Grav vs. Hexo: A Comprehensive Comparison of Two Popular Content Management Systems

Grav vs. Hexo: A Comprehensive Comparison of Two Popular Content Management Systems


Welcome to our comprehensive comparison guide between Grav and Hexo - two powerful and popular Content Management Systems (CMS) that can help you manage and publish your website's content effectively. As digital leaders and decision-makers, it is crucial to understand the features and capabilities of each CMS to determine which one is the best fit for your organization's needs. In this guide, we will dive deep into various aspects of Grav and Hexo and provide an in-depth analysis to help you make an informed decision.

Foundations of CMS

Grav and Hexo are both open-source CMS platforms designed to simplify content management and allow for easy website creation. Grav, written in PHP, is built on a flat-file architecture, meaning it doesn't require a database for content storage. This architectural choice results in faster performance and easier setup process compared to traditional CMS systems that rely on databases.

On the other hand, Hexo, a static site generator, is written in JavaScript and runs on Node.js. It generates static HTML files that are pre-rendered and served directly to users' browsers, resulting in lightning-fast page load times. This approach makes Hexo an excellent choice for websites that prioritize speed and performance.

While both CMS platforms have their unique foundations, Grav's flat-file architecture offers simplicity and convenience, while Hexo's static site generation ensures top-notch performance.

Design & User Experience

When it comes to design and user experience, both Grav and Hexo provide flexibility and customization options to create visually appealing websites. Grav offers a wide range of ready-to-use themes that can be customized to meet your organization's branding requirements. Its built-in package manager allows you to install and update themes seamlessly.

Similarly, Hexo provides numerous themes, allowing you to find the perfect design for your website. It also supports custom templates and layouts, giving you full control over the appearance of your site. With Hexo, you can easily modify the font, color, layout, and other visual elements to create a unique user experience.

Both CMS platforms prioritize simplicity and ease of use, enabling even non-technical users to manage and customize their websites efficiently. Whether you choose Grav or Hexo, you can expect a user-friendly interface and intuitive design options.

Overall, while Grav has a robust theme ecosystem and package manager, Hexo's support for custom templates and layouts provides an advantage in terms of design customization.

Content Management

Effectively managing and organizing content is a critical aspect of any CMS. Grav offers a straightforward and intuitive content management system. With its user-friendly administrative interface, you can easily create pages, manage media files, and organize your content using folders and taxonomies. The WYSIWYG editor simplifies the content creation process, allowing you to focus on writing without worrying about coding.

Hexo, on the other hand, employs a command-line interface (CLI) for content management. While this may seem technical at first, the CLI provides powerful tools for creating and managing content efficiently. Hexo's use of Markdown and Textile formats ensures a seamless writing experience while allowing you to focus on the actual content rather than intricate formatting.

Overall, Grav's intuitive administrative interface works well for users who prefer a more visual approach to content management, while Hexo's CLI offers powerful functionality for those comfortable with command-line tools.

Collaborating on content is also a crucial consideration. Grav includes built-in user management, which allows you to create user accounts with specific permissions and roles. This feature is essential for organizations with multiple content creators. Hexo, however, lacks built-in user management and requires additional plugins or manual configurations to achieve user collaboration.

Collaboration & User Management

Collaboration is a key aspect of modern content management. Grav excels in user management, allowing you to create multiple user accounts with different roles, permissions, and access levels. This feature is particularly valuable for organizations with a team of content creators, editors, and administrators, as it enables seamless collaboration and efficient workflow.

On the other hand, Hexo's collaboration capabilities are more limited. While it doesn't offer built-in user management, you can still achieve collaboration through the use of third-party plugins. These plugins add user management functionality to Hexo, allowing you to assign roles and permissions to different team members.

Depending on your organization's specific needs, Grav's robust user management features provide a distinct advantage and smoother collaboration experience.

Performance, Scalability, & Hosting

Performance is a crucial factor in delivering an exceptional user experience. Grav's flat-file architecture, combined with its lightweight design, results in excellent performance. Websites built with Grav are known for faster load times and better responsiveness. However, as the content grows larger, the performance may start to degrade slightly due to the nature of flat-file CMS.

Hexo, being a static site generator, offers exceptional performance and scalability. Static HTML files are generated during the build process, eliminating the need for database queries. This results in extremely fast-loading web pages, making Hexo an ideal choice for websites that prioritize performance and scalability.

