Here at nuom, our web developers have been working with Craft CMS for a while, building commerce, brochure sites, web portals, and even a forum. After years working with Wordpress we decided to move away completely, using Craft CMS as our ‘go to’ Content Management System.
Wordpress served us well in the past, but with the industry taking massive strides in the past few years we recognised a number of issues and restrictions over time. We strive to always recommend and tailor the best options for our clients. With that in mind, we decided to recommend either a Craft CMS, Craft Commerce or a headless CMS build to our clients. At the end of the day, the final decision will always be the clients, and what works for them.
Wordpress is seemingly the most well-known content management system. It has a huge community of developers, themes, thousands of plugins and it’s free to use. It’s fairly simple and after you install a few plugins, mainly the Advanced Custom Fields Plugin, it is a very flexible and versatile CMS.
Although we have our opinions, both positive and negative, on this CMS, we chose to move away mainly due to its limitations, lack of flexibility, structure and security. Something which is of high importance to both nuom and our clients.
Craft has been established as a successful CMS for a few years now, but in comparison to Wordpress, it’s a fairly new player in the game. It has thousands of developers, hundreds of plugins and this year, it released a huge update; Craft 3.4.
Custom as Standard
With Craft, the idea of ‘themes’ is no more. There is no ‘starting theme’, meaning you have to create everything from scratch. Although this sounds like it would involve more work, this isn’t a bad thing. Having no ‘theme’ means the developer is not fighting/editing code that already exists, they are creating everything from scratch, giving them complete freedom and flexibility when coding. Custom Fields are therefore, one of the features that make Craft more appealing in comparison to its substitutes.
This is especially relevant for designers. The multitude of wordpress restrictions means designers and developers now have less room for disagreements. With Crafts flexibility, designers can come up with creative ideas that are now realistic to build, making both sides happy.
Instead of themes, Craft uses a templating language called Twig. Twig is a fast, secure and flexible modern templating engine for PHP. Twig then directly links with Craft, allowing you to easily pull out your custom data.
With the most recent update, Craft now comes with a built-in plugin store. Allowing you to easily extend the functionality of Craft with a few clicks and/or with Composer.
Craft is also a modern development platform. Meaning, you can completely ignore the front-end of Craft, skipping Twig entirely. You can then use Craft to handle all of your content, and distribute this content via API endpoints.
Without a doubt, the control panel offered by Craft is one of the simplest, and easiest to use. Its interface is both clear and logical, helping to speed up user’s actions.
When working with traditional CMS such as Wordpress, the structure is one thing you have to fight with. Creating another section of entries within Wordpress requires you to either install a dedicated plugin or to create a dedicated file. With Craft, you just create it. When creating sections you have three choices; Singles, Channels and Structures.
A channel is your typical blog feature. It allows you to create multiple entries that all use the same template of fields. It will be used for blogs or news sections on most sites.
A structure is simply a layered version of a channel. A channel only allows one level of entries, all of them being on the same level. A structure allows you to nest entries beneath other entries within the same section. This is perfect when creating documentation or a ‘services’ section of a site.
Also, Craft provides the highly useful tool of ‘live preview’. With this, you can make sure that all your sections and content are as you desire them to be before launching your website.
Out of the box Craft comes with 18 field types; Assets, Categories, Checkboxes, Coloraturas, Date/Time, Dropdown, Email, Entries, Lightswitch, Matrix, Multi-select, Number, Plain Text, Radio Buttons, Table, Tags, URL and Users. Most of these fields are self-explanatory, but we’ll go through the ones that have the biggest impact.
One of the best things about Craft is the Matrix field. The matrix field allows you to create repeatable blocks of defined fields. For example, you can create a Page Builder Matrix field which allows you to add an image block or a text block. These blocks can be used as many times as the content creator wishes (unless a limit is specified), giving them the freedom to create the page as they wish. This helps keep all of the pages looking consistent, but not identical and repetitive.
Entries & Categories
The Entries and Categories fields are similar, one works with content entries, and one with defined categories. The fields allow you to easily relate entries and/or categories with other entries and/or categories. Creating relationships between entries is fast and easy, allowing developers to easily create a relationship on the frontend, linking content together without the content creators having to manually input all of the links/images and text.
Moving from one CMS to another one is not an easy decision. The first step we took was trying craft’s demo. We were so amazed by its ease of use and features commented above that we decided to move from Wordpress to Craft straightaway. Nowadays, we’re still proud of our decision and absolutely recommend other agencies and companies to follow our example.
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