The Battle of the CMS: Craft vs. WordPress

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Craft CMS vs. WordPress

The Battle of the CMS: Craft vs. WordPress

Emily Noble

Ever since content management systems have been bubbling up from the early ‘90s, there have been numerous advancements in the rise of open source frameworks. From the early stages of RAINMAN -- the first CMS in the market, released by AOL -- to the DIY website builders, such as Squarespace, all of them have one thing in common: they are created to serve the needs of their (potential) customers. While having been developed with state-of-the-art tools of their time, each strives to be the best in their own niche. 

Over recent years, a new CMS has introduced itself to the market: Craft CMS. Craft joins the field amongst other players, such as WordPress, Drupal, Magento, and many more. 

Since this product is still relatively new and retains a smaller user community, you’re not alone if you’ve never heard of it prior to reading this post. 

So, what is Craft’s competitive advantage? It positions itself as a direct competitor of WordPress based on it’s user experience alone, but also maintains a no-frills theory behind web development. 

To help you understand which CMS may be the best solution for your next project, we’ve outlined 4 areas of interest to consider when trying to decide between Craft and WordPress. 

  1. Development and Support
    • Craft describes their product as a fully-customizable, modern development platform that empowers its users to create websites that are one of a kind. No pre-made themes that (sometimes) bloat the code of your website and slow down it’s load time. Awesome, right? Well, that depends on who you ask. 
    • If you’re a developer, this is great news. However, if you’re not well-versed in the coding world, this might be a caveat. Craft comes with the standard options for everything, as it “starts with just the basic building blocks and minimal defaults.” Using Craft requires advanced knowledge of HTML and CSS, as you’re expected to develop everything from scratch. And, with that, it’s far more difficult to find Craft CMS developers since their user community is so small. 
    • On the contrary, WordPress is the most popular CMS available today (with over 60 million websites and counting), and continues to capture market share. It doesn’t require every user to know HTML and CSS fluently, and has an extensive user community -- therefore it is much easier to find support when you encounter new issues. 
  2. Plugins
    • While some say that WordPress themes slow down website speed, there are ways to maximize performance through plugins and other techniques. WordPress offers over 50,000 plugins in it’s official directory, with new ones being built on a regular basis. No matter what kind of plugin you’re looking for, it’s highly likely that you’ll be able to find something to suit your needs, as “there’s practically a plugin for everything.” 
    • Comparably speaking, Craft offers less than 400 plugins, and developers often have to build their own to complete the necessary task(s). And, with that, comes more expenditure associated with web development, as opposed to using third-party plugins from the WordPress community. However, for either CMS, this depends on what kinds of functionality you’re looking to incorporate through the usage of plugins. 
  3. Costs
    • Since you’re provided with the bare minimum in Craft, it may require more spend on development if you’re not an advanced web developer. For some this isn’t a problem, but for others, who have limited knowledge or resources, Craft may not be the best option. 
    • To get started with Craft, the license alone will cost you nearly $300. WordPress, on the other hand, is free, open source software; you can even find pre-built templates that are free of charge. For more robust options, those are typically closer to the $50-60 range. 
    • The price of the Craft license may pose as a barrier to entry for some users, compared to the free software costs associated with WordPress. However, this depends on what kinds of funding and other resources you have available to you for a design and build project. 
  4. Security

When it comes to choosing between Craft and WordPress, it truly depends on the goals of the project, who’s working on it during development, and who plans to maintain it upon completion. If you’re a well-versed developer or have the resources to pay for additional development services, then Craft may be a more appropriate option for you. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something that is more budget-friendly and easier to manage (no matter the technical skill set), then WordPress may be the more appropriate option for you. In the end, it all comes down to the specific project and how its goals can be met in the best way possible. 

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