Craft CMS vs. WordPress: Why Choose Craft?

Craft CMS vs. WordPress: Why Choose Craft?

Posted on February 28, 2022 Mary Merritt

[Originally published on November 8th, 2019]

Did you know that WordPress powers nearly 43% of the entire internet? That's right, 43 out of every 100 websites on the internet today utilizes WordPress as the content management system framework (this was just updated on January 29th, 2022).

The acronym "CMS" stands for "Content Management System." A CMS is meant to empower marketing professionals and content publishers by allowing them to manage the content on their website through an application interface, and it usually requires very little knowledge of HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) or CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). There are MANY content management systems out there, but to name a few popular ones:

  1. WordPress
  2. Drupal
  3. ExpressionEngine
  4. Joomla
  5. Magento

Of course, there are more content management frameworks out there, but these are the systems that were able to garner a decent audience and get some serious adoption behind their code.

Then, out of the mist comes Craft CMS. A hero in the world of content management systems.

We get asked why we like Craft CMS better than WordPress, and it generally sparks a pretty serious debate. Most people who use WordPress are fiercely loyal, and this conversation usually moves into an "open source vs. closed source" discussion. My position is that WordPress has become an entangled mess of open source code. It seems bloated sometimes, and it needs a lot of regular maintenance to keep it secure and not buggy.

At NerdyMind, we're content creators, writers, developers, and designers. We want a fast CMS that is easy to use with a nice interface and an intelligent structure—we think Craft CMS delivers a better solution than WordPress for a few reasons:

The load speeds are absolutely incredible.

WordPress has a LOT of code overhead, especially when stacked with a page-building plugin like Elementor. This can heavily affect load speeds and other important vital metrics such as "first contentful paint," and "cumulative layout shift." Last summer, Google released a new algorithmic update that ranks your pages based on the page experience. Well, in order to combat slow load speeds and offer users an amazing experience, Craft CMS adopted the MVC design pattern for their code. You might be thinking: "What the heck does MVC stand for?" Well, it stands for Model-View-Controller, and this design pattern for code is just faster.

Imagine you're at a coffee shop and you're ordering a Medium Mocha. The barista who is making your drink would likely start with the espresso, steam the milk, pour the steamed milk into the cup, add the chocolate syrup, add the vanilla syrup, stir, and then add the whipped cream on top (and then maybe sprinkle it with some chocolate flakes or something yummy like that). Then of course they would charge your credit card or take cash in exchange for the drink. These are the logical steps that a barista takes when doing business with a customer.

In this scenario, the barista's mind is the CONTROLLER. The second you said the words "Medium Mocha" - that's a language most baristas understand, and they immediately get to work on your delicious drink.

The tools that the barista has available to them is the MODEL. In this case, the MODEL is a steamer, milk, syrups, glasses, their own hands, mixers, and more.

The finished drink is the VIEW. This is what was returned to you as the customer.

In this scenario, it would make NO sense for the barista to pull out every syrup flavor to build your Mocha Latte. The time between when the MODEL hears the words and when the VIEW is delivered to me should be as absolutely minimal as humanly possible. If the barista was to pull out ALL of the syrup flavors, and then slowly work through them until they get to the chocolate and vanilla syrups... a lot of time has gone by and I'm not a happy customer.

So, to sum everything up, let's say that most WordPress websites pull out all of the syrup flavors when they should only be pulling out a couple to serve up a view.

Content modules and live preview are simply amazing.

Have you ever been working on a WordPress website, and then all of a sudden you realize that you have 40 tabs open in your browser, and you're not sure which tabs are preview tabs and which tabs house the original edits you've made in the dashboard? Well, that happens to me all of the time. I am a designer by trade and by heart, and I am constantly previewing small changes to make sure my spatial relationships are attractive.

Craft CMS has a great "LIVE PREVIEW" tool that allows your screen to split into two views: the CMS panel on the left and the page preview on the right. As you make changes to your copy and images, the changes show up in real-time on the right side of the screen. I never have a million tabs open, and I can create beautiful pages in less time while previewing my changes.

Additionally, WordPress out of the box isn't very content-publisher-friendly. Even the most loyal WordPress fans still complain about the Gutenberg Editor (which is why a lot of people use heavy plugins to make page layout easier).

