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

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


Welcome to the comprehensive comparison between Pelican and Zenario, two popular Content Management Systems (CMS). Making the right choice when it comes to CMS is crucial for digital leaders and decision-makers who want to ensure they have the right platform to manage and deliver content effectively. In this guide, we will delve into the key features, functionalities, and capabilities of both Pelican and Zenario to help you make an informed decision.

Pelican is a static site generator CMS, while Zenario is a full-fledged PHP-based CMS. The main difference lies in their approach to content management and delivery. Pelican generates static HTML files, providing excellent performance and security, while Zenario offers a more traditional CMS experience, allowing for dynamic content and a wider range of features. Let's now explore the foundational aspects of CMS in more detail.

Foundations of CMS

Pelican simplifies content management by using a file-based approach. It takes the content written in Markdown or reStructuredText, and using simple templates, generates static HTML pages. This method eliminates the need for a database, making Pelican extremely lightweight, fast, and easy to deploy. On the other hand, Zenario includes a database to store and manage content. It provides a web-based interface, allowing users to create, edit, and organize content effortlessly.

Despite their differences, both Pelican and Zenario offer a wide array of content types. From blog posts and articles to images and videos, these CMS platforms cater to various content management needs. Pelican excels in handling text-based content such as blog posts, articles, and documentation, whereas Zenario offers more flexibility and richer content capabilities, accommodating multimedia content seamlessly.

When it comes to organizing and structuring content, Zenario provides a hierarchy-based approach. It allows for the creation of parent and child pages, making it easier to build complex website structures. Pelican relies on pre-defined directories and folders to organize content, which can be advantageous for smaller websites with a straightforward structure. Both CMS offer intuitive content organization and management features, empowering users to create and maintain their websites successfully.

In terms of multilingual support, Zenario shines by offering built-in multilingual features. Administrators can create different language versions of their website, enabling effective localization. With Pelican, multilingual support can be achieved through plugins and additional setup, requiring more technical know-how. Consider your organization's language requirements when making a choice between these two CMS platforms.

Design & User Experience

The design and user experience play a critical role in the success of a CMS. Pelican offers a straightforward and minimalistic approach, focusing on simplicity and speed. It provides basic theming options and supports themes created using the Jinja2 templating engine. Customizing the design may require some technical expertise, as it involves modifying templates and stylesheets directly.

Zenario offers a more inclusive design and user experience by providing a wide range of themes and templates for users to choose from. Its drag-and-drop interface allows for easy customization, enabling users to create visually appealing and engaging websites without extensive development knowledge. With Zenario, you have the flexibility to customize the design to match your branding and style preferences.

Both CMS platforms offer responsive design options, ensuring that your website looks great on any device. Pelican, being a static site generator, inherently generates lightweight HTML that aids in fast page loading, resulting in an excellent user experience. Zenario's dynamic nature enables more interactive features and personalized experiences for website visitors.

Overall, Pelican focuses on simplicity and performance, while Zenario aims to provide a more comprehensive design and user experience. Consider your organization's design requirements and the technical expertise available when evaluating these two CMS platforms.

Content Management

Content management is at the core of any CMS. Pelican streamlines content creation by offering a straightforward workflow. It supports content creation in Markdown or reStructuredText formats, which are easy to learn and write in. Once the content is created, Pelican's static site generation process converts the written content into HTML pages automatically. Its simplicity and speed make Pelican an ideal choice for organizations with less complex content management needs.

Zenario, on the other hand, provides a more robust content management experience. It offers a web-based interface that allows users to create, edit, and manage content effortlessly. With its powerful editor, users can easily format text, add images and videos, embed media, and preview changes in real-time. Additionally, Zenario's content management capabilities allow for sophisticated content workflows, access controls, and versioning, making it suitable for organizations that require a more structured content management system.

Both CMS platforms offer search functionality, making it easy to find and retrieve content. Pelican utilizes plugins to enable search functionality, while Zenario includes a built-in search feature, delivering a more integrated experience. Consider your organization's content management needs, workflow requirements, and search functionality expectations when comparing these two CMS.

For larger organizations or websites with complex content management needs, Zenario offers more advanced features like content tagging, taxonomy management, and granular permission controls. Pelican's simplicity and lightweight approach make it an excellent choice for personal blogs or smaller websites that require less extensive content management capabilities.

Collaboration & User Management

Collaboration and user management features are vital for organizations with multiple content contributors and authors. Pelican, being a static site generator, does not include built-in user management functionality. However, there are community-developed plugins available that can add user and permission management capabilities to Pelican sites. This may require additional setup and technical knowledge to implement.

Zenario, on the other hand, offers comprehensive user management out of the box. Administrators can create and manage user accounts, assign roles and permissions, and restrict access to specific sections of the CMS. This makes it easier to collaborate with multiple authors and contributors, ensuring efficient content creation and management processes.

Pelican's simplicity in user management can be advantageous for small teams or personal websites where fine-grained user roles and permissions are not necessary. Zenario's user management capabilities make it suitable for organizations with larger content teams and more complex permission requirements.

Consider the size of your content team, collaboration needs, and the level of control you require over user roles and permissions when comparing Pelican and Zenario for collaboration and user management features.

Performance, Scalability, & Hosting

Performance, scalability, and hosting capabilities are essential aspects to consider when choosing a CMS. Pelican's static site generation approach inherently results in fast and efficient website performance. The static HTML files generated by Pelican require minimal server resources, making it ideal for websites with high traffic volumes or limited hosting resources.

Zenario's performance is dependent on server resources and hosting infrastructure, as it requires PHP and a database to serve dynamic content. With proper server optimization and caching mechanisms, Zenario can deliver excellent performance, but it may require more server resources and maintenance compared to Pelican.

