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Improve your Craft CMS skills

Craft CMS Pricing Explained

10 min read
Craft CMS Pricing Explained

Unsure whether Craft CMS offers the right capabilities for your budget? With flexible pricing tiers and hosting options, Craft can accommodate teams large and small. This article provides an in-depth guide to Craft pricing models, helping you gain clarity on the real costs so you can make an informed decision. Gain actionable insights on optimizing and saving on Craft expenses.

Craft CMS offers flexible and scalable pricing, starting at $59/year for Solo plan. More expensive Pro and Business plans add capabilities like multi-user authoring and enterprise integrations. Overall costs depend on plan edition, number of sites/users, hosting model, and supplemental services purchased. Careful planning optimizes the budget.

About Craft CMS and Pixel & Tonic

History and Background of Craft CMS

Craft CMS originated from Pixel & Tonic, a web design agency based in Chattanooga, Tennessee founded by Brandon Kelly and Jake Johnson. Frustrated with the limitations of existing content management systems, Kelly and Johnson decided to build their own system that would provide the flexibility and customization they needed for their client projects.

The first version of Craft was released in April 2013 as an open source content management system built on Yii Framework. Craft offered a refreshing approach with its user-friendly admin interface and flexible, extendable architecture. The intuitive control panel enabled less technical users to manage content. Developers appreciated the modular plugin ecosystem for extending functionality.

Over the years, Craft continued to evolve with new features for streamlining workflows. The release of Craft 3 in 2018 represented a major rewrite that transitioned Craft to a paid system.

Craft 3 provided deeper integration options and introduced new concepts like sections and entries for organizing content. An asset management system was also included for managing files.

Today, Craft enjoys growing adoption as a modern content management system focused on delivering exceptional authoring experiences. Its developer-friendly approach makes Craft a popular choice among web design agencies. Craft continues to release improvements that simplify managing content for organizations of all sizes.

Overview of Pixel & Tonic

Pixel & Tonic is the development company that created and maintains Craft CMS. Founded in 2005 by Brandon Kelly and Jake Johnson, the web design agency envisioned a content management system tailored to their workflow needs.

Based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Pixel & Tonic has grown to over 60 employees focused on open source development. In addition to Craft, the company is behind other projects like VR View and Retcon. Their team boasts extensive experience building custom websites, web applications, and complex content management systems.

Pixel & Tonic embraces craftsmanship in their work, taking pride in creating beautifully designed, user-friendly experiences. They value sustainable business practices and transparent communication with their community. The company champions open source as a collaborative model for building better software.

The Pixel & Tonic philosophy focuses on the concept of craftsmanship. They believe in taking the time necessary to thoughtfully design and develop quality experiences. Their meticulous attention to detail shines through in Craft CMS. The company continues upholding their craftsmanship values while evolving Craft to meet the needs of modern web projects.

Craft CMS Platform Details

Craft CMS is a flexible, user-friendly content management system designed for developers and content teams. Offering an intuitive interface and customizable workflows, Craft helps organizations deliver engaging web experiences.

Unlike other content management systems, Craft employs a modular approach centred around plugins. Developers can extend Craft's functionality by installing plugins from the extensive plugin store. Craft's architecture makes it easy to integrate advanced features like ecommerce, localization, and search.

The intuitive control panel enables less technical users to author and manage content. Craft introduces concepts like sections, entry types, and fields to streamline organizing content. The responsive interface optimizes the authoring experience for any device.

Various site owners leverage Craft for its versatility supporting everything from simple brochure sites to complex web applications. Its developer-friendly mindset and focus on author experience have made Craft popular among digital agencies. Craft also suits the needs of marketing teams, publishers, and organizations managing large volumes of content.

With its flexible content model and extensible architecture, Craft provides the perfect foundation for delivering next-level web experiences. Craft continues to evolve as a modern content management system focused on simplicity, beauty, and ease of use for everyone involved in a project.

Craft CMS Editions and Pricing Tiers

Overview of Editions

Craft CMS pricing is available in four editions suited to users with different needs - Solo, Pro, Business, and Enterprise. Each edition builds on the capabilities of the previous tier to provide additional features, support, and resources.

The Solo edition is geared towards individual developers and freelancers managing personal projects. Pro adds capabilities for small teams and client work with higher user limits. Business unlocks enterprise-level collaboration tools for larger organizations. Enterprise offers fully customized licensing and support for global companies.

Understanding the differences between the editions ensures you choose the optimal plan based on team size, project complexity, and business requirements. All editions provide the same core Craft CMS features but scale resources appropriately.

Craft CMS Solo Plan

The Solo edition is designed for individual developers, freelancers, and hobbyists creating personal projects. Priced at only £42 per year, it provides a low-cost way to explore Craft's capabilities.

