WordPress is so far ahead in my honest opinion. Just start with a clean theme from scratch using the Codex and it’s basically headache-free. You need to realize that everything WordPress needs is outside the theme. Just create a style.css with the necessary information at the top (Theme name: Your theme etc), and then crank out that html and php on a blank slated index.php. Ahhh! peace of mind. However, there are some best alternative for you in different aspects to wordpress:
Squarespace : Using squarespace would save you tons of stress and time. It’s super easy to set up and manage, and it looks beautiful to boot. Unless you had some specific need, look, or application in mind, you probably wouldn’t use anything else. User logins, better coupon systems, more layout customizations, fraud prevention, numerous Shopify Apps, and it’s built in funnel tracking. All of these things were either non-existent or very limited in SS. Squarespace is a phenomenal ecommerce solution for fast deployment, brainlessly easy to use, and well laid out sites. You can spend thousands of dollars and weeks of back and forth to get a site as good as a turnkey Squarespace site on Shopify. But Squarespace is super limited in what you can do with it. Squarespace will be cheaper and easier to maintain, all things considered. If you have success and outgrow Squarespace, great! Switch platforms at that point.
Squarespace means you’re using Stripe for e-commerce. This is awesome. It is smooth to setup and administer.
SmackJeeves: SmackJeeves is webcomic hosting site. It’s an excellent source of getting information & insight, but not so good at promoting outside the webcomic community. It also has a paid option which comes with extra bells and whistles, and there’s internal promotion across SmackJeeves comics which you’ll find pretty good. You can easily get a fairly steady 10-15% increase in readership per month starting up the SmackJeeves site. Pages are coded in CSS rather than HTML, and if you want to use custom backdrops and buttons you’ve got to host them from another site unless you want to shell out for the premium subscription, but you will like the comic management system and the way SmackJeeves members can register favorites. If you’re dead set on free-hosting though, we’d recommend SmackJeeves. They’re good for customization and they’re relatively unobtrusive when it comes to ads and the like. They’ve also got a pretty helpful community.
ProcessWire : ProcessWire is like a CMF (Content Management Framework) or even a CME (Content Management Engine), it’s extremely cool and a blast to develop. Comes with pre-designed templates, lets you design your way.
Expression Engine : EE is more a CMS whereas PW is like a CMF. EE is easy for the back end phobic. EE brought back the free CORE version for personal non-commercial sites. Works a treat for portfolio stuff, and their new multi-relationships tool is sweet. They are, however, incredibly pricey compared to WP. You do get support in the pricing though.
Craft : It is a la carte – most of the core functionality is free, but if you want multi-user, versioning and drafts, multi-language or cloud support, it then costs. It has functionality you’d pay for in ExpressionEngine (ironically, from Craft’s developer, Pixel and Tonic) but it’s there and free. People chose Craft, because they let you break out of boxes and pre-designed templates and let you design the front-and-back your way. Worth a gander when it’s especially free.