Craft CMS vs WordPress 2022 Review – Discover the Best Platform for You
Detailed comparison review of the platforms based on ten different factors to help you decide which CMS is the right for you.
Deciding between WordPress and Craft is not easy. If anyone says one is the best, they are most likely wrong.
Why? Because each platform has its own strengths and weaknesses and there’s no straight answer. There are 10 things, we at htmlBurger, absolutely love about Craft CMS, and still, we use WordPress in most cases.
We’ll compare the two solutions based on many different factors so you can consider which one is the best for you. Let’s take a closer look.
Table of Contents – Craft CMS vs WordPress Review
- 1. Overview – statistics, introductions, and main similarities.
- 2. Key Differences – audiences and themes
- 3. CMS Tools – customizable dashboard, life previews, accessibility
- 4. SEO Features – website performance, load time, plugins
- 5. Extensions and Integrations – plugin stores, ecosystems
- 6. Security – who takes it seriously
- 7. eCommerce – CraftCommerce and WooCommerce
- 8. Ease of Use – which is better and for who
- 9. Pricing – the costs associated to run a website
- 10. Pros and Cons – summary of strengths and weaknesses
1. Quick Overview of WordPress and Craft CMS
Before we make an in-depth comparison between Craft CMS and WordPress, we’ll first go through some quick introductions, statistics, and what makes them similar.
Craft CMS is a PHP-based platform, not a website builder
Craft CMS was founded by Pixel & Tonic with its first version released in 2013. Although relatively young in comparison to WordPress, Craft has become an established CMS platform and a popular alternative. For example, in 2017, Craft was selected s the Best WordPress Alternative in CMS Critic’s People’s Choice Awards. The platform was developed and kept up by a team of developers and designers in a dynamic open-source community.
- It is founded by Pixel & Tonic.
- The first official version of the platform was released in 2013.
- The platform connects to PostgreSQL or MySQL for content storage.
- The templating is powered by Twig (a flexible, fast, and secure template engine for PHP)
- It is a powerful CMS with all the necessary tools for editing content.
- In September 2020, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) alongside Studio 24 selected Craft as a CMS for W3C website redesign.
- Craft CMS is used by 0.2% of all the websites that use CMS. This is 0.1% of all websites.
- The platform is one of the top 10 headless platforms by market share.
WordPress is a theme-based CMS platform
WordPress is the most popular CMS platform, powering 64.2% of all the websites that use CMS. It’s an open-source full-service CMS suitable for a huge range of projects, from blogs and portfolios to eCommerce and corporate websites. This high level of flexibility comes from the ability to use WordPress themes and plugins that give you control over the design and functionality of your website.
- WordPress is a free and open-source CMS written in PHP
- It is founded by Matt Mullenweg and is nowadays part of Automattic
- The first release of WordPress is May 2003
- It’s paired with a MySQL or MariaDB database
- The platform is extremely flexible in terms of customization, and suitable for every web project.
- It caters to users of all technical backgrounds and for all budgets.
- Two out of every five websites use WordPress. According to the latest data by W3Techs, 43.2% of all websites on the internet are powered by WordPress in 2022.
- WordPress CMS powers 64.2% of all the websites that use CMS.
Main Similarities Between Craft CMS and WordPress
As you might have already guessed, both platforms can achieve the same great results.
- Both offer complete customization and control with no limitation other than your coding skills.
- Controls and features that will help you optimize your website’s performance.
- You can build any type of website with these platforms.
- Both solutions are self-hosted, meaning you need to take care of hosting your website.
- Each solution can result in a fast-loading website for small and large businesses.
- The platforms offer free and premium plugins.
- Both Craft CMS and WordPress offer users a powerful selection of eCommerce tools to use.
- Craft CMS’ elite plugin SEOmatic and WordPress’ Yoast SEO offer advanced SEO services.
- Huge community support.
2. Key Differences in Craft CMS vs WordPress
At first glance, both platforms are way too similar, even their admin panels look comparable. So, what exactly makes them different?
The major differences between Craft and WordPress come down to who is building the website.
