5 brilliant next-gen CMSs that will be super popular in 2014

Anyone who builds websites for a living keeps their eye on the horizon for the next big thing in content management.

Here at 3digita, as much as we love the ‘big 3′ : WordPress, ExpressionEngine and Drupal’ (we’ve deliberately ignored Joomla because we’re not fans!), we’ve never been totally satisfied with them. We always seem to find small flaws and wish for features we know are unlikely to be built.

Here’s our round-up of 5 exciting alternative content management systems that are beautiful, flexible, well-built and are fast gaining traction with designers and developers. We predict they will join the A-list of CMSs in 2014.

Statamic

Technology: PHP | Personal : $29, Pro: $99, Add-ons: Commercial

statamic-screenshot

A flat-file CMS built by Jack McDade, Mubashar Iqbal and Fred LeBlanc, it only requires PHP, no database. As a result, its very fast and has a very simple to setup.

You can edit the site through the files, or the beautiful responsive admin control panel.

This is a great solution for personal sites, blogs or simple company websites.

Craft

Technology: PHP + MySQL | Core: Free | Add-ons: Commercial

craft-screenshot

Talked as in the community as the CMS ExpressionEngine should have been, Craft was built by Brandon Kelly, a well-known ExpressionEngine add-on developer.

If you know EE, the way Craft works will be easily understood. Its UI is packed full of features but still easy to use. While it doesn’t have the massive add-on market EE does, we predict it will steadily eat away at EE’s market share, as more and more developers jump ship.

Its big selling point is that it makes complicated content structures easy to manage – its perfect for big, complicated websites. Keep in mind while the core is free, you will need to shell out several hundred dollars to build anything more than a blog-type site.

Processwire

Technology: PHP + MySQL | Core: Free & Open Source | Add-ons: Commercial

processwire-screenshot

Its early days yet, but we think Processwire, built by founding developer Ryan Cramer, could become an exciting alternative to Drupal.

Its very flexible, pretty easy to use and has multi-lingual support. It also has a solid roadmap and the team are regularly pushing out updates.

Koken

Technology: PHP + MySQL | Core: Free | Add-ons: Commercial

koken-screenshot

Hands down, this is the best solution for hosting your own portfolio, gallery or photo blog. Its control-panel is very much geared to managing your visual assets, plus its free Adobe Lightroom plug-in takes away the hassle of uploading and synchronising your photos.

It comes with 7 beautiful themes free of charge, but building your own theme is very easy. Built by the team at Dominey Design, we think Koken fills a much needed niche for visual story-tellers.

Ghost

Technology: Node.js | Core: Not released

ghost-screenshot

An innovative and beautiful blogging platform lead by designer and developer John O’Nolan, Ghost strips away all the clutter and gives the writer a simple interface that allows real-time preview of your words and pictures as you write.

Singularly focused on weblogs, we predict Ghost will become very popular with writers who want to focus on writing and nothing else. Its interface is brilliant – a markdown markdown editor on the left and a live preview on the right. As you type you can see exactly how your page will look.

The one downside is the choice of technology – not that many people are familiar with node.js, plus not that many web hosting company support it.

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