Grav vs. Nova: A Comprehensive Comparison of Powerful CMS Features

Grav vs. Nova: A Comprehensive Comparison of Powerful CMS Features


Welcome to our comprehensive comparison guide of Grav and Nova, two popular Content Management Systems (CMS) that offer a wide range of features to help organizations manage their digital content effectively. In this guide, we will delve into various aspects of these CMSs, including their foundations, design and user experience, content management capabilities, collaboration and user management, performance, scalability, and hosting, customization and extensions, SEO, marketing, and monetization, security and compliance, as well as migration, support, and maintenance. By providing you with an in-depth analysis of these CMSs, we aim to assist digital leaders and decision-makers in selecting the most suitable CMS for their organization's requirements. So, let's begin the comparison!

Foundations of CMS

The foundations of a CMS play a crucial role in determining its usability and flexibility. Grav is a modern flat-file CMS that uses a file-based approach to store content, meaning there is no need for a database. This makes Grav easy to install and maintain. On the other hand, Nova is a database-driven CMS that utilizes the Laravel PHP framework. This framework provides a solid foundation for building scalable and secure web applications. Nova's architecture allows for better abstraction and organization of content, making it a preferred choice for larger and more complex websites.

When it comes to ease of use, both Grav and Nova offer intuitive user interfaces. Grav uses a simple file and folder structure, making it easy to navigate and manage content. Nova, on the other hand, provides a user-friendly dashboard that allows for quick access to various settings and features. Both CMSs have a gentle learning curve, but Grav may be more suitable for users with basic technical knowledge, while Nova may require some familiarity with PHP and Laravel framework.

Furthermore, Grav and Nova offer extensive documentation and active communities, providing users with ample resources to troubleshoot issues and explore advanced features. Grav boasts a large number of plugins and themes available in its ecosystem, enabling users to enhance their websites with additional functionality and unique designs. Nova, being built on Laravel, benefits from the vast Laravel ecosystem, which opens up possibilities for seamless integration with third-party tools and services.

In terms of platform compatibility, both Grav and Nova are versatile. They can run on various operating systems such as Windows, macOS, and Linux. They also support popular web servers like Apache and Nginx. This flexibility ensures that organizations can deploy these CMSs on their preferred infrastructure without any compatibility issues. Now, let's move on to discussing design and user experience.

Design & User Experience

Design and user experience are crucial factors in creating a captivating website that engages visitors. Grav offers a wide selection of themes, both free and premium, that cater to different industries and design preferences. These themes are easy to install and customize, allowing organizations to create visually appealing websites without the need for extensive coding knowledge. Grav's flexibility in design makes it an excellent choice for organizations that prioritize creativity and originality.

Nova, on the other hand, provides a clean and modern default theme that can be customized to match the organization's branding. The Laravel framework, on which Nova is built, offers developers greater control over the design aspects of the CMS, making it an ideal choice for organizations that have specific design requirements and access to development resources. With Nova, organizations can create unique templates, add custom CSS and JavaScript, and seamlessly integrate with existing design systems.

Both Grav and Nova prioritize user experience, offering intuitive and user-friendly interfaces. Grav's file-based approach to content management allows users to create and organize content using familiar tools like text editors and file explorers. Nova, with its visually appealing dashboard, provides a smooth and efficient workflow for managing content, making it easy for content editors to create, edit, and publish content without technical barriers.

Additionally, both CMSs prioritize responsive design, ensuring that websites built using their platforms are optimized for different screen sizes and devices. This is crucial in today's mobile-dominated landscape. With Grav and Nova, organizations can provide a seamless browsing experience for their visitors, regardless of the device they are using. Now, let's move on to exploring the content management capabilities of Grav and Nova.

Content Management

Effective content management is the core functionality of any CMS. Grav offers a user-friendly and flexible content creation workflow. Users can create content using Markdown, a lightweight markup language that simplifies the process of formatting text and adding media. The file-based approach in Grav allows for easy organization of content, with the ability to create hierarchical structures using folders and subfolders. Grav also supports taxonomies and custom fields, providing advanced options for categorizing and organizing content.

Nova, being built on Laravel, offers robust content management features. Nova provides a powerful visual interface for creating and managing content. It allows users to define custom content types with specific fields and relationships, providing complete control over the content structure. Nova's content editor comes with a range of formatting options, allowing users to create rich content with ease. Additionally, Nova offers built-in version control, enabling users to track changes and easily revert to previous versions.