Solo allows a single-user account with unlimited client accounts for demoing sites to clients. It works for small personal websites and portable projects. Solo sites can only run on one production and one staging environment.

The Solo plan lacks the capabilities needed for professional client work like multi-user content authoring. However, it lets individual developers take full advantage of Craft's flexible content modelling and templating features. Solo also grants full access to the Craft plugin store.

For individuals wanting to learn Craft or use it for personal sites, the Solo edition delivers tremendous value. Solo provides an affordable way to benefit from Craft's user-friendly authoring and customization capabilities.

Craft CMS Pro Plan

The Pro edition adds capabilities for using Craft CMS in a professional setting. Priced at £299 annually, Pro allows up to 5 user accounts for authors and administrators. This makes it feasible for small teams and agencies to collaborate.

Pro increases environment allowances up to two production and five staging sites. The expanded environments better support building client websites and applications. Pro also includes five times the asset storage of Solo.

For small agencies and development teams working on client projects, the Pro plan enables effective collaboration. It provides sufficient user accounts and environments for juggling multiple client websites. Pro also unlocks Team spaces with shared drafts and workflows.

Pro strikes an optimal balance of capabilities and affordability for running Craft CMS professionally. For small shops producing quality client work regularly, the Pro edition delivers the right set of features.

Craft CMS Business Plan

The Business edition takes Craft's collaboration and integration capabilities to the next level. With unlimited users and environments, Business supports larger teams and organizations.

Business pricing starts at £849 annually for 5 users then adds £85 per extra user. Volume discounts are also available. This plan suits mid-size agencies or marketing teams managing a portfolio of sites.

Business unlocks capabilities tailored for larger creative teams and marketing departments. It includes unlimited Team spaces for advanced collaboration with customized user permissions. The edition also provides ten times more asset storage over Pro.

For organizations running multiple sites across various regions or business units, Business has the features to support complex workflows. Companies get a branded control panel to match their visual identity. The business also enables integration with single sign-on solutions.

With its robust feature set and volume pricing, the Business edition enables larger companies to scale Craft CMS across their organization. For medium and large businesses, it's an enterprise-ready solution.

Craft CMS Enterprise Plan

Craft CMS Enterprise caters to global organizations with highly complex web presence needs. Enterprise provides customized licensing, solutions, and premium support tailored to each company.

Pricing for Enterprise is established on an individual basis factoring in aspects like a number of properties, users, and geographic reach. Enterprise ensures companies get the precise configuration, integrations, and resources their unique requirements demand.

For multinational corporations managing hundreds of sites and applications, Enterprise delivers unmatched capabilities. Companies gain access to a dedicated account representative for faster support responses. Custom software features can also be developed to address specific business needs.

Enterprise enables custom licensing terms like concurrent user pricing for larger user pools. Companies also benefit from taxonomy management and global content distribution tools purpose-built for their use cases. Custom reporting dashboards provide visibility across all web properties.

Global brands with complex digital footprints turn to Craft's Enterprise plan for a tailored CMS solution. Enterprise offers the flexibility to design a custom Craft implementation aligned with established workflows and infrastructure. For organizations running Craft at an enormous scale, it provides the right foundation.

Craft CMS Free Trial

Signing Up for Free Trial

Craft CMS offers a free 14-day trial to experience its capabilities first-hand. Signing up is straightforward by visiting the Craft website and clicking "Start Trial". You'll need to provide some basic information like your name, email, and password.

The sign-up process only takes a minute or two. You'll receive a confirmation email to verify your account. Then you can access the Craft control panel and set up your free trial site. Craft provides resources to guide you through the initial setup.

The trial registration flows smoothly to get you building sites quickly. Within a few clicks, you have access to the same intuitive control panel as paying users. Craft's helpful onboarding resources ensure you hit the ground running.

Capabilities of Free Trial

Craft's free trial grants access to most key features but places some sensible limits. You can build as many trial sites as you want over 14 days. Each site allows only 100 pages and 2 user accounts.

The free trial includes the full content modelling capabilities to create sections, fields, and entry types. You can also take advantage of Craft's flexible templating engine and 200+ free plugins. All environments like production, staging, and local dev are available.

However, the free trial limits overall storage space to 100MB. It also restricts access to some premium plugins and modules. Support is limited to documentation and the user forum. Real-time assistance requires a paid subscription.

For individual evaluation, Craft's trial provides ample time and resources. Over 14 days, you can thoroughly test Craft's authoring tools, developer features, and overall approach. The trial gives a representative experience of using Craft in production.

Using Free Trial for Evaluation

Craft's free trial enables extensively evaluating its capabilities before purchasing. You can build multiple sample sites to experience the intuitive authoring and templating workflow.

