WordPress began its life as a no-fuss blogging platform. Over the years, it has evolved into a powerful engine where even complex e-commerce websites are built.
While it became easier for non-techies to build a blog or a site using WordPress, those who want more customization control are facing more complicated codes and procedures to deal with.
The dynamism of this platform comes with a longer install time and an overall heaviness since WordPress depends on a database for this. These days, however, developers are slowly getting back to basics. Lightweight blog engines are the new trend.
Of course, this trend doesn’t negate the usefulness of database-dependent dynamic CMS. Depending on the user’s need, there are certain pros and cons to using either one. But if you’re looking for something that will give you lightning-speed loading time and more theme-tinkering freedom, here are five new systems that are lighter than WordPress.
This one is pretty much WordPress without the database. Statamic also uses PHP, making it a dynamic CMS capable of generating complex pages. Instead of dealing with cumbersome folders in a database, Statamic uses a flat filing system to store files.
Like all of the blogging platforms we’re going to talk about, this one uses Markdown to write content. Coupled with its emphasis on good-looking designs and intuitive control panel, Statamic is the best choice for those seeking to make something more than a simple blog. Of course, it’s good for pure blogging as well!
Before we dive into what Jekyll is, let’s first talk about static websites. As the name suggests, a static website’s content is fixed. Whatever one has written will be shown to site visitors as is, which makes it load super fast. Static websites do not use databases, so saving new data input from the front-end can’t be done as well. Most of the engines included here make static websites.
With that said, Jekyll is a static site generator. Like Statamic, it uses Markdown for content and the usual HTML, CSS, JS, and a bit of Ruby for everything else.
All you have to do is type using Markdown, upload the file to a server. Note that you will not be able to run Jekyll on most shared hosting sites. You will most likely need to go after more complex hosting solution, for example vps hosting. And voila! You have a website.
There’s a good amount of Jekyll tutorial online if you want to try out this bad boy.
One downside to Jekyll is how it requires a foundational knowledge of basic web dev languages plus Ruby, which is a bit more advanced. To help people use Jekyll with more ease, Octopress was developed as a framework. With Octopress, users can now put in themes, plugins, templates, and scripts. Responsive layout and social media integration are made available as well.
Speaking of lightweight, Anchor CMS takes it to a whole new level. Clocking in at a mere 150kb, this blogging engine allows users to publish by simply uploading a Markdown file. It’s easy to use and configure as well.
Even with its tiny footprint, Anchor CMS actually uses databases. So while it presents itself as a very simple blogging tool, users do need to know a bit of PHP. Like most of the CMSes here, this one doesn’t have a WYSIWYG editor as well. This lack of a feature, while probably the reason for its lightness, presents itself as a barrier to interested parties who do not know HTML, CSS, or PHP.
This one is created purely for blogging, which makes it probably the easiest one to use out of the five. Do you want to talk about quick installations? Dropplets installs in a mere 30 seconds! Jason Schuller, who developed themes for WordPress, created this. It’s free, simple to install, and comes with some beautiful templates.
WordPress is revolutionary in a way because it made building professional-looking blogs and websites accessible to people with zero web development knowledge. But if you’ve got enough of the basics down, you’ll likely appreciate the advantages that these lightweight blogging platforms are offering.