ExpressionEngine

ExpressionEngine

About TrustRadius Scoring
Score 5.5 out of 100
ExpressionEngine

Overview

Recent Reviews

Great For Novices

2 out of 10
February 19, 2016
We used ExpressionEngine to manage the CMS of one of our smaller sites. It was to be used by a team of writers to collaborate on various …
Continue reading

EE Above the Rest for Client UX.

8 out of 10
February 19, 2016
We used ExpressionEngine as our primary CMS for building web client solutions. Most of these solutions were created with fairly large data …
Continue reading

Get ready to commit some time!

3 out of 10
December 28, 2015
ExpressionEngine was used by the marketing department who is the business unit responsible for the company's web presence. The only users …
Continue reading

Popular Features

View all 16 features

Role-based user permissions (32)

9.9
99%

Admin section (31)

9.9
99%

Code quality / cleanliness (31)

9.1
91%

Availability / breadth of extensions (31)

7.9
79%

Video Reviews

Leaving a video review helps other professionals like you evaluate products. Be the first one in your network to record a review of ExpressionEngine, and make your voice heard!

Pricing

View all pricing

License

$299.00

Cloud
One Time Fee

Entry-level set up fee?

  • No setup fee

Offerings

  • Free Trial
  • Free/Freemium Version
  • Premium Consulting / Integration Services

Features Scorecard

Security

9.9
99%

Platform & Infrastructure

8.0
80%

Web Content Creation

8.6
86%

Web Content Management

8.0
80%

Product Details

What is ExpressionEngine?

ExpressionEngine is an open source content management system developed by EllisLab in 2002 as a successor to pMachine Pro, a blogging system, which is written in object-oriented PHP and uses MySQL for data storage. EllisLab closed in 2018, but ExpressionEngine is still available, as an open source CMS.

With CodeIgniter, an agile, open-source framework, web professionals can use ExpressionEngine to build websites and applications. The software is meant to be useful for companies of any size and private individuals as well, and to that end it is highly customizable, and implementation may vary. Like many content management systems, various add-ons will determine what the system does, though the core features are somewhat broader than similarly classed free offerings. The Multiple Site Manager allows a user to create and manage multiple sites from a single ExpressionEngine installation. Nexcess (a partner) provides a hosting environment for an ExpressionEngine-powered website.

ExpressionEngine Video

10-Minute ExpressionEngine Primer

ExpressionEngine Technical Details

Deployment TypesSaaS
Operating SystemsUnspecified
Mobile ApplicationNo

Comparisons

View all alternatives

Frequently Asked Questions

What is ExpressionEngine?

ExpressionEngine is a content management system from EllisLab in 2002, a successor to pMachine Pro, a blogging system, which is written in object-oriented PHP and uses MySQL for data storage. ExpressionEngine is their flagship Content Delivery Platform.

What is ExpressionEngine's best feature?

Reviewers rate Role-based user permissions and Admin section and Publishing workflow highest, with a score of 9.9.

Who uses ExpressionEngine?

The most common users of ExpressionEngine are from Small Businesses (1-50 employees) and the Internet industry.

Reviews

(1-25 of 60)
Companies can't remove reviews or game the system. Here's why
Score 9 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
  • Editor contains preview windows to check work before saving changes.
  • Each section has a WYSIWYG which instructs users on the dimensions needed for images.
  • Sometimes, I'm unable to pull from the PDF folder when trying to link a file in the WYSIWYG.
  • Content boxes in certain templates do not expand, which makes it difficult to navigate where the cursor is and keep your place while editing.
Robert Bruce Goggins | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 8 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
  • Content is not constrained or controlled by set templates, unlike other CMS.
  • Gives you total control over the look and feel. You decide the design direction and what your visitors will see.
  • The UI is sublime. It's a pleasure to configure and work with.
  • The expandability, flexibility, and customization of the entire system is unsurpassed.
  • The only issue I have with ExpressionEngine is the cost of official support.
Ben Seigel | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 6 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
  • Wide range of fields types - allows collection and display of different types of information (date, image, multi-relation, etc.)
  • Security. Excellent security record, does not face hacking risk like WordPress.
  • HTML-agnostic templating system. Write whatever HTML, JS, CSS you want, and then integrate it into ExpressionEngine's templates.
  • UI is still inferior to Craft CMS.
  • Third-party add-ons are required for certain features that ought to be built in to the product.
  • Vendor has fumbled support for its developer network.
Score 9 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
  • ExpressionEngine manages content and users extremely well and with ease.
  • ExpressionEngine is reliable and scales for small websites to enterprise websites.
  • ExpressionEngine has a large community following and many reliable plugins.
  • ExpressionEngine makes a ton of calls to the database, so caching is extremely important.
  • ExpressionEngine has a learning curve when learning to set up templates properly.
Claudia Lorena Aguilar Ayala | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 4 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
  • Simple admin interface for the end user.
  • Generates clean markup for front-end theming.
  • Not flexible enough to create a really custom website.
  • Source control can be a mess since it's mostly database.
  • Data migration even core updates or server migration are not easy to make.
  • Is not an open source license.
February 19, 2016

