Craft CMS vs WordPress – Which Is Better?

WordPress is the most popular website software used on the internet today, accounting for an impressive over 30% of all websites. It has grown from the simple blogging website it set out to be in 2003 to a fully-functioning, extensive ecosystem for building websites of any shape or size. Craft CMS's story is shorter and sweeter, having begun in 2011.

It swiftly picked up the award for Best WordPress Alternative in 2017, making it a popular choice for those who didn't want to delve into the WordPress world. However, as Craft and WordPress are both content management systems for websites, they often get pitted against each other – and for a good reason! Both pieces of software have advantages and disadvantages, but it can be difficult to know which one will suit you best. In this article, we'll cover key areas and compare the sites so that you have a clearer picture of the Craft CMS vs WordPress debate.

The topics we'll cover include:

  • Content Creation and Management
  • Security
  • Plugins and Integrations
  • Speed and Performance
  • Cost

Read on to find out which software will work best for your business.

​What is Craft CMS?

Craft CMS is essentially WordPress's worst enemy. Just kidding! Although they are extremely similar, they do have distinct differences. Craft was introduced as an alternative to WordPress and aimed at those who wanted to focus more on the creative than the copy. Additionally, Craft CMS is not a web builder.

Unlike WordPress, users will have to utilise HTML, CSS, or JS to create a website. Although it has been kicking around since 2011, Craft is still relatively new compared to its rival. Here at Welford, we love Craft CMS – after all, we built our own website using it!

​What is WordPress?

WordPress is the old boy of the web building world. This content management software has come on leaps and bounds since it began in the early 2000s. Initially starting as a blogging website, WordPress is now a full-featured CMS platform, with numerous plugins, integrations and themes available to make a comprehensive site. Simplified, WordPress is a theme-based website and can be used by website novices as it doesn't require you to know code. When comparing Craft vs WordPress, WordPress sites contain more unnecessary code due to them not being built from scratch.

​Craft Vs WordPress: Key Areas for Contention

When comparing Craft CMS vs WordPress, it's important to understand that there isn't a simple answer when it boils down to which is better. Craft CMS may seem like a no brainer for some businesses, whereas WordPress will be the obvious winner to smaller SMEs. To help you make your decision, we will compare the two pieces of software in 5 categories. Let's get into it!

1. Content creation and management

Content creation and management are extremely important aspects of a website software program, as this is where you will manage all of the text and blog content that appears on your website. Both WordPress and CMS offer content creation and management features; however, WordPress shines in this department.

After all, WordPress was originally designed as a blogging website, so it's no surprise that WordPress wins in this regard. When comparing Craft CMS vs WordPress for content creation, Craft CMS can appear slightly trickier than its counterpart. For a beginner, WordPress allows you to seamlessly choose from templates that are easily and quickly editable to your liking. While this seemingly straightforward approach appears simple, it can have its downsides. Due to WordPress themes being licensed, they have limited customisation. With WordPress, you must rely on third-party plugins for many features, such as carousel sliders. This can lead to frustration down the line and can limit your creativity.

With Craft CMS, although it can take a while to get used to, your options are limitless regarding creativity and customisation, which is especially useful when designing Craft CMS sites for clients. Craft CMS uses a web development matrix-block architecture, which allows you to design in components called 'design units'. These design units perform special functions such as video, images or text. This responsive design configuration can be played around with endlessly. However, for those who want a quick fix, then Craft CMS isn't for you. There are no pre-made templates, so a little pre-planning is required as every page will have to be coded and built from scratch.

Craft vs WordPress: The Verdict. The winner rests on whether you'd prefer to use templates or custom design. If you're willing to wait a short while to reap major long-term benefits, then Craft CMS is for you. However, if you're an SME with limited budget and time, we recommend WordPress as your first port of call.

2. Security

WordPress is in a shaky position when it comes to security. When comparing Craft and WordPress concerning security, it's not that WordPress is necessarily better or worse regarding the security of the sites; it more so boils down to the frequency of attacks and hackers.

WordPress is a goliath in the website development industry, and so due to its market size and share, it's obviously going to receive significantly more attacks. Similarly, when you consider all of the integrated plugins built by third-party developers, the vulnerability of the WordPress site depends on many different elements. So there's no wonder that 90% of all hacked CMS sites have been WordPress.

Craft CMS benefits from the small ecosystem in which it operates, making it less visible to security attacks and, therefore, less penetrable. Additionally, when working with a Craft CMS site, there's usually a team of back-end developers working on your site at any given time, so if you were to experience an attack, the response rate would be quicker and more efficient.

