Our development team has several decades of combined experience. In that time we’ve worked with literally dozens of content management systems, from WordPress and Drupal, to Umbraco and Kentico, to all kinds of in-house custom systems. There’s one thing they almost all have in common: they suck.
What makes a great CMS
For us, the perfect CMS needs to hit all of these seven key points:
- A truly fantastic editor experience
- Flexible content modelling
- Easy extensibility
- Places restrictions on template markup
- It should be fast
- It must be secure
- It should speed development up rather than slow it down
At best, the incumbent market leading CMSes tend to achieve three or four of the items above.
Site editors love WordPress for its control panel’s ease of use, but its code quality and security records are lamentable. Drupal’s usability has improved in recent years but still lags behind, and customising and extending Drupal is a slow and painful experience.
On the .NET side of the fence, things tend to look even worse. While, C#’s compiled nature means performance can often be to be less of an issue, editor user experience is pretty awful across the board, and as for proper content modelling or high-quality third-party extensions… fugetaboutit.
Other systems have come closer in the past — for many years ExpressionEngine was our go-to option, but choosing a CMS still always felt like it required compromises.
Craft is different.
It’s the first CMS we’ve found that ticks every single box above. From Craft’s first release in 2012, developers Pixel & Tonic have both created a tonne of unique features and implemented and improved upon the best of their competitors’ features, all built on a modern platform unencumbered by legacy code.
The result is a delight to use for both editors and developers alike, and is hands-down the best CMS we’ve ever worked with.
Here are some of our favourite bits.
A control panel that editors love
The easier and more pleasant your site is to manage, the more frequently your team will update it and the less time they’ll spend doing so. The Craft control panel perfectly balances simplicity and power, staying out of the way while making it easy to edit and manage your content. Oh, and it’s also fully responsive, meaning it’s a breeze to update on your phone or tablet.
It’s critical for site editors to be able to see the effects of their changes quickly and easily. While creating or editing an entry in Craft, you can click on Live Preview to bring up a split-screen view that lets you edit and view your changes as you type. Genius.
Total content flexibility
With Craft’s native support for sections, relationships and custom fields, we can easily shape the CMS to model our client’s content, rather than the other way around.
It doesn’t stop there though, with a huge number of powerful features built into the core product, including full internationalisation support and a supercharged version of the Matrix fieldtype they originally developed for ExpressionEngine.
And, unlike Drupal or WordPress, Craft’s clean and flexible templating system allows us to then output that data exactly as we wish, allowing us to achieve the very highest level of interface polish.
Fantastic support and regular, easily installed updates
Pixel & Tonic release updates and bug fixes at a rate that puts other CMSes to shame, shipping an average of 1.5 updates per week for the last two years. These updates can then be installed with a single click.
P&T also provide fast, expert support via IM and email, with problems typically resolved in a matter of hours rather than days, a massive advantage over relying purely on community-based support.
A solid foundation in the best of open source, and an extensible architecture
Craft is built on the mature, secure Yii PHP framework. The framework’s code quality is high and, both it and Craft have great documentation. Craft is also highly extensible via an easy-to-use plugin system, and has a rich third-party ecosystem as a result.
Don’t just trust us, see for yourself
Want to see for yourself if Craft could be a good fit for your next digital project? Take two minutes to create your own Craft demo site and find out.