Blog

Craft vs WordPress

May 04, 2021 / Bryan Reynolds

Reading Time: 7 minutes

WordPress has built over 60 million websites, making it the world’s most popular Content Management System (CMS). It has about one-third of the CMS market share, significantly more than any of its competitors. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best, as WordPress is well known for problems such as security breaches, simple templates and inefficient code.

WordPress's popularity makes it initially difficult to distinguish between websites that were designed by professional developers who have customized for each part of the website and someone who has merely installed a prebuilt theme. However, these differences become more obvious over time as robust websites with better performance create a better impression with users.

A growing community of web developers is rejecting WordPress for Craft CMS, although deviating from the industry standard doesn't always make sense. It's often necessary to defend this decision to websites. Stakeholders such as clients and team members. Furthermore, Craft's benefits over WordPress are often subtle to end users. In addition, the Craft community received approval for a Craft CMS StackExchange site in just five days during June 2020, illustrating its current influence in the developer community.

This guide discusses many of the reasons that more website builders are relying exclusively on Craft, but it also covers the justifications for remaining with WordPress. These points of comparison also aid organizations in the decision-making process for selecting a CMS to build new websites.

Craft CMS

Pixel & Tonic developed Craft as an alternative to WordPress, especially for publishers to focus on development. The company was founded in 2010 and began developing Craft the following year. Pixel & Tonic released Craft 1.0 in 2013, and the current version is Craft 3 as of April 2021. Craft often appeals to publishers who need greater performance and better control over their CMS solutions. It's also a strong choice for web developers and consultants who want to and their current offerings.

However, Craft isn't a website builder, so developers still need to use tools such as CSS, HTML and JavaScript. In addition, Craft doesn't have an official marketplace for plug-ins or themes, although it likely to appear in the near future. On the other hand, Craft is extremely stable and offers many features that allow developers to implement complex CMS environments. Craft's ability to develop interrelated, multilayered content becomes more obvious as the size of the website increases.

Craft is written in PHP on the Yii 1.x platform, which is a powerful framework that doesn't require PHP or Yii. This result is similar to the way that Django-powered CMS tools written in Python don't require knowledge of Django or Python to develop websites with these tools.

WordPress

WordPress is an open-source CMS released under the General Public License (GPL) version 2 or later, which essentially means it’s free to use. It’s written in PHP and uses a MySQL or MariaDB database, depending on implementation. It was originally released in 2003, and the current stable release as of April, 2021 is version 5.7.1. The most characteristic features of WordPress include a plugin architecture and template system called Themes in WordPress. It was originally developed just to publish blogs, but currently supports many content types such as the following:

  • Forums
  • Learning management systems (LMS)
  • Mailing lists
  • Media galleries
  • Membership
  • Online

WordPress is also used for other applications like pervasive display systems (PDS). However, it must be installed on a web server, which users can accomplish as part of an internet hosting service or a computer running a software package. WordPress.com is specifically designed to host WordPress, but other hosting services can also do so. Running the software package WordPress.org allows a user’s computer to serve as a network host in its own right, typically for the purposes of single-user testing and learning.

Market Share

Craft CMS

This chart shows the history of detected websites running Craft CMS during the six-month period beginning on October 18, 2020. Craft’s overall market share increased from 0.137 percent to 0.140 percent during this period, an increase of 2.19 percent. However, its market share of the most popular sites dropped from 1.1 percent to 0.8 percent. Craft’s market share in other popularity categories remained relatively steady during this reporting period.

Craft CMS Market Share

Fig.1: Craft Market Share History

Craft websites accounted for at least one percent of the websites on 13 top-level domains as follows:

Top Level Domains

Percent

Commercial (.com)

39.06%

Australia (.au)

10.32%

United Kingdom (.uk)

7.777%

Organization (.org)

6.482%

Netherlands (.nl)

4.773%

Germany (.de)

4.755%

Norway (.no)

3.753%

Belgium (.be)

3.418%

New Zealand (.nz)

3.256%

Switzerland (.ch)

3.004%

Austria (.at)

1.595%

Canada (.ca)

1.517%

Network (.net)

1.229%

The pie chart below shows this distribution graphically:

Craft Marketing Share Top Level Domain

Fig. 2: Craft CMS Market Share by Top Level Domain

The above figure shows that Craft’s largest market share by far is in the .com domain. The governments of various countries account for most of Craft’s remaining market share.

WordPress

This chart shows the history of detected websites running WordPress during the six-month period beginning on October 18, 2020. WordPress’s overall market share increased from 29.74 percent to 31.98 percent during this period, an increase of 7.53 percent. WordPress’s biggest gains in market share during the reporting period were in the least popular websites, with market shares in other popularity categories remaining relatively steady.

