We all love an underdog story. David versus Goliath. Rocky Balboa versus Apollo Creed. The story of the Jamaican national bobsled team.
In the world of content management systems, the undisputed champion is WordPress. It is without question the most popular CMS, powering 43.3% of all websites on the internet. On top of that:
- WordPress has a 60.8% market share in the CMS market.
- WordPress powers 14.7% of the world’s top websites.
- 500+ sites are built daily using WordPress compared to 60-80 per day built on platforms like Shopify or Squarespace.
If WordPress is Goliath, then it’s David is the less well-known Craft CMS. Having first launched in 2011, Craft CMS has been improving every year since, adding new content authoring features to meet the needs of modern web development.
Since then, Craft has become a widely used CMS and has won several awards, including Best CMS for SMB, Best CMS for Developers, and Best WordPress Alternative.
With all this in mind, we thought it would be interesting to pit the two against one another, comparing the pros and cons, to see which one comes out on top.
For total transparency, we are big fans of Craft CMS, favouring it over other content management systems. While we personally prefer Craft, we have used WordPress in the past and still do should clients require us to.
Now, let’s rumble!
Pros of Craft CMS
Craft is the new kid on the block, especially when compared to WordPress, which has been knocking around since 2003, but it has quickly become a popular alternative. Here’s why:
- Speed. One of the main advantages Craft CMS has over WordPress is its speed. A typical Craft site is much faster than WordPress - even with plugins installed. That's because more of its core functionality is already in the code. In fact, most Craft sites can score '100' on Google's PageSpeed Tool.
- Security. Another advantage it has over WordPress is its security. Craft provides just some of the following built-in security measures:
- Craft and Yii use PDO for all database queries, and all dynamic values are parameterized, helping prevent SQL injection attacks.
- Craft validates sensitive cookie data using a private key to ensure request cookies have not been tampered with.
- Craft uses CSRF token validation by default to help prevent CSRF attacks.
- Twig automatically escapes HTML entities that are dynamically output by default, helping avoid XSS attack vectors.
- Craft verifies new email addresses on user accounts before accepting them by default.
- Craft will deny all requests to start a session that don’t present a user agent string or IP address, helping prevent direct socket connections.
- SEO-friendly. Developing a website alone is not enough. You must ensure that it ranks well on search engines to grow your brand and capture your audience's attention. Craft CMS offers an awesome SEOmatic plugin to optimise your website from Google's perspective.
- User-friendly CMS platform. Craft moves at a breakneck pace. The live Preview feature allows content managers to easily preview custom page layout construction and adjustments in real-time. It provides an easy-to-navigate interface that users can customise at any time. This will enable users to add the most important features and provide a better user experience.
- Out-of-the-box features. These out-of-the-box features are automatically available to users after the installation and are incredibly beneficial for both web designers and developers.
- Custom fields provide you with complete control over your design and content.
- Multilingual and multi-site capabilities.
- Full control over HTML/JS/CSS by PHP templating language ‘Twig’.
- A highly user-friendly image editor lets you resize, crop, and rotate images, among other things.
- Live Preview feature.
- Matrix field type that makes designers create the page structure and content as they like.
Cons of Craft CMS
You will be hard-pressed to find a web developer who hasn't touched a WordPress build using PHP, one of the most common programming languages used on the internet. Most, if not all, web agencies support WordPress. WordPress has a vast third-party market that offers pre-packaged plugins, themes, and dummy data, allowing you to quickly get your website up and running. This is in stark contrast to Craft which has no themes to work from, meaning you have to be creative from the start.
Craft CMS has a much smaller ecosystem, but as the old saying goes, good things come in small packages. The Craft community continues to grow in size and includes a very supportive community comprised primarily of developers, content managers, and the Craft support team.
Another disadvantage of Craft CMS is cost. WordPress is free to use with free options for all themes and plugins, while Craft CMS does not. On top of this, you still need to pay for web hosting services on top of the CMS cost. WordPress is your best bet if you need a minimum viable product to get up and running in just a few weeks. Although, prices can quickly rise if a lot of customisation is involved.
As the old saying goes, however, you get what you pay for. If you value speed, security, and usability, Craft CMS is worth every single penny.
Pros of WordPress
It is hard to believe that the platform began its life as a blogging platform to become the largest CMS on the market.
Part of its appeal is its usability. WordPress is straightforward for admins to navigate through the backend of their WordPress site, edit pages and upload new content. It has a simple dashboard with different menu options along the sidebar, making it straightforward for users to create posts and pages, customise their website designs, add navigation menus, and much more.
While beginners may find it a bit overwhelming at first, there are certainly a lot of online resources to help you navigate the dashboard. If you need help getting started, simply type ‘WordPress Beginner’ into Google and see what comes up. You will likely find the solution.
As of this writing, there are 59,000 free plugins on WordPress, which can make your website do just about anything. You can sell products and services, create an online community, set aside part of your website for members and subscribers, accept payments, or display tweets from different Twitter feeds. The potential is limitless.
Cons of WordPress
The most significant downside of using WordPress is its lack of security. Due to its popularity, WordPress is attractive to potential hackers and other unscrupulous actors. And even if your agency downloads all the security plugins WordPress offers, it simply is not enough to keep your website secure.
If your website has a blog page, your comments section will likely get spammed, as will the contact us form, which can be time-consuming and incredibly frustrating to go through the comments and emails. Any website vulnerability can harm your credibility and potentially spread viruses to your users.
Another major problem with WordPress is websites can go down for a variety of reasons without any notice – and if you are not paying close attention. It could be down for a couple of hours or potentially days. Without a functioning website, users may question the legitimacy of your business and stay away.
WordPress is also a slow platform, mainly down to all the added plugins, oversaturated databases, and codebases. These are not the only things that can slow down your website - large images, too much wording, and unreliable hosting can negatively impact your website speed.
Page speed is crucial to the user experience. Aside from being frustrating, pagers with a longer load time tend to have higher bounce rates and lower average page time.
And the winner is...
Well, this all depends on your goals, budgets, and resources. While WordPress can be brilliant for smaller projects, especially if you are working with tight budgets and deadlines, for us, Craft CMS, the underdog, comes out on top with its improved performance, security, and flexibility.