Great For Novices

Lauren Merka | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 2 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
  • The blog tool was decent.
  • Managing users was easy.
  • It was difficult to alter functionality in the admin section. For example, we needed multiple-file uploading and in order to do this the templates had to be directly altered. This direct manipulation of templates makes it hard to upgrade the version without losing custom changes. Same goes for implementing custom file storage.
Score 8 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
  • Content architecture. It's very easy to create highly customizable display of content in various pages and templates; equally importantly it's very easy for a user to create the content within these structures.
  • Features / Plugins. Out of the box EE is exceptional for a CMS, but when you add in some of the offered plugins from the EE community, the customization and usability reaches 5 star status.
  • Community. There is a huge, devoted community of power users who contribute to the CMS. Developers create and maintain plugins with full reliability and service. This cannot be said for other CMS's I've used through time.
  • The one drawback I wasn't impressed by was that the entirety of all data - including templates (html / php / etc) was stored in the database. This made complications a few times.
Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
  • Extremely flexible and extensible
  • Fabulous user and developer community on Twitter, Facebook and Slack Chat.
  • Wide range of third party add-ons that solve many challenges. Ranging from calendars to special field types.
  • Cost of entry is extremely affordable compared to other commercial solutions.
  • Runs on any LAMP server setup. Though, larger installations will require something with more horsepower. We run on a load balanced, 3 server setup.
  • Running Local, Staging, and Production environments takes a bit of work.
  • The Control Panel set up and theme are not great. We usually swap out the theme. Though once you become familiar and set up quick links, it becomes much easier to use.
  • It can be a little resource heavy on large, high traffic sites without some additional caching.
Score 3 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
  • It has very specific user-access controls. You can create custom categories of user access and assign users to any of them. It has the capability to grant very specific access to virtually any area of the site. Assigning new users and deleting old users is very easy as well.
  • The ability to customize the CMS is probably the most robust feature. No site is exactly the same and the live version shouldn't feel like a template. ExpressionEngine makes sure you are in charge of exactly what you need.
  • More and more, there are developers creating great new modules that add higher functionality and customization. Installing and removing modules is very easy.
  • Its no secret that ExpressionEngine is not for beginners in CMS's. While there is certainly a vast network of support available online, EllisLabs does little to help the average/new user. You get the feeling that you more or less need a coding background to understand how to use ExpressionEngine.
  • My particular experience with the install on my company's server had always been 'glitchy'. Whether or not it had to do with our hosting or something else, I will never know. But I think compatibility with different server types is something that EllisLabs could address.
  • It seems to me that on some level, ExpressionEngine could certainly automate template building. Building templates relies heavily on the user to code everything. The user must manually create their own templates, which is one of the better capabilities of ExpressionEngine, but on some level, there could be shortcuts to automating/generating ExpressionEngine code. This would be especially helpful for newer users to adapt to template building.
Mike Griffiths | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 5 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
  • ExpressionEngine offers a customizable publishing tool. Each channel can be customized for its specific needs.
  • ExpressionEngine offers simple APIs that allows for many add-ons to be developed.
  • ExpressionEngine's short codes make it easy to accomplish advanced coding tasks.
  • PHP parsing was always an issue when creating templates.
  • Upgrading ExpressionEngine was a difficult task. Many times I had to run the install more than once or recover from a backup.
  • Disabling add-ons and modules sometimes resulted in major issues with the database.
Hercules Schonfeldt | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
  • We noticed extensive capabilities in the area of user management. The application allows for multiple administrators so that work can be spread out through multiple resources at a company rather than bottlenecking with the web developer.
  • ExpressionEngine has gained a significant following through its high level of customization and ease of use. The interface is straightforward and offers easy access to both front-end and back-end editing. Because this CMS software is open source, you get the best of both worlds. You can add to your website’s functionality through the use of PHP, which means the functionality you desire from a website is easily within reach. For the non-technical user, you can simply work on your site from a simple front-end interface with a simple navigation.
  • For functionality and flexibility, ExpressionEngine content management system software is a versatile option for operations large and small. It has obviously extended its reach to many professional websites, which is evidenced on the front page of their product site.
  • ExpressionEngine has a thriving community base filled with veteran CMS users who can help you with questions through the community forum. For the programming-savvy individual, you have access to a developer portal complete with documentation, forums and tips for increasing your knowledge of the software.
