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Craft CMS Vs Perch - Which Is Better?

10 min read
Craft CMS Vs Perch

Choosing the right CMS is crucial for any website. In this timely comparison of Craft CMS and Perch, we cut through the noise to highlight the key differences you need to know. With insightful data and analysis, this post makes it easy to determine which platform best fits your needs and budget. You'll learn the pros and cons of each, helping you confidently pick the ideal CMS and avoid buyer's remorse.

Based on in-depth analysis across 10 key criteria including extensibility, security, SEO, and ease of use, Craft CMS consistently outperforms Perch except in the area of initial user onboarding where Perch's simplicity shines. With far more advanced developer capabilities, integrations, scalability, and power user features, Craft CMS emerges as the superior choice overall for complex sites, though Perch better suits simple blogs and brochure sites.

History and Background of Craft and Perch

The Origins of Craft CMS

The beginnings of Craft CMS can be traced back to 2008 when Pixel & Tonic was founded by Brandon Kelly and his wife Lindsey DiNapoli. Based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Pixel & Tonic started out by building custom websites and apps. After years of using different content management systems like WordPress and ExpressionEngine, Brandon identified a need for a new type of CMS optimized for custom development projects.

In 2013, Pixel & Tonic launched Craft CMS as an open-source content management system built on top of the Yii PHP framework. Craft was designed from the ground up as a flexible and extensible CMS for developers, content editors, and site builders. Some standout features included a clean content editing interface, flexible fields for different content types, and a plugin store for extending functionality.

Over the following years, Craft continued to gain popularity thanks to its developer-friendly architecture and active community support. Major updates added features like native matrix fields, built-in localization support, and an intuitive site-building workflow. Craft also expanded into e-commerce with the Craft Commerce plugin. Today Craft powers over 500,000 sites globally across a diverse range of industries.

The Founding of Perch CMS

Perch CMS traces its origins to 2006 when developer Drew McLellan started work on an MIT-licensed PHP content management system. Drew had experience building websites and needed a simpler CMS alternative to solutions like WordPress. His goal was to create an easy-to-use CMS focused on content editing rather than site-building.

In 2009, Drew formally launched Perch CMS and established Perch CMS Ltd as a UK-based company. Perch positioned itself as a lightweight CMS perfect for brochure sites, blogs, and small business websites. It provided an intuitive control panel for managing content with custom fields and taxonomies. Perch also emphasized speed, security, and SEO optimization out of the box.

Over the years, Perch continued to improve with a focus on simplicity, flexibility, and performance. Major updates added features like multi-site support, a templating engine, and an app store. Perch also expanded into ecommerce with Perch Shop. Today Perch powers over 15,000 websites across its open source and commercial licenses.

Diverging Philosophies

Despite some high-level similarities as PHP-based content management systems, Craft and Perch adopted diverging philosophies from the start. Craft embraced its identity as a developer-centric CMS for building custom sites. It favoured flexibility and extensibility over out-of-the-box features. Perch took the opposite approach as a turnkey CMS for getting a site up and running quickly. It prioritized simplicity and ease of use over developer customization.

This dichotomy reflects the different motivations and experiences of Pixel & Tonic and Perch CMS Ltd. Craft's focus on developers stems from its founders' background in web design and custom development. Perch's pursuit of simplicity is rooted in its founder's goal to build an easy-to-use CMS for end users. These diverging philosophies would shape the ongoing development and evolution of the two CMS platforms over the years.

Current State and Trajectories

Today, Craft and Perch have solidified their positions in the CMS landscape. Craft caters to developers and organizations that value customization and flexibility above all else. Its ecosystem of plugins and support for headless architectures make it ideal for complex sites. Perch appeals to freelancers, agencies, and small businesses that want an easy-to-use CMS for creating basic websites. Its beginner-friendliness and light resource footprint serve those needs well.

Looking forward, Craft appears focused on incremental improvements while expanding its ecommerce and headless capabilities. Perch seems to be taking a similar path by enhancing features while optimizing performance and security. While they may cross over on some needs, Craft and Perch are likely to remain distinct players in the CMS space with their respective strengths and limitations. Their differing philosophies and target audiences ensure each solution has its place in the wider web ecosystem.

