6 Best Drupal Alternatives (Unique Suggestions!)

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It's time to say goodbye to Drupal and choose the best alternative for you. Here are 6 excellent Drupal alternatives.

"Best Drupal alternatives" with 3 screenshots of the alternatives

Drupal is a powerful tool, but it is also often the wrong tool for the job.

I'll share various Drupal alternatives with you and explain which use cases they are good for.

Before we get there, let's establish how Drupal is used to suggest the best alternatives for you. While Drupal can be bent and twisted in many ways, here are the primary usages:

  • CMS only – Drupal can be used in a headless mode, which means the content is curated in Drupal and served via an API to a separate frontend.
  • Pages only – Some may use it for simple marketing sites or sites that require additional functionality such as granular permissions and access control.
  • CMS + pages – Most commonly, it's used for both CMS and pages.

Ask yourself which way you use Drupal. It's important to understand because the Drupal alternatives I suggest won't all be an apples-to-apples comparison.

PS I've worked with Drupal for over ten years and have moderate to extensive experience with the platforms on this list.

TL;DR – Best Drupal alternatives by use case and features

General Webstudio Ghost Webflow Shopify
Pricing
Community
Open source
No maintenance
Advanced visual builder
Primary purpose/type Webstudio Ghost Webflow Shopify
Marketing websites
Blogs
Dynamic websites
Complex websites
Ecommerce See status
CMS Webstudio Ghost Webflow Shopify
Built-in customizable CMS
Use data from any API
Generate CMS pages from API
Nested collections ✅ Unlimited 1 only
Advanced queries
Advanced filtering
Advanced layout logic Expression Editor

List of the Best Drupal Alternatives

Here are a variety of alternatives to Drupal that cater to different needs.

Webstudio + Headless CMS (Frontend builder and flexible CMS)

"Webstudio advanced no-code builder" with screenshot of the website builder

Love the flexibility of Drupal, but hate the page-building tools? Webstudio + a headless CMS might be the dream setup for your use case.

Webstudio is open source website builder like Drupal, but unlike Drupal, it's focused on providing an advanced visual builder for the frontend and letting you use any headless CMS by connecting to its API.

Webstudio aligns itself with CSS and HTML naming conventions and uses minimal abstractions, making it a relatively easy tool to learn if you have technical knowledge.

Here's how integrating a CMS works:

  • Create a dynamic page – A dynamic page is a template for one of your content types. It has a dynamic path, such as /posts/:slug, which will be used to fetch the page content. Dynamic pages are not unique to Webstudio – Drupal also has dynamic routes. However, most use cases don't require setting up custom routes as the Drupal system automatically does it when creating Content Types.
  • Fetch CMS data – A dynamic page runs dynamic queries by configuring a Resource in the UI. The query fetches the proper content based on the current URL. This is like setting up a View with a Contextual Filter in Drupal.
  • Bind the data – Binding enables you to map or connect the various fields in the response to Webstudio components and page settings entirely through the UI. In Drupal's templating system, this is similar to outputting variables or using the UI to output various field values.

Webstudio enables you to build a custom frontend with the full power of CSS in a visual tool, fetch API data, and integrate the data it into your build.

Feature Webstudio Drupal
Pricing ✅ Generous free tier with 5 custom domains and unlimited pages Depends on hosting, but likely more expensive
No maintenance
Open source
SEO With modules
Accessibility
Performance ✅ Ludicrously fast on the Cloudflare edge
Community ✅ Join us on Discord!
Integrations ✅ Can fetch any HTTP API ✅ With modules
Visual designer ✅ Full power of CSS in a visual tool Limited capabilities even with modules
Templates/themes Only a handful of premade templates
Built-in customizable CMS ❌ Need to integrate a CMS
Use data from any API With modules and configuration
Generate CMS pages from API With modules and configuration
Nested collections
Advanced queries
Advanced filtering
Advanced layout logic Expression Editor
Perfect lighthouse scores are highly attainable on Webstudio
Perfect lighthouse scores are highly attainable on Webstudio

We've established that Webstudio is a frontend, so let's go over various headless CMS platforms that may be ideal for your use case.

Headless CMS 1: Drupal

Yup! You can continue using Drupal for one of its core competencies: a flexible CMS.

There is plenty of information about using Drupal as a headless CMS also known as decoupled.

In fact, I think decoupled Drupal is the best way to use it for many scenarios, but maybe you want to ditch it altogether, possibly because you're done dealing with Composer updates and managing the installation. So, let's highlight several other CMS platforms.

Headless CMS 2: Hygraph

"Hygraph headless CMS" with screenshot of the model builder

Hygraph is a GraphQL-first headless content management system that is enterprise-grade yet requires zero coding knowledge.

