I wouldn’t consider this list to be the best, just the ones that have become the most popular. Some of these CMSes became popular because they were good, but many overtime have become pretty bloated. However, since people know them, they are highly customizable, and very powerful they have huge communities behind them. But as you know, what’s popular today on the internet will soon change. Afterall, back in the early 00’s PHP-Nuke was the most popular open source PHP CMS.
- Drupal – Even though it’s very popular, Drupal has a slightly steep learning curve and it’s usability isn’t what it could be. However, you don’t need to know how to code to get things done. There are a lot of plugins to do almost everything you want, however since they aren’t official plugins, you are at the mercy of the developer (if they break or if you need a feature added to them, unless you know how to modify the code). It’s possible to make your own plugins if you like as well.
- Joomla! – Like Drupal you won’t need to know how to code to use Joomla, but you can make your own plugins if you want to get in and code. There are a lot of plugins, however many of them cost money. The interface is a little more intuitive than Drupal, but not exactly elegant.
- WordPress – Although it’s primarily used as a blogging platform the custom fields, custom posts types and custom taxonomies features allow you to use it like a CMS. Plenty of great free plugins and themes exist out there. Plus if you want to get into the code you can build your own plugins as well or just modify your templates. WordPress is a personal favorite of mine. 😉
- XOOPS – Another popular CMS, however the themes aren’t as customizable as I would like. Still it’s got a lot of features and the admin is easy to use.
- MediaWiki – Even though it’s really a wiki, many sites have used it like a CMS. When Webmonkey relaunched their site, it was built in MediaWiki.
Most of these CMSes I believe are popular because they are very flexible. With a little training a non-technical user can create content like blogs, site news, an online book, FAQ, RSS feeds and more. Along with that some feature standard community based features such as forums and comments. With a little coding, the developers that set them up can extend the functionality beyond what they was intended. The ones on the list above have been the most popular since 2006 and have maintained their popularity since then. But I don’t believe all of them will remain in the top 5 in another 5 years.