In terms of scalability, Pelican's static site architecture is highly scalable as it can be easily distributed across multiple servers or CDN (Content Delivery Network) for efficient content delivery. Zenario can also scale effectively, but it may require more server resources and infrastructure planning to handle increasing traffic and content demands.

When it comes to hosting options, Pelican's static site architecture allows for a wide range of hosting choices. From shared hosting to dedicated servers, Pelican can be deployed on almost any hosting platform. Zenario, being a PHP-based CMS, requires hosting that supports PHP and a compatible database. This provides a wide range of hosting options as well, but it may require more advanced configurations and technical expertise.

Consider your organization's hosting infrastructure, performance requirements, and long-term scalability needs when evaluating Pelican and Zenario for performance, scalability, and hosting capabilities.

Customization, Extensions, & Ecosystem

Customization and extensibility are crucial factors when it comes to choosing a CMS. Pelican provides basic theming options, allowing users to customize the design and layout of their websites. Its templating engine, Jinja2, provides flexibility in creating and modifying templates to suit specific requirements. Pelican's plugin system also enables the addition of extra functionality, although the availability of plugins may be more limited compared to popular PHP-based CMS platforms.

Zenario offers a wide range of themes and templates that can be easily customized using its intuitive drag-and-drop interface. This allows users to create unique website designs without extensive development knowledge. Additionally, Zenario provides a robust extension system with a wide range of plugins and modules to enhance functionality and add features like e-commerce, forums, or event management.

The ecosystem surrounding a CMS is also an important consideration. Pelican, being a static site generator, has a smaller but active community. This means that the availability of themes, plugins, and support may be more limited compared to larger PHP-based CMS platforms like Zenario. However, Pelican's simplicity and ease of use attract users who prefer lightweight and fast CMS solutions.

Zenario, on the other hand, benefits from a larger ecosystem with a thriving community. This means a wide range of themes, plugins, and extensions are available, alongside active support forums and resources. Zenario's extensibility allows for easy integration with third-party services and APIs, enabling organizations to expand their website's functionalities seamlessly.

Consider your organization's customization requirements, available developer resources, and the need for a vibrant ecosystem when comparing Pelican and Zenario for customization, extensions, and the overall CMS ecosystem.

SEO, Marketing, & Monetization

Search Engine Optimization (SEO), marketing, and monetization capabilities are important considerations for organizations looking to attract visitors, grow their online presence, and generate revenue. Pelican provides the advantage of generating static HTML pages optimized for speed, which is beneficial for SEO. However, Pelican's lack of built-in SEO and marketing functionalities may require additional setup and implementation of third-party tools or plugins.

Zenario offers built-in SEO tools, allowing users to specify meta tags, optimize URLs, and manage redirects. Its dynamic nature allows for easy integration with marketing tools and analytics platforms. Additionally, Zenario offers built-in e-commerce capabilities, making it a suitable choice for organizations looking to monetize their websites.

Consider your organization's SEO and marketing requirements, as well as the need for built-in e-commerce capabilities when comparing Pelican and Zenario for SEO, marketing, and monetization features.

Security & Compliance

Security and compliance are of utmost importance when dealing with content management. Pelican, being a static site generator, provides excellent security as there is no need for a database or dynamic server-side code execution. The simplicity of Pelican reduces the attack surface, making it less vulnerable to hacking attempts. However, Pelican does not provide built-in security features, so it's essential to follow security best practices and keep the underlying server and software up to date.

Zenario, as a PHP-based CMS, requires proper server configuration, security measures, and continuous updates to ensure a secure environment. Zenario provides built-in security features such as password encryption, user access controls, and data encryption. Additionally, it allows for compliance with regulations like GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), which is crucial for organizations handling sensitive user data.

Consider your organization's security requirements, the level of sensitivity of your data, and the need for compliance with industry regulations when comparing Pelican and Zenario for security and compliance features.

Migration, Support, & Maintenance

Migration from one CMS to another can be a time-consuming process. While Pelican provides a easy migration path from other static site generators or CMS that support export in a standardized format (such as WordPress), migrating from more complex CMS systems may require manual effort and customization. Zenario, being a full-fledged CMS, offers migration tools and resources to facilitate the transition from other CMS platforms.

Support and maintenance are important considerations, especially when it comes to critical and time-sensitive issues. Pelican's simplicity and smaller community may result in limited support options. However, the lightweight and straightforward nature of Pelican make maintenance relatively simple and less resource-intensive.

Zenario benefits from a larger community and commercially-backed support options, providing a wide range of resources and assistance. Regular updates and security patches ensure that the CMS remains reliable and up to date. However, the complexity of Zenario may require more resources and technical expertise for long-term maintenance.

Consider your organization's migration needs, available support resources, and long-term maintenance requirements when comparing Pelican and Zenario for migration, support, and maintenance aspects.


In summary, Pelican and Zenario offer different approaches and features in the realm of content management systems. Pelican's static site generator approach provides unparalleled performance, simplicity, and security, making it an ideal choice for smaller websites and individual blogs. On the other hand, Zenario's full-fledged CMS capabilities provide a robust and customizable platform suitable for larger organizations with complex content management needs.

Consider the foundational aspects, design and user experience, content management capabilities, collaboration and user management features, performance, scalability and hosting options, customization and extensions, SEO, marketing and monetization capabilities, security and compliance, as well as migration, support, and maintenance considerations when evaluating Pelican and Zenario for your organization's needs.

Ultimately, the choice between Pelican and Zenario will depend on your organization's specific requirements, technical expertise available, and long-term goals. Choose wisely and embark on a content management journey that will empower your organization's digital presence and 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.