Technical Architecture and Framework Comparison

Craft CMS Architecture

At its core, Craft CMS is built on top of the Yii PHP framework. Yii provides a robust and extensible object-oriented codebase for rapidly developing web applications. Some of the key advantages of Yii include:

  • High performance thanks to caching, lazy loading, and other optimizations

  • Security features like input validation, SQL injection prevention, and cross-site scripting protection

  • Modular architecture with MVC patterns for clean separation of concerns

  • Code scaffolding and generation for quickly building out new components

  • Extensive library of reusable features and tools for common needs

By building Craft CMS on Yii, Pixel & Tonic was able to focus on the CMS functionality while benefiting from the Craft CMS framework capabilities. Yii enabled Craft to be highly extensible and customizable in ways not easily achievable otherwise.

For templating, Craft uses Twig which is a popular templating engine for PHP. Twig provides powerful features like:

  • Template inheritance for nested layouts and includes

  • Escaping to prevent XSS and injection attacks

  • Sandboxing for security when using untrusted code

  • Extensive template functions and filters

  • Asynchronous templating capabilities

  • Logic-less syntax focused on presentation over business logic

Twig complements Yii nicely for the front-end. It separates the presentation layer from the PHP backend code. The use of Twig ensures Craft templates are designer-friendly, secure, and high performance.

Together Yii and Twig enable Craft to have a flexible and extensible architecture. Developers can tap into events, plugins, modules, and custom fields for deep customizations. The modular approach also makes Craft easy to update and maintain over the long run.

Perch CMS Architecture

In contrast to Craft's use of Yii and Twig, Perch CMS is powered by PHP and SQLite for its core architecture. PHP provides the backend programming language for business logic and routing. SQLite handles the database functionality for content, metadata, users, etc.

Some aspects of Perch's architecture include:

  • Use of object-oriented PHP for clean code organization

  • MVC patterns for separating concerns between data, views, and controllers

  • Custom PHP classes and functions for Perch-specific functionality

  • SQLite for data storage with relations between records and tables

  • Flat-file based structure for easy backups, portability, and simplicity

By focusing on core PHP and SQLite, Perch emphasizes simplicity and ease of use over extensibility. There is less flexibility for things like custom fields, plugins, and module development. The benefit is a lighter weight architecture that is beginner-friendly.

Perch also templates using PHP rather than a separate templating engine. While this avoids extra complexity, it can lead to intermingled logic and presentation. The templates still provide the essential functionality like layouts, variables, and conditionals needed for presenting content.

Overall, Perch aims for the minimum viable architecture to deliver on its core purpose. While not as easily customizable, this simplicity enables it to better serve users wanting a lightweight CMS.

Framework Extensibility Comparison

When comparing the underlying frameworks, Craft's use of Yii clearly provides more extensibility and customizability than Perch's simpler PHP and SQLite approach.

Yii has numerous extension points, APIs, and events to tap into for deep customizations. Developers can create plugins, fields, widgets, console commands, and more to customize Craft to their needs. The modular architecture ensures changes do not require core file modifications.

Perch's architecture has far less capacity for this level of customization. Without Yii's APIs and object-oriented structure, the ability to extend Perch is limited. Doing so would require directly editing Perch's own core files which could cause maintenance issues when upgrading.

The trade-off is Perch's simpler architecture reduces software bloat and technical overhead. But for developers needing to heavily customize their CMS, Craft's Yii foundation provides far more power and flexibility. It enables almost infinite possibilities to modify Craft's base functionality.

So for projects where simplicity and out-of-the-box functionality are ideal, Perch CMS may be a good fit. However, the extensibility of Craft CMS makes it better suited for developers wanting to deeply customize and tailor their CMS platform. The foundations of Yii and SQLite drive these differing strengths.

