Craft CMS vs. ExpressionEngine: A Comprehensive Comparison Guide

Craft CMS vs. ExpressionEngine: A Comprehensive Comparison Guide


Welcome to our comprehensive comparison guide between Craft CMS and ExpressionEngine. Both of these content management systems (CMS) are widely used and have their own strengths and weaknesses. As digital leaders and decision-makers, it's crucial to choose the right CMS that suits your organization's needs. In this guide, we will walk you through various aspects of both Craft CMS and ExpressionEngine, including their foundations, design and user experience, content management capabilities, collaboration and user management, performance and scalability, customization and extensions, SEO and marketing capabilities, security and compliance features, as well as migration, support, and maintenance. Let's dive in and explore what each CMS has to offer!

Foundations of CMS

In terms of the foundations of a CMS, both Craft CMS and ExpressionEngine are built on robust PHP frameworks that provide a solid infrastructure for website development. Craft CMS is built on Yii, while ExpressionEngine is built on CodeIgniter. Both frameworks offer flexibility and scalability, allowing developers to create complex and customized websites. Craft CMS has gained popularity for its simplicity and intuitive interface, making it easy to use for both developers and content editors. On the other hand, ExpressionEngine offers more advanced features and is known for its powerful templating engine, making it a favorite among developers who require more control over their website's structure and functionality.

When it comes to database management, Craft CMS utilizes MySQL, while ExpressionEngine supports both MySQL and PostgreSQL. Both databases are widely used and reliable for managing website content. However, if your organization has specific requirements for database management, it's worth considering which database system is a better fit.

In terms of community support and documentation, both Craft CMS and ExpressionEngine have active communities and extensive documentation available. Craft CMS has an active Slack community, along with a robust official documentation website with plenty of resources, including tutorials, guides, and API documentation. ExpressionEngine also boasts an active community, a user guide, and a knowledge base that covers various aspects of the CMS. Overall, the foundations of both Craft CMS and ExpressionEngine provide a solid base for building and managing websites efficiently.

Now that we've examined the foundations of these two CMS platforms, let's move on to the next section and explore the design and user experience they offer.

Design & User Experience

The design and user experience of a CMS play a crucial role in the overall usability and efficiency of managing website content. Craft CMS and ExpressionEngine both offer customizable and user-friendly interfaces to facilitate a seamless content management experience.

Craft CMS provides a sleek and modern user interface (UI) that is highly intuitive and user-friendly. Its user-friendly dashboard allows content editors to easily navigate and manage their content. Craft CMS also provides a live preview feature, which allows content editors to see how their changes will look on the website in real-time. This feature is especially useful for ensuring consistency and accuracy in content presentation. Additionally, Craft CMS offers a wide range of built-in field types and a flexible content modeling system, allowing content editors to structure their content precisely as they envision it, ensuring a smooth workflow.

ExpressionEngine, on the other hand, offers a customizable Control Panel that allows users to create a personalized workspace. The Control Panel provides a straightforward and easy-to-navigate interface for managing content. ExpressionEngine also offers a flexible templating system that allows designers and developers to create unique and dynamic websites. The ability to create custom field types further enhances the flexibility for content modeling and design customization.

Both Craft CMS and ExpressionEngine prioritize usability and provide a positive user experience. Depending on your organization's specific design and user experience requirements, you can choose the CMS that aligns best with your preferences and goals. Now, let's move on to explore the capabilities of these CMS platforms for content management.

Content Management

Content management is a critical aspect of any CMS, and both Craft CMS and ExpressionEngine offer robust content management capabilities.

Craft CMS provides a user-friendly and flexible content management system that allows content editors to easily create, update, and organize their content. Craft CMS follows a structured content approach, enabling content editors to define their content's structure using customizable fields and sections. This customizable approach allows for precise control over the content's structure and presentation, ensuring a consistent user experience throughout the website.

ExpressionEngine, on the other hand, offers a more flexible content management system that allows content editors to create and manage content in a variety of ways. It provides a channel-based approach where content is organized into channels, allowing for versatile content organization. ExpressionEngine's robust channel system allows content editors to define custom fields and easily manage and categorize their content.

