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ExpressionEngine: Is It an Alternative to WordPress?

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  • Aug 22, 2019
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  • by A2 Marketing Team

For many, the first platform that comes to mind when they think of a Content Management System (CMS) is WordPress. That said, there are also many alternatives, and choosing your CMS carefully is key if you want your website to succeed.

Therefore, you may want to consider looking into other platforms, such as ExpressionEngine. Though WordPress is the most prevalent CMS on the web, ExpressionEngine and other alternatives have their own benefits that may make them better suited to your project.

This article will take a look at how the field of CMSs currently stands. Then we’ll introduce ExpressionEngine, discuss how it fares against the competition, and explain why you may want to consider it over other options. Let’s get to it!

The Current Field of Content Management Systems

A CMS is a platform designed to manage digital content. It assists with the creation, editing, and publishing of text, images, and other media. Currently, three CMSs account for nearly 70% of the total market share – WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal.

These platforms have many similarities, including their use of PHP and the incorporation of MySQL for their data management systems. They are also all open-source projects with communities of developers working constantly to improve them.

WordPress is by far the most used CMS and is the most commercially successful open-source project in the world:

The WordPress home page.

Although it was originally created to be a blogging platform, it has evolved well beyond that into a system capable of designing any type of website. It has a huge contributor base, with a host of themes and plugins. However, it does have a preference for ‘data-post’ style websites.

Like WordPress, Joomla offers an easy-to-use back end system for creating a website, but with more flexibility:

The Joomla! home page.

It is generally thought to be more powerful than WordPress, but is supported by a small organization and does not have the ongoing technical resources of its competitors.

Drupal, the last of the three major CMSs, is geared toward people with more advanced technical skills:

The Drupal home page.

It is designed with no difference between its core and add-on functionality, giving it no inherent bias towards blog posts as the primary form of content. Drupal’s basic features and extensions alike are broken up into separate modules.

An Introduction to ExpressionEngine

One of the lesser-known but powerful alternatives to the more popular CMSs is ExpressionEngine. As a platform, it has a lot to offer and may be worth considering for your website or application:

The ExpressionEngine home page.

Although which CMS you choose is ultimately your decision, ExpressionEngine may be a strong contender because it gives you control over just about every aspect of your website. It’s not geared towards a particular type of content either, so you can easily build practically any kind of site with it.

Similarly to WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal, ExpressionEngine is open-source. It uses a system of ‘channels’ and ‘templates’ to organize and display content, and also has an add-on library that provides the chance to extend your site’s functionality. Plus, you can create multiple sites from a single installation out of the box.

That said, this platform is also known for being more difficult to use than, say, WordPress. Like Drupal, ExpressionEngine is geared more towards developers. Though your customization options are nearly endless, unless you have fairly extensive coding knowledge, you’ll have to hire someone to take advantage of them.

At the end of the day, the answer to whether ExpressionEngine is a viable alternative to WordPress depends on what you want to use it for. If you’re planning a complex system of websites with unique interfaces and have the coding knowledge to back it up, ExpressionEngine will give you the freedom you need.

However, its steeper-learning curve, relative lack of extensions, and more complex interface mean it can’t replace WordPress as a beginner-friendly CMS. That said, it certainly has its place in the field of content management.

3 Reasons to Consider ExpressionEngine for Your CMS

Despite its apparent shortcomings, ExpressionEngine could be a developer’s dream. Here are three reasons you may want to use it for your next project.

1. It Features Developer-Friendly Flexibility

As we mentioned earlier, ExpressionEngine doesn’t cater to a specific type of content. This makes it easy to create and design many different types of pages and websites. With the high level of flexibility this platform provides, you’re less likely to walk away with a cookie-cutter website.

That said, ExpressionEngine may take longer to learn than WordPress. It does not provide a well-defined content model, which means users will need development experience to navigate the platform with ease.

This also makes ExpressionEngine ideal for complex websites, but not as well-suited to simpler ones. If you want a straightforward website you can build and launch quickly, you may want to choose a different CMS.

2. You Can Manage Multiple Sites from a Single Installation

With the Multiple Site Manager, ExpressionEngine enables you to run several different websites from a single installation. This can be a very convenient feature for web professionals. You can have variable preferences, sets, and channels for each of your online properties.

Much like WordPress Multisite, this feature gives added flexibility to site administrators. As long as they’re all housed on the same server, you can create as many sites as you need from your ExpressionEngine installation.

Though your sites can share many of the same resources, you can also give them unique designs to make them feel distinct. For large projects spread across multiple websites, ExpressionEngine may be preferable to WordPress.

3. It Includes Prompt Updates and Extensive Security Features

ExpressionEngine security updates have been released promptly and regularly since the platform first became available. As a CMS, keeping its websites protected from malicious attacks has always been a priority.

Plus, its lack of popularity works in its favor when it comes to keeping sites secure. While WordPress sites are common targets for hackers because their code is so well-known, ExpressionEngine sites have the benefit of relative anonymity.

In addition, this platform comes with advanced security features by default, including session management and secure form processing. It also includes spam protection, user blacklists, and Completely Automated Public Turing tests to tell Computers and Humans Apart (otherwise known as CAPTCHAs).


While it isn’t necessarily a viable WordPress alternative for beginners, ExpressionEngine has many features that work in its favor. If WordPress seems too restrictive for your next project, this platform could be a stronger choice.

Here are three smart reasons to consider ExpressionEngine for your CMS:

  1. It features developer-friendly flexibility
  2. You can manage multiple sites from a single installation.
  3. It includes prompt updates and extensive security features

Featured Image Credit: Pexels.