Contao vs. Hexo: A Comprehensive Comparison of Two Powerful CMS Platforms

Contao vs. Hexo: A Comprehensive Comparison of Two Powerful CMS Platforms


Welcome to our in-depth comparison guide between Contao and Hexo, two popular content management systems (CMS). As digital leaders and decision-makers, it's crucial to select a CMS that aligns with your organization's unique needs and objectives. Throughout this guide, we will explore and analyze various aspects of both Contao and Hexo to help you make an informed decision.

Choosing the right CMS can greatly impact your website's success. Both Contao and Hexo offer different features and functionalities, so it's essential to understand their strengths and weaknesses before making a choice. Let's dive into a comprehensive evaluation of these two CMS platforms.

Foundations of CMS

The foundation of a CMS lays the groundwork for its overall performance. Contao is an open-source CMS written in PHP, known for its user-friendliness. It offers a range of built-in features, such as a responsive grid system and a powerful templating engine. Contao also provides a multi-language interface, making it accessible for users all around the globe.

Hexo, on the other hand, is a static site generator developed in Node.js. It is designed to create fast and efficient websites. Hexo follows the "write once, publish everywhere" principle, which enables content creators to write content in Markdown and generate static HTML files. This approach results in quicker loading times and improved security. However, Hexo requires technical expertise and may be less user-friendly for non-developers.

The foundation of a CMS plays a significant role in determining the user experience and overall performance, so consider your team's technical proficiency and requirements when choosing between Contao and Hexo.

In summary: Contao excels in user-friendliness and accessibility, while Hexo offers speed and security benefits but requires more technical expertise.

Design & User Experience

A visually appealing and user-friendly design enhances the overall user experience. Contao provides a wide range of pre-designed themes and templates, allowing users to create professional-looking websites without extensive coding knowledge. The CMS also offers a customizable layout, allowing users to tailor their websites to their brand's unique identity and style.

Hexo, as a static site generator, allows users to take advantage of static files and CDNs, resulting in faster loading times. It offers a range of third-party themes, which can be customized to fit the desired design. However, customization options may be limited compared to Contao, as Hexo's focus is primarily on speed and simplicity.

In terms of user experience, Contao provides a user-friendly interface with a drag-and-drop editor, making it easy for non-technical users to manage and update content. Hexo requires more technical proficiency, as it relies on Markdown files and command-line interfaces for content creation and management.

In summary: Contao offers extensive design options and a user-friendly interface, while Hexo prioritizes speed and simplicity, potentially at the expense of customization options.

Content Management

A robust content management system allows users to efficiently create, organize, and publish content. Contao offers a comprehensive set of content management features, including a WYSIWYG editor, media management, version control, and workflow management. These features make it easy to create and update content in a collaborative environment.

Hexo, as a static site generator, does not provide a built-in content management system. Content creation in Hexo involves writing Markdown files, which are then converted into static HTML pages during the site generation process. While this approach allows for simplicity and faster rendering times, it may be less suitable for organizations requiring a dynamic and collaborative content management process.

In summary: Contao excels in content management capabilities with its user-friendly interface, workflow management, and version control. Hexo's focus on simplicity and speed may limit its capabilities in managing and organizing content dynamically.

Collaboration & User Management

Efficient collaboration and user management features play a crucial role in organizations with multiple content contributors. Contao provides a comprehensive user management system, allowing administrators to define user roles and permissions. It also offers a built-in notification system to facilitate collaboration and keep users informed about content updates and workflow status.

Hexo, as a static site generator, does not have built-in collaboration features and user management systems. However, organizations can integrate third-party solutions or manually manage user access through version control systems such as Git. This may require technical expertise and additional setup.

In summary: Contao offers robust collaboration and user management features out of the box, while Hexo requires additional solutions or manual management through version control systems.

