The best lightweight CMS and the leader in the micro-CMS class for good reason.


Our rating: 

License: Free (Open source)
Review & Alternatives: Best Free CMS
Categories: Online Services, CMS

Pros & Cons:

Best Lightweight CMS - Easy to install, easy to use, loads of templates and plugins mean it does more than you think.
Much simpler than a full-scale CMS - though this is probably good, for this user profile.

Our Review:

WordPress is best lightweight CMS and the leader in the micro-cms class for good reason: it's easy to install, use, and extend. If you simply need to get your pages online fast, then WP is the one.

Up till recently there were a lot of arguments about whether this blog app was a CMS or not, and in the past the answer had to be no. But it's made huge strides and is now equally useful as a blog tool or a simple publishing tool, ie a micro-cms. With around the same sort of numbers of templates and plugins as Joomla (several thousand of each), it is much more usable for the beginner than Joomla, almost as customisable - and far, far simpler.

The install is dead easy, by FTP as per normal with these webapps, or even by using the Fantastico script installer that many hosts offer in your server control panel. This is the easiest option and should be taken if offered, even for experts. Just remember to choose to install it to the webroot, ie not in a directory, as it's the most efficient way (unless you have other webapps on the server, such as a forum or wiki - then you have to decide on some install options).

WP is a standard PHP-MySQL webapp that runs on a LAMP server - the normal type of server. Any shared hosting will probably suit, and even some free webhosts will work fine with this.

You can run on the default template but most choose a new one, and there are plenty of free choices. Make your choice mainly on the layout (page overall shape), not the colours, as they can be altered. A widgetised template is best, meaning that it will accept the WP modules, which display additional content items as in all CMS. This refers to the menus and content blocks that can be seen around the page on a typical website.

You'll need the right set-up and plugins but there isn't space to go into that here, but this applies to all CMS in any case - and it means you must do your research and find more info. For a site showcase, with some nifty templates, see:  http://wordpress.org/showcase/

SEO, i.e. popularity and/or commercial success prospects, is good with WP. A lot depends on the template though, as some are poor and both wreck the code validation and introduce junk scripting and other sins. There are sufficient plugins for a good SEO solution.

Keep in mind that WP is a micro-CMS that is used for fast set-ups, or by new users, or for simple publishing jobs. It is not a full-feature CMS and trying to use WP for this profile is a mistake. It will never do what a real CMS does although it can be forced into trying it, with a great deal of work, which is usually unsuccessful. The huge advantage of WP is it is lightning fast to get your content online; trying to do more with it than that can result in tears. It is not a competitor to Joomla or Drupal.

WordPress is so good now that it doesn't have many challengers for the best new user / lightweight CMS slot, but here are a selection:

  • SkyBlueCanvas CMS (a lightweight flat-file CMS)
  • CMS-MadeSimple (a lightweight roll-your-own template CMS)
  • Movable Type (also a blog / cms crossover)


WordPress was reviewed by on based on version 3.1.2.