Craft CMS was built with web developers in mind
While Craft is very intuitive for users, it requires coding knowledge. Developers who use the Craft have full control over the development process because of the platform’s good codebase. However, unlike WordPress where you can build a website without writing a single line of code, Craft is not suitable for beginners who don’t know anything about HTML.
WordPress targets web designers
Although WordPress now targets web designers by giving them all the tools to build websites with the new Full Site Editing feature, it’s still very versatile and suitable for users from any technical background. Beginners with zero experience with code can easily build a website by themselves, while advanced users can access the website’s front- and back-end.
Most website builders offer pre-made templates for users to start with and customize according to their needs. However, since we established that Craft CMS is not a website builder, things go differently in the theme department.
There are no official Craft CMS themes
Craft CMS doesn’t use themes since the platform uses a content-first approach, meaning content needs to be designed and coded from scratch.
Sure, with a little bit of search you can find unofficial themes created by users, however, most of them will require some work on your part.
WordPress focuses on themes
Although skillful developers can create a website from scratch without a pre-made theme, most WordPress users prefer to take advantage of the templates and focus on customizing them. The platform offers more than 4.2K free and 10K premium themes, which makes the platform an absolute winner in terms of template choices.
3. CMS Tools That Each Platform is Proud of
So what is a CMS exactly? A Contain Management System is a software tool that helps users create, manage, and modify content on a website without needing to write all the code from scratch. Since both Craft CMS and WordPress are dedicated CMS platforms, let’s compare the two in terms of how each handles content creation and management.
Craft’s CMS Tools
Craft has a clean-slate approach to content modeling and front-end development.
Have you ever logged in to a dashboard with endless options and admin pages, so you have no idea where to start? Fortunately, Craft’s team has solved this issue by allowing users to prepare their own admin area according to their needs. The default admin panel is simple and doesn’t include any unnecessary features that you won’t need, however, you still have the ability to compose the admin by enabling only the features you want to use: entry types, global options, Feed (RSS), Quick Post, Recent Entries, Updates, Craft Support, or even widgets from plugins like Google Analytics and Commerce reports.
Matrix block architecture
The Matrix field is one of the most powerful features of Craft CMS. It means developers can create reusable blocks of fields to construct complex page layouts. Craft CMS websites can take full advantage of the Matric block architecture, where each component that uses Matrix blocks performs a special function, for example, navigation, footer, contact forms, etc. All blocks are responsive which makes them easy to rearrange, disable, or re-add without breaking your layout. The latest version, Craft 4, gives you conditional fields for more efficient workflows for website editors. These condition fields allow elements to be visible or editable only when certain conditions are met.
Sites & Localization
One of the benefits of Craft is that users can host multiple websites in a single Craft installation. This means, that you can define one or more sites in different domains, with a different set of templates, and different versions of entry content. This feature is for sites with the same publishing team and is ideal for multi-site networks and Multilingual websites.
Live preview for different screens
You can see exactly how your content will look before it goes live with the Live Preview. You have the option to switch from a full-screen preview to phone and tablet-sized viewports—all while continuing to edit your content live.
When it comes to creating content, the CMS platform has to be accessible for everyone including people with disabilities. This is what Craft CMS does. Improving Craft CMS control panel accessibility has been important to the Craft Team since the beginning. They were committed to reaching WCAG 2.1 AA compliance in Craft 4.0 and although they haven’t completely met the target, they are fully transparent about what’s been done and what’s left to do, in the official Accessibility Conformance Report for Craft 4.0.
This feature is welcomed by developers who need to provide content for a single web application or static site generators. For example, it comes in handy when you have a React-based app with a backend to fetch data from. You can use the Headless Mode along with GraphQL to easily query data from the database. Custom API approaches are also possible if you’re using Craft CMS modules.
Other CMS features
- One-click updating: You can keep your Craft CMS and all the plugins up to date with the latest features, fixes, and security enhancements with one click.
- Entry types: This feature allows you to manage multiple content types together in one single section. Each type gets its own field type and a custom name.
- Element index state linking: Element index pages keep the URL updates with selected status and sort options.
- Auto-refreshing for elements: When you update an element, any related browser tabs you have open, get notified and automatically refresh.
