Backdrop vs. Plone: A Comprehensive Comparison of Two Powerful CMS Platforms

Backdrop vs. Plone: A Comprehensive Comparison of Two Powerful CMS Platforms


Welcome to our comprehensive comparison of Backdrop and Plone - two popular Content Management Systems (CMS). If you're a digital leader or decision-maker looking for the right CMS for your organization, you've come to the right place. In this guide, we will analyze the main features of both Backdrop and Plone to help you make an informed decision.

Foundations of CMS

Backdrop and Plone have different foundational frameworks that power their respective CMS platforms. Backdrop is built on the Drupal 7 core, which provides a robust and flexible foundation. It inherits many of Drupal's features and benefits, making it a great choice for organizations familiar with Drupal. On the other hand, Plone is built on top of the Zope application server. Zope offers a powerful object-oriented programming model and a secure, scalable architecture, making Plone a reliable choice for enterprises with complex needs.

Both Backdrop and Plone are open-source platforms, meaning they are community-driven and have active developer communities. This ensures continuous improvement, updates, and support from a wide range of contributors. When it comes to the foundations of the CMS platforms, Backdrop and Plone have solid frameworks that provide stability and flexibility for organizations of all sizes.

In terms of licensing, Backdrop uses the GNU General Public License (GPL) version 2 or later, while Plone uses the GNU General Public License (GPL) version 2. These licenses allow for free usage, modification, and distribution of the CMS, giving organizations the freedom they need.

When choosing between Backdrop and Plone based on their foundations, it's important to consider your organization's existing technology stack, development expertise, and the specific features and abilities you require.

Design & User Experience

Design and user experience are crucial factors when selecting a CMS, as they directly impact how your content is presented to the audience and how users interact with your website. Backdrop offers a clean and intuitive interface with a focus on simplicity and ease of use. The administrative backend is designed to streamline content creation and management, allowing users to efficiently organize and publish their content.

Plone, on the other hand, provides a highly customizable user interface and a variety of pre-built templates. It offers a user-friendly editing experience with its "What You See Is What You Get" (WYSIWYG) editor, making it simple for content creators to format and style their content. With Plone, you have the ability to create visually appealing websites with a range of design options.

Both CMS platforms prioritize responsive design, ensuring that websites built on Backdrop or Plone will be accessible and optimized for mobile devices. This is crucial in today's mobile-first world, where a significant portion of website traffic comes from smartphones and tablets. Regardless of whether you choose Backdrop or Plone, you can be confident that your website will look great on any device.

Ultimately, the choice between Backdrop and Plone in terms of design and user experience depends on your organization's specific requirements. If you value simplicity and ease of use, Backdrop might be the ideal choice. If you prioritize the ability to customize and create visually striking websites, Plone might be the better option.

Content Management

Effective content management is a fundamental aspect of any CMS. Backdrop offers a range of features to simplify content creation and management. Its user-friendly interface allows for easy content editing and organization. Backdrop also provides powerful taxonomy tools, allowing you to categorize and tag content, making it easier for users to find relevant information on your website. Additionally, Backdrop allows for the creation of custom content types and fields, providing the flexibility to tailor your CMS to your organization's specific needs.

Plone excels in content management by offering a robust workflow system. It allows for complex editorial processes and version control, enabling multiple users to collaborate on content creation and approval. Plone also includes powerful content search and filtering capabilities, making it easy to find and manage specific pieces of content within your CMS. Furthermore, Plone supports advanced content types out of the box, such as multimedia content, making it a suitable choice for organizations with diverse content requirements.

Both Backdrop and Plone provide support for multilingual content, allowing you to create websites in multiple languages. This is particularly valuable for organizations with an international audience or those operating in regions with diverse language requirements. Both CMS platforms offer the necessary tools and features to effectively manage content in various languages.

To choose between Backdrop and Plone for content management, consider the complexity of your content creation and approval processes, the need for customizable content types, and the requirements for multilingual content management within your organization.

Collaboration & User Management

Collaboration and user management are important considerations when choosing a CMS, especially for organizations with multiple team members involved in creating and managing content. Backdrop offers granular user permission controls, allowing you to define roles and permissions for different users. You can easily manage user accounts, restrict access to certain areas of the CMS, and track user activities within the system.

Plone also provides robust user management features. It offers fine-grained permissions that can be assigned to individual users or groups, enabling you to control exactly who can access, edit, and publish content. Plone also includes advanced collaboration tools, such as content locking, version control, and collaborative editing, making it easier for teams to work together seamlessly.

Both Backdrop and Plone support integration with authentication systems, such as LDAP, which is critical for organizations that require centralized user management. Integration with existing systems can streamline user onboarding and ensure a consistent user experience across platforms.

When comparing Backdrop and Plone for collaboration and user management, consider the size and complexity of your organization, the number of team members involved in content creation, and the level of control and flexibility you require in managing user permissions.

Performance, Scalability, & Hosting

The performance and scalability of a CMS are critical for delivering a fast and reliable website experience, especially as your organization grows and attracts more website visitors. Backdrop has a reputation for being lightweight, which contributes to its performance. It is optimized to operate efficiently even on less powerful hosting environments. Additionally, Backdrop leverages caching systems and provides various performance optimization modules, allowing you to fine-tune the speed and responsiveness of your website.