Content Modeling and Organization

Craft CMS Content Modeling

One of Craft CMS's biggest strengths is its flexible and customizable approach to content modeling. Craft allows you to structure your content in Sections which hold different Entry types. For example, you may have a News section with News Story entries, or a Blog section with Blog Post entries.

Within each entry type, you can create custom Fields to define the actual content. Fields act as flexible building blocks for modeling your content. Craft includes common field types like:

  • Text - For basic text, titles, etc

  • Rich Text - For editing formatted content with a WYSIWYG editor

  • Number - For numeric values like scores or amounts

  • Dropdown - For selecting from a list of options

  • Checkboxes - For toggling multiple options on/off

  • Assets - For managing images, videos, and files

Fields are fully customizable in terms of instructions, validation, and display formatting. You can also create custom field types via plugins. For ultimate flexibility, Craft offers Matrix fields which allow creating reusable field blocks for nested, modular content.

This field-based approach enables the creation of customized content models tailored to your needs. You can model complex, structured content with intuitive editing experiences. Craft's flexible Sections, Entries, and Fields empower both developers and content editors.

Perch CMS Content Modeling

In Perch, content structure revolves around Collections and Records rather than Sections and Entries. Collections define your content types and relationships between them. For example, you may have a Blog collection relating to Author and Category collections.

Within a Collection, you add Records to create instances of that content type. So the Blog collection would contain individual Blog Post records. Perch uses custom Fields attached to the Collection for managing content. You can create Fields like:

  • Text

  • Textarea

  • Number

  • Date

  • Image

  • File

This provides the essential building blocks without Craft's advanced field types and customization. Perch also lacks Craft's Matrix field for modular, nested content blocks.

Overall, Perch takes a simpler approach to content modelling. While less flexible, it focuses on providing the core functionality needed by most websites. The streamlined Collections and Records structure remains easy for users to grasp.

Content Modeling Comparison

When comparing the two systems, Craft offers far greater control and customization for content modelling versus Perch.

Craft's Sections, Entry Types, and Fields provide almost endless possibilities for modelling content. Developers can leverage the extensible fields system and Matrix to create specialized editing experiences tailored to the project.

Perch's Collections and Records are far more limiting. There is less ability to customize fields or structure complex content relationships. The simpler approach improves ease of use but sacrifices the advanced flexibility.

For example, modelling a collection of complex, interconnected content for a documentation site would be far easier in Craft. Perch could handle simple blog posts or news articles but would not work as well for a complex project.

So for simple content models like blogs and basic websites, Perch provides the needed functionality out of the box. But for advanced content modelling requirements, Craft's flexible building blocks make it the superior choice. The control over content structure empowers developers to build customized editing experiences that match the project's needs.

Templating and Theming

Twig Templating in Craft

Craft CMS relies on the Twig templating language for its front-end theming and presentation. Twig provides a powerful and developer-friendly templating engine optimized for building robust web interfaces.

Some key advantages of Twig include:

  • Clean, readable syntax that avoids logic spaghetti code

  • Template inheritance for nested layouts, partials, and includes

  • Built-in auto-escaping for security against XSS attacks

  • Sandboxing environments for untrusted code execution

  • Easy access to variables and functions from the backend code

  • Extensive filters, functions, tags, and tests for manipulating data

  • Asynchronous templating capabilities

  • Logic-less approach focused on presentation over business logic

Twig complements Craft CMS backend beautifully. It separates presentation from the PHP while still enabling access to all data and business logic. Developers can build highly customized front-end experiences leveraging Twig's capabilities.

The end result is templating that provides complete control over the front-end without the common drawbacks of mixing PHP and HTML. Twig empowers developers with the flexibility needed for advanced sites while keeping things designer-friendly.

Template Tags in Perch

Unlike Craft's use of a dedicated templating engine, Perch relies on custom PHP template tags for handling theming and presentation logic. These template tags allow accessing backend data and functionality directly from the HTML code.

Some examples of Perch template tags include:

  • perch_content() - Display content for a page

  • perch_gallery() - Output images from a gallery

  • perch_pages() - List child pages

  • perch_blog() - Show blog posts

  • perch_user_field() - Display user field value

The template tags provide developers with essential capabilities for theming. However, they result in intermingled logic and presentation. Complex conditional logic and data manipulation can quickly bloat the templates.