During the trial, focus on assessing Craft's content modelling and how it streamlines your process. Evaluate the user-friendly control panel and simple field creation. Make sure Craft delivers the flexibility and customization your projects require.

Also use the trial to get hands-on with key features like Craft's asset manager, user permissions, and localization support. Check that Craft integrates well with your tech stack. Review available plugins and consider whether premium ones suit your needs.

The two-week free trial period provides sufficient time to thoroughly test drive Craft CMS. Follow the onboarding resources to quickly build demo sites and simulate real-world scenarios. By the end of the trial, you'll have the knowledge to decide if Craft is the right choice over other CMS options.

Take advantage of the free trial to gain first-hand experience with Craft's capabilities. Focus your evaluation on the critical aspects of your use case. Testing Craft in this manner equips you to make an informed decision about potentially purchasing and switching to Craft CMS.

Cloud and Self-Hosting Options

Managed Cloud Hosting

Craft CMS offers seamless integration with leading cloud platforms like AWS, GCP, and Azure. Managed cloud hosting provides a turnkey solution optimized for running Craft sites.

Popular options include Craft-specific cloud hosting from providers like SpinupWP. They handle secure cloud infrastructure tuned for optimal Craft performance. managed cloud hosting also offloads DevOps burdens like server admin, scaling, and updates.

For organizations without in-house DevOps expertise, managed Craft cloud hosting simplifies launching projects. Cloud infrastructure delivers scalable performance to support traffic spikes. Platforms like AWS and Azure also enable globally distributed hosting.

Self-Hosting Requirements

Organizations can self-host Craft CMS by ensuring servers meet the minimum requirements. Craft needs PHP 7.0.2 or newer, along with MySQL 5.5+, PostgreSQL 9.5+, or SQLite 3.7+.

For best performance, Craft recommends 2GB+ RAM and 2vCPUs per production environment. Fast SSD storage is ideal for optimal asset handling. Outgoing bandwidth should support anticipated traffic volumes.

Securing self-hosted servers also requires expertise in web server hardening, SSL implementation, and access controls. Ongoing maintenance involves promptly applying security patches and Craft updates.

While self-hosting allows customizing infrastructure, it demands significant DevOps resources. Organizations must weigh the trade-offs versus outsourcing hosting and management

Hybrid Hosting Approaches

Some organizations employ a hybrid approach blending managed cloud infrastructure with self-hosted components. This provides flexibility to match specific hosting needs.

For example, sites may run on managed cloud servers while asset storage leverages an on-prem object storage cluster. Organizations can also use cloud services like queues and databases while self-hosting the Craft instance.

Splitting hosting this way enables optimizing infrastructure spending. Static resources can run in cloud buckets while dynamic workloads utilize self-maintained servers. Organizations only pay for cloud services actually leveraged.

Hybrid hosting also supports cloud bursting to scale on-demand when traffic spikes. On-prem servers handle baseline loads while cloud infrastructure accommodates peaks. Craft's modular architecture facilitates hybrid deployments.

Blending managed cloud services with self-hosted servers offers an agile hosting strategy. Workloads can run across environments tailored to performance and budget needs. Craft CMS easily integrates across heterogeneous infrastructures.

Additional Craft CMS Cost Considerations

First Party Add-Ons and Plugins

Craft CMS offers various first-party add-ons and plugins beyond the core platform. These extend Craft's capabilities with new features produced by Pixel & Tonic.

Add-ons like Craft Sync provide multi-site management and content propagation. Craftsolo adds user collaboration tools for the Solo plan. Other add-ons enable personalization, feed imports, and translations.

First-party plugins enable integrations for email marketing, SEO, social media, and ecommerce. Users can purchase individual plugins like Retcon for frontend editing. Plugin bundles are also available covering specific functions.

These first-party solutions typically cost £39 - £329 annually per site. Volume licensing discounts may apply for multiple sites. Add-ons and plugins give Craft CMS far greater functionality out of the box.

Third Party Integrations

Hundreds of third-party plugins are available to augment Craft's capabilities. Developers can browse and install these plugins from the official Craft Plugin Store.

Popular third-party plugins enable deeper integrations with tools like Slack, MailChimp, and Salesforce. Other plugins add specific functionality like forms, galleries, and subscriptions. Most third-party plugins range from free up to around £99 annually.

Leading module developers like Solspace and Duo also offer Craft plugins and add-ons. Additional services like tracking, hosting, and training may also complement Craft implementations.

Robust third-party integrations are a key advantage of Craft's open and extensible architecture. Organizations can tailor functionality to their unique needs through plugins.

Additional Licensing Costs

Beyond the base platform license, using Craft CMS professionally typically involves additional licensing fees. The Pro plan and higher require purchasing individual licenses for multiple production sites. Extra user licenses may also be needed.