WordPress Market Share over time

Fig.3: WordPress Market Share History

WordPress websites accounted for at least one percent of the websites on 18 top-level domains as follows:

Top Level DomainsPercent
Commercial (.com)40.96%
Australia (.au)9.515%
Organization (.org)4.766%
Germany (.de)3.981%
United Kingdom (.uk)2.887%
Netherlands (.nl)2.416%
Network (.net)2.245%
Chile (.cl)2.174%
Italy (.it)2.024%
Austria (.at)2.002%
France (.fr)1.665%
New Zealand (.nz)1.438%
Russia (.ru)1.381%
Poland (.pl)1.242%
Brazil (.br)1.233%
Spain (.es)1.108%
Canada (.ca)1.014%
Romania (.ro)1.004%



The pie chart below shows this distribution graphically:

WordPress Market Share Top Level Domains

Fig. 4: WordPress Market Share by Top Level Domain

The above chart shows that commercial sites and the Australian government account for the majority of WordPress’s market share.

Security

WordPress’s susceptibility to security breaches is one of its biggest disadvantages. This CMS is often the target of cyber attacks simply because it’s the most popular CMS. A malicious actor who wants to infect as many websites as possible with a single piece of mall where will focus on attacking WordPress. Furthermore, WordPress administrators often maintain their sites poorly by running outdated software and plug-ins, making it easy for attackers to gain access.

WordPress is been the subject of many high-profile attacks such as the Panama Papers Breach that occurred in 2016. This incident made headlines when attackers obtained 11.5 million files totaling 2.6 terabytes in size from Mossack Fonseca, a law firm based in Panama. This company was the fourth-largest law form in the world outside the United States at the time, and its clients included 143 of the world's most powerful politicians, along with their associates and family. Twelve of these clients were national leaders, which is probably why the firm was targeted.

Mossack Fonseca's website used WordPress and also ran an outdated version of Revolution Slider, which has since been renamed Slider Revolution. This tool was WordPress's most popular slider program plug-in, which had with more than 2.3 million users. The same piece of malware responsible for the Panama Papers Breach could have been used for any of these other websites.

This example of WordPress's poor security is an extreme case, but it isn't the only one. A large-scale attack initiated in September, 2018 compromised thousands of WordPress websites when hackers again gained access through outdated plug-ins. In November of that year, another attack exploited a vulnerability in WordPress (WP) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Compliance, one of the GDPR's most popular plug-ins. This breach provided hackers with almost complete control over websites using this plug-in. The WP MultiLingual (WPML) plug-in was the target of another attack in January, 2019, which was conducted by a former employee who obtained user contact information and defaced the website.

Installing updates plug-ins as soon as they're available can certainly reduce the risk of security breaches in WordPress. However, the bigger underlying issue is that these updates are usually just Band-aids to patch specific vulnerabilities. Craft takes a proactive approach to security that makes attacks much less likely to succeed. For example, the development team at Craft routinely inspects its code and checks for vulnerabilities with automated testing software from third parties.

WordPress has experienced over 1,500 exploits, some of which were extremely serious. In comparison, Craft has experienced only eight minor security issues since it was launched in 2012. The difference in security between these two CMS solutions is particularly important to industries that regularly deal with sensitive customer information.

This gap will continue to widen him as WordPress adds plug-ins at a faster rate than its competitors. Any website can experience a breach, so it's important to be prepared for this possibility. The Craft development team has therefore included the ability to quickly back up a website to another server and deploy that backup within a few minutes. Craft's system of ongoing updates is another reason why it's one of the most secure CMS solutions currently available.

SEO

A CMS doesn't directly affect a webpage's search ranking. A host of other factors ultimately determines a page’s Google position, including the content itself and load time. However, the right CMS can make it easier to manage those factors, which a plugin typically performs.

Yoast has been one of the best SEO plug-ins for WordPress for years. It handles each page's technical and SEO requirements, including the generation of site maps and canonical URLs as well as the generation of keyword gaps in the blog content. Web developers can also use Yoast to edit .htaccess files and robots.txt to customize the page's appearance. These powerful capabilities have provided Yoast with a strong reputation among WordPress developers.

Developers who use WordPress are often highly concerned with the prospect of losing the SEO support it provides when considering the replacement of WordPress with another CMS. However, Craft has a plug-in called SEOMatic that's superior to Yoast in many ways. SEOMatic is a turnkey SEO system that automatically renders metadata for each page on a website as soon as it's installed. This action generates site maps for any page with a public URL without the need to write additional template code.

Additional features of SEOMatic include the following:

  • Facebook OpenGraph tags
  • HTML meta tags
  • Humans.txt accreditation
  • JSON-LD microdata
  • Robots.txt directives
  • Twitter Cards tags

Website designers who are also SEO experts often want direct control over each page's metadata. SEOMatic does enable this requirement, but its real strength is the elimination of concern about SEO even when it isn't in the designer's wheelhouse. SEOmatic handles these types of website management tasks automatically and transparently, including the addition of blog posts and removal of team members. Another advantage of Craft with respect to SEO services is Moz, which is one of the world's leading authorities on SEO practices. This organization uses Craft and SEOMatic, rather than WordPress and Yoast.

