Once upon a time, blogging platforms like WordPress were only used for blogging. Now, WordPress is commonly implemented for easy, user-friendly website design. But these days, WordPress isn’t the only game out there.
Below are the best established and up-and-coming WordPress alternatives, both for blogging and websites.
1. IM Creator
IM Creator bills itself as “a simple & elegant website builder,” and includes mobile-friendly templates that are a far cry from the early days of WordPress templates, which were flat, clunky and difficult to customize. Templates fall into categories like Architect, Wedding, Hotel and Restaurant and use visual imagery that fit each genre.
The site offers ample support, including “how to” articles and manuals for those wanting a bit more technical detail but who, perhaps, don’t have that level of knowledge.
And while designing a site is free, IM Creator also offers white-label services for companies (marketing agencies, as an example) that want to provide their clients with branded website, hosting, email and domain services.
SilverStripe is actually two animals. Its content management system (CMS) is used for building websites, intranets and Web applications. It is open source, which means, of course, it’s free to use.
For most small business owners, that’s all you’ll need from SilverStripe. But if you’re more technical and looking for more complexity in your content management system, its Framework platform might fit the bill. The benefits of using Framework, according to the website are that it “reduces the overhead associated with common programming tasks, and enables developers to write code in a logical and structured manner.”
Tumblr is designed for blogging and social sharing. Stripping away all the scary backend of a blog platform, Tumblr makes it dead simple to share a blog post, video, photo, link or audio file.
Its simplicity, combined with the fact that users spend on average 154 minutes a day on Tumblr, make it a resource worth considering to reach a wider audience (especially if that audience is between 18 and 34 and male).
4. Google Sites
For those die-hard Google fans, Google Sites offers a simple, no-frills solution to website creation. If you’re looking for fancy marketing copy and rich, visual images, you’re in the wrong place. Google assumes if you’ve stumbled upon its unpublicized Sites page, you’re already accustomed to the spartan attitude that is Google.
The templates aren’t frou-frou, but there are interesting add-ons like maps and blogs (using Google properties, naturally).
Another Google property, this one focused on blog development, is Blogger. Consider it Google’s response to the massive popularity of WordPress. An obvious benefit of staying in the Google family is that Blogger uses Google Analytics without having to visit a separate site entirely.
Blogger, whose hosted blogs are all hosted on Blogspot domains, also ties in seamlessly with Google+, as would be expected. Bloggers can view and respond to blog comments through Google+ rather than having to log into the blog backend. AdSense publishers like Blogger because Google’s ad platform is integrated into the blogging platform.
Unlike the other WordPress alternatives listed here, HiFi is more targeted to the small marketing agency who designs or updates websites for its clients. It still requires a designer and/or a programmer to customize its visually rich templates, but after that, anyone, technical or otherwise, can easily update content through the CMS.
HiFi promises that, even if you don’t know what SEO (search engine optimization) stands for, it can help ensure your site is search engine friendly. If you do know what SEO is, you can edit the meta descriptions yourself, which is easy enough to do.
Consider Ghost the antithesis to WordPress in that it removes the clunkiness (“What do I do with this plugin? No idea.”) that many less technical bloggers experience with WordPress and focuses instead on writing and publishing.
The premise is that bloggers can write in Markdown, a text-to-HTML conversion tool, and see a preview of what the post will look like.
Interestingly, the platform is free, but Ghost charges for its server. In fact, Ghost charges based on the number of blogs, as well as the total traffic of all blogs (one blog with 10,000 or fewer views a month is $5 monthly).
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Bottom line: With more blogging and WordPress alternatives available, it’s easier for small businesses to find exactly what they’re looking for, based on their technical skill level, how much support they need, budget and type of site they want to publish. There are alternatives for those who want more of a blog approach (Blogger) to those who want more of a website presentation (IM Creator).