10 Simple and Light Weight CMS Solutions

By / Feb 18, 2010 / Tools
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Choosing the right content management system can be an overwhelming task for a web designer or developer. There are so many available, all with different features, it can be difficult to decide which is the best solution for a particular web project. For complex websites, a fully featured CMS is probably the best way to go. However, for simple sites, lots of bells and whistles can be overkill and actually be a bit confusing for the person maintaining the website.

In this article, I’ve rounded up 10 simple and light weight cms solutions. All of these systems were built with simplicity and ease-of-use in mind.

Wolf CMS

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Wolf CMS simplifies content management by offering an elegant user interface, flexible templating per page, simple user management and permissions, as well as the tools necessary for file management. Wolf CMS is a fork of Frog CMS. Although the two applications still share a family resemblance, Wolf has left Frog’s development path.

Get Simple

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GetSimple is an XML based lite Content Management System. To go along with it’s intuitive user interface, it’s loaded with features that every website needs, but with nothing it doesn’t.

Perch

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Perch is a really little content management system for when you (or your clients) need to edit content without the hassle of setting up a big CMS.

sNews

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sNews is a completely free, standards compliant, PHP and MySQL driven Content Management System. It is extremely lightweight, simple and customizable. This cms consists of only one core engine file, one independent template file and its accompanying CSS stylesheet file, plus an .htaccess file that makes all URLs search engine friendly.

Zimplet CMS

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Zimplit is extremely lightweight, simple and customizable. It’s easy to install, and easy to use via a simple web interface. Zimplit consists of only one core engine file.

PageLime

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PageLime is a simple CMS for web designers. It acts as a remote Content Management System that allows you to update the content, images, and documents on your web site without any setup. All you have to do is add the ‘cms-editable’ CSS class to any element on your site, and we host the application that edits your site.

Surreal CMS

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With Surreal CMS, there’s absolutely nothing to install. Just enter your website’s FTP info and you’re connected! Within minutes, you can enable webpages, add content regions, assign editors, and begin updating your website — and you don’t even need an FTP client to get started.

CMS Made Simple

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CMS Made Simple provides a fast and easy way to create a web site and manage its contents. Use it to make a home page for your family — or your multinational corporation!

Simple CMS

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A fully branded, easy to use content management system for your clients. All you do is add a little piece of code to your existing site.

CushyCMS

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CushyCMS is a Content Management Systems (CMS) that is truly simple. It’s free for unlimited users, unlimited changes, unlimited pages and unlimited sites.

It’s built from the ground up with ease of use in mind – for both content editors and designers. It’s such a simple CMS that it takes less than 3 minutes for a web designer to implement. No PHP or ASP required for this CMS. If you can add CSS classes to HTML tags then you can implement CushyCMS. It’s also a hosted CMS, so no installation or maintenance is needed either.

About the Author

Henry Jones is a web developer, designer, and entrepreneur with over 14 years of experience. He is the founder of WDL and ThemeTrust.

90 Comments

  1. Ceasar
    February 18, 2010

    You forgot an important one :)
    http://www.minicms.eu/home.html

    Reply
  2. Nathan
    February 18, 2010

    From all the above, I only play with CushyCMS, for everything else there’s WordPress. What can I say, I make no simple websites :)

    Reply
  3. Russell Poulter
    February 18, 2010

    NIce Round up, I might take a look at some of these. Would take a lot for me to not use WordPress though.

    Reply
  4. Richard
    February 18, 2010

    I use Wolf – simple – light weight – easy to use. Also has a very active (and helpful) forum.

    Reply
  5. Andy
    February 18, 2010

    Wolf CMS is an extremely adaptable CMS especially if you know PHP. Its not bloated with functionality like other well know projects enabling you to adapt and extend easily.

    Reply
  6. Nils
    February 18, 2010

    My current favorite is Symphony CMS http://symphony-cms.com/

    It’s very lightweight and lets you decide what type of content you want and how you want to display it: Create a section with a text-input, textarea and tags for a blog or add a file upload-field to them to create a portfolio. The possibilities are endless!