  • Very powerful CMS. Expressionengine can be thought of as a database, where you create your collections and tables and define all sorts of fields for them. Then you can gather the information in this collections any way you want and show it on front-end or at the backend.
  • EE very easy to setup. For a site that is based on eCommerce/ Articles / News this CMS is excellent.
  • Plugin, Module installation should be with ease. Upload as zip - install.
  • Multisite function should be included with purchase and not be as separate module and restriction to 3 sites - it should be infinite.
Lee Whitworth | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 5 out of 10
Vetted Review
Reseller
Review Source
  • Content structuring. You can set up channels and fields to hold just about any kind of information imaginable; text, images, videos, numbers, code, etc. You can structure this information any way you want and in any order. You literally create your own information database just the way you want it using a clear, easy online interface.
  • Template system. Utter freedom. Need I say more?
  • Exensible. There are a lot of add-ons, extensions, and other external modules that extend the core functionality of ExpressionEngine. Need a user management system? Check out the User module at http://solspace.com.
  • Big learning curve! In my opinion, ExpressionEngine is not really for the inexperienced, be it users or developers. Clients who aren't web-savvy have a hard time picking up the backend, and end up paying more for a custom front-end control panel to fit their project needs. Developers have to learn the templating language. It's not that complicated for someone who is experienced with HTML/CSS, at least, let alone a programmer, but still expect to spend weeks, if not months, learning all the ins and outs.
  • It's not free or cheap. A license for the core ExpressionEngine software is currently $299 a pop. Premium add-ons can average between $20-$200 for their licenses, but there are also many add-ons that are free. https://devot-ee.com/ is the premier marketplace for ExpressionEngine add-ons.
  • A relatively small user/developer community = above-average contractor rates. ExpressionEngine experts hard to find and do not come cheap, and understandably so. ExpressionEngine is a highly specialized and advanced CMS. Due to the price barrier, ExpressionEngine is nowhere near as popular as free WordPress or Joomla!.
  • Poor software updating system. ExpressionEngine is NOT WordPress where you get pushed core and add-on update notifications, and apply them with a few clicks. Updating ExpressionEngine requires a developer who can manually go in, backup everything, upload specific files, and otherwise follow specific procedures that require time and expertise. Due to the changing and hazardous nature of the Internet, it's imperative to keep your software updated - so this makes ExpressionEngine not ideal for projects with small budgets.
Brennan Sang | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
  • ExpressionEngine does a fantastic job in separating the content from the code, allowing you to build custom templates using only your own code and markup.
  • ExpressionEngine has great documentation. It's easy to find clear and concise explanation of all of the core features.
  • ExpressionEngine has a great module community. Many of the modules require a license, which will seem different from WordPress or Drupal, but many of these module developers also provide great customer service and support.
  • I always seem to use a core set of modules (Structure, Matrix, Playa) when I build an ExpressionEngine site. It'd be nice if they were included in the core feature set. However, I'd hate to stop supporting the developers of these great plugins.
  • As a new ExpressionEngine developer it was a little tricky to figure out the ExpressionEngine way of doing things. Coming from Drupal and WordPress, where the display was more married to the content, it took me a while to really get how ExpressionEngine handled everything. I haven't been a new ExpressionEngine developer for some time, so their documentation may well have changed in the past six years.
  • I'd love to see an easier upgrade process. While upgrades aren't terribly difficult, they're enough of a hassle that I find myself wanting to put them off.
Rachel Rine | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 4 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
  • Large community base provides excellent support when needed
  • Extensive catalog of modules to expand capabilities as needed
  • Built in management of member profiles and permissions saves time
  • Can be too cumbersome for smaller projects, takes time to pair down the built in functionality so our clients have to sift through unused features
  • Large queries take significant processing power, recommended use of a cache module to store this data and speed up page load
  • Backend can be overwhelming for clients, lots of things to manage in the control panel
  • No way to repeat custom page fields or groups of fields, meaning page layout must be pretty established and not customizable from the control panel
Jeremy Troxell | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
  • Flexibility is a huge aspect of ExpressionEngine, other CMSs lock you into certain ways your site must be built. You write the templates and write the way you want the website you are building to function with ExpressionEngine.
  • Creating editable content in ExpressionEngine is easy, allowing you to control and make your website more dynamic.
  • The plugins for ExpressionEngine are wonderful, I have never had a request for integration from a client that I can't find a plugin for ExpressionEngine.
  • ExpressionEngine would be even better than it already is if it had a page editor where you could see your page and edit the content on the actual page, some clients prefer this method when moving from online website builders.
  • Although there are add-ons for backup, I would like to see a native backup feature for ExpressionEngine.
July 21, 2015

