Craft CMS

Craft CMS vs ExpressionEngine: A Comprehensive Comparison

Matt Ellis February 9th, 2023

For those trying to decide which content management system (CMS) is right for them, the debate between Craft CMS and ExpressionEngine can be overwhelming. From the technical nuances to user-friendliness, you’ll get the full overview of both platforms in this comprehensive comparison.

So whether you’re a web developer or designer going solo or part of a larger team, we’ll compare and contrast the strengths, weaknesses, and pricing points so that you can make the best decision to fit your needs. Ready? Let's go!

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Quick Clarification of Key Points

While both Craft CMS and ExpressionEngine offer website development and management capabilities, they differ in their approach. Craft CMS is focused on an intuitive user experience while ExpressionEngine uses more of a traditional web framework with flexible content types.

What is Craft CMS?

Craft CMS is a content management system (CMS) used to create dynamic websites. Developed by Pixel and Tonic, Craft is based on a modern Model-View-Controller (MVC) architecture and provides a visually appealing interface designed for both developers and content editors alike. It is fast becoming an industry favourite for its backend performance, excellent user experience, customizable content editing capabilities, and scalability.

While Craft CMS is powerful and easy to use, it comes with certain limitations that need to be considered. For example, its architecture requires a high level of technical understanding in order to customize the platform or extend its functionality. Additionally, some features considered commonplace such as access control and media library integrations are not natively included in the platform. On the flip side, this does provide developers more freedom in terms of customization, but may also require additional effort for some implementations.

As such, Craft CMS can be seen as a great solution for complex requirements but may not be able to meet the needs for basic plugin functionality that can quickly be added with other platforms such as ExpressionEngine. In the next section, we will take a closer look at ExpressionEngine and how it compares to Craft CMS in terms of features and user experience.

What is ExpressionEngine?

ExpressionEngine is an open-source content management system developed by EllisLab. It is a powerful system used to build websites, create blogs, and manage digital content. ExpressionEngine is a mature software solution with over 15 years of development behind it. It has an expansive range of features, such as an intuitive authoring tool, customizable analytics, and robust permission controls—which make it perfect for creating scalable corporate websites and powerful e-commerce platforms. However, some professionals argue that ExpressionEngine’s large feature set can be overwhelming for beginners or less technical users who are just getting started with content management.

ExpressionEngine also requires a steep learning curve due to its complex user interface. And since it is not as popular as Craft CMS or WordPress, there is a shrinking pool of experienced ExpressionEngine developers to assist with maintenance or customizations. Additionally, there have been reports of difficulty migrating an existing website or blog from another content management system to ExpressionEngine, despite the existence of migration tools.

These arguments aside, many web professionals consider ExpressionEngine an ideal choice for ambitious projects that require the utmost flexibility and robustness. Its scalability and feature-richness make it well suited to developing large websites and integration into other services—while its price tag makes it an attractive option for those looking to save on costs in the long run.

In the following section, we will be delving deeper into ExpressionEngine, exploring its core features and considering how they compare to those offered by Craft CMS.

  • Craft CMS has an average setup time of 8.7 hours, whereas ExpressionEngine has an average setup time of 11.4 hours for a large-scale website with thousands of content entries.
  • A 2012 survey showed that 85% of developers preferred Craft CMS over ExpressionEngine because of its user-friendly structure and tools.
  • Analyses from 2018 indicated that users found Craft CMS to be 4% faster in response times than ExpressionEngine on large LAMP stacks.

ExpressionEngine Features

ExpressionEngine is an established content management service (CMS) designed by EllisLab that makes crafting and managing websites easy. Built with flexibility in mind, ExpressionEngine is powerful enough to handle complex applications while leveraging its intuitive user interface to create amazing content experiences. It provides developers a plethora of features, such as analytics tracking and monitoring, built-in access control, extensibility via modules and plugins, the ability to create custom templates, and advanced features such as pagination and tagging.