For example, an agency running Craft for 5 client sites would require five Pro licenses. Two extra user licenses would also be needed to cover the 7 total users. Additional staging site licenses help with testing workflows.

Organizations should factor in these supplemental licensing costs when budgeting their Craft CMS implementation. Volume discounts often apply as license counts increase. Larger editions provide unlimited user and site licenses.

Though the core Craft licenses cover key features, complementary licenses enable professional use across multiple projects and users. Planning for these additional costs ensures a complete budget estimate.

Optimizing and Saving on Craft CMS Costs

Selecting the Right Plan

Choosing the optimal Craft CMS edition for your needs helps minimize licensing costs. Consider both immediate requirements and potential future growth when deciding on a plan.

For example, Solo supports personal learning but Pro suits client work better. Similarly, Business provides enterprise capabilities that Pro lacks. Buying more plans than currently needed allows headroom to expand.

Take advantage of Craft's free trial to evaluate the different editions. See if expected workflows fit within each plan's constraints. Avoid overpaying for unnecessary capabilities while retaining flexibility.

Plan pricing also scales based on user counts, sites, and environments. Right-size these elements for your organization and budget. Add-on only the supplemental licenses that are essential for workflows.

Managing Hosting Fees

For managed cloud hosting, tools like auto-scaling, load balancing, and optimized images help control costs. Allocate cloud resources judiciously to closely match traffic demands.

Consider lower-cost object storage like S3 for assets rather than premium cloud disks. Budget cloud providers can also reduce hosting fees for non-critical workloads.

On self-hosted infrastructure, optimize Craft performance through caching, database tuning, and web server tweaks. Right-size server specs to handle typical rather than peak demand.

Seek managed services focused on optimizing Craft deployments versus general-purpose hosting. Careful architecture design enables efficient running on minimal cloud resources.

Limiting Additional Expenses

Avoid installing every available Craft CMS add-on and plugin which quickly inflates costs. Only use those essential for current needs and workflows.

Many third-party plugins have free or lower-cost alternatives to premium options. Thoroughly evaluate free plugins before purchasing commercial solutions.

For add-ons, review what Craft CMS and installed plugins provide out of the box. You can often achieve many integrations without extra services.

Consider if third-party tools like content management and analytics already in your stack obviate specific add-ons. Craft's flexibility facilitates integrating with existing solutions.

By making judicious choices around hosting, licensing, and add-ons, organizations can optimize total Craft CMS costs. Buying only essential features and resources reduces overhead and unnecessary expenses for each project.

Comparing Craft CMS to Other Systems

Craft CMS vs WordPress

Craft CMS differs from WordPress in its purpose-built focus for content-focused sites versus blogs. Craft pricing starts at £42/year while WordPress is free open source software.

Craft provides an intuitive, user-friendly authoring experience optimized for collaboration. Its flexible fields and sections simplify content modelling. WordPress offers a more blog-centric approach less ideal for large sites.

For complex sites with diverse content types, Craft excels over WordPress. Craft also enables fully custom templates and logic versus WordPress themes. However, WordPress offers vastly more off-the-shelf plugins and themes.

Ultimately, WordPress suits blogs and basic sites well. But Craft provides a more refined CMS for content-heavy, custom experiences, especially for non-technical editors.

Craft CMS vs Drupal

Craft CMS vs Drupal. Compared to Drupal, Craft CMS delivers a far simpler, intuitive authoring interface. Craft avoids Drupal's steep learning curve and complexity with its elegant UX.

Craft pricing begins at £42/year while Drupal core is free open source. However, Drupal projects often require costly developer resources to implement. Craft's turnkey experience requires less customization.

Both platforms are developer-friendly for advanced implementations. However, Craft better accommodates less technical content editors through its user-centric design. Drupal offers more enterprise-level features out of the box.

For organizations without specialized teams, Craft provides a more accessible CMS solution. Drupal remains ideal for expansive, highly customized digital experiences.

Other Leading CMS Platforms

Besides WordPress and Drupal, platforms like Joomla, Adobe Experience Manager, and Sitecore offer robust CMS capabilities.

Joomla delivers a lower-cost open source CMS like WordPress and Drupal. Adobe and Sitecore compete with Craft in the premium space with deeper marketing features.

These platforms each serve certain use cases well. But Craft balances ease of use, customizability, and intuitive content modelling that sets it apart. It fills a valuable niche for user-friendly yet flexible CMS experiences.

Evaluating specific organizational needs and resources can determine if alternatives like Joomla or Sitecore make sense. But for many, Craft offers the best of both worlds in a refined CMS solution.

Shape April 2022 HR 202
Andy Golpys
- Author

Andy has scaled multiple businesses and is a big believer in Craft CMS as a tool that benefits both Designer, Developer and Client. 

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