Performance, Scalability, & Hosting

Performance and scalability are vital factors, especially for organizations expecting high traffic and rapid growth. Contao performs well in this aspect, with optimized code and caching mechanisms that contribute to faster page loading times. It also supports integration with content delivery networks (CDNs) for enhanced performance.

Hexo's static site generation approach inherently provides faster page loading times compared to dynamic CMSs. Static sites require fewer server resources, resulting in improved performance and scalability. However, scaling a static site with Hexo may require additional configuration and manual deployment to ensure consistent performance across multiple servers.

When it comes to hosting, both Contao and Hexo have flexible hosting options. Contao is compatible with various hosting providers, while Hexo can be hosted on traditional servers as well as specialized static site hosting platforms.

In summary: Contao offers strong performance and scalability with CDNs and optimized code. Hexo's static site approach provides inherent performance benefits but may require additional configuration and deployment management for scaling.

Customization, Extensions, & Ecosystem

The level of customization and available extensions can greatly impact the functionality and flexibility of a CMS. Contao provides a wide range of themes, templates, and extensions, allowing users to customize their websites to suit their specific needs. It has an active community and marketplace with numerous third-party extensions and integrations.

Hexo offers fewer pre-designed themes and templates compared to Contao but benefits from a large ecosystem of third-party plugins and extensions. These extensions range from additional functionality to integrations with popular developer tools. However, customization options may be limited compared to Contao due to its static site nature.

In summary: Contao boasts extensive customization options, a marketplace, and a strong community. Hexo offers a range of third-party plugins and extensions but may have fewer pre-designed themes and templates.

SEO, Marketing, & Monetization

Efficient SEO, marketing, and monetization capabilities are essential for organizations aiming to enhance website visibility and generate revenue. Contao provides built-in SEO features such as customizable URLs, meta tags, and XML sitemaps. It also supports integrations with popular marketing tools and advertising platforms.

Hexo, as a static site generator, offers advantages in terms of SEO performance due to its fast-loading static HTML pages. However, SEO optimization and marketing functionalities heavily rely on manual configurations or integration with third-party tools and services.

In summary: Contao provides built-in SEO and marketing features, while Hexo requires additional configuration and integration with third-party tools.

Security & Compliance

In today's digital landscape, security and compliance are critical considerations for any CMS. Contao focuses on providing a secure environment with regular updates and a dedicated security team. It also offers features such as password-protected pages and granular access controls to protect sensitive content.

Hexo, as a static site generator, reduces the attack surface since it does not have a back-end or database. This inherently provides a higher level of security. However, organizations using Hexo should ensure proper server security measures are in place, such as secure hosting and content delivery networks.

In summary: Contao prioritizes security measures, while Hexo offers inherent security advantages as a static site generator, requiring additional server-level security measures.

Migration, Support, & Maintenance

Smooth migration, reliable support, and easy maintenance are essential for organizations transitioning to a new CMS. Contao provides extensive documentation, tutorials, and a supportive community for users. It also offers an official help center and professional support services for those who require personalized assistance.

Hexo's documentation and community resources may be slightly more technical due to its developer-focused nature. However, being an open-source project, support is available through the broader developer community.

In summary: Contao offers well-documented resources and professional support services for migration, support, and maintenance. Hexo relies on community-driven support resources, which may require a higher level of technical expertise.


After a thorough comparison of Contao and Hexo, it's clear that both CMS platforms have their unique strengths and weaknesses. Contao excels in user-friendliness, content management, collaboration, and customization options. On the other hand, Hexo prioritizes speed, simplicity, and inherent security benefits.

To make an informed decision, consider the specific needs and requirements of your organization. If user-friendliness, dynamic content management, and extensive customization options are important, Contao may be the better choice. However, if speed, simplicity, and security are paramount, Hexo may be a suitable option, especially for organizations with technical expertise.

Ultimately, the choice between Contao and Hexo will depend on your organization's unique needs, technical proficiency, and desired outcomes. Take the time to evaluate both options and consider your long-term goals to ensure that you select the CMS that best aligns with your organizational 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.