An open-source management system, Concrete5 was created in a bid to allow publication of content on World Wide Web and Intranet platforms. The main objective behind its design was to allow ease of usage for the customers who lacked sufficient proficiency in their technical skills.
Concrete5 is a wonderful piece of software: extendable, easy to use and, most importantly, free. It features its very own forums and community while also providing enterprise and hosting solutions.
Before we proceed further, let me take some time out to clarify that the focus of this article will not be on installation procedures, deployment techniques or any such aspects. Instead, we will be focussing on evaluating Concrete5 as a use-worthy CMS for your website, either in its very own right or as an alternative to others content management tools such as WordPress.
Ease of use and Usability
As far as Concrete5 is concerned, our foremost area of discussion will focus around usability. In its own right the CMS is extremely easy to setup and use. Once you get the hang of things, you won’t even be called upon to consult the software documentation too frequently. This development tool has also proven itself to be one of the most user-friendly softwares that you will ever be using for setting up your website.
The Concrete5 dashboard offers all navigations that you, as a site owner, could possibly ask for. A Composer allows you to edit and create content, while a File Manager and Reports Section lets you go through statistics and analysis. There are a number of other sections as well but nothing noteworthy to mention in their regard.
However, the biggest aspect of Concrete5 is its drag and drop support. Once you log in as an admin and head to your website, click on Edit in the top bar. This will allow you to drag and drop elements on and off your site page. Moreover, if you are looking to edit elements on the website, simply click on them. Then, choose the required Edit option from the context menu. Can it get any simpler!
Flexibility and Customization
It is true, Concrete5 is customizable. However, there is a feeling that the customization options will seem somewhat limited to an individual who is used to tweaking codes. Ideally, Concrete5 may be regarded more as a designer’s CMS rather than a developer’s CMS.
With this development tool, you are not required to customize and tweak each and every setting. In fact, and this is very similar to WordPress, Concrete5 aims to bring in a lot of abstraction. As a result, it does not shout out “Customize ME!” at you as soon as it is launched. As far as the flexibility is concerned, this CMS ranks in a pretty average performance.
Community and Documentation for improved Help and Support
The worth of a CMS is typically measured by the level of affection shown to it by its users. Concrete5 is supported by a loyal community and user base. There are the numerous newsletters, chat sessions and forums to start with. The latter is largely active so as someone using Concrete5 for all your development projects, you will realize that you are never alone.
Moreover, if you ever encounter any trouble, there is no cause for you to panic. There is a well populated document along with separate tips and guides for the developers and editors alike. The code submission and bug tracker mechanisms further add to the agility of this CMS development tool.
A downside, though, is the absence of an explicit link to the various forums and documentations within the CMS dashboard.
Other miscellaneous elements
There is a dedicated marketplace for Concrete5 where you are provided all sorts of themes and add-ons. It is needless to say that you won’t be afforded as many themes as on Drupal or WordPress but the count is not too bad either. It is worth noting, though, that most of the “better” varieties are either paid or premium services while the free ones look as if their design dates back to the early nineties.
The number of third-party add-on and theme providers on Concrete5 is fairly small. Beyond all this, the CMS development tool also has its own set of Enterprise Solutions along with hosting services.
How does Concrete5 fare against WordPress?
WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world and used by maximum number of businesses for their websites. So let us try and determine how well Concrete5 measures up against this industry leader.
There is a lot of similarity between the two CMS development tools. Concrete5 and WordPress exhibit amazing levels of abstraction while the former seemingly trumping its competitor with the drag-and-drop feature. However, the thin marketplace of this CMS tool, which lacks the same level of prominence as WordPress, seemingly goes against it.
Once again we see the perfect example of demand creates supply. Since Concrete5 has a smaller user base, you really can’t put the blame squarely on its shoulders for not having a larger marketplace to boast.
While flexibility and customization are some benefits on offer from this CMS development tool, if you are looking for some added level of ease and a smoother learning curve to work with, Concrete5 should be your preferred destination.