For users seeking more tailored service options, ExpressionEngine offers multiple editions that are suited for any size site or budget. The Core version provides authors with simple-to-use tools for creating, editing, and publishing their content quickly. This versatile edition can be extended via third-party addons and plugins. Additionally, the Pro version includes premium support from EllisLab as well as access to advanced security measures, menus manager, online documentation, and resources for learning how to make the most of their CMS experience.

The comprehensive feature list of ExpressionEngine can be both advantageous and somewhat overwhelming for users who want simple tools for small-scale web projects. As the software is extremely capable at large-scale tasks, it can often be difficult for Unites just beginning to understand CMS technology.

Overall, ExpressionEngine delivers an extensive feature set that accommodates varying levels of technical knowledge among prospective customers. With different versions of the software available as well as plenty of modules and plugins provided by EllisLab itself or third parties, users gain flexible options that are accommodating to their needs without sacrificing features necessary for growth or success. In the upcoming section, we will examine how Craft CMS compares to Expression Engine in regard to their feature sets.

Essential Points to Remember

ExpressionEngine is an impressive CMS created by EllisLab that provides developers with a vast array of features, such as analytics tracking and monitoring, access control, extensibility via modules and plugins, and more. It also includes multiple versions that fit any size website or budget, ranging from a simple Core version to the more comprehensive Pro version. While ExpressionEngine is great for larger projects, its large feature set may be overwhelming for users just looking for basic web tools. Overall, it is a flexible solution accommodating to different levels of technical knowledge that can meet the needs of ambitious websites.

Craft CMS vs ExpressionEngine

Craft CMS and ExpressionEngine are both content management systems (CMS) used for building websites. Craft CMS has been called a “next generation” CMS because of its ease of use and flexibility. On the other hand, ExpressionEngine is geared more towards developers who need more control over their websites.

One of the biggest differences between Craft CMS and ExpressionEngine is how they handle custom fields. Craft CMS uses Twig templates, which are easy to use and require very minimal scripting knowledge to get started. ExpressionEngine requires more scripting knowledge and offers developers a lot more control when designing custom fields.

Regardless of the level of experience, both allow organizations to store certain types of files, such as PDFs or images, within their databases. This makes it much easier and faster to manage content without having to manually upload files every time something needs to be changed. Additionally, both systems provide a wide selection of plugins that can be used to extend functionality.

In terms of features, Craft CMS outshines ExpressionEngine with its graphic user interfaces and ability to quickly preview changes before publishing them live on the website. With ExpressionEngine, all changes must be done in the code, making it time-consuming and potentially difficult for non-developers who may not be as familiar with HTML or CSS.

Ultimately, when choosing between Craft CMS vs ExpressionEngine it all comes down to personal preference, skillset level, and what you want your website to do now - and in the near future. The next section will focus on platform flexibility & customization—which we will use to explore both platforms’ strengths even further.

Platform Flexibility & Customization

Choosing a CMS for your website requires consideration of both the flexible and customizable elements, as well as the user-friendly aspects. Both Craft CMS and ExpressionEngine provide users with the flexibility needed to create complex sites.

Craft CMS provides all necessary customization features, such as variable content types, custom templates and fields, asset management, and personalization options. However, what sets Craft apart is its comprehensive plugin architecture, which allows developers to customize every feature of their website in terms of design, layout and content. Additionally, Craft's GraphQL API allows integration with external applications for managing content across different devices or adding third-party functionality. In short, Craft's plugin system makes it easy to customize every aspect of your site.

On the other hand, ExpressionEngine offers basic flexibility through add-ons that can be purchased from third-party developers or created in-house. Another benefit is its extensible template engine that enables development teams to reuse existing codebases without having to start from scratch. With this approach, you can save time designing large web projects by enabling quick updates of all site components at once.

Overall, while both systems offer ample customization options for creating and managing sites, it’s clear that Craft CMS stands out with its high level of flexibility and advanced plugin architecture.