Both CMSs provide media management capabilities, allowing users to upload and insert images, videos, and other media files into their content. Grav provides a basic media manager, while Nova offers a more advanced media library with features such as image cropping and resizing. Nova's media library also integrates with cloud storage services, enabling organizations to store their media assets in external storage providers like Amazon S3 or Google Cloud Storage.

Localization is another important aspect of content management. Grav offers built-in multilingual support, allowing users to create and manage content in multiple languages. This can be beneficial for organizations catering to international audiences or operating in multilingual regions. Nova, while not providing native multilingual support, allows for the integration of third-party packages and libraries to enable multilingual content management.

Collaboration & User Management

Efficient collaboration and user management are essential for teams working on content creation and publishing. Grav provides basic user management features, allowing administrators to create user accounts with different levels of access and permissions. Administrators can assign user roles and restrict access to specific content or functionality. Grav also has a built-in user registration system, enabling organizations to create membership-based websites with unique user profiles.

Nova takes collaboration and user management to the next level. It offers a comprehensive user management system with granular control over user roles and permissions. Administrators can define custom roles and assign specific permissions to each role, ensuring that team members have appropriate access to content and administrative features. Nova also provides detailed activity logs, allowing administrators to track user actions and monitor content changes.

For collaborative content creation, Nova offers a feature called "Drafts" that allows multiple users to work on the same content simultaneously without conflicts. This is particularly useful for teams working on large projects or websites with frequent updates. Nova's collaboration features facilitate efficient teamwork and streamline the content creation process.

Both Grav and Nova support content workflows, allowing organizations to implement editorial review processes before content is published. This enhances the quality and consistency of published content, as well as the ability to enforce compliance with brand guidelines and content policies.

Performance, Scalability, & Hosting

Performance and scalability are crucial factors to consider when selecting a CMS, as they directly impact the user experience and the ability to handle increasing website traffic. Grav, being a flat-file CMS, offers excellent performance due to the absence of database queries. The lightweight nature of Grav makes it fast and efficient, resulting in quick page load times. Additionally, Grav's file-based approach allows for easy caching, further enhancing performance.

Nova, being built on Laravel, benefits from the framework's robust performance optimization features. Laravel leverages caching, database indexing, and other performance-enhancing techniques, ensuring fast and efficient operations. Nova's performance is particularly noteworthy for larger websites with complex databases and high traffic volume, making it a suitable choice for organizations with scalability requirements.

Both CMSs can be hosted on various web hosting platforms. Grav's file-based architecture allows it to run on most shared hosting providers, making it a cost-effective option. Nova, being built on Laravel, requires a hosting environment that supports PHP and meets Laravel's system requirements. This means it may require a slightly more advanced hosting setup compared to Grav.

For organizations seeking scalability and high availability, both Grav and Nova can be hosted on cloud infrastructure providers such as AWS or Google Cloud Platform. Cloud hosting offers the flexibility to scale resources up or down based on website traffic and ensures reliable uptime for a global audience.

Customization, Extensions, & Ecosystem

Customization and extensibility are essential considerations when selecting a CMS, as they allow organizations to tailor the platform to their specific needs. Grav provides a wide range of plugins and themes in its ecosystem. These plugins can be easily installed and activated, adding new features and functionality to the CMS. Grav's extensive ecosystem empowers organizations to create unique websites without the need for extensive development resources.

Nova's extensibility is driven by the Laravel ecosystem. Laravel has a vibrant community and a vast collection of packages and libraries that can be integrated into Nova. This allows organizations to leverage existing Laravel components and add custom functionality to their CMS. Nova also supports the creation of extensions, providing developers with the flexibility to extend Nova's core features and customize the CMS to their specific requirements.

When it comes to theming, both Grav and Nova offer flexibility. Grav's theming system is based on the popular Twig templating engine, making it easy to create custom themes using HTML, CSS, and Twig syntax. Nova, being built on Laravel, utilizes the Blade templating engine, enabling developers to create custom themes with ease. Both CMSs provide documentation and resources for theme development, ensuring that organizations can achieve their desired visual design.

Overall, both Grav and Nova provide ample customization options and a robust ecosystem, allowing organizations to create unique websites that align with their brand identity and functional requirements.