    Another huge plus is its use of XSLT as the template language. XSLT is simply a lot more powerful than any other template language I’ve come across. And it comes with your typical PHP installation.

    Reply
  7. Tad Chef
    February 18, 2010

    You should add TypeRoom to this list:
    http://www.typeroom.com/

    It’s very similar to PageLime and SurrealCMS.

    Reply
  8. sam
    February 18, 2010

    WordPress++

    Reply
  9. felixthehat
    February 18, 2010

    I just blogged about how I knocked up a quick CMS that uses Google docs and 70 lines of php/html/jquery/css for a super basic management system! http://www.blackspike.com/site/html/google-docs-as-a-lightweight-cms-pt1

    Reply
  10. Midday
    February 18, 2010

    Which one of these allow for multilanguage content out of the box?

    Reply
    • David
      February 20, 2010

      @midday – the current development version of Wolf CMS (top of this list!) now has a core “multiple languages” plugin which will give out-of-the-box capabilities. It’s fairly simple at the moment, but quite effective.

      Hope that helps!

      Reply
  11. Neelakandan
    February 18, 2010

    This is great. Lovely share. TFS.

    Reply
  12. Steven
    February 18, 2010

    I’m a big fan of CMS Made Simple personally. I’ve used it for http://www.elevation-events.com and http://www.elekt.net (the latter of which will gain more content as soon as the event’s taken place), and it’s been an absolute dream to work with. From XHTML + CSS to fully functioning took me about a day a website (including detailed lists of children-pages, manageable gallery’s, easy youtube-embedding and so on). Version 2.0 should be even more awesome :).

    Reply
  13. Simon
    February 18, 2010

    Thanks Henry, nice share. Look at EcoCMS, I believe it’s the most simple and light weight CMS here :)

    Reply
  14. Chris Cagle
    February 18, 2010

    Thanks for including GetSimple! I’ve sunk way too many hours into this piece of software but I am extremely proud of it…

    Reply
  15. Andy
    February 18, 2010

    Not a CMS, but a great lightweight content editor is Unify from Unit Interactive.

    Reply
  16. Kaaviar
    February 18, 2010

    You should add PluXML too ! Full XML CMS

    Reply
  17. Jordan Walker
    February 18, 2010

    I think as programmers frameworks are expediently quicker to use and implement. My only concern is the next generation will not know any programming syntax, framework manipulation.

    Reply
  18. Brian
    February 18, 2010

    I’ve used sNews & GetSimple, and for what they do I find them excellent bits of code. Wolf looks interesting as well. I’m not a big fan of CMS systems hosted elsewhere, like Cushy et. al.

    Reply
  19. Batfan
    February 18, 2010

    I really like the idea of editable div’s with PageLime and CushyCMS but, I’d rather have the login/editor as a script that I could put on my site. Rather than having them go to another site.

    Reply
  20. New York Web Designer
    February 18, 2010

    Great Post!!You’ve showed us Excellent CMS list.

    Reply
  21. Conor Darcy
    February 18, 2010

    I’ve used Cushy & Perch recently. With Cushy you give them your FTP info & they update the html there & then. I used it once & never went back as its subscription based & has trouble working out a pricing model for my clients. Could get messy in the future. Perch i do like. Simple to install & customise at a very affordable price. Support is superb & just suggest a new feature & you’ll probably see it in the next update.

    Reply
  22. Rick Lecoat
    February 18, 2010

    @Batfan Have a look at Unify; I think that should do what you’re looking for. (I have no connection to the developers, BTW).

    http://unify.unitinteractive.com/

    Reply
  23. Jason Gross
    February 18, 2010

    Great List, some real solid solutions for clients who are not tech savvy. It is easy to underestimate how much happier clients will be if they can update their own content without confusion.

    Reply
  24. Ashley
    February 18, 2010

    This is a great article I’ve wanted to find a simple cms for a while now. Using wordpress at the moment and it’s great but also bulky.

