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WordPress alternatives and its rise in popularity

Posted by HostAsean Editor on 06 05 2019. in Coding & Web Development, WordPress

WordPress alternatives - coding a CMS

WordPress is an extremely popular CMS (Content Management System) in 2019. It is currently in use by about a third of all websites (32% of the top 1m, 35% of the top 10k websites in the world. Stats from BuiltWith). It’s popularity is in part because it is user-friendly for new users, but also powerful and customisable for experienced developers that want to get more from it. There is a huge community offering thousands of free and premium themes and plugins – whole businesses have been built on the back of WordPress. But sometimes there is a case to look at WordPress alternatives.

What are some WordPress alternatives?

There are two categories of WordPress alternatives, self-hosted and hosted platforms. The self-hosted category includes other open source CMS such as Joomla!, Drupal, Typo3 and others. The hosted category includes fully integrated platforms such as Weebly, Squarespace, and Shopify for e-commerce sites.

Don’t be confused, you need to buy web hosting for a “self-hosted” CMS like WordPress, but a “hosted” service has it all bundled together. Basically with “self-hosted” services you stay in full control of each part – the web hosting, the CMS software, and your data. To add to the confusion, WordPress also operates a commercial hosted service as WordPress.com, it offers a less customisable (but simpler) experience.

Things change fast in the website industry. Ten years ago it was a different story. The popularity of WordPress has skyrocketed every year since then. It used to be much more common to find clients requesting Joomla! or Drupal, which were comparatively much more popular than they are today.

Cambodia had its own special cases and Joomla! was certainly the CMS of choice amongst local developers. One reason being that Khmer translation in Joomla! was possible using free extensions, while it was still difficult in WordPress until WPML provided out of the box support for the Khmer language.

Avoid getting tied into hosted platforms

Very few people opt for an alternative self-hosted CMS these days. The main competition comes from the hosted platforms which are typically more user friendly for a business owner to build their own site – they put a big focus on their drag and drop page builder and interface so that people don’t even have to write one line of code. It’s possible but difficult to completely avoid code in WordPress, and I have found some clients are intimidated by page builders. Sometimes the hosted platforms are the best choice for an individual with no web development skills that is looking to DIY their website.

There is a major downside to these hosted platforms – you are forever tied into that platform which makes migration extremely difficult. If you ever want to expand beyond the simple “pretty” website in future, or make use of any custom coding then you’ll quickly run into limitations. If you contact a web developer for help then rebuilding the site in WordPress is likely going to come up at this point. But with a thriving business thanks to the DIY website, perhaps now you can justify the expense of hiring a professional web designer and developer for the job.

From some quick research it does appear possible to export your Shopify store contents (including products, customer and order data) and migrate to WooCommerce. If it’s a static “pretty” website then having your website content and structure set out will certainly save you time if you do choose to rebuild your website in WordPress later.

Custom coded websites and web apps

Sometimes you need more than a CMS can provide, and really custom functionality can only be achieved with fully custom developed websites and apps. If they are coded in PHP then often these are based on a framework such as CodeIgniter, Laravel, CakePHP, or numerous others. I would only suggest going down this route if it is absolutely required. Even in this case you would typically still have a WordPress website for your public facing “sales & marketing” website to take advantage of the numerous performance and SEO advantages, which then sits alongside a custom app product.


We love building sites in WordPress and managing them is a breeze compared to any other CMS. If you have a self-hosted WordPress website hosted elsewhere, then it is easy to switch to using our web hosting services. Get in touch with our team if you need to migrate from another CMS and we’ll do our best to find a good solution for you.

HostAsean Editor
HostAsean Editor
Website Editor at Host Asean Ltd.
Our team post tips, tricks and interesting news on the HostAsean blog and like to keep up to date with news from the tech industry and the ASEAN region where we are based. Subscribe for the latest updates or check back regularly.

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