SEO, Marketing, & Monetization

SEO, marketing, and monetization capabilities are crucial for organizations aiming to enhance their online presence and generate revenue. Grav supports essential SEO features such as customizable URLs, metadata management, and XML sitemaps. Grav also offers plugins that further optimize websites for search engines, improving organic search visibility. Additionally, Grav allows for easy integration of analytics tools and marketing automation platforms, enabling organizations to track website performance and implement targeted marketing campaigns.

Nova, being built on Laravel, benefits from Laravel's ecosystem of SEO and marketing packages. These packages provide functionalities such as URL routing, SEO metadata management, and integration with digital marketing platforms. Nova also offers built-in support for A/B testing, allowing organizations to experiment with different versions of their website and optimize conversion rates. For organizations looking to monetize their websites, Nova supports integrations with e-commerce platforms such as Stripe and PayPal.

Both CMSs offer built-in features and extensibility options that allow organizations to implement SEO best practices, track website analytics, and monetize their online presence.

Security & Compliance

Security and compliance are essential considerations for organizations when selecting a CMS. Grav takes security seriously and follows best practices to ensure the protection of websites built on its platform. Grav's file-based architecture makes it inherently secure, as there is no risk of SQL injection or other common database vulnerabilities. Grav also provides options to restrict access to content and administrative features based on user roles and permissions. It is recommended to keep Grav updated with the latest security patches and follow security guidelines to maintain a secure website.

Nova, being built on Laravel, inherits the security features and practices of the framework. Laravel follows industry-standard security practices and provides features such as encrypted password storage, protection against cross-site scripting (XSS), and protection against cross-site request forgery (CSRF) attacks. Nova also supports role-based authentication and authorization, allowing organizations to enforce access control policies. Similarly to Grav, keeping Nova up to date with security patches and following security best practices is crucial.

Regarding compliance, both Grav and Nova offer options to implement privacy policies and cookie consents, ensuring adherence to data protection regulations such as GDPR. Organizations can configure these compliance features based on their specific requirements and legal obligations, ensuring that their websites are compliant with relevant regulations.

Overall, both Grav and Nova prioritize security and offer the necessary features to create secure websites, while also enabling compliance with data protection regulations.

Migration, Support, & Maintenance

Migration from an existing CMS or website to a new platform can be a complex process. Grav provides migration plugins and tools that facilitate the migration of content from various CMSs, making it easier to transition to Grav. The file-based nature of Grav allows for easy data export and ensures that content can be easily accessed and migrated if needed. Grav's extensive documentation and community resources further assist organizations during the migration process.

Nova, being built on Laravel, inherits the powerful migration capabilities of the Laravel framework. Laravel provides migration tools and a command-line interface (CLI) that streamline the process of migrating databases and associated content. Nova's migration features enable organizations to transfer content from different platforms efficiently. Laravel's comprehensive documentation and Laravel's community provide additional support and guidance during the migration process.

When it comes to support and maintenance, both Grav and Nova offer active communities and extensive documentation. Grav has a large community of users and developers who actively contribute to its ecosystem. Nova benefits from the Laravel community, which provides ongoing support and regularly releases updates and security patches. Organizations can also choose to opt for professional support from the Grav and Laravel development teams or third-party agencies specializing in these CMSs.

Maintenance for both Grav and Nova involves keeping the CMS up to date with the latest versions, as well as regularly backing up the website's content and database. It is essential to review and apply security patches promptly to ensure the ongoing security and stability of the website.


Grav and Nova are both powerful CMSs that offer a wide range of features for organizations seeking efficient content management. Grav's flat-file architecture and user-friendly interface make it a suitable choice for organizations with simpler content management needs or limited technical resources. It provides flexibility, customization options, and a vibrant ecosystem of themes and plugins. Nova, on the other hand, leverages the Laravel framework to deliver a more robust and scalable content management solution. It offers advanced customization options, collaboration features, and performance optimization capabilities, making it an optimal choice for organizations with more complex requirements.

In making a decision between Grav and Nova, organizations should consider factors such as their content management needs, technical expertise, design requirements, scalability requirements, and compliance obligations. By understanding the unique strengths of each CMS, organizations can select the one that aligns best with their organizational goals and priorities. Additionally, organizations must ensure they have the necessary resources and support to effectively implement and maintain the chosen CMS.

Ultimately, whether choosing Grav or Nova, organizations can benefit from the versatility and functionality offered by these content management systems and create compelling websites that meet their unique needs and drive digital success.


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.