Cameron Stewart

@camstewart

9 Reasons I Think Craft is the Best CMS on the Market Today

Hello, I’m Cam — a co-founder and product person at Dawson Andrews. For as long as I’ve been involved in websites, CMS’s have been the vain of my life. Clunky, grey, uninspiring, unadaptive pieces of junk that only stressed me out.

… Until Craft CMS came along.

I never thought the day would arrive where I willingly took time to write up praise for a CMS, but here I go.

And breathe… a CMS that gets me.

Craft CMS is simple, minimalistic, agile and has every capability a modern CMS framework needs. Over the past ten years we have worked with every CMS you could think of (Wordpress, Drupal, Rails+ActiveAdmin, Ghost, Weebly, DjangoCMS, Jekyll, Joomla, Tumblr, Squarespace, Expression Engine, Statamic, Blogger)… here are the reasons why we’ve landed firmly with Craft as our №1 choice.

Stunning responsive control panel 😲

Craft’s control panel is hands-down the most elegant and enjoyable to use. The design gets out of the way and makes it easy to edit and manage your content.

“Craft has been a brilliant option for us. We have a wide range of technical skills in the team and everyone who has picked it up has loved it. We’re regularly adapting our site and rarely have to call for technical support given how adaptable it is.”
– Charlie McCloskey, Head of Digital,
ICC Belfast

It’s also responsive so you can literally edit your website on your phone. We have clients who have multiple content contributors all around the world who log into Craft from the train, hotel, bus and add content on the go straight to site.

‘View Preview’ — Live Preview

Possibly the most innovative differentiator above the rest of the competition is the previewing feature. Old CMS’ would force you to open a new tab and reload your site every time you wanted to see what your changed look like. Craft has gone beyond this and built a Live Preview function to bring a split-screen view that lets you view your edits live as you type.

It also allows you to generate URL’s to share your preview to colleagues before publishing it live. The speed this allows us to work at is one of the key reasons we’re such strong advocates for Craft.

Matrix

Matrix is like Lego — pick a block and build what you want, layouts have never been easier. Pixel and Tonic (team behind Craft) built an add-on for ExpressionEngine (old CMS) back in 2010, and it changed the game. When they eventually built Craft and introduced Matrix it was even better. When you configure the field, you define blocks that contain custom fields. Then, while you are creating an entry, you can add as many blocks as you want in whatever order you want.

In the example above, we have defined three blocks: Text, Video, and Image. This means that we can still create structured templates, but give clients the freedom to customise their pages whatever way they want — no need to call the developer.

Multi-site, multi-language

A lesser-known but critical element of Craft. You can define one or more sites at different domains, using a different set of templates, and different versions of entry content, all under one Craft installation. This is critical for sites running multi-language or multi-currency, or for sites requiring sub-brands or Trade sections.

The multi-site feature in Craft is for sites with the same publishing team. You manage the multi-site content at the entry level, with the ability to enable Sections you want to be included in a site.

A hotel site who wanted a separate site for their cafe. It was as simple as duplicating and removing the hotel-specific content from the Cafe site.

Localisation

Localisation translates your page’s content according to your target audience. By setting up and enabling locales, you can simply switch to the desired locale from the sidebar of the edit entry section, even in a particular section. WordPress, for example, relies on heavy plugins that slow down the site and mess with the security too.

Plugin-free

While there are a load of valuable plugins for Craft, it’s core product operates really well without the need for additional parts and we rarely find ourselves requiring plugins. Compared to many other off-the-shelf CMS’s you don’t actually need a lot of plugins. Here’s a quick list of features that other CMS’s might require you install a third-party plugin.

Versioning and drafts
Localisation
Live preview
Relationships
Image resizing
Using a CDN for assets
Categories
Tags
User management

It might seem like a small thing to be celebrating but a low reliance on plugins ultimately makes updating the site a breeze. For developers, once you update the core files, you just have to visit the control panel to run migrations. This makes updating the core really seamless across multiple environments. Having a one-click update is revolutionary compared to the Wordpress days where you would have to update every other element almost exclusively.

Support

Have an issue? There’s a form in the dashboard that sends messages straight to the developers along with error logs, database backup, and template files.

There’s also an entire Craft community of fan-boys (like us) on Twitter and Reddit supporting each other so you’ll not be left hanging. The web has really gotten behind Craft, the support is there to stay.

Craft CMS

Security

Since Craft’s one-click update feature is so efficient, users don’t delay the most important part of keeping a CMS safe, Updates. It’s just a matter of a click and Craft takes care of the rest.

Craft CMS provides freedom of customisation, a central update system, and state-of-the-art security, all at a one-time fee of $299. WordPress on the other hand is free, at least initially. For the added security — which is a necessity — you’ll have to pay up to $500/month.

Looking at the vulnerabilities that the dependency on plugins brings, Craft CMS does not only look like a safe bet but also a smart decision.

Twig

Clients don’t care about this one so much but developers care deeply about the templating engine. Craft uses Twig — it’s clean, simple and not proprietary. If you find something Twig can’t do out of the box it’s really simple to extend. It’s bring your own HTML — you won’t be working with automatically generated bollocks — you are in control. Twig syntax is very familiar, elegant, and easy to read. It also doesn’t hurt that, if you do have a typo, you get an error message that tells you exactly which line has the error.

In summary…

Craft has been hugely beneficial for us as a company and mostly our clients: It is incredibly fast and it comes with a beautiful, easy-to-use admin panel, which we all actually enjoy using. It’s a secure, modern system, that’s easily extendable and is backed by an amazing company of developers and community that back them. We couldn’t recommend working with it more.

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