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25th April 2017
Last year we made the decision to move to Craft CMS as our primary content management system. The decision was made due to a growing dissatisfaction with the limitations of WordPress, in terms of flexibility, customisation and security. Here’s how Craft solved all of our problems and more.
Wordpress is probably the World’s most well-known content management platform. It has enjoyed huge popularity - according to statistics, a staggering 25% of websites are built on the Wordpress platform. It’s well-known, easy and quick to use, is supported by an incredible number of plugins, add-ons and themes and it’s completely free. There are also lots of other options when it comes to content management systems; Joomla, ExpressionEngine, Perch, ModX and Drupal to name but a few. They all have their pros and cons and they all have their place. However none of them compare with the freedom and flexibility of Craft.
Developed by ExpressionEngine add-on developers Pixel & Tonic, Craft is a relatively new player, but word is spreading fast. Here are some reasons we think Craft CMS is great:
Craft is template driven - there are no ‘themes’. Craft developers build, not manipulate, so the resulting sites are 100% customised and completely bespoke in terms of both design and functionality. If you want a custom built, 100% bespoke solution then Craft CMS is for you.
The Craft content model is arranged around blocks which makes it extremely flexible. The developer is able to drop content blocks into templates and start to build quickly, even if the front-end design isn’t approved. And because content and styling are separate, the site can be fully populated with content before front-end development begins, which allows for a far more efficient development process as the developer can then start and complete development sprints without hold ups and delays.
Because the Craft interface is arranged in blocks, the client admin can take a completely blank page and use these pre-created blocks to build up what they need on any given page. Developers have complete control over the blocks, clients can control the order of their content and designers can rest assured that their designs won’t be ruined by user error, so with Craft it’s a win all round. If a new block is needed this can be added easily by the development team with far less effort and expense than re-designing and rebuilding a whole page. The new block is also then available to use on any other page, so there is no double development or double integration. When it comes to flexibility and scalability, Craft is king.
Craft makes no assumptions about what kind of content your site will need. This gives the developer freedom to create content types (sections), that are relevant to the needs of the client rather than forcing the content into pre-defined groups. Because each section is 100% bespoke Craft gives the developer the ability to set relationships between different ports of data, linking pages and posts together seamlessly and easily. Craft therefore solves one of the biggest bug-bears about WordPress (and other CMS’s) - it’s lack of relationships between post types.
Craft starts with just the basic building blocks and minimal defaults, allowing developers to build content types and inputs to achieve the custom dashboard each particular client or specific project needs. In contrast Wordpress attempts to give users as many options as possible out-of-the-box which results in bloated, unorganised, heavy code. Craft lends itself to an exceptionally clean and lightweight code base resulting in a much faster site. Faster sites equal a better user experience and also a better ranking score from search engines.
Many CMS platforms are clunky, complicated and cumbersome to use and clients and prospective clients often raise concerns about the process involved in training and learning a new CMS. Because the Craft dashboard is built specifically to fit the client or project requirements, rather than being off-the-shelf, it only contains what is necessary for the client to manage their site. Craft offers a clean, simple, easy to use admin interface that makes managing site content a breeze.
There is no perfect software, bugs exist in every platform and with Craft being a relatively new platform, there is the occasional hiccup. Having said that, Craft takes platform stability and security extremely seriously and bugs are fixed quickly in their rapid update cycle. In the instance of a security related bug, Craft can get the fix deployed quickly to their users with Craft's one-click auto-updating.
Craft includes the best ‘Live Preview’ feature available in any CMS. Unlike WordPress’ preview button which opens the draft in a new tab, with Craft the user can view the admin console and the website next to each other and see data change in real time (minor 1-2 second delay) when editing a field. The user can also share the draft content with other team members by using a sharable preview URL.
The developer can group users together and restrict what each individual user, or user group, has access to across the site and within the control panel. Craft makes managing teams and groups of users extremely easy.
When it comes to a platform community, Craft’s is second to none. As well as an in-depth and comprehensive documentation library and support database, Craft has an active community on Slack. The Slack Craft developer community is growing fast and is incredibly supportive, actively promoting discussion, encouraging knowledge sharing and supporting development queries.
It’s important to understand that Craft was not designed to go head to head with Wordpress. It’s not an off-the-shelf solution and takes time and tailoring to set up and to develop. Site structure and functionality are designed and built from scratch instead of manipulating an existing theme, so if you need a site tomorrow or want to put it together yourself then Craft is not for you. However, if you invest a little more at this stage, you will have a solution that will serve you well for many years to come. If you choose to go with Craft, get a development team who are familiar with the platform and give them a few weeks. The result will be a 100% bespoke, future-proof, scalable CMS that will look amazing, work beautifully and most importantly, provide you with a platform that will serve yours and your business’ needs far better than anything else available.
We’ve invested time and resources to make the switch to a more stable and secure solution for our clients so if this sounds like the platform you’ve been looking for then get in touch and we can show you first-hand how Craft can make life easier for you and your business.
If you would like to explore the option of creating a website within Craft CMS or looking to move away from WordPress, get in touch.
There are a lot of content managers and marketing teams who are unsure about moving to a different development platform due to concerns around plugins too. Craft CMS has hundreds of active plugins and we have a plugin toolkit that we turn to for every Craft CMS website we build (including our own) for performance optimisation and ease of user experience.
Take a look at our top Craft CMS plugins.
Interesting? There’s plenty more where that came from…