Where to Find the Top Free CMS Software for Your Content

Using an open source content management system, also known as open source CMS, has become a standard for websites over the last five to ten years. The ease of use and the database-driven management system are two of the reasons that more people have switched to free CMS softwares.

Another big reason is the responsive nature of CMS open source sites. These days people go online with mobile phones and tablets, in addition to computers. Sites need to look great on multiple screen sizes.

Best Open Source CMS

Award Emblem: Top 6 Best Open Source CMS

Google began penalizing sites in 2015 that weren’t made to be responsive for all devices, giving mobile-friendly websites a ranking advantage in search engine results. This big change was a driving force for many companies to search out the best open source CMS.

People can also get CMS free, which is big bonus. You can start building a website without needing to pay anyone to design it if you’re at least minimally computer savvy. And there are multiple free CMS softwares available that are pre-loaded with templates.

What is an open source content management system?

While not everyone may recognize it by the name “open source CMS” or “free content management system,” there’s a good chance that you’ve heard of WordPress for creating blogs and websites. WordPress is the most popular open source content management software.

An open source CMS platform is simply a software for managing multiple types of content—usually websites and blogs, but it can also manage media, like photos and videos. Free CMS is made to be easy to manage and allow multiple users to login and create content on various posts, pages, or galleries.

In this article, we are going to take a look at some of the benefits of an open source content management system and review the best open source CMS platforms out there. By the end of the article you should have a better understanding of open source CMS and where to find great free CMS softwares.

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AdvisoryHQ’s List of the Top 6 Best Free CMS Programs

List is sorted alphabetically (click any of the free CMS names below to go directly to the detailed review section for that CMS):

Top 6 Best Open Source CMS | Brief Comparison & Ranking

Free CMS Platforms

Example of Sites That Use This CMS Open Source Software

Download CMS Free Page



Drupal™U.S. Department of Energy

University of Minnesota


Newtquest Games

Joomla!Harvard University

The Hill




The New York Times


Table: Top 6 Best Open Source Content Management System | Above list is sorted alphabetically

Free CMS FAQ | What Are the Benefits of a Free Content Management System?

Back in the 1990s and early 2,000s, websites used to be made the “old fashioned” way using HTML with the help of programs like Adobe Dreamweaver and online site builders like Tripod.

As blogging became popular and people could get CMS free, the open source CMS platform began to take over. Most were initially used for blogging, but as they integrated more robust features, open source content management shot ahead of the older softwares as the top website building tool. There are many benefits of using a free content management system.

Responsive Websites

Websites that respond to the size of computer screens and mobile device screens, and look good on all of them are vital these days. The open source CMS platform is designed to do this automatically.


Open source CMS uses a database to store and retrieve information, making it easy to access and input content on any part of your site. So there is only one place to update that content, no matter how many pages it appears on.


The free CMS platforms are designed to accommodate several users adding content at the same time. You can set permissions as to levels, and utilize “draft” and “approval” settings to make it easy for one person to write a new blog, while another may be updating a contact form.

Preset Templates & Plugins

With the prevalence of CMS open source, many of the best open source CMS companies promote the building plugins and templates to work with their open source CMS platform that make it easy to set up a beautiful site with no design skills.

Open Source Content Management System

Image Source: Pixabay

Accessible from Anywhere

You don’t have to send an HTML file back and forth between computers to make edits with an open source content management system. The software sits on your web server so you can access it online to make updates from anywhere.

You Don’t Have to Be a Designer

Another big benefit of the best open source CMS programs is that they are made to be easy to use without formal web design training. Some can be more complicated to use than others, depending upon the template you choose, but only minimal computer skills are needed.

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Please click here “AdvisoryHQ’s Ranking Methodologies” for a detailed review of AdvisoryHQ’s selection methodologies for ranking top-rated credit cards, financial accounts, firms, products, and services.

