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What is CMS? Review of the best CMS

  1. What is a content management system for?
  2. What are the CMS?
  3. Flate-file content management system
  4. Static site generators
  5. Most popular CMS
  6. How to choose a CMS?
  7. How to check which CMS of the site?
  8. Plugins for CMS
  9. Outcome

To attract and retain as many visitors as possible with your website, you need engaging content. Texts, images, videos and graphics not only provide additional value for the resource for users, but are also positively noted by search engines.

Once created, any content must be published and then managed, updated, and distributed on the Internet. Regardless of the size of the website, this is a time consuming task that is accomplished through a Content Management System (CMS).

What is a content management system for?

There are currently about 300 different CMS available on the market. When managing content with their help, programming skills are absolutely not required, and administration is reduced to simple repetitive functions – for example, creating new sections and copying text from Word into the built-in editor. It uses a graphical user interface that is intuitive for most people in the smartphone era.

The software itself is an interactive resource, the so-called web application. In practice, this works in such a way that employees go to their login page to get to that part of the site that is invisible to visitors. This part is called the backend. The publicly accessible part of the website is the interface.

The backend is used to customize the resource and manage content. Without the CMS, website operators would have to edit the page for each change with an HTML editor and then upload it to the server using an FTP program. With CMS you don't need it anymore

The ease of management makes these systems ideal for supporting both large and single page sites. Some of the CMSs are free, some are open source, which means that each owner can make changes to suit their own unique projects.

What are the CMS?

The most important difference between different systems – in the complexity of working with them. That is, some are suitable for beginners (WordPress), and some require minimal experience (Drupal).

By the type of work with data, all systems are divided into 3 classes

Classic content management systems with a connected database

Common CMSs like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and TYPO3 work with connected databases. This means that all content is stored in a separate database.

Flate-file content management system

As an alternative to conventional CMS that work with connected databases, there are so-called flat file systems. They store website content as simple files, so they don't need their own database on the server. These include products like Grav, Pico, and Kirby.



Static site generators

In addition to content management systems with or without a database, more and more static website generators are appearing on the market. They are not filled with content like regular CMSs. Every time a change is made, the system creates static HTML files and rebuilds the page. Thus, the pages are static and perform well. Generators are more suitable for professional, tech-savvy users, but they get easier to use with additional services and admin interfaces. The best representatives here are Forestry.io, DatoCMS and Lektor

According to the control model, all systems are divided into 4 types:

  • CMS Content management software regardless of the type of data presentation.

  • WPS Simplified CMS for Blogs.

  • WCMS A management system for web content adapted to work from mobile devices.

  • ECMS Enterprise Content Management System.

Most popular CMS




WordPress started out as a simple blogging software. Over the years, the system has become more and more popular with new features and templates. Solutions like "5 minute install", many free themes and easy plugin integration have certainly contributed to the success of this CMS.

If you need a website, but you have practically no budget and time for it, WordPress is the right choice. The system is installed in a few minutes, then users can immediately start publishing content. With a little money invested in a quality theme, you can quickly achieve a professional look. If more specific project requirements arise over time, you can quickly find a ready-made solution in the form of a plug-in.




Like WordPress and TYPO3, Joomla is based on the PHP programming language, which visually transforms the contents of a MySQL database. Joomla installation works on almost every web host and only takes 30 seconds. Developers can program a wide variety of individual system extensions.

Unlike other CMS, Joomla offers only an editor-enabled text box for creating and formatting content. This looks very simple at first glance, but it causes problems with complex formatting.




Once conceived as a social platform for sharing information, Drupal has grown into one of the most widely used open source editing systems.

In addition to the core functionality, Drupal focuses on developing social publishing and community portals so that members can create their own content and interact with other members. In Drupal, as in WordPress and Joomla, sections are managed on an object basis. The modular structure of the CMS allows for the implementation of separate and complex page structures. Quite thin at first, it can be tailored to your own desires with various additional extensions.

In general, Drupal is more suitable for experienced web developers because, unlike WordPress, the desired configuration must first be assembled in a specific order.




TYPO3 is the most popular system for large firms and companies. The CMS is available in over 50 languages and has over 5000 extensions. A large community is constantly and actively involved in the development of the system. Even in a basic installation, this powerful CMS includes many features such as support for multiple domains and advanced rights management for multiple administrators and users.

