While there are dozens of different types of content management systems, or CMS, available from which to choose, web developers are constantly looking for better ways to power their sites and content. As a result, standards rapidly evolve and it’s unlikely that any one CMS will ever completely dominate the market. That being said, WordPress comes close: recent numbers place WordPress at 65% of the total indexable web according to WappAlyzer, a tool that tracks the technologies employed on a given web page. The following three content management systems are, respectively, the leader in the marketplace, the strongest competitor, and the strongest potential disruptor to them both.

 

WordPress: Too Many Cooks?

It’s no surprise that WordPress appears at the top of virtually every list of top CMS back-ends, and with good reason. WordPress is overwhelmingly the most popular CMS among both developers and clients. If you’re familiar with just one CMS, it should be WordPress. Because of this popularity, WordPress is also both versatile and amenity-stuffed; virtually every need a web developer could have is either included or available as a plug-in.

That popularity comes at a price. Due to the sheer size of the user base—WordPress is used on over 60 million websites—its development is large-scale and constant, leading to frequent updates for both security and code development. These updates often cause working plugins to fail and require sites to be redesigned or repaired frequently. The system itself, once a model of simplicity, can quickly become bulky and unwieldy with the addition of themes, plugins and optional marginalia. In trying to be everything to everyone, WordPress, while still popular among web developers, runs the risk of alienating end users. Even so, most developers still use the gold standard among CMS: WordPress.

 

Joomla!: Alternative or Also-Ran?

In a comfortable second place is Joomla!, which boasts over 50 million downloads and is used to power hundreds of thousands of websites. Largely due to its popularity, Joomla! also offers a considerable number of plugins and options for customization (though still far fewer than WordPress). Among Joomla!’s advantages are its themable nature and ease of use. It has a small but active and devoted developer community. Like WordPress, Joomla! is also open source and free to use.

However, Joomla! isn’t perfect: from a developer’s standpoint there’s a fairly steep learning curve and fewer plugins available than from WordPress, which means more coding for custom work. Some users complain that Joomla! is either too complex for new users or too simplistic for developers, but for the tens of millions of users who’ve downloaded the CMS so far it offers a happy medium.

 

Concrete5: Has a Disruptor Challenged Drupal?

While based on usage, Drupal is the third most-widely used CMS back-end, but Concrete5, which has been growing exponentially in usage, may have an advantage over the more traditional third place candidate. While for years its technology was over ten years old and under constant revision, around 2010 and 2011 the CMS began showing marked year-over-year increases in user—and, more importantly, developer—support.

With a solid interface, Concrete5 is most useful for a developer looking to break the mold and think outside the box. With a clean interface and growing developer base, Concrete5 will likely meet your needs, and may well be a shoo-in for third place on lists like this one in short order. Still, Concrete5 doesn’t have the plugins or themes that make the other two CMS so customizable, nor does it offer the same caliber of support. Though its growing support makes it a potential disruptor, Concrete5 remains behind the Big Three CMS: WordPress, Joomla! and Drupal.