Detailed Review—Top Ranking Best Open Source CMS Programs

Below, please find a detailed review of each firm on our list of best free CMS platforms. We have highlighted some of the factors that allowed these open source content management system options to score so highly in our selection ranking.

Django Review

Django is a free content management system that is meant to be “ridiculously” fast. The development of this free CMS is supported by an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation that consists of both corporate and individual members.

This CMS open source platform was first established in 2005, and is named after guitarist Django Reinhardt. It focuses on lightweight and fast to load websites, and is an open source content management software used by popular social media sites like Instagram and Pinterest.

Django is an open source CMS that was designed for speed. It’s engineered to take web applications from concept to launch in just a matter of hours. They promote this CMS free platform to meet fast-moving newsroom deadlines while satisfying tough web developer requirements.

Community Input

One of the great things about open source CMS is that you have a lot of people contributing enhancements just because they love working with an open source content management system.

Django has a community of about 11,011 people in 158 countries, contributing 3,381 packages and projects to make this open source CMS platform better.

Django Software Foundation Prizes

Because this CMS free software is so community based, the Django Software Foundation awards prizes to recognize the work of developers that contribute content that benefits the community. One of the awards they give is the Malcolm Tredinnick Memorial Prize, which is awarded annually.

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Drupal™ Review

Another of the best open source CMS programs is Drupal™. They’ve been around since 2001, and since then have grown from having a single server to multiple server racks at a datacenter and cloud computing resources around the world.

This is one of the free CMS softwares that has a community that includes 106,090 users that are actively contributing content to the community at large. Drupal™ is a registered trademark of Dries Buytaert.

This open source content management system looks to be a favorite of large institutions, like the U.S. Energy Department and University of Minnesota. They have scalable systems based open source CMS platform to help manage multiple types of content.


One of the shortcomings of certain open source CMS platforms is that they can sometimes be easily hacked by spammers. But Drupal™ has worked with dozens of security experts from around the world to validate, respond, and fix any security issues reported with their free CMS software.

Bring in Third-Party Content

In this Internet day and age, content has become king, and Internet users now expect fresh information regularly. The Drupal™ open source content management system makes it easy to ingest third-party content into a site from aggregators and syndicators to help keep fresh content flowing easily.

GRAV Review

GRAV is designed to be a faster and simpler flat-file open source content management program. The flat-file system means that a computer reads it as an ordinary unstructured file with no indexing or structural relationships with other files.

Some advantages of a flat-file free CMS system are:

  • Records are stored in one place
  • Easy to understand
  • Sorting and filtering is simple
  • You can store the database in a standard spreadsheet

This best open source CMS is hosted on GitHub and was originated by RocketTheme. Like other free CMS softwares, they rely on a large community of developers that contribute continually and share their knowledge and expertise to make the platform better.

Another important note is that GRAV received the 2016 CMS Critic Award for Best Open Source CMS, which illustrates the explosive growth they’ve seen in the past year. 

Open Source CMS

Image Source: GRAV Open Source CMS

Easy to Use

The reason for the flat-file system is to make GRAV the easiest to learn and use CMS open source system. Many of their testimonials mention users moving from a more complicated free content management system to GRAV because of the simplicity.

Smart Caching

Caching is something that helps websites load faster once you’ve visited them. This means that when you come back to a site it loads instantly, due to the caching of the files within the free CMS site.

If you’re a computer geek then, you’ll be interested to know that GRAV supports 5 different caching types in their open source content management system. And for the rest of us that just means that their sites are made to load really fast.

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Joomla! Review

If you’re looking for another popular and award-winning open source CMS program, then Joomla! is one you will definitely want to take a look at. The Joomla! Project Team was first established in 2005, and as of November 2016, this free CMS has been downloaded over 78 million times.

This free content management system has several important core features, including an easy to use media manager tool, website banner management, and a smart search tool.

