Craft CMS vs. WordPress: A bout for the ages!

Posted January 2019 by Greg Jones

I’ve been working in web development for quite some time now and in that time I’ve dabbled in a lot of different systems. One that keeps coming up is WordPress. Some developers swear by it and some content editors believe it’s the best the web can do, but is it really a competitive option for your new website? Let’s throw it into the ring and see how the fan favourite WordPress holds up against my new favourite system – Craft CMS

Let’s get ready to ruuuuuuummmmmmmbbbbbbblllllllleeeeeee!

Round 1: Standard Features

Out of the box WordPress comes with the basics, but not much else. There are a number of plugins that will fill in the gaps, but if one doesn’t exist, then building on the functionality isn’t easy. The system is just lacking on its own.

Craft comes with the basics and the tools for your dev to setup pretty much everything else. You don’t need plugins to use craft to the fullest, but they’re still nice for some extra sheen.

For me this is a no-brainer. Craft lands a fierce first blow.

Round 2: Templates

Installing a premade template in WordPress is fairly easy, but setting up a custom template is as difficult in WordPress as in many worse systems – you have premade template options because it’s popular, but it’s a very middle of the road experience.

Craft doesn’t really have third party templates for you to install, so if you don’t have the budget for a custom template and your developer doesn’t have their own premade templates (we certainly have some 😊), then you’re out of luck. When it comes to custom templates, Craft features lots of little tech-y improvements which makes our lives easier. It’s just a better setup.

We’ll be nice and call this a tie since WordPress lands a blow with premade templates, but Crafts custom templating is just better.

Round 3: Adding custom features

I’ve developed features in WordPress and… honestly… it’s fine. Not great, just fine. Craft on the other hand is all about the ease of custom features. It removes the need for feature development in most cases cutting the time to implement things down quite a bit (sometimes 80% or more for config heavy customisations).

BAM! Another jab from Craft!

Round 4: Plugin Variety

“But, Greg! WordPress has so many plugins!” I hear fans call out. Yep, it does. You can add lots of functionality using their plugins. In most cases you even have multiple options for plugins that tackle a single problem. That’s nice, so point to WordPress here. Craft has a lot of plugins and I’ve never hit issues that we can’t solve with Craft, but on shear number of plugins, WordPress is almost untouchable.

SMACK! WordPress fights back!

Round 5: Plugin Quality

Craft plugins come with small costs (including small ongoing costs) and for the quality of the plugins, they’re worth it! WordPress on the other hand features predominantly free plugins, and whilst some are good, many are very lack lustre.

Pow! Pow! Point to Craft!

Round 6: Security

I’ve never seen a Craft site be compromised/hacked so that’s awesome! Every WordPress site I’ve worked on has been compromised at some point though. For some clients, it was almost an annual experience. That’s embarrassing…

Not a strong round for WordPress… Craft floats like a butterfly and stings like a more secure Content Management System.

Round 7: Costs

WordPress is free and opensource. That’s great! You shouldn’t spend money if you don’t have to, but I often feel like this is its main advantage over Craft. Craft is a paid system, but not very expensive ($500ish for a site licence and some handy additional plugins) and you really get value for that money.

Hard to beat $0 as a price, so that’s a strong punch from WordPress.

Round 8: Ease of editing

WordPress sites usually become Frankenstein’s of functionality. Editing them is usually a nightmare and people like myself get brought in to try to untangle the mess. Often the best you can hope for is a mediocre experience. You shouldn’t aim for mediocre… Craft can get somewhat complicated, but can be genuinely beautiful when setup well and is usually at least ok.

SMASH! Craft lands another shot!

And the winner is…

With 6 rounds to 3, CRAFT IS VICTORIOUS!

I think I’ve pushed the bad boxing metaphor as far as I can, but this really isn’t a close competition. Craft is built on newer tech which makes it better to work with and more flexible. If you have the budget, Craft is a better system – it does a lot of things better and just has fewer flaws. If you don’t have much budget, then WordPress is ok.

Does that mean all Craft sites are Better than WordPress sites?

Nope. Some WordPress developers are great and I’m sure some Craft developers are terrible (although I haven’t found any yet).

It pays to think of Content Management Systems as tools that developers like myself use to create a website. A great craftsman can create a great piece of work using lesser tools, but better tools usually lead to better work. Finding a great developer to work with the system is really important! If you’re having trouble picking a developer, then this article may help, or just contact us

Article Written By

Greg Jones

Greg brings nearly a decade of front-end development experience to the team and is our in-house Craft CMS expert. He loves working on complex functionality for beautiful websites.

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