  • Best known for: Headless CMS
  • Open source: No
  • Year founded: 2015
  • Starting price: Free
  • User level: Intermediate
Hygraph is an excellent Drupal alternative for the following reasons:
  • It can power large-scale enterprises with customizable enterprise plans
  • You don't have to maintain the install or any modules/themes
  • It provides a somewhat familiar interface to create Content Types/Models and add the various fields
  • It offers granular permissions for editing
  • You can create components which are reusable sets of fields
  • You can create modular components that are very similar to Drupal Paragraphs, enabling editors to build pages by adding the various components
  • It allows you to integrate other content management systems and serve the data through one API
You may miss the following when coming from Drupal:
  • It's not an open-source CMS
  • There's not much online help outside of the provided documentation
  • Very limited app marketplace but with some powerful options like managing where your digital assets are hosted for your content management system

Headless CMS 3: Strapi

"Strapi headless CMS" with screenshot of the model builder

Strapi is an open-source content management system written in JavaScript.

  • Best known for: Headless CMS
  • Open source: Yes
  • Year founded: 2016
  • Starting price: Free (self-host), $29/month (Cloud)
  • User level: Advanced

Strapi's API-first approach ensures compatibility with various frontends, including websites, mobile apps, and more.

Strapi is a great Drupal alternative for the following reasons:
  • It's an open source cms
  • 180+ plugins
  • Customizable backend
  • JavaScript ecosystem
You may miss the following when coming from Drupal:
  • Robust core features
  • Complex workflow management

Webflow (Coupled CMS and Pages)

"Webflow all-in-one visual builder" with screenshot of the Webflow editor

Webflow combines a visual website builder with a customizable content management system.

  • Best known for: All-in-one visual website builder
  • Open source: No
  • Year founded: 2012
  • Starting price with custom domain: $18/month per site
  • User level: Advanced
Feature Webflow Drupal
Pricing Limited free tier and gets expensive at scale Depends on hosting, but likely less expensive, especially at scale
No maintenance
Open source
SEO With modules
Accessibility
Performance Challenging to match Drupal's performance for CMS-heavy sites
Community Forum, but no Slack or Discord
Integrations Very limited ✅ With modules
Visual designer ✅ Powerful visual builder with animations Limited capabilities even with modules
Templates/themes
Built-in customizable CMS
Use data from any API With modules and configuration
Generate CMS pages from API With modules and configuration
Nested collections Only 1
Advanced queries
Advanced filtering
Advanced layout logic

Webflow is a great Drupal alternative for the following reasons:

  • No maintenance, no CLI, just building
  • No-code animations and web design
  • Relational data in the CMS
  • Far easier learning curve

You may miss the following when coming from Drupal:

  • Flexibility in displaying CMS data (limited filters, limited logic, i.e., nothing close to what Views provides)
  • Can only use one nested collection (for example, looping over categories within posts)
  • Rich text is limited (can't add components, only some HTML tags)
  • Closed source
  • No backend customization
drupal vs webflow core web vitals chart
Webflow vs. Drupal Core Web Vitals (higher is better)

Ghost (Blogging Engine)

"Ghost blogging engine" with screenshot of the post editor

While Drupal can be used for blogging, it may be overkill. Drupal provides customizable Content Types, UI query builder (Views), powerful templating logic, and advanced functionality. On the other hand, Ghost provides none of that except for templating (which uses Handlebars instead of Twig). Even though it provides less, I've been enjoying Ghost for blogging because it enables blogging without maintaining anything.

This blog uses Webstudio for the frontend and headless Ghost to store and serve content.

  • Best known for: Blogging platform
  • Open source: Yes
  • Year founded: 2013
  • Starting price with custom domain: Free (self-host), $9/month (Cloud)
  • User level: Beginner
Feature Ghost Drupal
Pricing ✅ Can self-host or pay for cloud ✅ Depends on hosting but likely similar to Ghost
No maintenance
Open source
SEO ✅ With modules
Accessibility
Performance ✅ On avg faster, but Drupal is used for more complex sites so difficult comparison
Community Forum, but no Slack or Discord
Integrations ✅ They don't customize capabilities rather transfer data ✅ With modules
Visual designer Uses block editor Limited capabilities even with modules
Templates/themes
Built-in customizable CMS
Use data from any API With modules and configuration
Generate CMS pages from API With modules and configuration
Nested collections
Advanced queries
Advanced filtering
Advanced layout logic

Ghost is a great Drupal alternative for the following reasons:

  • No maintenance, just blogging
  • User-friendly interface with block editor and slash command
  • All the features needed for blogging, such as auto-adding IDs to headers for linking
  • Customizable templates using similar templating syntax
  • Nearly no learning curve
  • SEO tools out of the box

You may miss the following when coming from Drupal:

  • Customizable fields and content types
  • Customizable features
  • Limited free templates
wordpress vs ghost core web vitals chart
Ghost vs. Drupal Core Web Vitals (higher is better)

Shopify (Ecommerce)

"Shopify e-commerce" with screenshot of the online store editor

Shopify is a Drupal alternative if you are looking primarily for ecommerce features. While it's a vastly different platform than Drupal, I wanted to include it in case you need to create an online store.