    Reply
  25. jake
    February 18, 2010

    Also try PulseCMS. Its very slick and open source. pulsecms.com

    Reply
  26. Rob Flaherty
    February 18, 2010

    For those partial to Rails, Radiant is the CMS that Frog/Wolf is based on. It offers a little more than Frog/Wolf (native page caching, for example), and I think the community is stronger, but of course it means having to deal with a Rails stack.

    http://radiantcms.org/

    Reply
  27. Justin
    February 18, 2010

    Awesome list of resources!! I’m in the market for an adaptable, simple, easy to implement CMS solution – now I’m spoilt for choice.

    Thanks

    Reply
  28. Ben
    February 18, 2010

    I think another great CMS that doesn’t get spoken about much is RazorCMS.
    http://www.razorcms.co.uk/

    It is very quick, easy to use, and easy to template. RazorCMS offers plugins, and a forum.

    Best of all, it is free.

    Reply
  29. Ben
    February 18, 2010

    I should add, about RazorCMS, that I use it for a couple of my clients. So, I have an actual working knowledge of it.

    Reply
  30. Entertica
    February 19, 2010

    I am looking for bilingual or multi languages small CMS.

    Currently I use WordPress with 2 pages as language selector (say it in slug: EN & ES). This solution works very well. But my clients said it was too complex.

    Your advise please :D
    Thanks

    Reply
  31. Michel Leconte
    February 19, 2010

    Entertica,

    you should try http://www.seotoaster.com . It is simple enough with inline editing to make the list, and it comes in 4 languages including French, Spanish, and Portuguese at time of this writing.

    I’m surprised it did not make the list. On top of being simple to use, it’s also very easy to build website with, and it is the most advanced SEO CMS out of the box.

    Finally it scales with the ability to remotely pilot SEO and web marketing for any number of websites from a central location through SEO Samba.

    Ah yes, it’s free and open source too.

    Reply
  32. Darren
    February 19, 2010

    How could you not include Concrete5? I think that is one of the best up and comers — for ease of use, ease of integration and sheer power. The community is strong and growing, too. It is one of the most powerful and extensible CMS’s I’ve found, yet with the user-friendliness my clients desperately need!

    http://www.concrete5.org/
    (I do not work for them, I’m just a devoted advocate — besides, it is open source!!)

    Reply
  33. ReadyPhotoSite
    February 19, 2010

    Let me add http://www.readyphotosite.com- that’s an intuitive flash photo websites CMS. Cool and nice :)

    Reply
  34. Derek Dole
    February 19, 2010

    Intuitive and easy for content editors, then I miss free edition of Kentico CMS on the list: http://www.kentico.com/freecms.aspx

    Reply
  35. Johnny
    February 19, 2010

    Cool Post, I love CushyCMS. :)

    Reply
  36. Chocksy
    February 20, 2010

    I like ChushyCms idea of using classes for editing certain sections of the page. This is one of the best ideas i saw in all of these CMSes. I usually opt for simple stuff since this gives you room for improvements without messing around too much with code. But WordPress is pretty good when it comes to CMS but i wish it would move from the Blog part as i saw this is what they intend to do.

    ~Razvan

    Reply
  37. Benedetto
    February 20, 2010

    Actually, i started to use SkyBlueCanvas. This is my first CMS, because i didnt like them, because it’s not easy to design (for me). But i like it. It’s simple, easy to design, and open-source.

    Reply
  38. Martijn
    February 20, 2010

    Hi!

    As the lead developer for Wolf CMS, I just wanted to add that we now support creating translations of page content.

    It will be in the next release (0.7.0) or you can get a nightly build.

    Cheers, Martijn

    Reply
  39. Website Design Northampton
    February 20, 2010

    This is a great list, I definitely think the light CMS is the future!

    Reply
  40. King
    February 21, 2010

    Thanks for the list. Never heard of some of them. Will give them a try.
    Couple of my current favorites:
    NanoCMS – http://nanocms.co.uk/
    Pritlog – http://hardkap.net/pritlog

    Reply
  41. RAFF
    February 22, 2010

    Don’t forget CMSimple:
    http://www.cmsimple.org/

    Reply
  42. Jack Millard
    February 22, 2010

    WordPress all the way for me!