Perch templating avoids a separate templating language for simplicity's sake. But the capabilities are far more limited compared to Twig. The focus remains on providing just the core templating functionality needed.

Templating Comparison

When comparing the two approaches, Craft's Twig templating provides far more control, customization, and flexibility versus Perch's template tags.

With Twig, developers can build complex, interactive front-end experiences leveraging its logic, inheritance, and extensibility. Custom Twig filters, functions, and plugins extend it even further. Craft gives developers complete front-end control.

Perch's templating capabilities are much more limiting. The presentation logic and capabilities are confined to what the template tags support. Implementing complex front-end interactions requires cramming logic directly into the template PHP code.

For a simple brochure site, Perch templates may provide sufficient functionality. But for advanced custom sites, Twig makes Craft the superior option. Twig eliminates logic spaghetti code while empowering developers with unlimited front-end possibilities.

So Perch templates work fine for simple presentation needs out of the box. But Twig gives Craft far greater front-end control and customization power. For sites requiring advanced templating capabilities, Craft and Twig deliver where Perch falls short. The presentation flexibility empowers developers to take front-end theming to the next level.

SEO and Metadata Features

Craft SEOmatic Plugin

For managing SEO in Craft CMS, the SEOmatic plugin provides a very extensive set of optimization tools. SEOmatic enables full control over metadata, social tags, sitemaps, and more.

Some key features of SEOmatic include:

  • Auto-generated page titles and descriptions

  • Customizable metadata fields for global and local SEO

  • Automatic image alt text creation

  • Social media tag management for Facebook, Twitter, etc

  • XML sitemaps for search engine crawling

  • Link and image analysis for optimizing content

  • SEO analysis dashboard with actionable suggestions

  • Integrations with Google Search Console, Analytics, etc

  • Support for multi-language and multi-site environments

SEOmatic aims to provide an enterprise-level SEO toolkit right within Craft CMS. Everything from metadata tweaks to technical site audits and page analysis is covered.

The plugin is also developer-friendly. The architecture makes it easy to customize and extend SEOmatic by accessing its APIs and events.

Overall, SEOmatic gives Craft sites incredible SEO capabilities rivaling dedicated enterprise SEO platforms.

Perch SEO App

For Perch CMS sites, SEO capabilities are handled through the Perch SEO app. This provides more basic metadata tools compared to SEOmatic.

The Perch SEO app enables:

  • Page title and description overrides

  • Basic meta tags management

  • Sitemap XML generation

  • Link to Google Search Console

This covers the core needs like metadata management and sitemaps. However, advanced functionality like page analysis, link audits, and social media integration are lacking.

The app also provides less customization and extensibility for developers compared to SEOmatic. Configuration options are minimal and expanding the SEO features would require direct app code changes.

As a low-cost SEO addition to Perch, the app provides sufficient functionality for simple sites. But it lacks the enterprise-level capabilities of SEOmatic.

SEO Comparison

When comparing SEO features side-by-side, Craft with SEOmatic clearly provides far more advanced optimization capabilities versus the Perch SEO app.

SEOmatic enables controlling site metadata and optimization at an incredibly granular level. The drill-down page analysis also makes it easy to identify and improve any SEO issues.

The Perch SEO app handles SEO basics like metadata and sitemaps. But lacks the fine-grained control and advanced functionality of SEOmatic.

For simple brochure sites, the Perch SEO app should suffice. But SEOmatic makes Craft superior for complex sites needing serious SEO power. The customization and expansion options are also far greater with SEOmatic.

So while Perch can cover SEO basics, SEOmatic enables superior enterprise-level SEO within Craft CMS. From customizable metadata schemas to technical audits and page analysis, SEOmatic provides incredible optimization capabilities out of the box. It's a key advantage for Craft over Perch.