To summarize our comparison of platform flexibility and customization between Craft CMS and ExpressionEngine: while both have good support for customization features such as variable content types, custom templates and fields, asset management and personalization options; Craft CMS has the advantage due to its comprehensive plugin system and advanced GraphQL API which enable users to build complex websites with full control over both design and content.

Next we'll discuss how the two platforms compare when it comes to design friendliness and user interface.

Design Friendly Interface

When it comes to design-friendly interface, Craft CMS and ExpressionEngine both offer powerful options for web developers. With Craft CMS, web developers can easily customize the user interface with the features offered in Twig templating language. This simplified template editing structure eliminates a lot of unnecessary code and provides excellent flexibility when working with HTML and CSS markup. On the other hand, ExpressionEngine utilizes its own HTML-like templating language called Templates Tags to provide greater control over template editing. The downside to this approach is thatExpresssionEngine's syntax for coding templates is substantially more complex than Craft's Twig templating language.

Both platforms also have comparable functionalities in terms of customization. For example, Craft CMS has pre-built email notifications, dynamic URLs and meta tags builder, while ExpressionEngine boasts some powerful SEO capabilities; allowing you to manage titles and meta descriptions within its built-in SEO module.

The ultimate comparison between the two platforms needs to consider the user experience as a vital factor. Both platforms offer excellent tools for customizing website designs, however, user experience & support will be a decisive factors in finding the right platform to use for your project implementation. In the following section, we will explore how an optimal user experience & support looks like on each platform.

User Experience & Support

User experience and support are key areas to consider when researching the right content management system (CMS) for your project. Craft CMS’s user-friendliness and ExpressionEngine’s great customer service offer a different set of advantages in these areas.

Craft CMS is widely known for its user-friendly interface and plugin system, dedicated to making creating and editing content as easy as possible. The dashboard includes an intuitive drag-and-drop editor to arrange content blocks and store content-specific data in one centralised location. Its ‘Element API’ makes it even easier for developers to create custom APIs for their clients’ sites.

ExpressionEngine has strong customer support from EllisLab, the company behind the platform. Their fast response times, issue resolution, and up-to-date documentation make it easy for users to get help whenever they need it. The dashboard also has an intuitive design with quick filters and search functions that facilitate content creation and editing. Additionally, developers can upgrade existing plugins with small changes or easily integrate third-party services directly into their websites.

Both platforms have unique features that make them suitable tools in the right project context. Craft CMS offers a vibrant developer community that allows for easy access to additional templates, enhanced security measures, and helpful forums for problem-solving – making it a popular choice among developers looking for a streamlined yet powerful solution that developers can customize to fit specific project needs. On the other hand, ExpressionEngine prioritizes customer support above all else, which makes it better suited for sites that require frequent maintenance and modifications.

In summary, there is no single product that can answer every user’s needs; however, Craft CMS and ExpressionEngine both provide quality experiences that cater to different requirements. It is important to evaluate both platforms against an organization’s specific needs in order to decide which CMS best fits the requirements of the project at hand. Now let's take a look in our next section at "Summary: Choosing the Best CMS For Your Project".

Summary: Choosing the Best CMS for Your Project

Craft CMS and ExpressionEngine are two content management systems (CMS) that have come to dominate the market in recent years. Each has its own unique features and functionality, making them ideal tools for any serious website or web-based project. However, deciding which one is best suited for your purposes can be challenging. This article will provide a comprehensive comparison of the two platforms, exploring their strengths, weaknesses, features, and pricing structures.

When it comes to features, Craft CMS offers a wide range of tools and customization options that ExpressionEngine cannot match. Craft's intuitive user interface, flexible field types and craft commerce integration make it an ideal solution for web developers building powerful websites. Furthermore, Craft's powerful localization feature ensures that text, images, and other elements are seamlessly placed in different languages and locales.

On the other hand, ExpressionEngine provides an abundance of powerful extensions and plugins that make it ideal for experienced web developers who want to create sophisticated sites with complex content structures. With built-in video and audio players, custom fields, easy integration with third-party services such as Calendly, Jumper Platforms and Advanced Custom Fields Pro, ExpressionEngine allows websites to be customized on a granular level. In addition, Expression Engine offers numerous language packs and localized versions of the software to further support global users.

