Content Management System

Web Content Management System (WCMS)

That is the technically correct term. But no one says it, because even the shorter term is already very long. This is probably the reason why the English abbreviation “CMS” has become established worldwide. The essential feature of a CMS is the separation of content, data structure and design (layout) as well as the possibility of access control (user administration).

Easy-to-use Website (Frontend)

A CMS automatically links all web pages correctly to one or more menus, thus also ensuring clear page navigation. For this reason, websites created with a CMS are usually very easy to use, provided that colours and fonts have been chosen appropriately.

Difficult to learn CMS (Backend)

Behind the scenes, things look quite different. The backend, i.e. the user interface for the administrator/webmaster/editor, is only user-friendly and clearly designed in a few CMSs.

System Requirements

The system requirement is the booking of a web hosting package with PHP. Most CMSs also require a MySQL database.
A TLS certificate is not only recommended for security reasons. A suitable Domain name is also required.
On your local computer, you now need an FTP client in addition to your everyday web browser, and a really good text editor is extremely important for having fun by writing your texts! All the software you need is free and open source.

For free, but not for nothing

So costs only arise for services such as web hosting and if you have to translate texts or need a photographer for professional pictures.
If you don't want to/can't create your website yourself or realise later that you need support from a professional, further costs will arise.
If your website is suddenly offline because of a damaged database (see below) and you need a database specialist quickly, it can get really expensive.

Disadvantage of CMSs with Database

A database can suddenly become faulty (“corrupt”) at any time. Mostly this happens due to software errors. For example, a plug-in does not work as expected and causes more or less “data salad”. In theory, a regular data backup protects against this. In practice, however, it is not that easy. You have to be very familiar with MySQL to be able to repair a database or import a backup. Repairing a MySQL database can take hours and is not always successful. Some CMSs can easily be extended with a backup using a free software module (plug-in). Free backup plug-ins usually have limitations and then you need the commercial version with annual licence costs (at least 55 EUR). For commercial use, this is not a high amount compared to the possible loss of data, but for a hobby website such as mine, it is not necessarily cost-efficient.

Switching to another hoster is not exactly simple either. This also requires a full backup of the website including the database.

Many CMSs without Database tested

That's why some time ago I tried out all the CMSs without a database that could be tested free of charge. Testing for free does not mean that the licence for operation is also free or that the software is no longer free from the second domain onwards. But in my search for the best CMS I would have paid something.
Conclusion: hardly any database-free CMS met my expectations in terms of ease of use, functionality and search engine optimisation (SEO).

Some web hosts offer a comprehensive backup in their web hosting package or support a backup tool for your own MySQL backups at the push of a button.
For the very popular and well-known CMS WordPress, there are now even at least two very good backup plug-ins (but for multisite only by paying high fees). Because there are these positive exceptions, I do not generally advise against CMS with a database.

As a webmaster beginner, you quickly become a victim of hackers when using WordPress, because this CMS is one of the most popular targets of attack! If you don't carry out software updates immediately after publication and don't secure your CMS well enough, you can experience your black miracle. When I browse through the logbook every day, I see how evil bots automatically scan web servers for security leaks 24 hours a day.

My CMS Favourites

Here I present the best of both worlds (without/with database). I have used both extensively for years and can therefore judge them well.


is based on an Open Source PHP Flat-File CMS, which the Dane Peter Harteg has published on 10.04.2003 named CMSimple 1.0.
It was only 20 KB small and did not require a database. On 01.01.2010 Peter Harteg put CMSimple under GPL3 licence, which is also valid for the current version.
In 2009 a group of CMSimple enthusiasts started the development of CMSimple_XH. In December 2009, they released CMSimple_XH 1.0. The suffix “_XH” was chosen because the system can generate both HTML- and XHTML-compliant web pages, which was not widely used at the time. The current version 1.7.6 was released on 11.07.2023. Continue reading …

WBCE CMS – Way Better Content Editing

is based on the open source PHP CMS called WebsiteBaker, which was published by Ryan Djurovich in 2004. In 2008, Ryan left the development team to further develop and commercially market his work under a new name. Unfortunately, the remaining development team then fell out and development stalled. In the meantime, almost all the developers have left the team. However, some of them have continued to develop Ryan's ingenious editorial system: first under the name LEPTON, where the developer community unfortunately fell out again and development came to a standstill. One of the developers earns his money as a web designer and urgently needed a further developed and regularly maintained CMS version for his many clients. A very competent community actively supports him. Version 1.0 was made available for download on 26.09.2015, and version 1.1 was released on 15.12.2015. The current version 1.4.5 was released on 27.09.2020. Continue reading …

Good to know

Both CMSs are also ideally suited for websites with many hundreds of pages!

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