Joomla! is considered one of the best open source CMS platforms. According to their site, there are more than 3 percent of websites that use Joomla! as their CMS free system, and they have a free CMS market share of more than 9 percent.

Great Video Training

A video is worth more than a thousand words when it comes to learning something new. Joomla! has an excellent video training section where you can learn all the basics of starting and using their CMS open source platform.

Their videos cover everything from a “Beginners Guide” to how to build multilingual sites using the Joomla! open source content management system.

Banner Manager Tools

Advertising banners and popups have become a common way that many websites make money. Not all free CMS options give you tools specific to advertising banners, but Joomla! does.

They realize how important web banner advertising has become and they include multiple help resources in their open source CMS to create and manage them.

SilverStripe Review

SilverStripe may not be as well known as some of the other free CMS softwares on our list, but they have a loyal following. The company was founded by three passionate guys in New Zealand, and they now have offices in Australia and the UK too.

They believe in the power of an open source CMS community, which basically means that free CMS technology is shared at no cost and everyone can contribute ideas to make it better. They feel that this encourages a passion for learning.

SilverStripe has been around for ages in “Internet age.” They were first founded in 2000 and worked to make their open source content management platform usable on Linux, Windows, and Apple environments.

They began working with local clients, and then gained traction as the platform of choice for the US Democratic National Convention website that supported Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.


SilverStripe has an impressive list of awards for their open source content management system. Some of the highlights include:

  • Best Technology Solution for the Public Sector—2016 Hi-tech Awards
  • Best All Round Exhibitor—2015 ALGIM Conference
  • Winner, Open Source use in Government—2014 New Zealand Open Source Awards
  • Positive Societal Impact Award—2009 Internet Industry Awards

Public Sector CMS Open Source

If you’re looking for a public sector free CMS solution, then SilverStripe fits the bill. They have a specialized open source CMS specifically for government and public sector sites that help them manage the look and feel of the site as well as give them control over the specific type of content publishing they need.

SilverStripe is under contract to the Department of Internal Affairs in New Zealand  for their open source content management system.

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WordPress Review

The last site on our list of the best open source CMS solutions is actually the biggest of them all: WordPress. According to BuiltWith®, 31 percent of all websites using free CMS technologies are designed with WordPress.

This open source content management system was first introduced in 2003 and since then has grown to be the largest self-hosted blogging tool in the world. But they’ve moved way beyond blogging to also be one of the largest and best open source CMS programs.

WordPress is used by 27 percent of all websites. That’s a huge accomplishment for a free content management system. More than 60 million people have chosen this CMS open source platform to power their websites.

Tons of Plugins

Plugins are important when you’re working with the best open source CMS software because they enable things like shopping carts, shipping calculations, and Google Adwords tracking.

When you’re the biggest open source content management system around, like WordPress is, you have more than 45,000 plugins that work with your free CMS, which means a lot of options for users.

Excellent Support

Another area where WordPress shines is in the extensive support for their open source content management system. Besides their own support and documentation, they have support forums where you can find just about every answer to a technical question you may have.

This is another benefit of being the biggest and best open source CMS, is that there are a plethora of other users to offer help and advice.

Free Content Management System

Image Source: Pixabay

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Conclusion—Top 6 Best Open Source CMS

Not only are the new wave of open source CMS options made to be easy to use and flexible enough to design any type of website you like. They’re also free, which is a huge bonus.

Although if you want some fancy templates or plugins for that best open source CMS, you may need to pay a little. But overall, a free CMS platform really speeds up the process of launching a website and having it look great on any type of device, whether computer or mobile.

Free CMS Conclusion

Image Source: Pixabay

The other benefits are many with a free content management system, such as multi-user permissions and template-based, database driven content that makes it easy to add and update information from anywhere.

If you’re looking for an easy way to start a blog or launch a new website, then one of these free CMS softwares is a great place to begin. A tip is to review the types of websites that use these best open source CMS platforms, to get an idea of which one may be the perfect fit for your needs.

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