WordPress CMS Tools
WordPress was originally developed for blogging, however, the enormous developer community around the platform had turned it into the most popular software for building websites, by adding numerous features and options.
Themes and plugins for everything
Unlike Craft CMS where you start with a clean slate, most WordPress websites start as official WordPress themes. You can customize these themes to fit your vision or add any functionality you can think of by choosing from thousands of WordPress plugins: customization options, management options, analytics, SEO, eCommerce functionalities, integrations, literally anything.
WordPress gives you an intuitive and straightforward dashboard to work with so you can create a professionally-looking custom website for your project. However, keep in mind that full customization will require some code.
WordPress has two different editors, each of them equally intuitive and easy to work with: the old classic editor and the Gutenberg block editor. The Classic Editor, originally made for blogging, is a text formatting editor with buttons, very similar to Microsoft Word. The Gutenberg block editor, on the other hand, uses blocks as content elements: paragraphs, images, video, galleries, embeds, audio, columns, lists, spacing, etc. You can add these blocks to the screen and create content layouts. This option is better for building pages and it allows you to drag and drop items. In the meantime, WordPress released its newest version WordPress 6.0 with Gutenberg project Phase 2 with many enhancements to the full site editing, blocks, and global styles features.
Manage Unlimited Pages Directly from your Dashboard
You can add as many pages as you like, there are no limits to the size of your website.
You can add users and assign roles and permissions: admin, editor, author, contributor, and subscriber.
WordPress also has revision history functionality allowing you to review older versions of your pages and roll back to any of them at any time.
4. SEO Features You Can Use
Both platforms have a truly strong game when it comes to SEO and both offer the tools in the form of extensions. This flexibility allows you to configure your website’s technical SEO set up exactly the way you want, no matter which of the two solutions you choose. This is why, in this section, we will talk about the most powerful SEO plugins for Craft CMS and WordPress.
Craft CMS for SEO
Craft has a huge advantage over WordPress when it comes to performance and page load times, thanks to the clean code. In fact, the reason behind the clean code is that there’s no generated code, to begin with. You create it from scratch rather than manipulate a pre-generated one.
Website performance and fast load times
Craft CMS has a built-in cache mechanism that ensures your website will load really fast. The default caching includes mostly page templates, data, assets, etc. For more advance caching, you can cache specific fragments on a page using a cache tag provided by the platform. Such functionality leads to good performance, which is excellent news for websites especially ones with lots of traffic and big data.
SEOmatic is a very powerful plugin that the SEO experts at Moz.com and the creators of Craft CMS rely on to handle their SEO! It’s now available for both Craft 3 and Craft 4. The tool follows all modern SEO best practices and provides you with the most common tools as well as more advanced optimization options such as automatically rendering metadata, and creating sitemaps for Google.
- Implements JSON-LD microdata
- Twitter Cards tags
- Facebook OpenGraph tags
- Implements content sitemaps
- HTML meta tags
- Caches each unique SEO Meta request
WordPress for SEO
WordPress is generally considered one of the best content management systems for SEO. This category definitely
Automatic Alerts to Google
Every time you update your website, WordPress alerts Google automatically. As a result, Google treats your updated pages as recent and moves them up the ranks.
WordPress has themes specifically made for SEO. You’ll get even better results when you combine them with SEO plugins.
Fast Load Times
WordPress sites are usually fast. However, you can make them even faster with certain speed optimization plugins, such as the WP Super Cache.
WordPress websites have a simple framework and link structure that search engines are familiar with so they can find, index, and rank your pages easily.
The free version of Yoast offers a broad range of general SEO features such as customizing each page for SEO with unique tags, adding custom URLs, and meta descriptions, as well as adding custom excerpts or plugins for further optimization.Visit YOAST SEO
5. Extensions, Integrations, and the Ecosystems
In this section, we’ll compare the two platforms based on their themes, plugins, and integrations.
Craft CMS Extensions and Integrations
Craft CMS doesn’t use themes since the platform uses a content-first approach. You design and build your content from scratch. The options are limitless in what Craft CMS is capable of doing with its already in-build tools. However, if you wish to add a specific pre-built plugin, you won’t be disappointed since the Craft Plugin store has a good library of official powerful plugins and integrations.