    Reply
  43. Mike
    February 22, 2010

    You should really take a good look at:

    http://www.typolight.org

    Its a real breeze to install and work with yet powerful enough to drive even big sites.

    Can´t believe this CMS dont get more attention.

    Reply
  44. Alex
    February 23, 2010

    Nice list! Thanks!
    FlashMoto Flash CMS should be added as well
    http://www.flashmoto.com

    Very convenient and feature rich :)

    Reply
  45. Jimmy Rittenborg
    February 23, 2010

    I agree with Mike!
    You all should take a good look at TYPOlight!

    http://www.typolight.org

    Reply
    • Derrick
      February 28, 2010

      These type cms systems really can’t compete with Joomla in regard to full scale. Joomla has pretty much closed the door on full scale cms and it basically the “cms iPhone”.

      The quest now is for a simple cms to edit some text and an image in a static site. something that requires virtually no training for the client or a few minutes at most.

      Reply
  46. Bruce
    February 25, 2010

    As an old graphic designer with no web experience I have just used webyep and its integration with Freeway Pro. Worked fine for a small cafe site.
    These sorts of simplified tools are the future for small websites.

    Reply
  47. bob dobbs.
    February 25, 2010

    Sorry to rain on the lovefeast, but I reckon that most cms’s are very limiting.

    The main thing I find frustrating is that all force you to use xhtml.

    Why can’t I use any doctype I want to? And why should I use xhtml over html, when a huge section of browsers in use can’t accept the correct MIME type for xhtml ?

    A sufficiently well designed cms lets a designer use the doctype that he wants to. Any alternative to this means unneccessary work for the cms creator in the future, and more work for anybody using the cms.

    I ask CMS creators to think about their choices in this regard. Why use xhtml when it confers no advantage over html in the vast majority of use cases? Why use it when IE still can’t accept the right MIME type to support it?

    Reply
    • Drew McLellan
      February 27, 2010

      (I’m the lead developer of one of the CMSs mentioned here, Perch)

      That’s the approach we took in designing our CMS. It doesn’t care if you want to publish HTML4, XHTML, HTML5, JSON, XML, CSV or even CSS.

      The template system will deal with any text-based format.

      We do have the option of using the HTML-generating formatting languages Textile and Markdown, but have added our own post-processing to those to enable the admin to configure XHTML or HTML-style tags.

      You’re right – choice is important. The tool should work for the site, not the other way around.

      Reply
      • Derrick
        February 28, 2010

        $47 USD per domain. Wallet says OUCH!

        Reply
        • Drew McLellan
          March 2, 2010

          In the context of a commercial web design project, that’s around the typical hourly rate.

          If the most important aspect of a CMS for you is its cost, then there are lots of free options.

          Most people find that as long as the cost is fair, there are more important factors to consider than the price, not least of which being the value they put on their time.

          Reply
    • kneekoo
      March 23, 2010

      @bob dobbs: Changing standards is first important for developers. XHTML brought some god stuff on the table because it simply tried to improve the web document consistency and promote healthy web development.

      Here’s a very nice comparison of HTML and XHTML:
      http://htmlfixit.com/tutes/tutorial_XHTML_and_HTML_-_The_differences.shtml

      But in the end, I must disagree with you and the Internet Explorer suggestion. Microsoft is not stagnant. Even if they tend to be behind others, we don’t have to force web development to fit one company’s shoes because the final benefiters are the users and clean, healthy code, is one thing that will finally help them to virtually use any browser to manage their internet activities. Someday Microsoft will also play by the rules because they are forced to do so.

      Reply
  48. Derrick
    February 28, 2010

    I’ve looked over all of the CMSs mentioned here. I’ve used almost every type of CMS config and thought a little review might help:

    My reviews:

    Top Free:
    Pulse CMS (shocking that it’s free!)

