Nova vs. Pelican: A Comprehensive Comparison of Two Powerful Content Management Systems

Nova vs. Pelican: A Comprehensive Comparison of Two Powerful Content Management Systems


Choosing the right content management system (CMS) is a critical decision for organizations looking to effectively manage and publish their digital content. In this comparison guide, we will take a close look at two popular CMS options: Nova and Pelican. Both systems offer unique features and capabilities that cater to different needs and preferences. By understanding the foundations, design, user experience, content management, collaboration, performance, customization, SEO, security, and support aspects of Nova and Pelican, you'll be equipped to make an informed decision for your organization.

Foundations of CMS

Nova and Pelican have different underlying technologies that set the foundation for their CMS capabilities. Nova is a PHP-based CMS that utilizes the Laravel framework. This provides a robust and scalable platform for building complex and dynamic websites. On the other hand, Pelican is a Python-based CMS that generates static websites. It is well-suited for simple and lightweight websites, focusing on speed and simplicity. The choice between Nova and Pelican largely depends on the complexity and goals of your website.

Additionally, Nova has a graphical user interface (GUI) that makes it easy for non-technical users to manage content and customize the website. Pelican, on the other hand, is a command-line interface (CLI) tool that requires some familiarity with the command line. While this may seem more technical, it offers more flexibility and control over the website's structure and content organization.

The architecture and foundation of Nova and Pelican are important considerations that will impact the development, maintenance, and future scalability of your website.

Design & User Experience

When it comes to design and user experience, both Nova and Pelican offer different approaches. Nova offers a wide range of customizable themes and templates, allowing you to create visually appealing websites with ease. The GUI interface of Nova makes it simple to configure and modify the design elements, such as colors, fonts, and layouts.

Pelican, on the other hand, focuses on simplicity and speed. It offers a minimalist design approach with limited themes and templates. However, it allows for deep customization through the use of HTML, CSS, and Markdown. This flexibility gives you complete control over the design and user experience, but it requires some technical skills to implement.

Ultimately, the choice between Nova and Pelican depends on your design preferences and the level of customization you require.

Content Management

Content management is a crucial aspect of any CMS. Nova provides a user-friendly interface for managing content, allowing non-technical users to create, edit, and publish content easily. It offers powerful content creation tools, such as a rich text editor and media management capabilities. Nova also supports multi-language content management, making it ideal for organizations with global audiences.

Pelican, on the other hand, follows a file-based approach to content management. It uses Markdown files to create and organize content. While this offers simplicity and version control benefits, it may be less intuitive for non-technical users. However, Pelican provides a straightforward content creation workflow, which involves drafting content in Markdown and organizing it into directories.

When choosing between Nova and Pelican for content management, consider the technical skills and preferences of your content creators and editors.

Collaboration & User Management

Collaboration and user management features play a crucial role in organizations with multiple content contributors. Nova offers built-in user management capabilities, allowing you to create and manage user roles, permissions, and workflows. This makes it easy to assign specific responsibilities to different users and ensure smooth collaboration. Nova also supports version control systems, enabling content editors to track changes and collaborate effectively.

Pelican, being a static site generator, lacks built-in user management features. However, you can integrate with third-party authentication systems or utilize content management platforms like GitLab and GitHub to enable collaboration and user management capabilities. While this provides flexibility, it may require additional configuration and technical expertise to set up.

Consider your organization's collaboration needs and the technical capabilities of your team when deciding between Nova and Pelican for collaboration and user management.

Performance, Scalability, & Hosting

Website performance and scalability are crucial for providing a smooth user experience and accommodating growing traffic. Nova, being powered by Laravel, offers excellent performance and scalability options. It implements caching mechanisms, database optimization, and other performance-enhancing techniques. Additionally, Nova offers seamless integration with cloud hosting providers, enabling easy scalability as your website traffic grows.

Pelican, as a static site generator, inherently offers fast performance and low resource consumption. It generates simple HTML files that can be served quickly. However, Pelican may have limitations in terms of scalability for highly dynamic and content-heavy websites. Scaling a Pelican-based website may involve additional manual configurations and setup.

When choosing between Nova and Pelican, consider the expected traffic volume and complexity of your website, as well as the hosting options and scalability requirements.

Customization, Extensions, & Ecosystem

Customization and extensibility are vital factors to consider when evaluating a CMS. Nova provides a wide range of customization options through its themes, templates, and plugins. Its Laravel framework provides a robust ecosystem with a vast library of extensions, packages, and integrations. This allows you to extend the functionality of your website and integrate with various third-party services effortlessly.

Pelican, although more lightweight, offers flexibility and extensibility through its plugin ecosystem. It allows you to extend the functionality of your website by writing custom plugins in Python. While the plugin ecosystem may not be as extensive as Laravel's, Pelican offers a solid foundation for customization and integration.

Consider your customization needs and the available ecosystem when evaluating Nova and Pelican for your organization.

SEO, Marketing, & Monetization

Search engine optimization (SEO), marketing, and monetization are key considerations for organizations targeting online visibility and revenue generation. Nova offers built-in SEO features with options to configure URL structure, meta tags, and sitemaps. It also provides integrations with popular marketing tools like Google Analytics and social media platforms, enabling effective marketing strategies.

Pelican, being a static site generator, requires manual optimization for SEO. You have control over URL structure and meta tags, but you need to implement them manually in HTML. Additionally, Pelican can integrate with marketing tools and monetization platforms through custom code or integrations with third-party services.

Consider your organization's SEO, marketing, and monetization strategies when deciding between Nova and Pelican for these aspects.

Security & Compliance

Security and compliance are critical for any website, especially for organizations dealing with sensitive information. Nova prioritizes security and offers built-in security features, including user authentication, role-based access control, and encryption. It follows best practices to protect against common security vulnerabilities, ensuring the safety of your website and data.

Pelican, as a static site generator, has a smaller attack surface compared to dynamic CMS platforms, reducing the risk of security vulnerabilities. However, you need to handle server and infrastructure security yourself, including SSL certificate management and protecting access to the generated HTML files.

Consider your organization's security requirements and the technical skills of your team when evaluating Nova and Pelican for security and compliance aspects.

Migration, Support, & Maintenance

The ease of migration, available support, and ongoing maintenance are important considerations in choosing a CMS. Nova offers a dedicated migration guide and tools to assist in migrating from other CMS platforms. It also has an active community and provides professional support options, ensuring you have the necessary help when needed. Additionally, Nova regularly releases updates and security patches, ensuring the long-term maintenance and stability of your website.

Pelican, being a lightweight CMS, may require more manual effort for migration from other systems. However, it has an active community and provides support through community forums and GitHub repositories. Ongoing maintenance for Pelican primarily involves managing server infrastructure and ensuring compatibility with the latest Python and dependencies.

Consider your migration requirements, support preferences, and long-term maintenance needs when evaluating Nova and Pelican for these aspects.


In conclusion, Nova and Pelican are both powerful CMS options, but they cater to different needs and preferences. Nova offers a comprehensive and feature-rich CMS experience, suitable for complex websites with non-technical users. On the other hand, Pelican provides a lightweight and customizable CMS approach, ideal for simple websites and technical users seeking more control and speed.

By carefully considering the foundations, design, user experience, content management, collaboration, performance, customization, SEO, security, and support aspects of Nova and Pelican, you can determine the best CMS for your organization's requirements. Remember to assess your organization's specific needs, technical capabilities, and long-term goals to make an informed decision.


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.