Best WordPress Alternatives in 2021
by Mike Khorev
WordPress has been the most popular blogging and website platform/builder for quite a long time, and not without its reasons. It’s free, it’s reliable, and there are various resources and plugins contributed by the huge WordPress community, making it a very well-rounded, stable platform.
However, WordPress certainly isn’t the perfect solution for everyone. There are some of us who might be looking for an easier alternative, and there are some others who might be looking for more customization opportunities.
Here, we will discuss 6 of the best WordPress alternatives in 2021. Yet, let us begin by discussing WordPress itself as the benchmark.
Brief Overview on WordPress
WordPress, when it was first introduced in 2003, started out as a blogging platform where users can develop custom-tailored blogs according to their preferences. This customizability feature was actually one of the biggest reasons for WordPress’ popularity: the Theme System. In fact, WordPress’ huge collection of themes is still one of its strongest selling points.
Since 2010 with the introduction of WordPress 3.0, however, WordPress is now a full-fledged website builder and CMS (Content Management System). Today, we are with the WordPress 5.0, with the core update being the new, drag-and-drop website editor.
Key Highlights: Why WordPress is Popular
- WordPress is totally free, although you need to pay for a separate web hosting service and domain name
- A huge collection of customizable themes, you can virtually always find a theme to suit your current needs
- Huge collection of plugins for various functions: analytics, automatic optimizations, database, and so on.
- Reliable, safe, and secure, also due to various security plugins
- Relatively easy to use with all the available guides out there, and can handle various forms of media (embedded video, Instagram photos, SoundCloud audio files, etc.).
Pricing: Free, but domain name and hosting are not included.
Top 5 Best WordPress Alternatives
Wix is a relatively new player in the website-builder industry, but is now very popular, mainly due to their aggressive advertising campaigns that include Hollywood celebrities in a fun, flashy advertisement.
Wix, in a sense, is a complete antithesis to WordPress in several ways. WordPress is certainly flexible and customizable, but will require at least a bit of coding knowledge. On the other hand, Wix is very easy to use where you can customize everything in a visual—drag-and-drop style— builder.
Above, we have also mentioned one of the key stumbling blocks in using WordPress is the fact that we’ll need to purchase our own domain name and hosting service. This, often discourage beginners who only wants to have a website running ASAP. With Wix, you get an included hosting service and a working tech support.
However, although Wix is very easy to use for beginners, WordPress does offer more depth. For instance, due to the visual nature of Wix’s builder, it will become slower when you are developing too many pages. Also, if you know your CSS and HTML, you have more flexibility in customizing WordPress, as opposed to the template-based approach of Wix.
Pricing: free plan with free hosting, unlimited pages and 100+ templates, premium plan starts from $4.5 per month.
Conclusion: more attractive than WordPress for beginners or those looking for simplicity with its visual builder and free hosting service. Not as customizable as WordPress.
Weebly is another popular website builder that in many ways, is somewhere in the middle between Wix and WordPress regarding its technical approach.
Weebly is centered around a visual website builder—just like Wix—, but also offers the ability to edit your HTML and CSS codes—like WordPress—. However, Weebly is not an open-source platform like WordPress, so there are aspects that are not customizable.
So, Weebly does offer more flexibility than Wix while retaining some of its ease of use, but still offers less freedom than WordPress.
Also, similar to Wix, you also get a tech support and customer service with Weebly, including automatic security updates. Meaning, less headache for the technical aspects of building a website. You also get a free hosting service, unlike WordPress.
Weebly, however, is not as easy to use as Wix, offering less templates than the latter. For ecommerce businesses, however, Weebly offers a lot of useful ecommerce features with their business ecommerce plans (starting from $12/month).
Pricing: Free for basic use (your site will display a small Weebly banner), plans start from $5/month, and starts from $12/month for ecommerce features.
Conclusion: Weebly is for those who want an easy to use website builder but still want a bit of coding and customization flexibility. Great choice for ecommerce sites with various e commerce-focused features (for its Pro plan and above)
3. Constant Contact (Website Builder)
Constant Contact is a relatively new player in the website builder industry, however, it has a popular, enterprise-level email marketing software widely used by many companies.
