We did this benchmark to:

  1. Give insight into the Craft CMS developer community
  2. Give ideas of how to use Craft CMS better
  3. Give ammunition for pitching Craft CMS to clients

We created this benchmark because:

  1. We're a Craft CMS agency
  2. We believe the report will be helpful for the community
  3. We wanted to learn and get better at what we do (and hope you do too)

And just to clarify – we have no association with Craft CMS or Pixel & Tonic.

The response from the community about the survey was really positive.

Thank you to the 242 people from 33 countries across the world who took the time to fill it in 🙏.

On to the results!...

The Results

Craft CMS Developer Benchmark 2021 results:

What describes you best?

First off, we were trying to suss out what sort of Craft CMS developers were filling in the survey.

It was a pretty even split between working at an agency, running an agency and freelancers.

From the 'Other' category, were 'An in house creative' — and 'A hosting company'.

What size is your agency?

How many years of professional coding experience do you have?

How long have you been using Craft CMS?

Will the real Brandon Kelly please stand up?

Approximately how many Craft CMS projects have you worked on in total?

With 2.9% of respondents having worked on an impressive 100+ Craft CMS projects. Nice!👌

Are you a Craft CMS Partner?

You can become a Craft CMS Partner via the official site.

Check out the Honcho Craft CMS Partner profile (you'll see a dancing bear... no, seriously! 😉).

What other CMS's have you developed for?

WordPress was the clear winner here (boo!).

Not surprising is the amount of ExpressionEngine votes – considering Pixel & Tonic started out as ExpressionEngine plug-in developers.

Notable options in the 'Other' category were; Silverstripe and Kirby.

Of all the web projects you worked on in the past 12 months – what percentage of them were Craft CMS?

This question will be interesting to refer back to after we run the benchmark next year.

How did this compare to the number of Craft CMS projects you worked on in the previous 12 months?

What CMS is your agency / personal website built on?

Zero surprises with this one : )

Though the biggest surprise for us was the number of agencies not using a CMS for their own personal site.

It's almost as if the survey was filled in by web developers 🤔...

Your Craft CMS setup

This next section focused on Craft CMS developers set up.

When starting a project how do you download Craft CMS?

Only 6.6% of respondents get started on Craft CMS projects by manually downloading it.

If you're yet to try the Composer method – there are some helpful docs on the Craft CMS site.

Do you use a Craft CMS 'boilerplate' for starting new projects?

69% of respondents start with a boilerplate of some kind.

Cool! Which Craft CMS boilerplate do you use?

Of the respondents that start with someone else's boilerplate the most popular boilerplate to clone is NY Studio 107.

How do you run the Craft CMS Setup Wizard?

There were some interesting replies in the 'Other' category:

  • Github templates
  • As part of the boilerplate boot-up
  • Bash script configures it all
  • Pre-installed
  • Env already setup, i just run keygen
  • Built into boilerplate. Not really applicable
  • No need. we clone and are ready to go :)

What database option do you use for Craft CMS projects?

Do you use Craft CMS's Project Config?

For those that don't know what the project config is — check out the docs.

It's really helpful when you're working in a team.

Though, one respondent correctly pointed out:

Yes, but it's a bit confusing 🤷‍♂️

Where do you usually host your Craft CMS project repo?

There are couple of 'Other' responses for 'self hosted' and 'Fortrabbit' (which we'll add to the list next year).

And also this...

cPanel, so the client owns their repo

Where do you define Craft CMS Routes?

For those of you wondering what the 'Other' Craft CMS routes answers were...

In a custom module
Both in the CP and routes.php (for when routes need to be added programmatically)

Where do you define Image Transforms?

Within the 'Other' option there were many that responded with Both, Imager X, and Imgix.

Which operating system do you do your Craft CMS development on?

Do you customise the Entry column views in the Craft CMS Admin?

Do you add your client's logo to the Craft CMS Admin Login page?

What frontend JavaScript frameworks do you typically use with Craft CMS?

Notable responses from the 'Other' option were Alpine and Svelte – which we'll include in next years Craft CMS developer survey.

What frontend CSS frameworks do you typically use with Craft CMS?

We know there are pros and cons to frameworks – but we were surprised to see such a large percentage of choosing; "None — I roll my own".

How do you update Craft CMS?

Thankfully no one selected the "I don't update Craft CMS" option 😱.

Have you ever used Craft CMS's GraphQL API?

Not sure what Craft CMS's GraphQL API is? Find out here.

There's a GraphQL tutorial from Pixel & Tonic here too.

Have you ever used Craft CMS as a 'headless' CMS?

Unsure what a 'headless' CMS is? Check out Using the Craft CMS “headless” with the GraphQL API by Andrew Welch.

Have you worked with Craft Commerce?

What are your top 3 favourite features of Craft CMS?

No real surprises here. Though, only one vote for 'Tags' 😭.

Notable mentions from the 'Other' option were:

  • Publishing Workflow
  • Developer Experience
  • Content modelling
  • General dev experience
  • Admin customisation
  • Speed & Simplicity

Are there any Craft CMS core features you've not used yet?

We were surprised to see the Matrix in there. We've never built a Craft CMS site without one.

Your local Craft CMS development setup

In this section, we asked questions to try and unravel what Craft CMS developers are using to build sites with.

What browser do you primarily develop Craft CMS websites in?

What IDE / code editor do you use for Craft CMS development?

For the lone developer using Dreamweaver – we salute you 🖖.

What local environment software do you use for developing Craft CMS projects?

Nice to see Craft Nitro being used. It'll be interesting to see if that figure increases in next years survey.

What local environment tool do you use for working with databases on Craft CMS projects?