Flexibility

Flexibility is one of the most common reasons for replacing WordPress with Craft, which was designed as a CMS from the ground up. In comparison, WordPress was originally just a blogging platform and hasn't evolved much beyond that original purpose since then. Organizations that use WordPress will have the same basic templates as its competitors. Website developers therefore need to do a good deal of tweaking to get a WordPress website to look completely original.

Craft remains customizable in every respect by not making assumptions on the content that a website will contain. For example, it allows developers to create custom fields for each element. Craft also keeps the creation of sections flexible by providing three section types, including Singles, Channels and Structures. The developer chooses the section type based on the function of that section will perform.

The Singles section type is for pages with content that isn’t used anywhere else and has a unique structure, such as the homepage. The Channel section type is for pages with structured content that should be grouped together and reused on multiple pages. Blog posts and news pages typically use the Channel section type. The Structures section type is for content with a specific order, including biographies of team members, products and recipes.

Developers can create entry types within each section, providing the page with a flexible data structure, regardless of its content. Assume, for example, that you want to post articles supported by videos on a blog. You could create separate entry types for each content type, providing greater creative flexibility in Craft than in other CMS solutions. Flexible data structures allow Craft websites to add records easily and still perform flawlessly, even when a page contains thousands of records.

Speed

Visitors to WordPress sites are well familiar with their extremely slow load times, which can have a highly negative impact on businesses if left unchecked. Research shows that mobile users abandon pages 53 percent of the time if they take more than three seconds to load. In addition, a page’s conversion rate drops by 12 percent for every additional second it takes to load. Furthermore, the bounce rate drops by 50 percent every two additional seconds. In comparison, the average load time for a WordPress site is about 19 seconds.

These findings are particularly significant given that the majority of web users are on mobile devices. However, this isn’t a problem on Craft sites, assuming they’re properly built. These sites load much more quickly than WordPress sites, typically storing 100 on Google PageSpeed for desktop computers and in the mid-90s for mobile devices. Load time is a critical design consideration for commercial websites due to its direct effect on user experience, which determines whether customers will return to a site. Shorter load times also improve search engine rankings because Google's algorithm considers both page and site speed.

Dwell time is another important factor related to speed for websites. This metric is the time a user spends viewing a page after clicking a link on a search engine results page (SERP). Dwell time decreases when a visitor clicks away from a page before it loads, which occurs more frequently when a website is loaded with unnecessary plug-ins and poorly written code like many WordPress sites.

Craft's flexible design also allows developers to use only plug-ins that perform required functions for a particular page. In comparison, WordPress sites must use every plug-in that could possibly benefit a page on that site. Assume for this example that a developer pairs Craft with AWS S3 bucket cloud storage, which stores all of a site's image assets.

The site can then serve those images with Imgix, which is a content delivery network (CDN). Imgix optimizes images by automatically cropping and sizing them before displaying them on the page. This mechanism allows Craft websites to load extremely quickly, even when their pages contain many images, increasing the probability that a site visitor will become a loyal customer.

Price

Cost is one of the most common objections that WordPress developers raise when considering a switch to Craft. WordPress is open-source software, whereas Craft is commercial software. As a result, WordPress is free to use and includes a large library of themes, although you can also buy the libraries from third parties for a typical cost of $55 to $60. In comparison, Craft requires a one-time licensing fee of $299 upfront.

However, WordPress websites tend to look and function pretty much the same, making it difficult to take a business to the next level with WordPress. The limited variation in WordPress’s themes is largely due to its open-source nature, since developers have less incentive to create truly unique themes. One of the main benefits in paying for a CMS is obtaining the type of flexibility that isn't available with pre-made templates.

Website development is a significant cost for an organization, regardless of the CMS that it uses. Most businesses don't have an expert web developer already on staff, so they usually need to hire an outside agency to complete this project. Professional website development typically costs at least a few thousand dollars.

The upfront cost of $299 for Craft can certainly seem like a big increase from the cost of $0 for WordPress. However, this difference is a small fraction of the total cost of getting a website up and running. If Craft's price tag is really a deciding factor for you, then a commercial CMS isn't for you. On the other hand, Craft is indispensable if you're primarily interested in building a customized website that's easy to use and runs very quickly.

Themes

The main reason that WordPress is available to almost any business is that it doesn't require much coding to implement. It isn't absolutely necessary to hire professional developers because WordPress uses templated themes. In the simplest possible implementation, creating a functional website in WordPress only requires the user to choose a theme from the available list and click the Install button. This process is fast, easy and inexpensive.

