Sometimes there is a need to find out what CMS or website builder a website is based on. Users may require this info just because of their curiosity or desire to understand what technology works best for this type of projects.
Having found that out, it’s quite possible that you’ll wish to create a similar website yourself or even copy the one in details. The essence goes down to the only goal – how to get information about the CMS a website is built on.
There are three ways to detect the engine behind a website: application of online services, communication with the owner or checking out the code. None of them is 100% reliable, but, if you try really hard, the chances to find out the platform will notably increase.
1. Services to Detect The Website Technology
WebDataStats – is a trusted service, which makes it possible to detect website CMS and find databases of site domains by CMS. The platform offers the most extensive database of CMS, frameworks and website builders, which currently encompasses over 1000 most popular systems. Apart from defining the CMS a website is made with, the service also allows categorizing the required sites into categories with regard to your own criteria, getting contact details obtained from the sites, seeing the CMS migration history of domain names etc. They can also help you find out if the website was created with a SaaS website builder. This info might be useful, when detecting website hosting.
With WebDataStats, it becomes possible to detect website CMS with 99.4% accuracy. This eliminates the need to look for the info elsewhere. If needed, you can order a custom analytics solution to help you with the CMS detection process. What’s important, the service pros do not only define the platform, but they also double-check the result to make sure the solution is correct. This is especially true, when it comes to detecting little-known CMS. In case they discover the unknown CMS, they add it to their database to make it as full, informative and complete as possible.
WebDataStats developers manually double-check each website that is under analysis to make sure the CMS detection is correct. They update the CMS database of the service on a monthly basis to ensure the most distinct and correct result. In case the system cannot detect the CMS of a website for some reason, its developers manually check such resources to further add the undetected platforms to their database. This eventually ensures the best and the most trustworthy results.
To use the service, you can either install the extension for your browser and just access the required page to have it scanned or sign up for a personal account on the official website and get the extended options. The latter include bulk website scanning, search request history, CMS history tracking for each website required, data export, API integration etc. The list of available features depends on the terms of subscription you will go for. There is also a free version of the service, but its possibilities are limited by the ability to check not more than 5 domains per a day.
WhatCMS – is a web-based service used to detect frameworks websites are built on. We tested it on our website and were really surprised with the result. It detected the right data about our blog’s CMS without any problems at all. The system works quite fast (2-3 seconds are enough to find out the result), providing minimum amount of information, which is quite enough, though. You don’t have to browse the web looking for the name of the engine as the service allows detecting around 170 CMS, website builders and frameworks – both paid and free.
Some websites are built on several CMS at a time (OpenCart basis, WordPress blog, vBulletin forum etc.). To detect such a giant, you can use the definition option for each page or section.
BuiltWith – is another popular service that can provide much information upon your request: connected analytics systems, widgets, availability of the mobile version, scripts and CSS rules used, hosting provider, SSL certificate, web server etc. Such detailed information will be useful to webmasters. A newbie can easily get lost in it and there is a risk that half of this info will remain unclear.
The system immediately detected the CMS our website is built on. You just have to find the required information in the long data list.
CMS Detector – is one more decent system, which comes with a powerful CMS detector tool used to find out the framework, CMS or any other technology a website uses. Provided by Online Web Tools, the service can effectively recognize over 100 most popular and widely-used CMS. It’s also possible to find out much website-related info, statistics, technologies here. The process is quite easy and fast.
You just need to reach the service, provide the URL of a website you are interested in and hit the Enter button. In just a few seconds, you’ll see the detailed info about the CMS or website builder a site is using.
CMS Detector did not manage to recognize the system our blog is built on, which makes its efficacy and reliability quite doubtful.
Wappalyzer – is a well-known cross-platform utility, which can effectively uncover the frameworks, technologies and website builders used. The tool can detect the most popular Content Management Systems, eCommerce engines, web analytics tools, server software and other technologies a website may encompass.
To find out the CMS and widgets behind any site, you should access the official website of the service, specify the URL of a website you’d like to check and launch the scanning process. Wappalyzer is also available as the downloadable software and browser extension. So, it’s up to you to choose the most suitable variant based on the frequency of the service use and its efficacy.
We tried to make the analysis of our blog with Wappalyzer twice. The first attempt was unsuccessful because of the system’s overloading. After the second attempt, Wappalyzer did not recognize the engine behind our blog as well.
Rescan – is an online service that can help you identify the frameworks, CMS and technologies behind any website you provide. All in all, the system can scan over 305 millions websites in over 1550 domain zones.
Apart from providing the lists of tools and technologies websites are based on, Rescan additionally runs a free website analysis tool that helps you effectively find out the detailed information about a site that is under review, its statistics, Alexa rank status, IP address, web server types, country of origin, code page info and other detailed parameters. Based on the results of our test, Rescan managed to identify several technologies behind our blog, which is quite a decent factor.
