When I recently decided to relaunch my blog, I decided I did not want to opt for WordPress, which is what I previously used. I preferred to choose something very lightweight and developer focused so that I could build the functionality I required on top of it and not focus on removing or disabling elements I would not use.
Drupal would have been overkill for a simple blog, I would have likely had the same issues with Joomla as WordPress, and the self-hosted version of Ghost was far too difficult to get working on my AWS powered Plesk server, and I did not want to pay £30+ per month to host with Ghost.org on their servers.
I had a lot of experience with Laravel and had previously built a lightweight website with the Laravel powered CMS named October and decided this is what I would use.
October CMS does not have many features out of the box other than a very plain editing interface for pages, layouts and components. For me this was its strength as I prefer to build onto a minimal system than remove elements I do not need. Although many users may find this minimal setup difficult to work with or restrictive. Additional features and content types can be added with plugins and as the CMS is built on Laravel you may also install extensions through composer commands in SSH. I had to install one plugin to set up the blog.
The October interface is one of its biggest strengths in my opinion. The interface is very minimal and runs very smoothly. Although the CMS ships with minimal features and content types, which may deter non-technical users, the interface is very intuitive and easy to use. I would argue that it beats WordPress in terms of simplicity and usability even for non-technical users.
Extendability and plugins:
The system is very flexible and can be extended with plugins and installing third-party packages with composer. The official plugin repository for the October CMS has much less plugins than for example the WordPress plugin repository. However the guidelines are much stricter to have a plugin listed with October than with some other projects. There are also third party themes for October although these usually only add more templates, css and js files and do not add further functionality. However I believe this is a good distinction to have.
As a blogging system:
The only fault in this factor is the fact that blog functionality is not included and a third party plugin is required. Although the blog plugin itself is very lightweight and heavily supported. It also ships with a basic taxonomy system. But comments must be either custom developed or added as a plugin.
October is a great CMS for developers and more technical users who prefer to use the CMS as a boilerplate to build their own solutions. It is built on Laravel so uses modern programming techniques in an MVC structure. The templating system in use is Twig so this means layouts can be created very rapidly. The CMS is highly flexible and can be used for a small one-pager portfolio site or a web application. It runs exceptionally well and with this comes high system requirements and as such the CMS will not usually run on shared hosting where other CMS systems may do so.
4 / 5
Featured image from https://unsplash.com/photos/ho4lBWWD4nc (Sydney Rae)