Security and Permissions

Craft CMS Security

Craft CMS provides a robust and granular security model to fully control user access. Some key security aspects include:

  • User groups for assigning collective permissions

  • Custom user roles with granular controls over what actions they can perform

  • Viewable sections on a per-user basis to limit content access

  • Field-level permissions for restricting access to sensitive data

  • Require email verification for new user accounts

  • Secure password policies and reset workflows

  • SSL/TLS encryption for admin and front-end

  • Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) attack prevention

  • Protection against cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks

  • Server-side validation for forms and uploads

Together these controls allow administrators to fine-tune permissions based on user roles. The different options ensure content editors, clients, and developers only get access to what they need.

Craft also provides plugin developers with APIs to expand security capabilities. This enables enforcing custom business logic or integrating external authentication services.

Overall, Craft CMS takes security seriously with defense-in-depth measures and granular management options.

Perch CMS Security

In contrast to Craft's robust permissions system, Perch CMS adopts a simpler security model.

Perch security includes:

  • User accounts with standard or admin role

  • Assets section controls read/write/delete access

  • Collection controls for managing records

  • Simple list of privileges for views, editing, etc.

  • Basic password policies

  • reCAPTCHA support

This covers the basics for simple access control and protections. However, the permissions lack more granular user roles and object-level controls.

For example, restrictions can be set for an entire Collection. But individual field permissions are not possible. The simpler approach makes user management easier but reduces flexibility.

So for simple sites with few user roles, Perch security should suffice. But more complex access schemes are better handled by Craft's mature security capabilities.

Security Comparison

When comparing the two side-by-side, Craft clearly provides far more advanced security and permissions versus Perch's simpler model.

Craft enables creating an unlimited number of custom user roles with controls for specific sections, fields, and actions. Perch just has standard and admin users.

Craft also makes use of object-level permissions for nuanced access rules. Perch restricts access at the broader collection or asset level.

For sites requiring complex user relationships and content access, Craft is superior. For example, certain clients may need access to just their own project entries. Or writers should only see certain fields. This is easy to implement in Craft but not Perch.

However, Perch's simplicity does make user management quicker and easier without compromising core security. Each approach aligns with the differing philosophies.

So Perch simplifies administration but Craft provides more fine-grained control. For advanced security needs, Craft CMS is the better choice.

Plugin Ecosystem and Customization

Craft CMS Plugins

One major advantage Craft CMS has over many other CMS options is its vast plugin ecosystem. The official Craft Plugin Store contains over 500 Craft CMS plugins that allow extending and customizing

Craft's core functionality.

Some of the most popular Craft CMS plugins include:

  • SEOmatic - For enterprise-level SEO optimiziation and tools

  • Redactor - A visual WYSIWYG editor plugin for rich text fields

  • Sprout Forms - Build custom front-end forms and capture submissions

  • Sprout Email - Send emails and newsletters from the control panel

  • Feed Me - Import data from external sources

  • Super Table - Create editable table field blocks

  • Intro - Create unique interactive introductions and split pages

These plugins provide critical additional capabilities not found in the core CMS. The breadth of options for handling SEO, forms, e-commerce, integrations, and more is unmatched.

Craft also makes it easy for developers to build their own custom plugins. The modular architecture ensures smooth interoperability between plugins. Developers can leverage hundreds of plugin hooks to integrate tightly with core functions.

For almost any CMS customization need, there is likely a Craft plugin available or option to build a custom one. This ecosystem empowers endless extensibility.

Perch CMS Plugins

In contrast to Craft's extensive catalog, the Perch plugin marketplace provides a much smaller selection of 3rd party plugins and addons. However, many key needs are still covered.

Some popular Perch plugins include:

  • Akismet - Blocks comment spam using the Akismet service

  • Disqus - Integrates the Disqus commenting system

  • Perch Search - Adds search capabilities to Perch

  • Perch Translate - Multi-language translation support

  • Perch Images - On-the-fly image manipulation

The plugins available can enhance core Perch functionality with essentials like comments, search, and multi-lingual. However, the selection is far more limited, especially for advanced capabilities like custom fields, forms, or e-commerce.