  • Best known for: Ecommerce platform
  • Open source: No
  • Year founded: 2006
  • Starting price with custom domain: $29/month
  • User level: Beginner
Feature Shopify Drupal
Pricing ✅ Depends on hosting but likely similar to Shopify
No maintenance
Open source
SEO Some, but not as flexible as Drupal ✅ With modules
Accessibility
Performance
Community Forum, but no Slack or Discord
Integrations ✅ Many apps ✅ Many modules
Visual designer Limited Limited capabilities even with modules
Templates/themes
Built-in customizable CMS Can customize fields (called Metafields), not content types
Use data from any API With modules and configuration
Generate CMS pages from API With modules and configuration
Nested collections
Advanced queries
Advanced filtering
Advanced layout logic

Shopify is a great Drupal alternative for the following reasons:

  • Focused on ecommerce
  • User-friendly interface
  • Wide range of themes and apps
  • Secure and reliable
  • Integrated payment processing
  • Built-in marketing automation tools
  • Customer support
  • Fast setup and deployment

You may miss the following when coming from Drupal:

  • Open source flexibility
  • Customizable content management system
  • Extensive taxonomy and content types
  • Advanced content moderation
  • Robust workflow management
  • Comprehensive SEO capabilities
Drupal vs shopify core web vitals chart
Shopify vs. Drupal Core Web Vitals (higher is better)

Why seek a Drupal alternative

Chances are, you already feel the pain of Drupal, but just in case you, someone on your team, or a client needs more convincing, let's highlight the reasons to seek a Drupal alternative.

Steep learning curve

Typically, if something is more advanced, it comes with a steeper learning curve, and Drupal is no exception.

Drupal is hard to use. I've used it for 10 years and always learn something new from every project.

A steeper learning curve has the following repercussions:

  • Hard to abide by best practices – While users may be able to get it to work, it may not be the correct way to get it to work, impacting maintainability, security, and that area's ability to talk to other areas in Drupal.
  • Hard to hire – Advanced users are hard to come by and expensive to hire.
  • Costly iterations – Making changes isn't always easy, even for advanced users, increasing the time it takes to publish changes or upgrade Drupal.

Expensive

While the software is free, agencies/employees are not. Drupal often requires a significant investment in both setup and ongoing work.

Drupal is expensive because:

  • Going rates for quality Drupal freelancers/agencies are $150+/hour
  • Drupal is abstract and flexible, which means it takes longer to get it to do what you want
  • Updating Drupal Core, modules, and themes can often take a lot of time, especially when upgrading major versions and having to find, test, and apply patches.
  • Great hosting platforms can be expensive, especially because they provide tools beyond hosting, such as backups and multiple environments with the ability to clone databases to lower environments.

Overkill

Sometimes, using Drupal is like driving a Corvette in a residential neighborhood.

Do you actually need the power Drupal provides?

Many times, alternative articles, such as WordPress alternatives, are written because the platform doesn't do enough. In the case of Drupal, it's often too much. Many CMS platforms offer more streamlined solutions for simpler use cases such as managing content.

While the following isn't comprehensive, ask yourself if you are relying on these Drupal capabilities:

  • Incredibly granular permissions – With customizable roles and 100s of permissions that can be assigned to each role, Drupal allows the most customizable permissions layer on the market. Permissions can also be useful for editors and roles who manage content or end users with powerful authentication and user management features.
  • Customizable CMS – You can create the exact content types you need by adding all possible fields and field types.
  • Advanced layout – Drupal provides layout tools via the UI and custom code that can handle the most complex use cases. Drupal has a powerful templating layer that enables precise control over which templates run in certain conditions and a provide a default specific order. For example, node templates from most specific to least:
    • node–[nodeid]–[viewmode].html.twig
    • node–[nodeid].html.twig
    • node–[content-type]–[viewmode].html.twig
    • node–[content-type].html.twig
    • node–[viewmode].html.twig
    • node.html.twig
  • Advanced queriesDrupal Views enables assembling complex database queries without writing code. Views can accomplish quite impressive things from configuring relationships to providing contextual filters. In very rare cases, I needed to do something just outside the capabilities of the Views UI and leveraged one of the many Views Hooks that enables customizing one of the steps in the entire Views process.
  • Scalability – Drupal's database architecture and advanced caching logic enable Drupal to power large-scale enterprises. The database architecture enables maximum flexibility which normally would come at the cost of performance, however, the caching logic counterbalances it and offers incredibly fast responses.

Drupal is a very powerful CMS, but do you need all that power?

Not ideal for one-off pages

One of the bigger drawbacks of Drupal is creating one-off pages such as the homepage or landing pages. In all of its power and glory, it falls short in this area. Drupal handles structured content incredibly well but not very well at creating unique marketing pages.

If you want to create websites that have many one-off pages, Drupal is not the ideal tool.


It's hard to say the best Drupal alternative because every use case is different.

However, suppose you are looking for the flexibility of Drupal without the maintenance and steep learning curve. In that case, the ideal Drupal alternative is Webstudio for the frontend and a headless CMS for the backend.

Built with Webstudio