The use of online automatic website engine definition services is the simplest and the most convenient way to find out this info for the majority of users. The method enjoys popularity both with newbies and web design pros.
It goes without saying that the determination accuracy varies from one tool to another, but nothing prevents you from using 3-4 similar online services at a time and compare the results obtained.
2. Manual CMS Detecting
The simplest and the faster way to detect the website CMS in the manual mode is to type the following text in the browser address line:
required website domain/admin
In around 50% of all cases, you will be redirected to the admin login page. For example, a WordPress website will automatically redirect you to the following address:
required website domain/wp-login.php
If the CMS belongs to Magento, Host CMS, Joomla, OpenCart or other popular engines, you will see the authorization form with typical features of the system. You can come across direct links indicating the developers’ site, CMS logo etc.
The administrator login address may differ for some CMS. Have a look at several examples below:
- Drupal: required website domain/user
- Joomla: required website domain/administrator
- WebAsyst: required website domain/login
- InstantCMS: required website domain/login
- DLE: required website domain/admin.php
- 1C-Bitrix: required website domain/bitrix/admin
However, if a website owner has taken care of its security, he/she could change the login path to the admin panel to an alternative one that cannot be identified in a standard way (e.g. required website domain/einuYhBllKnnbfgb7.php etc.). In this case, it’s not quite easy to detect the CMS.
The second way of manual CMS detection is more practical – just check out the source code of a page to find typical features in file path indication, scripts and other HTML code parts.
You can view the source code in any modern browser by clicking the Ctrl+U button combination or by right-clicking anywhere on a page to choose the “View Page Code” point. A new text file will open in the new tab, providing all HTML tags and scripts.
Start your search with the “generator” meta tag. The search form will open when you press the Ctrl+F key combination.
Many popular CMS indicate even the engine version as in WordPress, for example:
<meta name="generator" content="WordPress 5.4.2" />
This is how a tag will look, if a page is created in Wix web editor:
<meta name="generator" content="Wix.com Website Builder"/>
Pay special attention to the path formation for static content (images, scripts, style files, etc.):
<link rel='stylesheet' id='vwcss-theme-css' href='required website domain/wp-content/themes/presso/css/theme.css?ver=2.1.0' type='text/css' media='all' />
It shows not only the engine itself (a typical wp-content/themes catalogue), but also the theme used (Presso, version 2.1.0).
Links of the type required website domain/sites/default/files/css…are used in Drupal CMS.
This is how an indication to the use of the Language Switcher module for Joomla will look like when used for multilingual websites:
<link href="/media/mod_languages/css/template.css?cb3a562926f3ad091f4b9470b8c2e914" rel="stylesheet" />
You can also have a look at separate variables in scripts like:
var LIVESTREET_SECURITY_KEY = ‘’; (clear indication of the Livestreet CMS used for social network development).
CMS indication can also be found in the files like robots.txt. Even if there is no a clearly specified name, you can pay attention to website catalogues that are excluded from the index (engine files are usually stored in these directories). They will indirectly indicate the typical CMS structure.
Another option implies the specifications of URL indication. It is applicable only if the “default” structure is used.
3. Social Engineering
The third method is just to ask the administrators or developers about the CMS or website builder a site is based on. You can turn to the website owner or any person responsible for website design with this inquiry either through the contact form or via the social networks. Well, this does not guarantee that you’ll get the answer – this depends upon the accuracy and correctness of inquiry formulation, the mood of a person you communicate with and some reasonable causes like safety or simple unawareness of this info.
Praise the website, tell that you like the technologies it uses and that you are willing to create a similar project, but in another niche. Inquire about the amount of time it took to develop the website, wish success and effective promotion to the resource etc. In other words, just decently ask about the facts you are interested in not to affray the owner or administrator.
Websites created by web studios frequently contain footprints with their names and links. It’s quite logical that people, who have designed them, are aware of the systems the sites are based on. It’s also possible to turn to them for help in a friendly manner. You will look like a potential client (ask about the cost of website development), which notably increases your chances to get the desired answer.
Whatever goal you pursue trying to detect the CMS of a third-party website, it’s simpler and more convenient to do that by using one of the niche online services. To do that, it is enough to provide the domain name in the required field and wait until the system will scan a website. If a site works on a manually-written CMS or has been deeply modified, your inquiry won’t be a success. Sometimes, you may encounter simple mistakes – there is no 100% possibility of getting the answer here.
To enhance the reliability of the framework definition process, it is desirable to check it with several systems at a time. Select those we have enlisted in the post or any other services of your choice – it doesn’t matter a lot. All of them work quite well. If scanning results are the same, you can be sure about the correctness of the test. If there are any distinctions, it makes sense to use additional tools and select the most frequent variant they generate. As a rule, there are no serious distinctions here.