The Website Builder, however, is more geared for smaller businesses taking a similar approach to Wix and Weebly with a visual, drag-and-drop style website builder.
The key highlight of Constant Contact Website Builder, however, is the A.I.-driven automation tools, that can provide automatic optimizations and content suggestions. So, arguably Constant Contact is even easier to use than Wix as one of the most intuitive WordPress alternatives.
There are various features that are intended towards website beginners, such as a logo maker, professional stock photo library, online store builder, and automatic syncing for social networks.
Pricing: 60-day free trial for premium plans, a free package with basic features including unlimited storage, plans start from $6/month unlocking advanced analytics features,SSL certificate, branded email and more ecommerce-related features.
Conclusion: great, affordable option for beginners, and has some interesting A.I.-powered features. Also a great option to build an ecommerce site.
Squarespace is also one of the most popular WordPress alternatives around, especially for creative, design-oriented people.
Again, Squarespace offers a visual builder, much like Wix. So, no coding and technical knowledge are required. Choose a template, drag and drop the website elements according to your preferences, and you are good to go.
Again, this will mean less customization flexibility as you can’t tweak the CSS and HTML of the templates. So, in many ways, Squarespace is very similar to Wix.
There are, however, several key differences between Wix and Squarespace.Wix’s visual builder is more flexible, as in Squarespace you are limited to columns and inherent structures. However, Squarespace offers more website elements (called Content Blocks) than Wix, for example, there is a content block for restaurant menus.
You can also import your WordPress site to Squarespace, so you can take a hybrid approach. Squarespace, however, is a little bit pricey at $12/month.
Pricing: free trial available for all plans, pricing starts from $12/month. Ecommerce features unlocked with the Business plan ($18/month).
Conclusion: a little bit pricey, and in most cases Wix is a better alternative. However, SquareSpace offers more website elements that look and function very well, which is its biggest selling point.
So far, the four WordPress alternatives we have discussed above are simpler, more user-friendly platforms than WordPress. Joomla, however, is on the other side of the spectrum: Joomla is much more complex than WordPress, but on the other hand also offers more flexibility and advanced controls.
Joomla’s website builder features numerous components,each with a sheer number of controls and options. Joomla also offers the ability to use different templates for each page, while in WordPress we can only use one theme for the whole site.
Joomla, similar to WordPress, is also an open-source platform where it’s totally free. Joomla is also much more secure than WordPress with 2-factor authentication, among other security features, and there are also various plugins (called extensions) for various functions.
Pricing: Free, will need to buy a hosting service and a domain separately.
Conclusion: the WordPress alternative for more technical users that are looking for more depth and versatility.
Shopify is one of the most popular WordPress alternatives if you want to build an ecommerce store. There are many unique features dedicated for ecommerce functionality. For example, various templates for ecommerce branding purposes, native store payment features, store database, and ecommerce-focused analytics, among others.
Shopify’s goal is to allow anyone to build their own online store quickly without any technical and coding knowledge. However, Shopify also allows users to modify HTML and CSS, so there’s flexibility in customizations.
Also, Shopify offers their own hosting service, so you wouldn’t need to pay separately—unlike WordPress—, and this also means more security. Shopify has also expanded into various ecommerce-related services, for example, there’s the Shopify Shipping service.
Pricing: Free trial available, $29/month for basic plan (unlimited products for the online store, 2 staff accounts), the “advanced” plan is $299/month for 15 staff accounts, better security and cheaper Shopify shipping costs.
Conclusion: relatively pricey, but one of the best options if you want to build an ecommerce site.
Each of the six WordPress alternatives we have shared above has their own unique features—and flaws—, some offer easier, more intuitive visual website builder, while some others offer more flexibility and depth.
It’s important to choose the right platform according to your needs, budget, and technical proficiency so you can make the most of it. If you want to make sure that your future site will be SEO friendly, contact a freelance SEO consultant for a free consultation.
January 15, 2022