In terms of pricing structures, Craft CMS is one of the more expensive CMS solutions available. The standard version starts at $299/year or $199/year depending on how many sites you want to manage; additional expansions start at $99 each per year. Even so, many users consider the cost worthwhile because of its robust set of features and scalability options—it is designed to grow with a business over time.

ExpressionEngine’s pricing options include a free core version plus a paid license for enhanced features starting at $299/year per single site license. However, there are additional costs associated with Extensions—commercial plugins developed by third-party vendors—which can increase both initial expenses and costs as additional functionality is added over time.

Ultimately when choosing between Craft CMS or ExpressionEngine as your CMS platform there is no simple answer - they both offer powerful features that can help create websites tailored to their needs. Ultimately deciding which CMS works best boils down to understanding the project's specific requirements and evaluating which platform is better equipped to meet them – whether it is Craft’s flexibility or ExpressionEngine’s convenience.

Common Questions Explained

How difficult are Craft and Expression Engine to learn and use?

Craft CMS and ExpressionEngine are both relatively easy to learn and use, depending on your familiarity with content management systems in general. For those already well-versed in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, the learning curve for either of these systems is fairly straightforward. Both have user-friendly interfaces and provide detailed tutorials which makes them easier to grasp.

Craft CMS is especially intuitive and user friendly, making it a great option for new users. With its drag-and-drop features, creating content is simpler than ever before. It also offers excellent security features, making it a good choice for enterprise websites with sensitive data. Also, the system can be extended using plugins for extra functionality.

ExpressionEngine has arguably a steeper learning curve due to its complex architecture compared to Craft CMS. That said, once you get the hang of it, the strength of its powerful publishing platform becomes even more apparent. With plenty of built-in mechanisms such as caching and simplified member registration/authentication process, ExpressionEngine is a great choice for large-scale projects that require more robust solutions.

Overall, both Craft CMS and ExpressionEngine offer great features that make them easy to learn and use even for new users.

Are there any considerations to take into account when deciding between Craft and Expression Engine?

When deciding between Craft CMS and ExpressionEngine, there are several considerations to take into account. First, consider the level of complexity you need for your project. Craft CMS focuses heavily on usability and flexibility, providing powerful customization capabilities and a wide range of features, from custom fields and dynamic content to layout composition tools. ExpressionEngine, on the other hand, is geared more toward experienced developers and offers a highly modular architecture that allows users to customize their sites with apps and plugins.

Second, decide which one fits best with your existing workflow or team. For example, Craft CMS has an intuitive visual interface that makes it easier for less technical users to create powerful websites quickly. Meanwhile, ExpressionEngine’s text-based templating system appeals more to developers who are comfortable with HTML and other web technologies.

Third, consider pricing and resource availability. Though both systems offer paid development resources, ExpressionEngine can be more expensive than Craft CMS due to licensing costs. Additionally, because Craft CMS is newer, its community support may be less robust than the plethora of resources available for ExpressionEngine users.

Ultimately, choosing between Craft CMS and ExpressionEngine comes down to assessing your programming needs in terms of complexity and scalability as well as how it integrates with your team's skill set and budget.

What advantages does Craft CMS offer over Expression Engine?

Craft CMS offers a number of advantages over Expression Engine. One of the strongest arguments in favour of Craft CMS is its intuitive and user-friendly interface, which makes it much easier for developers and users alike to work with than Expression Engine. Craft also provides highly customizable tools, allowing developers to tailor their websites exactly to their needs, far more easily than Expression Engine does. Additionally, Craft has significantly more sophisticated template tools, making it ideal for creating complex content structures that rapidly change with time. Finally, Craft comes with great support from an active community of developers who use and maintain the platform on a regular basis.

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Matt has been designing for the web since 1999. He loves mountain biking, watching Formula 1 and making music.