Alternative Content Management — Part 2

A little more refined list with a bit of testing.

This is a second (and more refined) version of the Alternative Content Management post, I wrote in the past.

Since then I discovered more CMSs, some got my attention, some my frustration.

Before I continue, I have to say that the following list of CMS choices are based on the mindset and abilities of a Designeloper. A term I use to describe the front-end designer that tries to find its way on all aspects of a website creation process. He, at the same time, sets up servers and manages everything about a website, from design to hosting.

Also being my own, I concentrate on small projects that need fast turnaround times and a more personal communication with the client.

Database Driven CMSs (free)

In Sentel we use WordPress in 99,9% of the websites we build. The reasons are many. I am not going to name them here. I believe we share many of them, if you are also a WordPress fan.

But on the other side, I am a person always looking for something new. I love the learning curve process of new software. I love to try them and find my way through, without looking at documentation. The same way we don’t look at user manuals when we buy a new smart-phone.


I have to say that at first, I thought OctoberCMS was a flat-file CMS. That was the impression given to me by the homepage. This was the main reason I bother giving it a shot. (oh and the impressive demo video of course)

An introduction to OctoberCMS — Check out the admin!

October is a free, open-source, self-hosted CMS platform based on the Laravel PHP Framework.

The main advantage is its extremely small learning curve. It was the first CMS, that from the first 5 minutes, I understood completely its structure and the most important, its mindset.

Pages, layouts and partials are just files, one file per template. This makes the website themes completely manageable with Content Version Systems like Git or SVN.

Another cool feature is its AJAX framework that lets you easily bind an AJAX request to a form or a button. These requests can be handled by components or your own code in the Page or Layout.


AnchorCMS is BEAUTIFUL! I am talking as a designer now. Not as a Designeloper. I admit that I haven't spend a lot of time using it but although it positions itself as CMS, it looks at first, more blog oriented.

But when I visit the “Extend” section of the admin dashboard, I found the ability I miss more from the WordPress core. The easy addition of Custom Fields and Site Variables from the backend without touching any code.

Apart from these I believe that it looks more basic compared to OctoberCMS, but on the other side I must say again that IT IS BEAUTIFUL!

In case you haven't seen it yet, check some screen below.

Love the colors of this CMS
So clean and professional install process
Neat and Clean

Flat File CMSs (free)

As I mentioned on my old post about CMSs, I love the idea behind flat-file systems. Especially on small projects, where their ability to use no database, makes them fast and easy to backup and maintain. Although I already wrote about many of them, I discovered that most are kinda abandoned from their founders.

PICO, love at first sight but…

The first time I saw the Pico website, I had a typical A-HA moment.

I admit that I spent sometime with the documentation before I began working with it, mostly because I was not familiar with Twig template engine.

I loved that I just downloaded the zip file, extracted it and …boom! A website was ready, running in my browser.

Pico has no fancy Admin GUI. Everything is happening in my text editor, something I love (if I am the only one managing the website — something that I will explain later).

Statamic, An interesting paid solution

This awesome piece of software, is the closest a flat-file CMS can be to serve the complete experience.

It is loaded with powerful and intuitive features. It is version controllable, has an API and a lightweight and responsive back-end.

I couldn’t find a demo to test it (if you know a way to test Statamic, let me know), but it seems a very promising CMS solution. Also being commercial, gives you the ability for a more stable and helpful support and updates.


I have already built my personal website using Pico. It was a quick process. I spent most of my time working on CSS instead of optimizing and securing the platform, which is nice. But when we are talking about clients, the ability to have a nice GUI for the back-end of the CMS is a must.

This means that despite I like Pico, it is a no go. I would definitely go with Statamic if there is need for easy management and speed and at the same time the website is what we call “a typical corporate website”.

But OctoberCMS, got my attention as something I want to focus on.

Finally a word on Jekyll and Github

Github is awesome. It is an amazing community, where each day I discover a project worth mentioning.

Their Jekyll site-generator is a great tool to create static websites and host them for free, using the Github pages and their super fast CDN & DDoS protection system.

It was my alternative to Pico (although they are not the same thing), but its installation process, especially when I tried to start local, was made me looking for internet help and also frustrated me.

The only time I managed to have an active website, was when I forked Poole, the jekyll butler. Sorry Jekyll, maybe you belong to the developer community.

I would love to see your thoughts and choices when it comes to alternative CMSs. Please post your favorites in the comments ☺
thanks for reading