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The benefits of building your website with Craft CMS

Dec 14, 2020 / Andrei Medvedev
Time to read: 7 min.
Whenever we start working with a new web design client, there are a lot of big decisions we have to make before the project can get moving. And one of the first things we do is to choose the right content management system (CMS) for the job.   While WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world (and it’s one we occasionally use), we’ve been using Craft CMS more frequently in recent years.  Why is that exactly? Well, there are a lot of reasons why Craft CMS really stands out for us and for our clients. 

Cons for WordPress:

  • There are no features available 1st party like Craft has at their commercial tiers.
  • There is a MASSIVE developer community with a million different styles of doing things, plugins that do the same or (almost the same) thing. (meaning its hard to something high quality)
  • It is FREQUENTLY targeted and vulnerable to hacks
  • It was built as a blogging platform and thus is great at that but falls short in terms of actually managing content.
  • It’s convoluted and difficult to use if being used for anything more than a basic blog for the average non-techie site owner.
  • It’s bloated

 

Pros for Craft CMS:

  • It is AMAZING at managing content, one of if not the best content management systems at managing content.
  • Lightweight (not bloated)
  • Great features in their commercial offerings such as 1st party localization, easy simple rebranding, etc.
  • First party e-commerce option that is extremely powerful.
  • Extremely well documented with a smaller, but typically more ‘high-tier’ community of developers.
  • It does not need plugins to do many things other platforms do need plugins for.
  • Everything is custom-tailored by the designer/developer for the site being built.

 

 
Content ManagementGutenberg made improvements with its new block system but is still a laggy experience.Matric-block architecture makes creating well-designed and functional pages quick and intuitive.
PerformanceNotoriously slow load times and can get bloated with too many plugins.Minimum use of plugins and a no-theme architecture creates fast performing websites.
SecurityMakes up to 90% of hacked websites, developers beware. Very little room for vulnerability.
Community SupportLarge developers community, but too many cooks in the kitchen (or apps in the plugin store) causes issues. Low entry-level makes the whole community less skillful. The fairly small developer community, but due to a higher Craft’s complexity, this community is far more skillful. Support is easily accessible across several channels.
CostsThe CMS itself is free, but costs pile on from plugins, hosting requirements, and very demanding maintenance and support.License costs $299 covering the first year of support. Optional recurring $59/year fee to maintain the support and updates after the first year. Higher development cost, but a much better final product. 

 

In the following introduction to Craft CMS, we want to show you a bit of the behind the scenes and to explain some of the benefits associated with building a website on this platform. 

For those of you who are looking for a CMS for your ecommerce site, you’ll want to read our introduction to Craft Commerce instead. 

What is Craft CMS?

Craft CMS is an open source software and content management system that developers and designers use to create websites. 

 

The great thing about Craft is that it doesn’t force us to build websites that fit within the parameters of the platform. 

 

It empowers us to build the very best version of a website for each of our clients. Period. 

 

Pixel & Tonic is the company behind Craft. The agency was originally formed in 2010 and began work on the CMS in 2011. In 2013, they released Craft 1.0 with the mission: 

 

“To help web professionals build and maintain better websites.”

 

Over the years, Craft has racked up some major accolades from CMS Critic Awards, winning: 

  • Best CMS for SMBs
  • Best WordPress Alternative
  • Best CMS for Developers

With an upfront cost of $299 and a yearly renewal fee of $59, Craft is not just a powerful, user-friendly, and secure website builder. It’s also a super affordable one, too. 

 

What are the advantages of using Craft CMS for your website?

If you’re curious about what makes Craft CMS stand apart from other website builders, here are its top advantages: 

 

1. It’s incredibly easy to manage your content. 

One of the complaints we hear often about WordPress is how difficult it is to use.  

Despite being around for a long time, not a lot has changed with WordPress. This is a problem for many users since this one-time blogging platform is only easy to use if you’re strictly using it to blog or if you’re an advanced developer who can code everything on the backend. 

For anyone else, the process of managing their website and content is just too convoluted.

Craft, on the other hand, is a super user-friendly platform. And we’re not just referring to how easy it is for our team to use. 

Craft empowers users of all types (designers, developers, writers, and business owners) to get inside the CMS and to create, edit, and manage their content. 