Both Craft CMS and ExpressionEngine offer powerful content management features, but Craft CMS's structured approach may be preferred for organizations with more complex content requirements, while ExpressionEngine's flexible approach may be suitable for organizations looking for versatile content organization options. Now, let's explore collaboration and user management capabilities of these CMS platforms.

Collaboration & User Management

Collaboration and user management are essential features for CMS platforms, especially for organizations with multiple content contributors and teams working together.

Craft CMS provides a robust user management system that allows administrators to manage user accounts and define roles and permissions for different users. Craft CMS offers fine-grained control over user access, ensuring that content editors can only modify the content they are responsible for. Additionally, Craft CMS provides a draft and publishing workflow, allowing content editors to work collaboratively on content before publishing it. This workflow ensures content quality and consistency.

ExpressionEngine also offers a comprehensive user management system, allowing administrators to create and manage user accounts with specific roles and permissions. ExpressionEngine supports fine-grained access control, ensuring that content contributors can only access and modify the sections they are authorized to. Additionally, ExpressionEngine provides a review workflow feature, enabling content review and approval processes before publishing.

Both Craft CMS and ExpressionEngine provide robust collaboration and user management capabilities, allowing organizations to streamline content creation and ensure a smooth workflow. The choice between the two would depend on your organization's specific collaboration requirements and the level of control you need over user access and permissions.

Performance, Scalability, & Hosting

Performance, scalability, and hosting are crucial considerations when choosing a CMS, as they directly impact the speed and reliability of your website.

Craft CMS prioritizes performance and has a reputation for being fast and efficient. It offers built-in caching mechanisms and takes advantage of modern PHP technologies to ensure optimal performance. Craft CMS also provides easy scalability options, allowing websites to handle increased traffic and content growth. When it comes to hosting, Craft CMS is compatible with most popular hosting providers, giving organizations the flexibility to choose the hosting solution that best fits their needs.

ExpressionEngine also focuses on performance and scalability. It offers a range of caching options, allowing websites to deliver content quickly. ExpressionEngine's modular architecture allows organizations to scale their websites easily as their needs evolve. In terms of hosting, ExpressionEngine is compatible with various hosting environments and can be deployed on both shared hosting and dedicated servers.

Both Craft CMS and ExpressionEngine provide solid performance and scalability options. The choice between the two would depend on your organization's specific performance requirements and the hosting environment you prefer. With our next section, let's delve into customization, extensions, and the ecosystem surrounding these CMS platforms.

Customization, Extensions, & Ecosystem

Customization, a rich ecosystem of extensions, and a vibrant community are essential for a CMS to meet the unique requirements of different organizations.

Craft CMS offers extensive customization options, allowing developers to tailor websites to their specific needs. It provides a flexible templating system, enabling developers to create custom designs and themes easily. Craft CMS also has a wide range of plugins available in its official plugin store, providing additional functionality and integration options. The Craft CMS community is active and continually developing new plugins and extensions, ensuring a growing ecosystem of resources.

ExpressionEngine also offers customization capabilities, with its flexible templating system and the ability to create custom fields and templates. Additionally, ExpressionEngine has a range of official and third-party add-ons that extend its functionality. The ExpressionEngine community is active and provides ongoing support and development of new add-ons, contributing to a robust ecosystem.

Both Craft CMS and ExpressionEngine offer customization options and a thriving ecosystem. The choice between the two would depend on your organization's specific customization requirements and the availability of plugins or add-ons that meet your needs. Now, let's move on to explore the SEO, marketing, and monetization capabilities of these CMS platforms.

SEO, Marketing, & Monetization

SEO, marketing, and monetization features are crucial for organizations aiming to attract and retain website visitors, as well as generate revenue.

Craft CMS provides robust SEO features, including customizable meta tags, automatic sitemap generation, and canonical URLs. Craft CMS also offers built-in tools for integrating with marketing platforms and services, such as Google Analytics and Mailchimp. Furthermore, Craft Commerce, an e-commerce plugin for Craft CMS, offers monetization options for organizations looking to sell products or services online.

