Are you trying to decide between Craft CMS and WordPress to build your new website? Both of these platforms excel at creating websites, but trying to figure out which one is right for you isn’t easy. They can both achieve the same results, but the way they go about it is quite different.
That’s why I am going to compare each platform in a head-to-head comparison to help you decide.
Craft CMS vs WordPress: Overview
Before we get into specific categories, it’s important to understand what makes each platform unique. While they are both a CMS, these platforms differ greatly when it comes to their core identity.
Let’s take a look.
What is Craft CMS?
Craft CMS was created by Pixel & Tonic to help web developers build beautiful websites in a modern fashion. Unlike many modern CMS, this is not a website builder. Thus, you must write your own HTML code, which makes it hard for beginners to use.
However, as long as you have basic coding knowledge, you can build a website that utilizes some of the best coding practices.
One of the areas it excels at is collaboration. With Craft Pro, it’s easy to ensure every team member can access what they need to without interfering with others.
However, this comes at a price because access to Craft CMS Pro is very expensive when considering other options on the market. Yet, despite the price, it’s carved out a spot for itself amongst the CMS industry.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is an open-source CMS that is free to use. Due to this, and many other factors, WordPress has become the most popular CMS on the market with a market share of over 40%!
It is dominating the industry, to say the least.
A big factor is that users don’t need any coding knowledge. This is all thanks to the huge library of themes and plugins at your disposal. A theme is a collection of stylesheets and templates that determines the appearance of your website.
As a result, you can have a great design with just the click of the “Install” button. Plugins are small software packages that add specific functionality to your website. Both of these come in free and premium options, so there’s something for everyone.
So What’s the Difference?
While both Craft CMS and WordPress are content management systems, WordPress is a beginner-friendly platform that dominates the market. This results in more support and integration options for users. While Craft CMS is intuitive, it requires coding knowledge which will keep beginners away.
That said, both of these can be used to build the same kind of websites.
Ease of Use
Without a doubt, many users value a platform that is easy to use. Many businesses choose to build their own website to save money but lack coding knowledge. This has led many modern CMS to build platforms that don’t require code.
However, it really depends on who is building the website.
Craft CMS Accessibility
Craft CMS is a very intuitive platform that was designed with web developers in mind with emphasis on the web developer’s part. If you are a total beginner that does not know anything about HTML, this platform is not for you.
That said, if you are used to building websites in this manner, Craft CMS may just be the best place to do it. With its smart design philosophy, you can build pages that load faster and ultimately perform better due to not having unnecessary code.
On an official level, Craft CMS does not have any themes. But if you know where to look, you can find multiple templates that users have created. However, most of these will require some tweaking on your part.
Ultimately, this is a platform where you build everything from scratch.
WordPress Accessibility: Winner
WordPress started out as a blogging platform but kept evolving into the smorgasbord it is today. With it, you can build any kind of website and never need to write a single line of code.
Thus, it is hands down the most accessible platform on the market.
When building a new website, you simply need to install WordPress, install a theme, find and install plugins you like, and start creating content. It’s really that simple. Anyone can build a website using WordPress.
Managing WordPress is just as easy. Updates can be automated, while plugins can be used to help you manage other aspects of your website like security or SEO. And the best part is you have a lot of options to choose from, so you can pick the tools that suit your skill level.
Without a doubt, WordPress is easier to use than Craft CMS. While that doesn’t necessarily mean it is better, it is a big reason why WordPress has become the dominant force in the industry. Anyone can build with the platform.
The accessibility is baked into every facet of WordPress.
We are way past the point where websites can just be functional. Today, websites must look good. While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, each of these platforms offers its own take on how to approach design philosophy.
Which one is better really depends on the view, but I think there is a clear winner.
Craft CMS Design
With Craft CMS, you can build any type of website design you want because it is all code-based. There are no limitations other than your own coding knowledge. Unlike many other CMS, Craft doesn’t offer any templates to start with.
That said, the community is passionate and there are a lot of unofficial templates you can find. These can act as a good starting point for less skilled developers, but still require tweaking on your end to make it look different enough from other websites.
This freedom is also available in terms of layouts. You can build any page or post layout you want. There are also a few premium plugins you can buy that add a visual editor to help less experienced developers.
Overall, the platform is great for designing websites and content alike.
WordPress Design: Winner
WordPress gives you complete control over how to approach web design. You can use more traditional methods like using CSS code to design your pages, or you can use a page builder, like Elementor, to build the page from scratch.