Plone is designed to handle large-scale websites and heavy traffic. Its architecture and caching mechanisms enable it to deliver high-performance websites even under significant loads. Plone also offers robust scalability features, allowing you to scale your website as your organization grows without sacrificing performance.

Both Backdrop and Plone are self-hosted CMS platforms, which means you have control over where you host your website. This provides flexibility and allows you to choose a hosting provider that aligns with your organization's specific requirements, such as security, reliability, and affordability.

When evaluating the performance, scalability, and hosting capabilities of Backdrop and Plone, consider the expected website traffic, the hosting resources available to your organization, and the level of control and customization required for your hosting environment.

Customization, Extensions, & Ecosystem

Customization is often a crucial aspect of selecting a CMS. Backdrop offers a wide range of themes and modules that allow you to extend its functionality and personalize the look and feel of your website. Its modular architecture makes it easy to add and remove features as needed. Backdrop also has an active community of developers who contribute to the ecosystem by creating and maintaining modules.

Plone has a powerful and extensible architecture that enables extensive customization. It provides a broad range of add-ons, themes, and integrations through its add-on ecosystem. The Plone add-on ecosystem is well-established and offers a variety of solutions to extend the functionality of your website.

Both Backdrop and Plone are well-supported by their respective communities, ensuring that you have access to support, documentation, and resources when customizing your CMS. When choosing between Backdrop and Plone for customization, consider the specific features and functionality you require, the availability of ready-made themes and modules, and the level of community support you desire.

SEO, Marketing, & Monetization

Search engine optimization (SEO), marketing, and the ability to monetize your website play significant roles in the success of any organization's online presence. Backdrop offers a range of SEO-friendly features, such as clean URLs, meta tags, and XML sitemaps, which help search engines crawl and index your website effectively. It also supports integration with popular analytics tools, making it easier to track and measure visitor behavior and engagement.

Plone understands the importance of SEO and provides built-in SEO tools. It offers automatic creation of XML sitemaps, customizable URL structures, and metadata management. Additionally, Plone integrates with marketing automation platforms, allowing you to nurture leads and automate marketing campaigns.

Both Backdrop and Plone support various monetization options, such as advertising placements, e-commerce integration, and membership management. With Backdrop, you can incorporate advertising and monetization modules to generate revenue from your website. Plone provides e-commerce features, including catalog management, shopping cart functionality, and secure online transactions, enabling organizations to sell products or services directly through their website.

When considering Backdrop and Plone for SEO, marketing, and monetization, evaluate your organization's specific goals, the extent to which you rely on SEO and marketing strategies, and your requirements for monetizing your website.

Security & Compliance

Security is a top priority when selecting a CMS, as protecting sensitive data and maintaining regulatory compliance are critical concerns for organizations. Backdrop takes security seriously and follows best practices to ensure a secure CMS. It benefits from regular security updates provided by the Drupal security team, enhancing its overall security posture. Backdrop also allows for granular access controls, ensuring that only authorized users have access to sensitive information.

Plone is renowned for its robust security features. It has a record of being highly secure due to its robust architecture and adherence to security best practices. Plone includes access controls, content versioning, and audit trails, providing the tools needed to meet strict compliance requirements and safeguard your organization's data.

Both Backdrop and Plone have responsive security teams that promptly address vulnerabilities and release security patches to protect your website from potential threats. When considering the security and compliance aspects of Backdrop and Plone, assess the sensitivity of your organization's data, the regulatory compliance requirements you need to meet, and your organization's internal security capabilities and policies.

Migration, Support, & Maintenance

When migrating from an existing CMS or when considering long-term support and maintenance, it is essential to evaluate the ease of migration, the level of community support, and the availability of professional support services provided by the CMS platforms. Backdrop offers a migration path from Drupal 7, making it relatively straightforward to switch from Drupal to Backdrop while preserving your existing content and configurations. Backdrop also has an active community forum and dedicated support channels for assistance.

Plone provides a robust migration framework that supports migrating content from various sources, making it easier to transition to Plone from other CMS platforms. The Plone community provides excellent support through mailing lists, forums, and documentation. Additionally, professional support services are available from certified Plone providers.

When selecting between Backdrop and Plone for migration, support, and maintenance, consider the nature of your existing CMS and the availability of expertise within your organization for self-support. Additionally, evaluate the level of professional support required and the availability of support services and documentation provided by each CMS.


In conclusion, both Backdrop and Plone offer robust CMS solutions with distinct features and benefits. Backdrop excels in simplicity, ease of use, and performance optimization. Its compatibility with Drupal 7 and active community make it an excellent choice for organizations already familiar with Drupal. Plone, on the other hand, provides a powerful and scalable CMS with advanced content management, collaboration, and security features. Its flexible architecture and customization options make it ideal for large enterprises with complex requirements.

To determine the best choice for your organization, consider your specific needs in terms of design, content management, collaboration, scalability, customization, SEO, security, and support. Evaluate the pros and cons of each CMS, and, if possible, test them out with a pilot project or prototype. By taking these factors into account, you can make an informed decision and choose the CMS that will best serve your organization's goals and requirements.


Martin Dejnicki
Martin Dejnicki

Martin is a digital product innovator and pioneer who built and optimized his first website back in 1996 when he was 16 years old. Since then, he has helped many companies win in the digital space, including Walmart, IBM, Rogers, Canada Post, TMX Group and TD Securities. Recently, he worked with the Deploi team to build an elegant publishing platform for creative writers and a novel algorithmic trading platform.