Posted by Pili Pala Web Design on November 14, 2013

picture of wordpress and concrete5 logos with question mark in between them

A lot of people ask what the difference is between using concrete5 and WordPress. Largely, the difference, in our opinion, can be summarised by saying that WordPress is built for blogging, whereas concrete5 is designed as a content management system (CMS). So what does that mean for the person developing the website, or for the client using it?

Content Management System

We have suggested that concrete5 is designed as a CMS, rather than as a blogging platform. There will be many people who will disagree this point and contest that WordPress works perfectly as a CMS. Concrete5 is very easy to use as a CMS because it uses intuitive in-context editing. Basically, the client just clicks on where they want to edit and they get a text editor just for that region, not the whole page. That means the client doesn’t need to worry about where they insert something and what all the code means as they don’t see any code. Phew! Also, as a web developer/designer, you can hand off the website to the client with minimal worries that the client will do something to wreck their site as they won't be interacting with the structural layout code. It is also very easy for the developer to code the multiple editable regions as it only takes a few lines of PHP. Time savings are also made in training clients to edit the website as it is very easy to use and takes very little explanation.

So what about WordPress as a CMS? Lots of people use it as a CMS, right? WordPress, like concrete5, is free to use so people have adapted it to use as a CMS. With WordPress, you can end up with a text editor for one page with all of the confusing structural code in there and this makes it tricky for clients to edit their page. It can take a lot of time to explain to clients how to edit their pages without disturbing the structure of the page, and invariably includes a discussion on how important it is not to erase certain tags. Of course, multiple editable regions are possible with WordPress using other methods, such as custom posts types. Although this is a more elegant solution than having everything on the page in one text editor, it does require some explanation to the client, and isn’t as user friendly as the intuitive method used by concrete5. There are also widgets available in WordPress that can be used to create multiple editable regions.

Blogging

WordPress is designed for blogging, and at the moment, would be a better bet for bloggers than concrete5. That said, concrete5 does offer a basic blog on installation and there are many free add ons that can be used to improve the function of the blog, such as "Blog Thumbnail", and "Advanced Comments" , which enable the user to easily add a thumbnail to their post and provide a more powerful commenting system than the guestbook block that comes with the install. There are some blogging add ons that cost a small amount to purchase, including one add on "WordPress for Concrete5" which actually enables the user to add a WordPress blog to their concrete5 site!

If you look into the concrete5 forums, you can see that there are various methods to add a little bit of code to make a blog work well with concrete5. For example, with our blog, we used the built in blog functionality from the concrete5 install, but created custom templates for the blog index page and for the archives page. There are some great tutorials on creating blogs with concrete5, such as Jordan Lev’s post on creating thumbnail images using page attributes and Concrete5 Cookbook’s post "Building a Lightweight Blog".

So, to summarise, WordPress is undoubtedly more set up for blogging, but there is no reason you can’t blog with concrete5.

Add ons and Themes

If you look at the concrete5 marketplace, you will see that there are far less add ons and themes available than for WordPress. That makes sense, because there are less users of concrete5 than WordPress. Also, some of these add ons and themes charge a small fee. WordPress has many free add ons and themes, and if you are used to using WordPress and adding widgets for free, it may be seen as a negative side of concrete5 that there is sometimes a fee associated with the add ons. In our experience, when using WordPress, you sometimes have to try out a lot of widgets before you get one that works the way you want it to. Free doesn't necessarily mean good, and you can spend a lot of time wading through the bad to get to the quality widgets. With concrete5, if the add on or theme developer charges a fee for their product, they have to provide support. So if you buy an add on for $20, you can ask the developer for help if you install it and can’t get it to work properly on your site. Fantastic! For $20 or whatever, that is pretty good value for money...you can’t get much for $20 these days. In addition, the developers of concrete5 have ensured that there are free built in blocks for mostly everything that you could need, e.g. forms, sliders, etc.

E-Commerce

For e-Commerce, we feel that WordPress is currently the best option, due to the ability to use free e-Commerce themes such as WooCommerce. For some websites, you may achieve what you need by simply adding a PayPal shopping cart, which costs nothing to add, and of course is possible with concrete5. However, if you need a more advanced e-Commerce option with concrete5, you will need to purchase an add on. There are add ons available that provide e-commerce functionality such as e-Commerce and e-Commerce Express.

Summary

In summary, our opinion is that concrete5 is much easier for people to use as a CMS, although in some circumstances, WordPress may suit the client better. Whether to choose concrete5, WordPress, or another CMS, depends on the needs of the client. When would we recommend WordPress over concrete5? Usually, we would recommend concrete5 to clients when they need a CMS; however, we may recommend WordPress if we feel the client would a) like to be able to access the wealth of free widgets from WordPress, b) wish to use an e-Commerce theme, such as WooCommerce, or c) want to use the blogging features that WordPress has to offer.

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