How to make a simple admin backend for customers?

TL;DR: I need to make a simple dashboard / admin page for my customers, enabling them to interact with basic content on their static site (posts, list of employees and contact info). How can this be achieved in the simplest, most lightweight manner?

These are my thoughts so far:

  • Store basic content (list of employees, contact info) in TOML / JSON files (small amount of data, no need for a database). A site rebuild is triggered on every change / save.
  • Use a framework to build a simple dashboard that interact with these files (CRUD). I have looked at Laravel as PHP would be easy to implement on a shared hosting account.
  • Has to be (semi-)multi-site capable, using one master theme with the possibility to override pr customers domain. This could be administered manually (creating a folder for “” and setting up the necessary routes on the server to point the domain to this folder).

One of my goals is to make this with as few moving parts / dependencies as possible, as the sites that will be served contains very little data and looks largely the same for every customer / domain name, with the exception of the basic content. These sites should load fast and only take a few kb of data (which is why I want to use Hugo :wink: ). I can accept a slightly less lightweight admin panel, but want it to be as simple as technically possible.

I am open to all suggestions and ideas on how this can be achieved! If more details are needed to give good answers, please ask!

You may very well know this, but there are editors out there. Two notable ones are (commercial, but generous free tier and super nice) (open source, flexible)


Yes, I am aware of these alternatives, but they are to generic for my use-case. I need to make a completely customized experience for my users, with the branding that fits my project. That’s why I wanted to check if anyone had any experience combining Hugo with a custom-made backend.

Some users in this forum have made their own CMS-like backends for Hugo but I haven’t seen them around in a long while.

There have been mega threads in the past about this issue like:

To name a few backends:



The Frontend Interfaces section from the Docs.

@alexandros: Thanks for the pointers! I have lurked for some time in the discussions on backends here on the forum, but they are to generic for my use case. I think I have to build something from the bottom up with an existing framework (like Laravel), but would like to hear from others (if they exist) that have made something similar.

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