Imarc

5 Reasons our UXers <3 Craft CMS

Maribeth Fitzpatrick, Lead UX Engineer
Posted on Nov 8, 2016

At Imarc, our UX Engineers have extensive experience working with Content Management Systems (CMS). Along with our own custom-built CMS, SiteManager, the list includes popular CMS tools such as WordPress, Drupal and Hubspot.

One of the newest CMS’ we’ve worked with has quickly become our favorite: Craft CMS. Here are 5 reasons why we think it should be on the top of your list too.

1. It’s User Friendly

Craft CMS has the most user-friendly interface, hands-down. Most of the popular CMS tools can be overwhelming with too many settings up-front, confusing menus and layouts that can be a slog to navigate. Craft is neither overwhelming nor clunky. The UI is simple and clean, with one main menu and a clear structure for adding, removing, editing fields and other items. It is geared more towards content users than engineers and our clients like using it, which is an A+ in our book.

craft-cms-ui.gif

2. It’s Efficient

Because of Craft’s platform and extremely user friendly UI, non-developers are able to directly contribute to the website’s development. For example, a strategist or project manager can expedite the strategy phase by creating a click shell so clients are able to add content earlier in a project’s lifecycle. Now the project no longer needs a copy deck. Creating the routes, defining the type of content on the page and organizing the hierarchy of each page for the click shell is all done within Craft’s UI and without the assistance of an UX engineer. Instead, the UX engineer is able to focus more on the website’s presentation and interactions.

3. It’s Flexible

Unlike its competitors, Craft’s templates are very flexible and easily manipulated by front-end engineers and designers. There is less dependency on back-end engineers to make a template dynamic, which reduces potential bottlenecks. Twig’s templating language (more on that later), runs Craft, and makes it easy for front-end and creative to understand how templates are built. Imarc even has a homegrown plugin that allows us to grab the templating code directly from the Craft UI and place it in our coded files, without having to wait for a back-end engineer to configure it for us. This gives more control and freedom to our UX team, and speeds up the build process significantly.

4. It Uses Twig

Here is a very trivial example of two snippets of code that skips the first item of a loop.

PHP:
<?php
for( $i = 0; $i <= 5; $i++ ) {
if( $i == 0 ) {
continue;
}
?>
<p><?= $i ?></p>
<?php
}
?>

Twig:
{% for i in 1..5 %}
<p>{{ i }}>p>
{% endfor %}

Craft uses a PHP templating engine called Twig and as you can see Twig abstracts a lot of code so it’s easily digestible by both developers and non-developers. Not only is it easy to learn and has an approachable syntax, it packs a punch with powerful features. For example, one neat feature of Twig allows a UX engineer to adhere to DRY principles through the use of macros. Macros are modules of HTML that you define once and can be reused throughout the template. Twig, if used correctly, will produce super clean templates and big smiles on our faces.

5. It Requires Less Plugins

Craft requires less plugins than many other CMS’ that need plugins for even the most basic functionality. Due to Craft’s flexibility and templating, we don’t need to use as many as if, say, we were building a site in WordPress. On average, we only use a handful of plugins on an individual website, and we are pretty picky about which ones we choose - check out this post on our recommended Essential Craft Plugins.

All in all, Craft is our UX Engineers’ #1 CMS tool to work with! The end result: a fairly painless site build with an efficient process, helping the entire team to ramp up quickly. In the end, it keeps us happy, which keeps our clients happy too! What more can a digital agency ask for?

Does Craft sound like the solution your site needs? Lets talk!