Before choosing a hosting company and deciding on the best server for your website, you want to be sure of the most supportive CMS for the site features and structure. While a handful of developers would make recommendations on what CMS to use, it’s ideal for investigating the technology profile of similar successful websites closely. And fortunately, achieving this is quite easily using CMS detection tools.

Let’s understand the meaning of CMS, how it works, and how you can manually recognize what CMS a site is using before jumping into the top 5 CMS detection tools.

What is a CMS?

A Content Management System (CMS) is a piece of software for building, managing, and modifying a website content using a graphic user interface.

It’s an ideal tool for website development among users with less or no technical/ coding skills. CMS takes away the task of writing code while developing a website. And most important, it doesn’t require users to have any pre-knowledge of website development to set up a website.

How CMS works

A Website CMS represents the background commands that take place when a user interacts with the site database or adjust any content element through a GUI. The entire CMS works through two main components: the content management application (CMA) and the content delivery application (CDA). The CMA is the front-end section that allows users to perform all sorts of manipulations through GUI, while the CDA is the backend interface that compiles and delivers the user activities.

Originally, the markup language that delivers word wide web pages HTML requires some special tags and styles before it’s properly rendered by a browser. These tags allow users to include designs such as text effects, links, layouts, images, etc.


Users with no knowledge of these tags and styles can implement these features and more through a CMS element called WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get), which works more like a Microsoft Word. For an optimal website design, leveraging the capabilities of a robust CMS can significantly streamline the development process.

A website CMS, which is installed on the hosting account, comes with pre-made modules such as blog posts, content pages, etc. The CMS depends on different templates in rendering different website content, from pages to blog posts. The CMS core files simply store all user input in the site database and will pull them dynamically when necessary.

Examples of CMS

  • Joomla
  • Drupal
  • Wix
  • WordPress (the most popular)
  • Squarespace
  • Kinsta
  • Shopify
  • Magento

A list of top 5 detection tools that can recognize what CMS a site is using

The several CMS detection tools available leverage different characteristics in recognizing what CMS a site is using. This may include the head tag, powered by, page favicon, image source, etc. Unlike the manual procedure for detecting the CMS of a website, the following tools offer additional information aside from performing the task quickly using multiple characteristics.

1. BuiltWith

BuiltWith is ranked as the most comprehensive CMS detection tool currently available. It provides the most thorough outline of a website, including the CMS and other installed apps on the site.


To use the BuiltWith tool, you simply enter the site’s URL and click on a search button. BuiltWith will return the numerous technical details of the site within a few seconds. This should include the analytics tool, the CMS + CND, widgets, framework, hosting provider, social media tools, SSL certificates, and many others. BuiltWith CMS detection tool also displays a pie chart comparison between the website’s technical information and the industry trends. However, there are large data on display, so you will have to scroll through them to locate the actual information you need.

2. What CMS

What CMS is another reliable CMS detector tool among the best out there. The design of this detection tool is very minimal and precise, straight to the point with its reports.

What CMS

What CMS allows you to recognize what CMS a site is using, coupled with other information on the site’s programming language, database, OS, etc. It does exactly as the name suggests. Currently, What CMS can detect 492 different CMS applications and their services. The tool is regularly updated to detect even more CMSs, according to the company.

3. Wappalyzer

Wappalyzer is the ideal tool if you would prefer a non-web based CMS detection tool. This CMS detection tool is a Chrome and Firefox browsers plugin. It is considered the fastest CMS detection tool available, but not as reliable as other CMS detection tools on this list.


Installing the Wappalyzer plugin on your Chrome or Firefox browser creates a bookmark on your browser’s search tab. You simply visit the website you wish to detect its CMS and click on the Wappalyzer button. Wappalyzer will reveal the site’s CMS, theme, web analytics, programming languages, database, OS, and other related information about the website.

4. W3Techs

For reliable and comprehensive analysis of a website’s CMS, W3Techs is the tool to use. This CMS detector gives you a list of technologies and tools installed on any site. To make use of this tool, visit the W3Techs Sites, and enter the URL of your target website.


The site provides you with the technical details of the website. Aside from the CMS, you will find out about the hosting provider, programming languages, DNS Server provider, SSL, OS, TLD, libraries, etc. There is also information about the site’s geolocation, traffic, popularity rank, and description. With W3Techs, you can bookmark your result page, meaning that you won’t need to visit the site every time you need information about that particular website.

5. Netcraft Site Report

Netcraft Site Report is a simple CMS detection tool that does the work of website CMS detection, just like other tools mentioned above. It is one of the first CMS detectors to be available and is often used by more traditional web users.


This detection tool gives you the CMS of your target site alongside a wide range of other information. Netcraft provides details on the site network information, domain registrar, SPF, DMARC, hosting providers, hosting country, and a few other technologies. While this tool comes very handy, it’s not as reliable as other CMS detection tools mentioned above.

How to recognize what CMS a site is using manually

You can also detect what CMS a site is using through some manual procedures, though these methods don’t supply other information about the website other than the CMS. The manual procedure requires you to identify some of the technology’s signatures like specific HTML tags or marks.

Use of browser dev tools

Inspecting the source code of the website could provide clues about what CMS the website is running on. For instance, if you inspect an image on a WordPress site, the image source URL would contain /wp-content/ as the image containing a folder following the website address. Inspecting an image URL in Wix powered website should have /media/ folder, Wix website address, or a wix-image tag.

Track the Powered by

Some websites would include the CMS name at the footer section. This is not a reliable means of detecting the CMS of a website because most site developers usually remove this information.

Simply scroll down to the footer section or lookout for any tag saying ‘powered by’ to identify the CMS. This could also be seen in the header tag of the website source code.

Search for a default directory

This method is only viable if you are already suspecting a particular CMS. To recognize the CMS, simply enter special directories affiliated with the CMS at the end of the website URL. For WordPress, you could add /wp-content/, /wp-admin, etc. For Joomla, you could add /administrator, /com_content/, etc. In Drupal, special folders include /sites/ or /core/.

In summary

It’s a lot easier and more rewarding to use any of the listed CMS detection tools for recognizing what CMS a site is using, instead of the manual procedures. However, you could refer to the tools and augment results from a manual check.

BuiltWith CMS detection tool is relatively your top choice, but for the sake of accuracy, you could combine results from these free online tools for a better and more detailed CMS investigation.

Please let us know about your favorite CMS detection tool in the comment box below.

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