ExpressionEngine also offers powerful SEO capabilities, allowing users to define custom meta tags, generate XML sitemaps, and manage URL structures. Additionally, ExpressionEngine provides integration options with marketing platforms and services, enhancing the potential for marketing campaigns. ExpressionEngine does not have built-in e-commerce functionality, but it can be extended with various add-ons to support monetization requirements.

Both Craft CMS and ExpressionEngine offer robust SEO and marketing features. The choice between the two would depend on your organization's specific SEO requirements, integration preferences, and whether you require built-in e-commerce functionality. Now, let's explore the security and compliance features of these CMS platforms.

Security & Compliance

Security should be a top priority when selecting a CMS, especially for organizations that handle sensitive data and are subject to compliance regulations.

Craft CMS takes security seriously and follows industry best practices. It provides built-in security features, such as user role-based access controls, password security policies, and SSL support. Craft CMS also actively releases security updates to address vulnerabilities promptly. Additionally, Craft CMS has a dedicated security page that provides information and resources related to security practices.

ExpressionEngine also emphasizes security and offers measures to protect websites and data. It provides user access controls and allows administrators to enforce strong password policies. ExpressionEngine releases security patches and updates regularly to address any identified vulnerabilities. The ExpressionEngine community is vigilant in reporting and addressing potential security concerns.

Both Craft CMS and ExpressionEngine prioritize security, making them suitable choices for organizations with specific security and compliance requirements. The choice between the two would depend on your organization's specific security needs and whether they align with the provided security features. Let's now explore migration, support, and maintenance options.

Migration, Support, & Maintenance

Migration, support, and ongoing maintenance are essential factors to consider when choosing a CMS, as they impact the ease of transitioning from an existing system and the availability of support and updates.

Craft CMS provides official migration guides and resources to assist organizations in smoothly transitioning from other CMS platforms. Craft CMS also offers comprehensive support options, including an active Slack community, official documentation, and support ticketing system. Additionally, Craft CMS provides regular updates and bug fixes to ensure ongoing maintenance and improvement.

ExpressionEngine also offers migration resources, allowing organizations to migrate from other CMS platforms. For support, ExpressionEngine provides a user guide, a knowledge base, and community forums where users can seek assistance and share knowledge. ExpressionEngine releases regular updates and patches to address any reported issues and ensure ongoing maintenance.

Both Craft CMS and ExpressionEngine provide migration resources, support options, and ongoing maintenance. The choice between the two would depend on your organization's specific migration requirements and the support channels that best suit your organization's needs. Now, let's wrap up this comprehensive comparison guide with a conclusion.


Craft CMS and ExpressionEngine are both powerful content management systems with their own unique features and strengths. Craft CMS excels in providing an intuitive user interface, robust content management capabilities, and excellent performance. It is a suitable choice for organizations that prioritize ease of use and structured content management. ExpressionEngine offers flexibility, advanced templating capabilities, and a highly customizable environment, making it a preferred choice for developers who require granular control over their websites.

When selecting a CMS, it's crucial to carefully consider your organization's specific needs and priorities. Evaluate the foundations, design and user experience, content management capabilities, collaboration and user management features, performance and scalability options, customization and ecosystem offerings, SEO and marketing capabilities, security and compliance features, as well as migration, support, and maintenance options provided by each CMS.

By analyzing and comparing these aspects, you can make an informed decision about which CMS, Craft CMS or ExpressionEngine, is the best fit for your organization. Consider your organization's goals, content complexity, collaboration requirements, performance needs, customization preferences, and security and compliance considerations to make the right choice. Both Craft CMS and ExpressionEngine have a loyal user base and a strong community supporting them, ensuring ongoing development, enhancements, and support for their users. Good luck with your CMS selection process!


Martin Dejnicki
Martin Dejnicki

Martin is a digital product innovator and pioneer who built and optimized his first website back in 1996 when he was 16 years old. Since then, he has helped many companies win in the digital space, including Walmart, IBM, Rogers, Canada Post, TMX Group and TD Securities. Recently, he worked with the Deploi team to build an elegant publishing platform for creative writers and a novel algorithmic trading platform.