The Craft 4 Plugin Store offers multiple categories from SEO and Accessibility, to eCommerce, widgets, Social Networking, Development, and Integrations.
In addition, you have the option to build or commission custom plugins for your website.Visit Craft CMS Plugin Store
WordPress has an enormous collection of over 14K official themes and over 60K official plugins for any type of customization and functionality. However, you need to be careful when choosing extensions, as not all themes and plugins for WordPress are well-maintained and beneficial. Some are broken or outdated.
You can expand your capabilities to manage your websites or add more functionalities. There are popular WordPress plugins for SEO, security, eCommerce, forms, social media integration, and anything you can think of.
Of course, one of WordPress’s biggest benefits is the ability to integrate absolutely everything. If you want a certain integration, there’s a plugin for it.
📝 Note: It’s advisable not to exceed 20 plugins per website. Too many plugins mean too many HTTP requests, which translates into higher loading times. In addition, depending on who codes or updates the add-ons, or how compatible they are with your theme, they can mess up your code or even crash your website.Visit WordPress Plugin Store
6. Craft CMS vs WordPress on Security Level
Security is a top priority when you operate a website. If you dealt with hackers before, you’re probably familiar with the amount of time, effort, and screams to repair all the damage caused even by the lowest level attack. Fortunately, whether you power your website on Craft CMS or WordPress, both platforms take security very seriously. Now let’s break it down.
Craft CMS Security
To start with, a smaller market share means less attention from hackers.
Craft has some huge advantage points here as they have a dedicated team of professionals who constantly and consistently issue updates.
Additionally, Craft has a much smaller, but also high-quality ecosystem of approved plugins, which completely minimizes the risk of getting an extension that will cause security issues.
One of the biggest security concerns comes from the fact that WordPress powers more than 35% of the websites out there which logically makes it a big target for cyber attacks.
In addition, there are more than 60K WordPress plugins built by different third-party developers which also has its risks.
The good news is, that the WordPress core itself is very secure.
However, it is up to the users to do the right steps in configuring their website in order to prevent attacks and make it frustrating and painful for the hackers instead. You can actually make your WordPress website unhackable with a couple of easy steps.
7. eCommerce Functionality
Both Craft CMS and WordPress offer powerful eCommerce solutions for users to build beautiful fully-functioning online stores. Craft does this through Craft Commerce, while WordPress stays true to its core philosophy by offering eCommerce plugins. For this review, we will focus on the most popular (and the best) WordPress eCommerce plugin: Woocommerce.
Craft Commerce, being built on Craft CMS, has a content-driven approach, meaning you can create absolutely anything. Users have the ability to create multiple stores under one control panel and also have multiple language or regional options.
You have essential tools such as basket options, different product variations, responsive control panels, different gateway options, customer groups, inventory management, and options to create refunds, sales, coupons, discounts, etc. And these are only the native features.
Additionally, you can expand your eCommerce functionality with plugins, built specifically for Craft Commerce. These include Abandoned Cart (for sending multiple email reminders for abandoned carts), Web Payments (for Apple Pay and Google Pay support), Purchase Patterns (for keeping track of customers’ choices) and etc.Visit Craft Commerce
WooCommerce works as a third-party integration within WordPress and enables you to use all your already existing plugins and the WP command-line interface. It’s completely free and comes with everything you need for your eCommerce store.
- WooCommerce Storefront: A free WP theme that is deeply integrated into WooCommerce.
- Featured products: the ability to designate featured products by adding a special column to your products
- Product variation images: You can add actual images to each variation of a single product.
- Advanced search and filtering: A navigation widget that allows users to filter products by attributes.
- Shipment tracking: Tracking orders supporting more than 80 shipping carriers.
- Custom thumbnail labels: adding custom labels such as “Free Shipping”, “Out of stock”, “50% Off”, etc.
- Instagram tags: Unique Instagram tags for your best products that show your happy client’s posts directly on your product page.