 

If you’re not comfortable with coding, don’t sweat it.

The content editor is very simple to use. You can all manage it just as easily as you’d manage something in a Google Doc. And you have control over everything.

 

2. Your content comes first. 

One of the issues with using a CMS like WordPress is that you’re often stuck having to fit your content into the spaces provided. Again, this has a lot to do with WordPress’s origins as a blogging platform and not as a content management system. 

Although WordPress can be used to build regular websites today, users have to rely heavily on coding (or bloated plugins, which we’ll get into next) in order to alter the predetermined structure and information allowed on any given page. 

With Craft, however, we custom-build every website around your content. 

We get to set the rules for what is included on the website, what it looks like, and where it goes. 

As a result, your website won’t run the risk of looking like your competition (which can happen if you have to rely on templates and predefined layouts to design a website).

 

3. There’s not a lot of bloat.

When we talk about “bloat” on a website, we’re referring to all the plugins that have to be added in order for a website to be functional. 

This is actually one of WordPress’s greatest weaknesses. Because, out of the box, the CMS is just too basic. If you want to add something as simple as a contact form, for instance, you need to install a plugin. 

Craft, however, is set up for success on Day 1. 

For starters, the content management system makes it easy to build out critical features of a website (like the contact form) without the need for additional plugins. In addition, features like localization, rebranding, and e-commerce come baked into the system. So, Craft is not only feature-packed, but it’s lightweight, too. 

Now, when it comes time to connect your website to the critical software that powers your operations (like for sales, marketing, and analytics), Craft makes it easy to do so. 

Want to see an example of what a bloat-free website looks like? This is EFSA Capital

 

You can learn more about how we used Craft CMS to build their website here. 

 

4. Your website will be fortified against hackers. 

WordPress websites are overwhelmingly attacked by hackers. 

It’s not necessarily that the CMS is faulty or unsafe. It’s just that it’s the most popular website builder and thus hackers are very familiar with its system and how to exploit any vulnerabilities within it

With Craft, however, security isn’t as much of a concern. There are a number of reasons for this: 

  • It’s written using a modern codebase, so security flaws are unlikely.
  • As a commercial platform, the team behind it does a lot of work to strengthen the platform and to keep its users and their websites safe. 
  • Craft keeps its software updated regularly so that bugs and speed are rarely an issue. 

 

That said, Craft CMS is a piece of software. So, it requires ongoing maintenance and updates in order to be as safe as the creators intended it to be. 

While Craft issues software updates to patch bugs and vulnerabilities, someone needs to make sure they’re implemented on your website. This is simply part of the ongoing maintenance of a website. 

When you partner with a company like Convergine that knows the Craft CMS platform inside and out, you won’t have to worry about maintaining your website. Things like security, performance speeds, and downtime are taken care of for you. 

 

5. Crystal-clear documentation and a dedicated community of developers ensure your website is well-managed. 

WordPress can certainly tout the largest community of users, designers, and developers. However, that’s not always a good thing. If you were to turn to that community with a question or for help, you’d likely get tons of different answers and solutions. 

 

This is further aggravated by the lack of support from WordPress itself. While there is a knowledgebase available, much of the information there is outdated or written specifically for developers. 

 

Craft doesn’t have that problem. 

Because this is a commercial product, Craft provides way better support than many of its peers. 

For starters, its knowledgebase is extremely well-documented and up-to-date. So, if you have questions on how to add a feature, how to fix a bug, or simply how to build a website from start-to-finish, you’ll find the answers you need there.

In addition, Craft has a fantastic community of developers around it. And because of the quality of the software, the community tends to be higher tier and more experienced than communities for other content management systems. 

 

Final thoughts

We started using Craft CMS as an alternative to WordPress and we really love it. Having this additional CMS option gives us the ability to build websites that are truly tailored to what our clients need and will benefit most from.

Want to learn more about our web development services and to see if Craft is the right CMS for your website? Let’s talk. 

Andrei Medvedev

We love what we do, and we think of it as an art form, but it’s not all about looks and ingenuity. Underlying the artist’s aesthetic in both our process and our products is problem-solving practicality and shrewd business sense.



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