There are lots of reasons why businesses come to us for a new website, but the root cause of their problem tends to come back to the same four things—content, design, code and cost.
We have a few tools under our belt to solve your website dramas, but our favourite is Craft CMS.
What is Craft CMS?
Craft is a content management system (CMS). Content management systems allow you to store, structure and govern the content that lives on your website.
A modern CMS should be designed around your bespoke needs. It should put you in control, allowing you long-term access to your web content. A high-performance CMS should also support your SEO and content marketing objectives – acting as an important business tool. This is standard best practice that you should insist on with your next new web build.
Ewan Lyle, Technical Lead
It’s common for developers and agencies like ours to focus on working with a small suite of tools, because the ecosystems around each tool are so vast.
As a brand-led agency it's important to us that our tools support bespoke design and our UI/UX efforts. We strongly believe that Craft CMS is one of those tools — but before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s start by digging into what UX and UI mean…
What’s the difference between UX and UI?
Every industry has its own terms that don’t mean much to outsiders. The terms UX and UI are often used interchangeably but have very different meanings.
UX stands for ‘user experience’ and refers to how people interact with a company, its services and its products. So, like your brand, UX is all about how other people perceive you — your reputation, culture and purpose.
When we want to turn on a light in our room, we interact with a light switch. The design of the switch — including the color, material, and physical appearance — may impact how we feel about the interaction
Nick Babich, UX architect and writer
As much as we might like to; we cannot fully control how other people experience their interactions with your company, product or service. In the context of a website, everything from the mood a user is in, to the technology they are using, and where they are using it has an impact.
But we can conduct research into our users’ needs, observe how they behave, uncover their pain points, and tailor our product to reduce friction. That’s what UX is all about and this process is known as ‘user experience design’.
On a website project your primary users are usually your customers — but it’s also important to consider the people managing your content. What’s their experience and how could that impact the success of your project?
UI stands for ‘user interface’ and this is what your website’s visitors see. It's everything from tiny social media icons to contact forms, navigation, and full pages of content. It’s how things look and behave when they’re clicked, scrolled, tapped or hovered over.
A good user interface is a balancing act:
- It should align with your company’s brand guidelines, so it looks uniquely yours.
- It should use familiar and intuitive interface elements (Jakob’s Law) so that people know how to use them instantly… but without taking such a cookie-cutter approach that your site looks just like everyone else’s.
- It also needs to be easy for your content authors to populate. The user interface of your CMS can have a big impact too!
How does Craft support good UX/UI?
It’s common for our clients to have tried free website solutions like WordPress or site-builders like Wix — but they are usually looking to progress onto something more bespoke which can handle content at scale or integrations with a third party. That’s where Craft comes into its own…
Does this sound like you?
- You’re overwhelmed by too much content and too many plugins.
- You have no control over who posts what or when.
- There’s also content you can’t control; like your metadata for SEO, or which links appear in the main navigation.
- Your site can’t handle multiple languages.
- You can’t delete or archive content safely.
Craft’s content benefits:
- It has a clean, customisable dashboard for a quick overview of recent changes. You can also update content on-the-go; it’s mobile-friendly.
- You can assign your team different access privileges, manage your publishing workflow with drafts and scheduled posts.
- You can get fine-grain control of things like SEO and navigation with optional plugins.
- It can support multiple languages when you need it.
- It has “soft deletions”, which act like a trash bin so you can get content back if you accidentally delete it.
Does this sound like you?
- Maybe you’re worried that everything looks the same, or that it’s a messy free-for-all with no consistency at all.
- Perhaps you’re limited by fixed templates or a generic user interface design.
- You can’t add or control images or video.
- You struggle to predict what the outcome will look like and can’t preview before you publish.
Craft’s design benefits:
- Whether you prefer a fixed template to maintain consistency, or want reorderable content blocks for more flexibility, Craft can do both!
- You can do simple image edits on the fly, like crop, rotate and set the focal point of your image. You can also upload MP4 files or embed video from YouTube or Vimeo.
- Live Preview reduces guesswork by showing exactly what your page looks like as you’re populating it.
Does this sound like you?
- Your site is old or buggy, making it difficult and expensive to maintain. It’s impacting your ability to make changes when you need to.
- It’s built with an old or unusual CMS and you can’t find a developer experienced with it.
- It has limited features, orit is really bloated with loads of things you never use. Either way, it slows you down!
Craft’s code benefits:
- Any old or out-of-date system is going to develop some issues. Craft are on it at their end; frequently releasing new features and optimising what’s already there. We offer monthly maintenance packages to help you keep everything up to date.
- Craft CMS is well documented and has a well-established community. If you later decide to take your site in-house or elsewhere, there are lots experienced Craft developers out there (or they can learn the ropes through Craft’s learning and support resources).
- Craft is powerful out of the box but also very extendable. It can support ecommerce, third party integrations and a range of plugins. User permissions can be set to only show plugins to admin users.
The final thing to mention is cost.
There’s an obvious appeal to free or low-cost website providers. But there can be a false economy with free solutions. A major issue is security — the big names become big targets, vulnerable to hacking and hijacking — which puts your business and reputation at risk.
Craft CMS is trusted by corporations like Microsoft, Apple, Reddit, Adobe, BigCommerce, Netflix, AT&T, McDonald’s, and Dell, plus numerous government, financial, and educational organizations.
Craft security FAQs
With Craft CMS, you can spend less time firefighting issues and free yourself up for delivering on more meaningful objectives.
A Craft CMS license currently costs $299 per project. Professional, not prohibitive!
While we have plenty of experience with other systems, we find Craft CMS fits the bill for the majority of our B2B and B2C clients because it is so flexible and extendable. However, every project is different, and we can always explore different options to make sure you get what works for you!
Any new-to-you CMS will come with a learning curve, for content authors and developers alike — so we include CMS training in every project to make the transition a little easier.
If you’ve been struggling with a site builder like Wix or overwhelmed by Wordpress, it might be time to upgrade to a bespoke Craft build.