When it comes to hosting, both Grav and Hexo can be deployed on various hosting platforms. Grav's simpler setup process and lower system requirements make it easier to host on shared hosting environments. Hexo, with its static files, can be hosted on any web server, including CDNs (Content Delivery Networks), ensuring fast and reliable content delivery to users worldwide.

In conclusion, while Grav offers excellent performance and scalability, Hexo's static site generation provides unmatched speed and scalability, making it the ideal choice for high-performing websites.

Customization, Extensions, & Ecosystem

Customization and extensibility are vital for tailoring your CMS to meet your organization's specific requirements. Grav boasts a wide variety of plugins and extensions available through its package manager. These plugins allow you to add functionality to your website effortlessly. Additionally, Grav's lightweight and flexible architecture make it highly customizable, allowing you to modify and extend its core functionality or create custom themes and templates.

Hexo also offers a diverse collection of plugins, enabling you to extend the CMS's functionality. The plugin ecosystem allows you to add features such as SEO optimization, analytics integration, and social media sharing to your site. While Hexo provides a range of customization options for themes and templates, modifying its core functionality may require more technical expertise compared to Grav.

Both Grav and Hexo have active communities, providing ongoing support and regularly releasing new plugins and updates. However, Grav's ease of use in customization and extensibility, as well as its extensive plugin ecosystem, give it a slight edge in this category.

SEO, Marketing, & Monetization

Search Engine Optimization (SEO), marketing, and monetization are crucial aspects for many organizations. Grav has excellent support for SEO, with features such as customizable URLs, metadata management, and XML sitemap generation. The CMS also offers various plugins that further enhance SEO capabilities, enabling you to optimize your content for search engines effectively.

Hexo provides similar SEO capabilities with plugin integration for meta tags, sitemaps, and social sharing. However, it's worth noting that some SEO-related features may require manual configurations or custom development compared to the more streamlined options available in Grav.

When it comes to marketing and monetization, both CMS platforms offer integrations with popular marketing tools and advertising platforms. Whether you are looking to implement email marketing campaigns, track website analytics, or monetize your content through ads, both Grav and Hexo provide the necessary features and flexibility for seamless integrations.

In this category, Grav's user-friendly SEO features and extensive plugin support give it a slight advantage over Hexo.

Security & Compliance

Security and compliance are essential considerations for any CMS, especially for organizations handling sensitive data. Grav takes security seriously and offers various security-focused plugins and best practices to safeguard your website. Additionally, as Grav doesn't rely on a database, it eliminates certain database-related vulnerabilities commonly associated with traditional CMS platforms.

Hexo, being a static site generator, has a fundamentally secure architecture. By eliminating dynamic components, such as databases and server-side code execution, the attack surface is significantly reduced. However, the responsibility of securing the hosting environment and server-side infrastructure falls on the website owner.

In terms of compliance, both Grav and Hexo provide options to ensure adherence to relevant regulations, such as GDPR and accessibility standards. Grav offers plugins and extensions to facilitate compliance, while Hexo allows for manual implementation of necessary compliance measures.

Both Grav and Hexo prioritize security and provide options for compliance, allowing you to protect your website and sensitive data effectively.

Migration, Support, & Maintenance

Considering the long-term sustainability and future growth of your CMS, it is essential to evaluate the migration, support, and maintenance aspects. Both Grav and Hexo have active communities, providing extensive documentation, forums, and user support. Whether you encounter technical issues or require guidance, you can rely on the support from these communities.

Grav's migration process is smooth, thanks to its flat-file architecture. Migrating content and themes from other CMS platforms is relatively straightforward, requiring minimal effort. Similarly, Hexo supports content migration, allowing you to import your existing content into its static site format.

In terms of maintenance, Grav benefits from its simpler architecture, making updates and plugin management more manageable. Hexo also provides easy maintenance with automatic deployment options and built-in caching, ensuring optimal website performance.

Both CMS platforms offer excellent support and maintenance options, with Grav's straightforward migration and plugin management giving it a slight advantage.


Both Grav and Hexo are powerful CMS platforms that cater to different needs and preferences. Grav's flat-file architecture provides simplicity, speed, and ease of use, making it an excellent choice for organizations seeking a lightweight CMS with robust customization and user management capabilities. On the other hand, Hexo's static site generation offers unparalleled performance, scalability, and security, making it ideal for websites that prioritize speed and user experience.

Ultimately, the choice between Grav and Hexo depends on your organization's specific requirements and priorities. Carefully consider factors such as design flexibility, content management features, collaboration capabilities, performance needs, and customization options. In doing so, you will be able to select the CMS that aligns best with your organization's goals, resources, and long-term vision.


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.