We make no secret here of the fact we favour Concrete 5 as our Content Management System of choice, but this wasn't some arbitrary choice - Concrete 5 makes everybodys life simpler. Let us explain why.
The sitemap, page management in Concrete 5 is strike number one against Wordpress.
Pages in Concrete 5 are stored in a tree structure allowing pages to be children of other pages. The navigation menus and page lists then automatically reference this structure to display in the order you move the pages, including in submenu's where required. It's a fantastically powerful tool which allows you, the client, to change menu order or add/remove a page at any time without any work needed on the templates.
The second strike is Concrete5's inclusion of a tracking codes feature. Tried adding Analytics to Wordpress? To do so with the native setup means coding your analytics code into every page. A pain to maintain but worse - wordpress' bad editor section treats each individual line in the analaytics code as its own paragraph, wrapping the line in new tags.
Because it doesn't recognise HTML/Script tags you end up with no tracking - sure no error is displayed but when you visit your analytics dashboard weeks later you'll see a flatlined site with 0 visitors. Not helpful.
How does Wordpress get round this? Wordpress has several competing plugins available to manage analytics for you. Give it your details (in some cases, find your unique ID from the analytics code and enter that) and various plugins will insert tracking codes on each page or even provide analytics data in your dashboard.
How does Concrete5 do it better? Go to your settings tab and you can paste in your code once, every page viewed then automatically includes this code. Job done and no plugins needed.
The number of plugins available for Wordpress is usually touted as its main advantage. Calling it an advantage is a claim that ignores the inherent problems with this system - upgrades and conflicts.
While Concrete5 also offers a library of plugins, they are not required to offer what most would consider 'core functionality'. Wordpress on the other hand, was built only to manage blogs and has gradually evolved through the use of plugins. The problem is many plugins conflict with eachother because they aren't tested together or aren't maintained as Wordpress gets updated which soon means they have no value. A bad developer can quickly leave you with a site stick in a Wordpress black hole which won't allow you to upgrade and limits you from having access to new features.
Another problem specifically for you, the client, is that you have to seek out and install these plugins yourself. It's yet another thing to learn just to use the most basic or standard features - like analytics.
The third (but not final) strike is Concrete 5's Pièce de résistance - its drag and drop inline editing.
Concrete5's drag and drop editing is, on its own, enough reason to switch for both clients and designers.
While Wordpress has you edit your pages blind and then have to visit the page to preview each change, concrete allows you to edit directly on the page, visually, checkout the video to the right to see.
Want a calendar on this page? just drop in a calendar block. Have a nice image on the right but now you want it bottom-left? Just drag the image across the screen. What about when you are using the system just to write a blog post? WYSIWYG editors allow you to edit the text parts just like in Word. Select a section, change its colour, add a title... Done. All from the page itself.
Of course this isn't a definitive list of all the reasons we love Concrete 5. There are many minor differences, that was just our favourite differences. C5 is overall a very intuitive user experience.
As a client it's almost always obvious where to look to make changes and, without any technical skill you can make drastic changes to a page that would be unthinkable in wordpress without getting a developer involved again. Give it a try and see if you don't fall in love like we did.
"Most websites are not tv commercials or billboards that some agency should get paid a lot of money to make perfect and then the client should never touch.
Websites are more like houses. You want someone with a lot of experience to build the bones and make it livable, but the person who lives there for a decade is going to want to be able to make changes to their house later without having to call the original builder"
- Concrete 5 Team
The above is a quote from Concrete 5's developers. If that didn't convince you that it's a CMS with the clients in mind, not much will - maybe you should try googling what wordpress has to say on the matter?
I'm sure the idea of switching is pretty daunting. You've trid a C5 demo and realised how much friendlier it is to use, how much nicer the inline editing is and know once it's transferred the simple, intuitive learning curve means using new features in the CMS wouldn't cause you any problems... But you have tons of data in your existing WP site already, you don't want to or couldn't re-enter it all!
Not to worry. Any decent developer with some MySql experience whose worth their salt (New Colours for instance) will be able to transfer your database from WP to C5 with ease, so you won't lose anything. Even your URL's which are tied so closely with SEO can be maintained.
Designers will have a much better time with Concrete5. Wordpress really constrains designs. Concrete 5 alliows truly free design with very simple placeholders anywhere you want. This means every little feature with your theme can be editable by the client with really little work on your part. And there's no need to learn any advanced programming or SQL for the designer to make any of these changes!
The designers in our group have all worked with both platforms, but unanimously agree - they prefer concrete5 for clients. The main reason is the ease for clients to add their own content. They seem to grasp the concept a lot quicker.
From the developer POV theres a trio of great improvements - it's an MVC structure, it's somewhat object orientated and everythign can be developed into blocks. What does that mean? It means complex features can be packaged as a 'block' to allow the end user to drag and drop rearrange their page without breaking ang of your hard work. The feature doesn't need to be hard coded into a page and, because its MVC you keep your logic separate from your template.
It also means pages of different page types can be used to represent all kinds of objects with unique attributes which allow you to do all kinds of cool things, especially when creating custom templates for the page list block.
Most amateur developers pick wp because of comfort - it keeps simple things simple enough to do with only basic technical knowledge, however, when you want to do anything even remotely impressive, wordpress works as a barrier, not a platform.
This post was written by Nick Cardoso; Our lead developer here at New Colours. Nick has several years experience in the industry and has worked previously consulting with large firms. You can contact Nick privately via our Contact page, or leave a comment and we'll try to respond to everyone.