The catch with such a simple installation is that the prepared themes must already have all the features that a new business might need for its webpages. As a result, WordPress pages contain a lot of unnecessary code, which degrades its performance area. There is considerable variation in the quality of the themes due to the large number of users they must satisfy. However, the code in some of them is quite poor, causing an unsatisfactory experience for many users.

The full cost of using WordPress becomes apparent when a business needs to modify its base implementation. Customizing a WordPress site is highly time-consuming because the developer should first remove all features and plug-ins that are unnecessary for that particular implementation. The next step is to tweak the existing HTML code to accommodate these changes. All of these tasks increase the chance that the theme will break the next time it's updated.

In comparison, Craft has no code of its own because it doesn't have themes or premade templates. The developer must manually design and code everything from scratch, so there is no pre-existing code to modify. The result is that anyone can call themselves a WordPress developer, but Craft developers must be experts at what they do.

Ease of Use

Users must still be able to navigate a website, no matter how technically sound its CMS is. Craft has ease-of-use built into it, which is apparent from its clean, simple interface. Its dashboard only displays the tools that users need for that particular website, whereas WordPress users are accustomed to seeing cluttered sidebars. Craft’s simplicity allows users to easily add content such as new staff members or blog posts after the website is live. Furthermore, they don’t need to worry about getting lost or breaking the site by clicking the wrong button.

The Live Preview function is another feature of Craft that contributes to its ease of use. This feature allows users to see the content editor and a preview of their content with the click of a button. Live Preview also avoids the need to use a browser with multiple open tabs, which is a familiar experience for anyone attempting to preview content in WordPress. This process involves repeatedly modifying and previewing the content, creating a new tab each time. Eventually, it becomes difficult to determine which tabs are the revision and which is the original.

Community

WordPress has a larger community since it currently powers about 30 percent of the web, but Craft is catching up fast. Some of the world's most popular websites are now powered by Craft, including the following:

  • Adobe
  • Apple
  • Associated Press
  • Barefoot Contessa
  • Duck Brand Tape
  • Microsoft
  • Netflix
  • PBS
  • Salesforce

Craft's rapid growth in user popularity and trust is accompanied by an equal improvement in quality. The increase in user community provides Craft's development team with more data to identify needed changes that will make their product better. It also allows web developers to get help more easily when they need support in building their site. Craft's customer support team is active on platforms like StackExchange and Twitter, so they're able to respond quickly to questions. The easy availability of customer support minimizes the risks of a delay in a site launch due to technical issues.

WordPress does have a well-developed user community, but its open-source nature means that it doesn't have official customer support. As a result, developers must wait for someone from a forum to answer questions, which often requires them to come up with their own answers. This process can also increase development costs, since it takes up more of the developer's time.

Plugins

WordPress has a much larger selection of plugins than Craft, which is often a concern for WordPress developers considering a switch to Craft. WordPress had nearly 55,000 plugins as of June 2019, while Craft only had 500 earlier in that year.

The large number of WordPress plugins is one of the reasons that plugins are responsible for so many security breaches on WordPress sites. Another problem caused by so many plugins is that it increases load times for WordPress sites. Craft allows developers to accomplish most tasks natively, instead of using a plugin. This design provides Craft sites with greater security without limiting their functionality. It can also help sites get higher search engine rankings since few plugins allow Craft sites to load more quickly.

Learning Curve

Developers who want to build websites with Craft can expect a substantially greater learning curve than using WordPress. Craft requires developers to have deep technical expertise, making it less accessible by the public. As a result, Craft has fewer developers than WordPress, so finding one requires more work.

Summary

Web developers who adopt Craft often have extensive prior experience in WordPress. Security is one of the most important reasons for them to make this switch due to WordPress’s notoriously weak security, which has resulted in the compromise of sensitive customer information on a large scale. SEO value, design flexibility and load times are also strong reasons for web developers to consider switching from WordPress to Craft. The biggest incentives to continue using WordPress include cost, ease of installation and its larger selection of plugins. Market share is another factor to consider in this decision, which can change very quickly.

Baytech Consulting was founded in 1996 to development software for the financial industry, but has since evolved into other areas like building CRMs. Ae’re passionate about technology, which is why clients come to us for customized, skillfully crafted applications. Our longevity in software development is also due to the skill and efficiency of our software engineers, project managers and devops staff. We currently specialize in enterprise business applications that handle large amounts of data and optimize business processes.

We also focus on developing high-quality software that’s easy to use and scalable. We manage project costs through an efficient development process rather than compromising on quality or hiring offshore engineers. We also provide complete transparency on our projects to ensure we build software to the latest standards. Contact us today to learn more about the best CMS to use for building your website. We’re also available at 877-683-2592.