Craft CMS vs. WordPress: How Do They Stack Up?

Blog / Jess Parks Turcotte

Let me be upfront. Here at Bonfire Studios, we’re in the midst of a bit of a love affair with Craft CMS. We’re happy to work with WordPress if that’s what’s best for our client, and there are cases where it absolutely is--but for most purposes, we recommend Craft. Here’s why:

1. Craft starts with a blank slate. Craft provides the basic structure and functionality needed to build a website, enabling developers and designers to create truly custom projects based on each client's needs. WordPress, on the other hand, offers a platform with all its core features and design built-in from the start. This makes it a great tool for an individual who is new to building a website, or perhaps trying to put together a blog for a small business. However, for a skilled designer/developer with a specific vision in mind for a project, WordPress may mean spending an undue amount of time stripping out features and manipulating code to achieve the desired result.

WordPress builds a tower for you and asks you to dismantle and alter it to suit your needs; Craft hands you a pile of building blocks and lays out a space in which you can build. 

2. Craft boasts an impeccably clean user interface. This makes working in Craft both easy and enjoyable for content creators. Menus and dashboards don't get cluttered with irrelevant items, such as too many plugin options, which often happens with WordPress. It really lets the user focus on the task at hand. 

Craft's smooth and intuitive interface improves workflow for developers and content managers alike. Everybody wins.

3. WordPress was not originally designed as a CMS. WordPress, at its core, is a blogging platform, and is therefore (unsurprisingly) most successful when used to create a blog. A developer trying to build a custom website is always going to be struggling against the tide, trying to manipulate the software to function in a way that goes against its core purpose. Craft was built to be a true content management system and has been described by its creators as a “content-first” CMS.

Craft's asset library management is flat-out one of the best we've ever seen in a CMS. It's simple and intuitive, yet incredibly powerful. We've recommended Craft to small and large organizations because regardless of how big your media library ends up becoming, this system is built to handle the load and keep things decluttered.

We also like how the Pro edition of Craft has deep user management functionality built-in. For example, if you only want certain members of your team to manage the blog on your website, you can easily set that up, which adds an additional layer of control and ease.

4. WordPress has a plugin problem. Much of WordPress’ functionality is built around plugins. These plugins can be an asset, for sure. They can make it easy for users to customize their website, and they allow WordPress to function as a CMS. In the WordPress community, the expression is “there’s a plugin for that,” and indeed the list of WordPress plugins available is extensive - but because there are simply so many option, the level of quality and support can be hit or miss.

We work with Craft plugins here at Bonfire, but we’re selective about which ones we use. We often build our own plugins in-house (check out our Product Reviews plugin) or customize existing ones to meet the specific needs of the project. We test them thoroughly and are always looking out for Craft updates that may require us to retool them. Bottom line - Craft needs fewer custom plugins to work effectively out-of-the-box than WordPress.

5. Live Preview improves workflow. Live Preview is the perfect example of how Craft manages to both simplify and improve the process of content creation. Content can be added and edited while a preview of how your webpage will look can be viewed, simultaneously, in the same window. This seemingly simple feature can save a lot of time and frustration, and it’s absolutely one of the features that makes Craft stand out from its competitors.

6. Craft's E-Commerce Platform is really good. Craft Commerce was built and is supported by Pixel & Tonic, the team behind Craft CMS. As is true for Craft as a whole, Craft Commerce is incredibly straightforward in its ease of use, so for developers and content managers who are already familiar with Craft CMS, Craft Commerce feels both familiar and intuitive. WordPress has its WooCommerce option, which is generally well-reviewed - but it comes with some distinct disadvantages, including limited and slow support and a steep learning curve. It's just not as clean as Craft.

In closing, Craft has a simple yet elegant interface that allows content creators to place their focus where it should be: on creating and maintaining content. It offers optimal flexibility on the back-end and a clean user interface on the front-end. We are officially Craft converts.

Do you have a project ready to launch? Get in touch, and let us help you figure out which CMS platform is best suited to you.