Perch does allow developers to build custom plugins, but the ecosystem has not gained as much traction as Craft's vibrant marketplace. The maximum extensibility is more confined.

Overall, the plugins help fill crucial gaps. But niche site-specific customization options will be more limited.

Plugin Ecosystem Comparison

When comparing the plugin ecosystems side-by-side, Craft CMS clearly offers far more choice and extensibility versus Perch CMS.

The Craft Plugin Store provides an unmatched selection of purpose-built plugins for every common CMS need. Developers can also easily build custom functionality on top of Craft's extensible architecture.

Perch plugins cover the basics well. But developers have access to far less pre-built tools for advanced customization. And crafting custom Perch plugins entails more architecture constraints.

For sprawling enterprise sites requiring complex custom functions, Craft excels. The plugins like SEOmatic provide enterprise-level capabilities ready to go.

Perch works fine for simpler sites needing just the core functions. But the limited plugin selection and constrained architecture restrict extensive customization capabilities.

So while Perch covers the basics adequately, Craft provides virtually endless extensibility. For advanced sites requiring custom functionality, Craft CMS is the superior choice by far.

Developer Experience

Craft CMS Developer Experience

As a CMS designed for developers, Craft CMS provides a very flexible and extensible platform for building websites. Some key aspects of the developer experience include:

  • Full Git integration with web-based GUI for code versioning

  • Public GitHub repository for submitting improvements and bug fixes

  • Detailed developer docs for references and guides

  • localhost web-based code editor for plugins and module development

  • Front-end templating powered by Twig with Craft integration

  • Modular architecture makes customization simple and conflict-free

  • Hundreds of code hooks and APIs for deep CMS integration

  • Active Stack Exchange community for Q&A support

  • Developer-focused feature roadmap guided by user feedback

  • Configuration over code principle avoids hardcoding changes

  • Custom fields for building highly flexible editing interfaces

  • Mature plugin ecosystem for enhancing functionality

  • Craft CLI support for build processes and automation

Together these provide a fantastic developer experience. The technical documentation, version control integration, modular architecture, and configuration over code development make it easy to build robust systems. Developers also have full creative freedom thanks to the flexible fields and templating.

The end result is a CMS tailored specifically for developer needs and workflows. Craft CMS keeps things lightweight while exposing endless extensibility and customization potential.

Perch CMS Developer Experience

In contrast, Perch CMS targets a less technical audience and provides a simpler out-of-the-box CMS experience. Aspects influencing the developer experience include:

  • Limited technical documentation for developers

  • No built-in version control or Git integration

  • Less modular architecture makes some customization more complex

  • Templating relies on PHP tags rather than a separate engine

  • Less configuration options and more hardcoded overrides needed

  • Smaller selection of hooks and APIs for deep integration

  • Fewer built-in custom field types

  • Smaller plugin ecosystem limits add-on options

  • Simpler interfaces focused on content editing over configuration

This approach trades developer extensibility for a smoother general user experience. Customization is possible but requires more heavy lifting compared to Craft's developer-optimized architecture.

The lighter technical considerations make it easier for less experienced site builders to get started. But growth into more complex sites faces hurdles.

Overall, Perch focuses on delivering a simple CMS out of the box rather than catering to advanced development techniques and workflows.

Developer Experience Comparison

When comparing the two side-by-side, Craft CMS clearly provides a far superior developer experience versus Perch.

Craft enables developers to build complex, customizable sites faster thanks to its mature architecture and development principles. Perch simplifies at the cost of developer flexibility.

For teams embracing modern development practices like version control, CI/CD, and modular architectures, Craft excels. It feels like a natural extension of these techniques.

Perch works fine for getting a basic site up and running thanks to its simpler technical considerations. But lacks tools and architecture needed for advanced custom development.

So Perch simplifies the initial launch experience but at the cost of long-term developer flexibility. Craft requires more upfront learning but enables much more powerful customization.

For developers planning complex site builds with future growth, Craft CMS is the superior choice by far. Perch works best for launching basic sites that won't need extensive future customization.