Really, it all comes down to choice. There are so many tools you can use to create content or add specific elements, design really depends on personal preference. And with over 4,000 free themes to choose from, there is no shortage of choice.
When it comes to creating content, the Gutenberg editor is superb. It is a block-based editor that allows you to create posts or pages any way you want. It’s also simple to use.
WordPress and the Gutenberg editor are intuitive, and you can build quality content in minutes once you get the hang of them.
This is a tough category because both of these can be used to build stylish content, but what gives WordPress the edge over Craft CMS is the number of options available.
In Craft CMS, you are limited to just using code.
While in WordPress, you can choose themes, customize them with CSS code, plugins, or even build custom pages with a page or website builder on another platform. It essentially does everything Craft does, and more.
One of the most common websites you see is online stores. These websites have very specific needs and require more resources than blogs or news sites. Thus, you need a platform that can provide you with everything.
More importantly, you need one that can scale with your business.
Both Craft CMS and WordPress offer users a powerful selection of eCommerce tools to use.
Craft CMS eCommerce
Craft CMS offers users multiple plans (more on that in Pricing), but long story short, there are two e-commerce plans Craft Commerce Lite & Pro.
Lite costs $199 per project and Pro costs $999 per project. To say that these are steep prices is an understatement.
If you wanted to add a merchandise store to your blog, even the lite plan could erase profit margins. Instead, Craft Commerce is geared at larger stores and it is a terrific solution for them.
Craft Commerce will seamlessly integrate with Craft CMS and can scale with storefronts of any size because it was built by the same team. It has a ton of built-in features that would be considered add-ons on other platforms.
If you can afford the price, Craft Commerce is great.
WordPress eCommerce: Winner
WordPress has a secret weapon when it comes to eCommerce, WooCommerce. This free plugin transforms your WordPress install into an eCommerce-friendly storefront at no extra price.
In fact, it currently powers over 5 million stores.
It also has a suite of add-ons that range from free to premium. The only fees you will pay are the transaction fees associated with payment gateways like PayPal or Stripe. Thus, you can start an online cost for just the price of inventory.
While WooCommerce is easy to use, I have to admit it has a learning curve, There are hundreds of options you can configure, so it can be a bit overwhelming. The good news is that there are a ton of resources you can use to learn it with no need for coding.
This was another tough choice. Craft CMS has an excellent eCommerce offering, however, it’s really expensive and once again requires coding knowledge. WordPress is free and quite easy in comparison.
Overall, WordPress is the better option for small to medium-sized stores.
Let’s face it, price is a big factor whether you are just starting out or have a multi-billion dollar company. And when it comes to choosing a CMS to build with, it can be the most important factor for new websites.
That said, the initial price isn’t the only one at play. Additional tools like plugins can add up, let’s see which one is cheaper to build with.
Craft CMS Pricing
Craft CMS does offer a free option, but it is limited to a single admin account. For many users, this is perfect because they will be doing everything themselves. However, this doesn’t work for any website with multiple users.
Instead, you will have to purchase either a Pro or Enterprise plan. Pro starts for a one-time payment of $299 per project and an additional $59 annual payment to continue receiving updates. The Enterprise plans vary on the needs of the company.
And this is just for standard websites. You must pay additional for the eCommerce functionalities we discussed in the last section. On top of this, the plugin market is small, thus, most craft plugins will cost money.
Overall, building with Craft has some sizable upfront costs.
Note: Craft CMS and Craft Commerce are separate licenses. You must buy both to have eCommerce functionality.
WordPress Pricing: Winner
WordPress is an open-source CMS that is completely free to use. The real cost of using WordPress is web hosting, but the good news is that web hosting is cheap. In fact, WordPress is the cheapest CMS to get web hosting for.
This is because WordPress is the most popular option by a mile. In fact, it wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that the modern web hosting industry was built with WordPress in mind.
As a result, there is no shortage of options available.
Outside of web hosting, the only other cost is premium themes and plugins. Both are optional, but many websites end up using multiple plugins that can vary in price. Most commonly, these prices exist in the $30 to $50 range but can get more expensive.
This is pretty cut and dried; WordPress is free to use and has free options for all themes and plugins while Craft CMS does not. On top of this, you still need to pay for web hosting services top of the CMS cost.
WordPress is the cheaper platform to build with.
Craft CMS vs WordPress: Final Results
WordPress is the clear winner in this comparison when looking at it from a beginner’s perspective. The platform is easier to use, gives users more options, and is cheaper. It checks all of the boxes for most creators, which is why it dominates the industry.
Which platform do you prefer?