    Top subscription based:
    Surreal CMS (fast support too)
    Cushy

    Top One-Off Fee based:
    Unify (@ $16/domain. Very fair price. Should never be over $20/domain.)

    I’ve actually subscribed to Simple CMS. I know it new but VERY buggy. Their code often conflicts with my scrips. Great guys that run it, just super buggy. I’ve had to deal with a lot of client complaints.

    Hope this helps.

    Reply
    • Forsooth
      March 2, 2010

      Thanks. An “experienced” review is the best.

      Reply
  49. Narayanan Hariharan
    March 3, 2010

    You’ve missed out on http://symphony-cms.com/

    Its very easy to use and fast too!

    Reply
  50. Yvan
    March 22, 2010

    Hey, everybody ! I’ve got a question for you.

    There are a lot of these simple CMS (a bit too many maybe ?), but I’m not sure they can achieve what I need :

    I need to create a little web-site easily manageable (that’s why I’m here) that can handle a little community of member with each of them being able to manage their own page (or maybe a set of pages) in the limit of a given template.

    Would that be possible with CMS Made Simple, for instance ?

    Thanks a lot

    Reply
  51. CMS Developer
    March 30, 2010

    Here is another easy and simple solution, an asp.net / C# code source for developers:

    http://www.gosimplecms.com

    Regards!

    Reply
  52. Stefek
    April 5, 2010

    Hello Henry,

    did you ever take a look at WebsiteBaker CMS?

    If not, it was a good addition to this article.
    Just see for yourself:
    http://www.websitebaker2.org

    All best,
    Stefek

    Reply
  53. Jennifer
    April 23, 2010

    These are great examples and I’ll definitely check them out. Never tried a lite CMS before and they look interesting, thanks!

    Reply
  54. hifni
    April 29, 2010

    its Look so interesting. i’ll try all of them :D
    nice post!

    Reply
  55. fishingsnow
    May 10, 2010

    Im my opinon, my faverate one is wolfcms , I like its simple style and flexible settings!

    Reply
  56. Web
    May 11, 2010

    But besides the advantages of convenience, free use, do not forget about security.

    Reply
  57. 10 Free Clean and Minimal WordPress Themes | Freebies
    July 9, 2010

    [...] tweetmeme_service = 'bit.ly'; Share WordPress has become one of the top choices for content management systems among website owners. This has happened for several reasons, but one is the readily available [...]

    Reply
  58. Adrian Borkala
    July 29, 2010

    GingerPenguin is fairly new to the CMS world so worth giving us a try. Currently has a similar approach to content management as CushyCMS however we are planning some awesome features in terms of content management and analytics working together.

    Reply
  59. Karina Leñero
    September 28, 2010

    you misspelled “zimplit”

    Reply
  60. craig
    November 11, 2010

    you forgot concrete5, it truly is an awesome system. Any one can use it. click, edit and save. thats it! So easy for developers, it’s still in it’s infancy but I’m really very impressed.

    Reply
  61. Yorick
    September 11, 2011

    Nice selection !
    What about a No code, No techno language, No Installation, … the CMS for dummies, the “think about the nature and the organization of content” way to build a website ? Simplicity would be even more respected , and most users along ?
    Or do we need a bit of coding thrill ?

    A ridiculously easy CMS – for dummies – straight to the content one
    is for example http://www.simple-different.com
    even easier than Webs, Weebly and Wix …

    As a web designer, or website facilitator, finally when it is about resulting with one’s content nicely, clearly organized for a client and more especially for his reader. A reader who does not care about what is behind the page… most of the time… we don’t even need to use our techno wizardry.

    Simplicity is a vast interesting subject isn’t it ?

    Reply
  62. Yorick
    September 16, 2011

    ;-)
    Simplicity is not f###ing easy
    try http://www.simple-different.com
    I believe everybody there is working his ass off to make it happen simple.

    Reply
  63. Nurul Imam
    September 29, 2011

    I like Perch CMS
    simple but powerfull

    Reply
  64. mody
    November 22, 2011

    Hi there,

    Please add http://amarokcms.org/ to your list :) its very simple CMS

    Reply
  65. Julian
    December 2, 2011

    Thanks for the list.