Craft vs WordPress: The Verdict. There's no telling us how many attacks Craft CMS might receive if it were the same size as WordPress, and so for that, we're unable to come to a conclusion on which software is safer. However, due to the constant attention from developers and more intricate coding barriers that Craft has, we're drawn to crown Craft CMS as the winner.

3. Plugins and integrations

Plainly and simply, WordPress takes the cake when it comes to plugins and system integrations. In 2019 there were over 54,000 plugins available on WordPress. While this doesn't exclude those that are broken, outdated, or simply rubbish, the plethora of plugins available makes WordPress the winner in this round.

Craft CMS cannot compete with the volume of WordPress's plugins; however, it can compete on quality. The plugins available for you with a Craft CMS site are more limited but of much higher quality than WordPress; less broken codes, outdated systems or clunky operations. In addition, the system that Craft CMS uses for plugins, Twig, provides you with a supportive community of website developers, content managers and support staff. The number of plugins is growing quickly due to extreme demand; however, it will be a long time until it catches up to WordPress.

Craft vs Wordpress: The Verdict. It's difficult to come up with a reason as to why WordPress shouldn't be the winner. Their extensive range of plugins, integrations, and the motivation for developers to constantly create more makes it the clear winner.

4. Speed and Performance

When looking at both platforms from a surface level, there are limited differences between Craft and WordPress. Both sites have the ability to run quickly for all sizes of business if using the correct hosting provider. However, the cracks become more prominent once you start to dig a little deeper.

Craft CMS uses a standard framework called MVC, which controls the website's speed. MVC works by ensuring Craft CMS only delivers the necessary components when needed, making the website run smoother and faster.

WordPress, however, doesn't use this framework. Instead of only delivering the necessary components for the corresponding function needed, the site tends to throw the whole bag at you in hopes that something might work. This results in slower load times and is a less elegant approach overall.

Craft vs WordPress: The Verdict. Craft CMS's performance is better for developers and users, resulting in quicker load times, excellent user experience, and improved SEO.

5. Cost

When comparing Craft and WordPress costs, the conversation quickly turns subjective. After all, how long is a piece of string? What you are willing to spend on a website is greatly determined by the quality you are seeking. However, for the sake of comparison, we'll reflect on pricing objectively.

Costs can vary between the two platforms. If you're after a short lead time and a lower quality site, then WordPress is your winner. Costs are likely to rise if customisation is involved; however, WordPress is your best bet for an all-in-one quick, budget fix.

Craft CMS offers a more integrated, thorough, customisable experience that requires coders to build it from scratch, so it comes as no surprise that it costs more. When you also consider the smaller, and therefore more expensive plugin market, costs quickly add up.

Prices (excluding build):

WordPress: £20 for small businesses, billed monthly

Craft CMS: £219 one-off, with updates charged at £43 yearly

Craft vs WordPress: The Verdict. For many of our clients, the price tag of Craft CMS is rarely off-putting. Clients are aware that Craft CMS sites yield a higher quality site, with many benefits. While it seems tempting to choose the lower-cost alternative, the prices of plugins and custom customisations will soon add up.

​Craft CMS vs WordPress: The Final Verdict

Function Wordpress Craft CMS
Content Creation & Management Built as a blogging website, simple templates are cheap easy to use but offer little customisation. While it takes a bit of time to get used to, Craft CMS offers better choices for customisation.
Security Prone to attacks due to large market share. Benefits from a smaller market share, resulting in less attacks.
Plugins and Integrations Over 54,000 available plugins for affordable prices. Smaller pool of higher quality, more expensive plugins.
Speed and Performance Clunky coding makes for slower load times. Intricate coding and MVC framework make sites quick and elegant.
Cost More affordable for smaller businesses or quick fixes. More expensive due to build time, customisation and intricacy.

​WordPress or Craft: Which is better for my business?

While we specialise with Craft CMS sites and shout from the rooftops about them, we understand why many businesses choose to run WordPress sites. SMEs with limited budgets, resources, and time might prefer WordPress for the easy operating software, the simple templates and the lower costs. However, if you're a large business with time and resources available or want to upgrade from your existing site, we recommend Craft CMS due to the many benefits the software offers.

We respect WordPress for the blogging giant it is, and can understand why many people prefer its simple back-end management; however, we will always choose Craft CMS for our new clients. After walking through Craft CMS's benefits, we can achieve greater and higher quality builds by using Craft CMS.

If you're interested in building or upgrading your website?
Get in touch today.