Ease of Use

Ease of Use - Perch

One of Perch's biggest selling points is its simplified user experience geared towards non-technical users. Perch aims to provide an intuitive CMS platform that content editors can quickly understand and use effectively.

Some aspects that improve ease of use include:

  • Streamlined dashboard with clear basic options for managing content

  • Simplified architecture reduces choices to avoid confusion

  • Collections and records model matches mental model of "content types"

  • In-line editing allows quick editing without jumping between screens

  • Minimal required fields to start creating content quickly

  • Template tags provide only commonly needed theming logic

  • Conventions over configuration minimizes settings needed

  • Inline help guides and tooltips explain concepts to beginners

  • Higher UI/UX focus on simplicity versus advanced options

Together this creates a user experience perfect for bloggers, small businesses, and other non-technical users just needing a basic CMS. The learning curve is minimal and it's easy to start adding and managing content.

While it sacrifices depth, the simplified experience helps new users get over the initial adoption hurdle. Perch removes unnecessary complexities plaguing other solutions.

Ease of Use - Craft

In contrast, Craft CMS targets a more technical audience comfortable with advanced control panels and editing concepts. The extensive options provide power at the cost of complexity.

Aspects influencing Craft's user experience include:

  • Granular control over content modeling increases learning curve

  • Powerful but dense interface with steeper learning curve

  • Advanced custom fields require more training for content editors

  • Separation of frontend templates and backend models is less intuitive

  • Contextual help documentation useful but adds cognitive load

  • Many settings and configuration options for precise tuning

  • Flexibility leads to analysis paralysis in decision making

  • Conventions provide structure but customization still complex

  • Productivity and capabilities grow over time with experience

The outcome is an editorial experience rewarding investment for power users but overwhelming for novices. Craft's flexibility inevitably increases complexity.

However, for teams willing to climb the learning curve, Craft provides unmatched creative flexibility and productivity long-term. There are just more barriers to entry.

Ease of Use Comparison

When comparing UX design side-by-side, Perch clearly provides a simpler, beginner-friendly authoring experience whereas Craft offers vast power for the cost of complexity.

For non-technical users or developers on tight deadlines, Perch reduces the initial ramp-up time. It's easy to add content out of the gate.

However, for organizations investing in proper training and needing deep editorial flexibility, Craft provides unmatched capabilities over the long-term.

So Perch simplifies, but Craft empowers. There is no definitively "better" option - it depends on the team's needs and capabilities.

Perch lower barriers to entry while Craft enables creating advanced editing experiences exceeding any other CMS. The "best" choice depends on whether the focus is short-term convenience or long-term editorial potential.

Ultimately Perch and Craft take equally viable but philosophically different UX approaches. Each brings its own mix of advantages and trade-offs.

Support and Community Resources

Craft CMS Community

Craft CMS benefits from an active global community building up a wealth of resources and help for users. Some of the community assets include:

  • In-depth documentation covering setup, development, templating, and more

  • Active Stack Exchange site where users can ask questions and get answers

  • Feedback submitted on GitHub for tracking bugs and feature requests

  • Conferences like Craft Conference for learning best practices

  • Highly engaged discussions on topics like plugins, techniques, themes

  • Craft Slack workspace for chatting and networking with other users

  • Weekly newsletters highlighting notable community contributions

  • Podcasts digging into Craft tips, case studies, features

  • Meetups and events focused on the Craft ecosystem

  • Job boards for finding or listing Craft development roles

  • Showcase websites highlighting outstanding designs built with Craft

This community provides immense support for beginners and experts alike. No matter the question or roadblock, there are knowledgeable community members eager to help.

The overall culture fosters sharing, mentorship, and continued learning. This spirit combined with Craft's developer focus cultivates the wealth of quality community resources.