To implement complex page structures with multilingual content, the editing system requires special knowledge. Overall, TYPO3 is an incredibly complex CMS that can usually do more than what users need on their site. Compared to other systems, it requires a long training period and relatively large administrative effort.




MODx Evolution is a combination of CMS and CMF - from the Content Management System and the Content Management Framework, that is, the platform. The system is suitable for both small and large websites, that is, from a web business card to a resource of an international company.

The biggest hurdle you have to accept with MODX is yourself: MODx is the pro system. Minimum knowledge of HTML and CSS is required to use.

MODx pays special attention to the usability of the created websites and the optimal combination of design and content. You don't need programming knowledge to get started, however, as soon as you want to implement ad hoc and custom solutions, you need to apply CSS and HTML.

MODx manages content and provides markup that must be specified down to the last detail. Upon successful installation, MODx provides a blank white page with minimal HTML source code. This is how every MODx project begins.

How to choose a CMS?

CMSs are as varied as the websites for which they are used. Drupal is not easy for beginners, and WordPress requires a dozen plugins to be installed to get the job done. As for MODx, it is more often chosen by professional web designers. Below are some practical tips for choosing the right system.

  1. Definition of the area. If you are going to make a blog – you need WordPress, if the site is a business card or directory, it is better to opt for Joomla. If the forum you can use Drupal. If the corporate site – MODx or TYPO3. Any CMS can be used to create an online store, but WordPress and TYPO3 have advantages in protecting transactions.
  2. Determination of training time. With a complete lack of experience, you will quickly master WordPress, followed by Joomla in terms of ease, followed by Drupal. MODx or TYPO3 are more difficult to learn.
  3. Definitions of busy times. The picture is similar here. The easiest to administer WordPress and the hardest – MODx.
  4. Determining the effectiveness of SEO. Basically, the level of SEO quality is not so much dependent on the CMS, however, WordPress leads in the number of plugins for optimization.

How to check which CMS of the site?

If you want to know which CMS a particular website was built with, you can do it in three main ways.

1. The first and easiest way is to access the page code.

If you are using a WordPress dashboard, you will usually see a line like this in your code:


This means that as an operator, you will see a generator that shows which CMS this website was created with. You can also check what the path to other files looks like. In the link to the pictures, you can see the information through the control panel.

2. You can check your robots.txt file. Thus, the control panel recognizes webmasters who have already created such a file and are well versed in their directories.

For example, we have a Robot.txt file for WordPress:

  • Disallow: / cgi-bin
  • Disallow: / wp-admin
  • Disallow: / wp-includes
  • Disallow: / wp-content / plugins
  • Disallow: / wp-content / cache
  • Disallow: / wp-content / themes

And this same Robot.txt file serves as an example for Joomla:

  • Disallow: /administrator
  • Disallow: /cache
  • Disallow: /includes
  • Disallow: /installation
  • Disallow: /language
  • Disallow: /media

As you can see, Robot.txt files look very different.

3. Special services that recognize the CMS.

It is also possible to check the content management system using special services. They work online and quickly identify the site dashboard.

For example, whatcmsisthis.com is a tool that is available to you around the clock. All you have to do is paste the URL of the website you want and click the Go button.

Plugins for CMS

Plugins, also called extensions, are small programs that work in conjunction with a CMS and perform specific tasks.

For example, there are plugins for creating photo galleries, contact forms, a forum on a website, and so on. There are also plugins that help you perform search engine optimization, automate backups, and protect your site from cyber attacks.

Plugins are written by programmers all over the world. WordPress currently has over 50,000 plugins and Joomla around 20,000.


CMS greatly simplifies and speeds up the work on the site. Although setting up a CMS should be left to the discretion of an expert, or at least someone with solid knowledge in the field, even novice users will only need a little specialized knowledge for productive day-to-day use. CMS are designed to manage and update websites without the help of web designers and programmers.

Even the installation barrier is easy to overcome. Many web hosting service providers offer automatic installation of CMS software at low prices. Site operators can start publishing content immediately. It gets even easier with managed CMS offerings where the host also takes over the maintenance and support of the system. This saves the cost of hiring an expert in many cases.

Unfortunately, open source CMSs have a security issue: in most cases, website owners don't use a pure vendor system, but rather supplement it with secure templates, plugins and widgets.



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