    Reply
  66. Jason
    December 2, 2011

    You forgot the best one for developers in any language. This one seriously rocks and scales as big as you like. http://www.kitgui.com

    Reply
  67. Kevin
    December 17, 2011

    Another good minimalist CMS is http://BonoboCMS.com. It works more like an online notepad with formatting than anything else.

    Reply
  68. Razibul Hassan
    December 27, 2011

    Thanks for the Brilliant post. I’d been looking for some pretty simple CMSs and your list has make the perfect listing of some easy yet rich UI CMSs.

    Reply
  69. Patrice
    December 30, 2011

    Which of them has cache features?

    Nowadays, it is very important to provide fast websites (cms) to the users.

    Thx!

    Reply
  70. Adrian Borkala
    January 7, 2012

    A really simple CMS to use is our very own GingerPenguin. No coding required at all in order to start editing pages as the CMS integrates with pretty much most sites, and allows you to click on your content to mark a section as editable.

    Designers can also customise a home page which is basically an iframe on the welcome page where you can display a webpage with whatever content you like eg: News to your clients, or a support form, or whatever you like really.

    GingerPenguin is a SaaS product so if your looking for self hosted, someone recently introduced us to PulseCMS which also looks pretty smart and simple to use.

    Reply
  71. David Williams
    February 3, 2012

    One I have come across and looks promising is Jonnash CMS at http://www.jonnash-cms.co.uk. It allows the website owner to create unlimited categories/web pages for his web site. Still in its infancy, but like the idea of no limits of pages I can have. Testing it now on on my home server.

    Reply
  72. Ann McSorley
    February 6, 2012

    Great list, I would also like to add http://www.veolay.com to this list.

    We have veolay installed to more that 20 websites and all our clients are really happy how easy it works for them and it takes us only a couple of minutes to convert our html website into an online manageable website where our client can login and make their content changes within a couple of clicks on the webpage itself.

    Reply
  73. David B
    February 15, 2012

    There is something newer-iMagic CMS http://imagiccms.com/ to me I was possible to try have found the CMS precisely. Very easy CMS, it is possible to make to itself a site for an evening. Developers tell that them CMS 100 % SEO :)

    Reply
  74. Sumardika
    February 24, 2012

    Thank you for the list. I am looking for simple CMS to substitute my wordpress hosted site.

    Reply
  75. Chris Cagle
    February 28, 2012

    FYI: We are running a $1,800 giveaway for theme and plugin developers to help GetSimple CMS fill out our Extend repository. Check it out here: http://get-simple.info/create-a-thon/

    Reply
  76. jack
    May 1, 2012

    Try http://www.InsiteCreation.com, they have some awesome features such as online designer. You can change your website look online

    Reply
  77. Kevin
    June 1, 2012

    Try http://mut8.me
    It’s free with a PRO option to brand as your own. All online, plug in as many sites as you like.

    Reply
  78. dan
    June 11, 2012

    We’re also developing a free cms – take a look and happy to receive comments back

    Reply
  79. mattburnsey
    July 23, 2012

    Cushy CMS is not free for unlimited users.

    Reply
  80. Dan
    February 20, 2013

    Try out http://mixudo.com – this comes with full templates, pages, and is fully customisable!

    Reply
  81. Dominik
    April 25, 2013

    I recommend new CMS system for those people who know only html and css. Read more at http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/394056

    Reply
  82. Artscape
    November 6, 2013

    Get-Simple is one of my favourite content management systems. I have build a lot of websites using Get-Simple, it’s perfect for designer who doesn’t code in PHP and has to build a small complete web site from time to time.

    Reply
  83. krrahman
    April 6, 2014

    Now a days CMS has added lot of easy web feature which were almost impossible in the near past. CMS gives users full right to choice what they want add their website. Nice Looking, Interactive function and so more. Thanks Henry Jones for sharing very impressive 10 cms tolls with little description.

    Reply

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