Perch CMS Community

The Perch CMS community provides helpful support channels and assets generated by its active user base. Some resources include:

  • User guides and docs covering installation, basics, developing, etc

  • Forum for asking questions and getting answers from fellow users

  • GitHub Issues for reporting bugs and enhancement requests

  • Blog posts and videos with Perch tutorials and tips

  • Conversations in the Perch Slack team

  • Perch Podcast covering the latest news and interviews

  • Showcase site highlighting projects built with Perch

  • Jobs board for Perch career opportunities

  • Social media accounts like Twitter and Facebook

  • Newsletter with release notes and community articles

While smaller than Craft's ecosystem, these community channels have nurtured a vibrant user base helping each other. The forums and Slack team provide quick support when challenges arise.

The community reflects the pragmatic DIY attitude of Perch itself. Experienced users generously share their expertise to help others.

Community Comparison

When comparing the two CMS communities, both Perch and Craft benefit from active user bases generating a wealth of help resources, conversations, and events.

Craft's larger ecosystem provides content covering a wider array of topics with more real-world examples. The community reflects Craft's extensive capabilities.

Perch's community is smaller but no less supportive for newcomers needing assistance. It focuses on core topics relevant to Perch users.

An area Perch leads in is the proportion of contributions coming directly from the Perch development team. Support is incredibly responsive.

Overall, both CMSs enjoy fantastic community support thanks to friendly user bases. While varying in size, each provides high quality help resources contributed by veterans. For either platform, community assistance for challenges is close at hand.

So while Craft's ecosystem is unsurprisingly larger, Perch users have access to a very active community full of hard-earned wisdom to tap into. Users of both CMS platforms can find camaraderie and support.

Pricing Comparison

Craft CMS Pricing

Craft CMS pricing uses a site licensing model for its commercial plans. Rather than paying per domain, organizations purchase a license to use Craft across unlimited domains and sites.

Craft offers three editions suited for different use cases:

  • Craft Personal - $99 per user for freelancers, solo developers, and small teams. Includes all core features.

  • Craft Pro - $299 per user for professional use at agencies and companies. Adds white labeling features.

  • Craft Enterprise - Custom pricing for large organizations. Includes enterprise-grade capabilities and dedicated support.

Pricing is per user account for the CMS rather than per website. Additional resources like cloud hosting are priced separately.

The licensing model scales flexibly with team size rather than forcing domain or site limits. Larger organizations can also get volume discounts and annual contracts.

For non-commercial use, Craft also has a free Solo edition limited to local development and testing needs.

Overall, Craft provides flexible and scalable licensing capable of handling projects ranging from personal blogs to enterprise global sites.

Perch CMS Pricing

In contrast to Craft's user-based model, Perch uses traditional tiered pricing plans per domain.

Three editions are offered:

  • Perch Standard - $69 per year for basic sites. Suits blogs, portfolios, and small sites.

  • Perch Plus - $249 per year with ecommerce features. For online stores and larger brochure sites.

  • Perch Max - $599 per year with additional sites and extended features. For advanced sites and applications.

This per-site approach works well for individuals or agencies managing a limited number of websites. However, costs scale linearly with more domains which adds up.

Volume discounts are available but even then, costs grow proportionally with each extra site versus Craft's unlimited approach.

Perch does offer a free open source edition for testing, development, and non-commercial use. Limitations like 1 site and 5 users apply.

Overall, Perch plans fit well for cost-sensitive users with a handful of small sites. Larger applications are better served by Craft's licensing model.

Pricing Comparison

When comparing the two models, Craft's user-based licensing provides more flexibility for larger organizations and unlimited sites. But Perch's per-domain plans cost less for smaller workloads.

For a single brochure site, Perch's $69/year Standard plan provides good value. Craft's cheapest $99/user Personal tier costs more since it targets teams.

However, agencies or enterprises managing many sites pay exponentially more for Perch as each site requires a plan. Craft's pricing stays constant regardless of site count.

So Perch offers more budget-friendly entry points for individuals and very small teams. But Craft's licensing better suits larger organizations needing scalability and flexibility.

There is no definitively better approach - it depends on specific needs. For smaller workloads under a few sites, Perch's value is outstanding. But Craft enables unlimited growth while controlling costs.

Both balance capabilities against pricing reasonably. Ultimately the ideal option comes down to number of websites and budget constraints for small vs large customers.

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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