Notable mentions from the 'Other' option were DataGrip and Querious.

Craft CMS plugins

This set of questions unpacks how Craft CMS developers work with and use plug-ins.

What Craft CMS Plugins do you always use when starting a new project?

There was a lot of data to sort through for this — but the big hitters here were:

Have you ever written a Craft CMS plugin or custom module?

Do you have a plugin published on the Craft CMS Plugin Store?

Working with clients

This set of chat questions helps shed light on how Craft CMS developers work and interact with thier clients.

Where do you host your clients' Craft CMS sites?

'Other' hosts that were mentioned were: Combell, Hetzner and Mittwald.

Where do you host your Craft CMS site Asset volumes?

How often do you run maintenance on your clients' Craft CMS sites?

Great to see the majority of respondents are updating Craft regularly. One respondent added 'Continuously' to the 'Other' option.

What percentage of your client's Craft CMS sites are on maintenance contracts?

How do you train your clients' to use Craft CMS?

How do you find selling Craft CMS to clients?

How do you handle Craft CMS and Plugin licence fees?

This was of particular interest to us. We've been back and forth on how best to approach it.

Within the 'Other' category — there was a trend around a mixed approach of all the other options.

Do you give your clients' full Admin accounts?

From your clients' feedback what would you say are their top 3 features of Craft CMS?

Live Preview was the clear winner here.

It still feels great being able to demo this to clients – but isn't it just a matter of time before other CMS's adopt something similar and better? 🤔

How do your clients generally find the Craft CMS content authoring experience?

All really positive on this front.

The ease of content authoring is definitely something we hear from our clients too.

What are your clients' general feelings towards using Craft CMS?

Learning, support and community

In this section, we wanted to find out how Craft CMS developers learn and find support.

What resources do you use to learn Craft CMS

Notable mentions from the 'Other' option were Craft CMS source code and the NYStudio107 blog.

Where's your first port of call when you need Craft CMS support?

Have you used the free Craft CMS Developer Support Services support?

There was a surprising amount of respondents that didn't know about this.

You can find out more about it on the Craft CMS Developer Support Services.

Have you used the paid Craft CMS Developer Support Services support?

Have you ever attended a Craft CMS Meetup?

Cool! Which Meetups have you been to? For those which answered 'Yes' from above

If you've never been to one – you can find a local Craft CMS developer Meetup on the official page.

Have you ever attended the Craft CMS Dot All Conference?

This survey was put out before the online Dot All conference in 2021, which made it easy to attend. So it'll be interesting to see how this changes next year.

Your views

We wanted to find out what you thought were the good and bad bits of developing with Craft CMS.

Is there anything specific that you really like about Craft CMS?

Sorting through this data was difficult! There was so many different thoughts and opinions. But the themes that stood out were: Flexibility, Ease of use, Extensibility and Community.

Project Config is an unsung hero; an absolute game-changer.
Almost everything.
Everything. The eco-system, the speed of features and releases, the extendability and the great community.
Extensibility. I can build literally anything, and pick and choose which bits of Craft I need to use alongside it, all wrapped up in an admin panel that is definitely the best out there.
Literally more than I can list. I doubt I'd be going through the trouble of launching an agency without Craft having paved the way to greatness. Craft is everything I wanted to be an impact-focused developer and then 10x more.

What's one thing that you think could be improved about Craft CMS?

Common themes here were: Matrix in Matrix (planned for Craft CMS 4), Documentation and Project Config confusion.

Project config is still really confusing.
The ability to set a limit on the number of entries of a particular entry type.
UI-kit for custom plugins
WYSIWYG editor is not existent. Redactor doesn't cut it.

Is there anything specific that you do not like about Craft CMS?

Common themes across the section were: Project Config, Documentation and the fact that Craft CMS uses Yii.

Project Config breaking, though its getting better its still got holes.
The documentation. It's definitely got better but there need to be more rounded and clear examples with actual explanations instead of assumptions as to developer knowledge/ability.
I wish it were built on Laravel so I wouldn't have to learn two PHP frameworks.

What's one killer feature you wish Craft CMS had that it currently does not?

No surprises for guessing the most mentioned killer features, Matrix field within a Matrix field and Conditional Fields.

Matrix in matrix 100%, would love to stop using Super Table

On a scale of 1-10, how confident do you feel in Craft CMS's security practices?

We'd highly recomend you check out the Securing Craft CMS guide.

On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend Craft CMS to another developer / agency / business?

An almost unanimously positive response for this one.

Your details 👱‍♂️

And finally, a little bit about the Craft CMS developers and Craft CMS agencies who filled in the survey.

What is your gender?

Could you tell us your age range?

What is your country or region?

Any final thoughts about Craft CMS?

The last question was open-ended.

Here are some excerpts from the final thoughts...

Honestly hope they invest some time in stability. Has become worse over the last months. Before, I was unconditionally fanboy.
Been groundbreaking since it was called Blocks. I’ve built a career off the back of it, funded a house, a car, 3 young kids and allowed my wife to take significant time off to raise them. All because some dude called Brandon built Blocks.
I love working with Craft but find it harder and harder to sell to clients. This seems mostly to do with it's lack of market share and awareness amongst the marketing types. They all know and want WordPress. I've learned to adapt to this with a WP setup that is as close to Craft as I can get it. Agencies and designers I work with also point out that they don't know any other Craft developers so they worry that if I am unavailable in the future then they won't be able to find a dev to help them.
It literally changed the way we develop web projects. One of the best (if not THE best) CMS I have ever worked with.
It's the best CMS to be working with, it will continue to be a CMS I use for the foreseeable future. With its great community, plugins and features, what more do you need.
Why is Brad so angry?

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