take a look at some of the modern WordPress alternatives we have in the year 2015.
Before we get into the self-hosting options, let’s see why would one want to self-host a website or blog instead of just using one of the free blogging platforms we listed earlier.
Self-hosting a website provides you with complete control over it. You can use a custom domain, apply necessary tracking codes and plugins, monetize it in the manner you like, or take it further and extend your website to be anything that you desire (an e-commerce site maybe?) in future. All of these things are not necessarily available when you choose to go with the non-self hosted option.
For e.g. if you setup a blog on wordpress.com, you would get a <subdomain>.wordpress.com URL. Same is true for almost all other free blogging platform. You would also be limited in choice of plugins or themes that you can apply. Moreover, you may not be able to monetize your website or blog with ad-platforms like AdSense.
Popularity of WordPress
When it comes to self-hosting a website, there are many reasons why WordPress is a popular choice. There is good community support around it. It has been around for so many years that there are a good number of tutorials, plugins and themes available for it. Above all, WordPress is completely free when you are self hosting it.
However, that doesn’t mean that WordPress is suitable for every need and it may fall short at times if you are not well versed with using it properly.
Let’s take a look at some of the latest free alternatives available for self-hosted websites and blogs apart from WordPress. And no, we aren’t talking about Joomla, Drupal or other CMS which have been around for quite some time as you may have already heard about them. Here we have collected some of the lesser known yet promising options which are worth a consideration in 2015.
Free WordPress Alternatives
Ghost was built as an alternative to WordPress and to offer support for just one thing: Publishing. Ghost is an Open Source project, built on NodeJs and is available to self-host for free just like WordPress.
Helpful Links for Ghost:
Bolt is another Open Source Content Management tool which strives to be simple and straightforward. Bolt uses Twig for its templates. You don’t have to know PHP or databases in order to get whatever content you need from the backend. It is completely Free to use for both personal as well as commercial websites.
Helpful Links for Bolt:
Anchor CMS presents itself as a simple and lightweight blog system and it sure is. It’s another Open Source project and supports writing blog posts in Markdown or HTML. While completely free and easily extensible, Anchor CMS could be a little low on the feature side.
Helpful Links for Anchor CMS:
Jekyll is not a CMS but is one of the most popular static site generators. If you have never heard of static site generators before then do take some time to learn about them. Jekyll built sites require no database and therefore they are extremely fast and secure out of the box.
Jekyll may not be a cup of tea for everyone, but it surely is my first choice when creating blogs and sites that don’t require extensive server side logic. In fact, the multi-authored blog superdevresources.com is built entirely with Jekyll and is capable of handling large volume of traffic even on a tiny server.
Helpful Links for Jekyll:
Just like Jekyll, Middleman is also a static site generator. It may not be as popular as Jekyll but it is considered to be more flexible. It has large number of plugins available as well as good community support.
Helpful links for Middleman:
Should You Use these Alternatives?
Most of the alternatives listed above cannot match the extensive feature set and extensibility offered by WordPress, out of the box. However, they can be worth your attention if you have simpler needs or are capable of extending them yourself or by hiring professional developers.
If you are already familiar with WordPress and are not comfortable to try out new things, then these alternatives are surely not for you. However, if you are starting out fresh or are adventurous like me then go ahead and give them a try. Evaluate if they fit your needs.
Don’t forget to leave a comment about any other WordPress alternative you may know of.