That being said, there are a million flavors of WordPress out there, and every theme developer creates a different way to manage the content with their custom starter themes. For instance, we customized WordPress to include what we call (and most people call) "content blocks." Think of content blocks like LEGOS, they are repeatable design patterns that can be placed on any landing page. So, if you want to add a 3-column section to a page, it's as easy as adding that module to the page, and filling each column with content.

In comparison, Craft CMS comes out of the box with content modules. It's incredibly consistent, and in this case it doesn't leave room for varying levels of developers to turn the CMS into what they think is best. Craft was created by thoughtful content publishers and developers who want to make managing content SERIOUSLY easier, and it definitely follows some line of best practices. Our clients constantly tell us how easy it is to manage their Craft websites.

When someone can develop in Craft CMS, you know that they have a certain level of skill.

Let's just face facts for a moment here. There are a lot of self taught developers out there who create WordPress websites. Someone might even call themselves a developer, but really all they are doing is installing WordPress on a server (with the touch of a button through the hosting company), and perhaps configuring a pre-built (free or purchased) theme for their customer. There's really nothing wrong with this at all, but it can get you into some sticky situations if you need help beyond the developer's skill level.

With Craft CMS, they literally FORCE you to bring your "A" game to the table. The people behind Craft boldly state that "themes are for wussies,"and they require you to bring your own HTML and CSS to the project. There are so many poorly supported WordPress themes out there that aren't being properly maintained...and there are thousands of plugins out there that will make your website explode upon installation and activation.

In the Craft development ecosystem, you can't be a theme installer. In doing so, Craft is creating the highest quality developer community in the industry. That's something to be truly respected - because better developers mean happier clients, less-frustrated users, faster-loading websites, easier-to-manage content, and more beauty on the web all around.

Our Craft CMS websites haven't been hacked yet.

I am knocking on wood as I write this, but we have yet to get a call from a confused customer asking us how Viagra ads ended up on the homepage of their Craft website. WordPress is known for vulnerabilities, and a large portion of the updates they release are security patches. Also, WordPress customers sometimes pay hundreds of dollars per month to maintain their code and keep up with theme/plugin updates. Well, those service fees add up to the thousands per year. That $299 for Craft CMS doesn't look so bad anymore, does it?

So, there has to be some CONS to Craft CMS, right? Yes, yes there are.

It's hilarious to even write this sentence out, but THE CONS OF CRAFT CMS ARE ALSO THE PROS. It's all a matter of how you perceive the following pieces of information:

  1. WordPress is FREE, and a single website license for craft is $299. So that's a big turn-off right there, but once again we could move into the "closed source is better than open source" debate. In my eyes, purchasing a code base is awesome because there is great support, and the company holds themselves accountable for a certain level of service because there was an exchange of money for a product. So once again, the con can also be viewed as a pro from the right angle.
  2. It's harder to find Craft CMS developers. It's true, you throw a pebble in any direction and you'll hit a WordPress developer. The developer community for WordPress is HUGE, and it's not hard to find good help for your WordPress website. True, it is harder to find a Craft CMS developer - and I just don't have much to add here. The community is smaller.
  3. It's harder to find plugins for Craft CMS. With WordPress, you can search "Instagram Plugin" and a thousand choices will come up for you to look through. With Craft CMS, there are far fewer plugins available, and I don't really have anything to combat that fact. The one thing I will say is that there are a ton of garbage WordPress plugins out there, so sifting through them all and choosing the right one can be daunting. If you want an Instagram feed on your Craft CMS website, chances are that your developer can write one for you. Sure, you pay more...but you also don't run the risk of your entire website being destroyed as you activate an unsupported plugin that was written 10 years and 120 WordPress versions ago.

SO! Now you know why Craft wins in our Craft CMS vs. WordPress battle! NerdyMind absolutely loves WordPress, and we still run a ton of WordPress builds...but Craft CMS is simply a better experience in our humble (yet NERDY) opinions. It's powerful, it's built in a more intelligent fashion, it loads faster, and it is building a community of really skilled web developers. It also allows for a lot of new layouts, animations, and micro interactions - it's really up to you. We look forward to using Craft for years to come, and we hope you decide to utilize it for your next website build. Developers love it, content managers love it, and digital marketing folks love it, too.

Ready to make a change? Call us about your website project today, and how Craft CMS could be a better solution. (970) 449-6868