8. Ease of Use
We already mentioned earlier that Craft CMS was built with developers in mind while WordPress targets the entire range of users from beginners to experienced developers.
Craft CMS gives users full control over their website. There are no pre-made themes to work with, as well as there is no pre-generated code. Users start with a clean slate of a few basic blocks and default settings, while the rest is up to their imagination. With this being said, Craft CMS isn’t suitable for beginners with little to no experience.
If you’re a novice, looking to create a website quickly, doing so with the help of a pre-made theme is a better practice. Since WordPress is theme-based, you can simply choose a theme and customize it and you can build any kind of website and never need to write a single line of code.
This is another objective category since it’s quite obvious which platform is the more affordable option. On the other hand, it’s important to note that free services often come at a cost in the future. So let’s break the pricing category down and see what each platform has to offer.
Craft CMS Pricing
The good news is, that Craft CMS does have a Free Forever plan. It’s ideal for really small projects when you’re building a website for yourself or your friend, or to just test the platform, as the plan only gives you a single admin account.
- Free Forever $0: Multi-site; localization; single admin account
- Pro $299 per project: One year of free updates; unlimited user accounts; enhanced content previewing; GraphQL API; system branding; basic developer support
- Enterprise (Custom Quote): For specific licensing requirements and needs. Priority technical support; procurement; custom licenses; launch support.
- Lite $199 per project: One year of free updates; donations; products; subscriptions; custom payment gateways; custom checkout process
- Pro $999 per project: One year of free updates; multi-item shopping cart; taxes and shipping; multi-step checkout flow; sales and discounts
WordPress is a very affordable option since you can have a fully functional website or web store just on free features and free extensions. The platform itself is also initially free and all you need to do is pay for hosting.
However, keep in mind that if you want a truly modern professional website, you might want to consider additional expenses such as a premium theme and some of the premium plugins.
10. Strengths and Weaknesses
In this section, we’ll make a final comparison based on the pros and cons we already discussed during this review.
Craft CMS can handle a huge variety of websites, and more importantly, it works pretty well for web apps too, so this is just another reason to consider the platform when you decide what CMS to use for your project.
👍 Craft CMS Advantages
- Huge flexibility: clean slate you can turn into anything
- Content-centered approach: Craft designs around your content.
- Huge amount of powerful built-in features and tools to the point you might not even need to install plugins.
- Built for developers in mind
- WCAG 2.1 AA compliance (view report)
- Great website performance and fast load times
👎 Craft CMS Disadvantages
- Not suitable for beginners with little to no experience.
- The free plan only gives you a single admin account.
- No themes
- Small and expensive developer community.
WordPress, on the other hand, is ideal for unconventional websites that need features you can’t imagine a typical small business website to need. It’s great for beginners who want to build a website quickly based on a pre-made theme.
👍 WordPress Advantages
- Free to use.
- Thousands of plugins for everything: functionalities, customization options, integrations, etc.
- Full control over the code.
- Optimized for content without the need to write blog articles elsewhere.
- Wide range of professional themes
👎 WordPress Disadvantages
- No direct customer support ( but you can always rely on the community).
- Using themes and plugins may result in creating a messy code in the back-end which could result in slowing down your website.
- Using too many WordPress plugins can lead to many conflicts, site speed issues, and high maintenance costs.
Still can’t decide?
Already have a project in mind but can’t decide which platform is the best fit?
We’d love to start a conversation with you and discuss your vision. Let’s see if we’ll be a good match.
To sum up, both Craft CMS and WordPress are very powerful and flexible platforms that can serve companies from startups to enterprises. However, it all comes down to the approach:
Craft CMS can handle a huge variety of websites and web apps and is a personal favorite for many developers thanks to the clean slate content-centered approach. The platform is ideal if you want a clean slate with no generated code, so you can start building from scratch and take advantage of the abundance of options and tools. Websites, created with Craft CMS have great performance and speed.
WordPress is the number one choice for building unconventional websites, thanks to the platform’s flexibility, level of control, and limitless customization and functionality options in the form of extensions. Unfortunately, relying on so many extensions can become an issue in the long run, when it comes to keeping the code clean, so getting some help from a developer may become necessary in the future.
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