Beginner!

Kelley Leonard | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 6 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
  • Ease of use.
  • Similar or same menu selections that I'm used to using with other MS office products.
  • It doesn't seem to be workable with Internet Explorer - that is fine now that I use Google Chrome.
Todd Richards | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 9 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
  • The number one thing that I think ExpressEngine allows for is its flexibility. I always tell people there isn't anything that it can't do and that proved true in this case as well. For instance, we needed a few levels of membership for providing access to different areas of the website and ExpressEngine handled this without issue. In addition, some of the library resources are accessible based on that membership group.
  • One of the things that I love about ExpressEngine is that it doesn't come with any expectations about your website look/feel/code. We created the layout and coded our pages, then plugged in the necessary tags.
  • ExpressEngine is a very secure system out of the box, and there are numerous tips and guides to help you further secure the back-end. That was an important feature for us.
  • The ExpressEngine community is probably one of the greatest strengths. There are so many great people involved who are willing to lend a quick hand or provide some advice to help out.
  • For me, one of the greatest strengths of ExpressionEngine is also one of their weaknesses. There are so many add-ons available (some free, some not) for ExpressionEngine to allow you to do just about anything you want. However, the more add-ons that you use the more you have to deal with when performing updates. For instance, is the add-on compatible with the new version of ExpressionEngine - or even another add-on? What if that add-on gets abandoned by the developer - is there another that can perform the same functionality?
  • I think that ExpressionEngine needs to offer more out of the box than it does. Yes, you can get add-ons for just about anything but this adds to the cost. I have a list of add-ons that I use on almost every site which can raise the cost of getting started with a new site by $100-300. So add that to the cost of a license and you're at $400-600 and you haven't even started working on it yet. For instance, I shouldn't have to buy an add-on to allow me to customize the menu for my end-users.
  • The membership management feature is seriously lacking. Fortunately, there are add-ons (for an additional cost) to allow you to manage things better.
John Dezember | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 9 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
  • ExpressionEngine has no preconceived ideas about how your content should look or what code is generated.
  • A robust template engine makes integrating designs and content a breeze.
  • The control panel can be customized to control what content managers have access to.
  • The upgrade process can be tedious if your site uses more than a couple of add-ons.
  • Back ups must be managed manually or by a third party system/add-on.
Samuel King | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
  • Extensibility: ExpressionEngine's core is extensible, allowing for third-party code to be modularized and installed. ExpressionEngine's community has a number of highly talented add-on developers that contribute to its pool of add-ons.
  • Flexibility: ExpressionEngine is tremendously flexible, allowing for a single installation to manage everything from static pages, to blogs, to full fledged eCommerce platforms.
  • Ease of Use: ExpressionEngine's control panel can be themed and its publish layouts customized, allowing for a very pleasant experience for our clients. This increases the likelihood of them actually using the platform which reduces the number of support hours we must provide.
  • Query bloat: ExpressionEngine tends to run an excessive number of queries to generate content. This is due, in large part, to an inefficient database schema.
  • Lack of third-party add on reviews: ExpressionEngine's extensibility is also a curse, due to a lack of official reviews of add ons. This can introduce bugs in the system that are difficult, at best, to squash.
  • Reliance on outdated technology: While newer versions of ExpressionEngine have started to move away from CodeIgniter (almost entirely at this point), older installations still rely on the outdated framework resulting in a code base that does not take advantage of updated server software.
Chris Lagasse | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 4 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
  • Extremely robust. To be able to start from absolute scratch in the CMS and get it configured precisely to each individual client's needs.
  • Combined with Pixel and Tonic's Matrix and Playa addons alone, EE's channel fields become a whole new world of awesome.
  • System needs more hooks, especially for third party plugins. A lot of the plugins are so precise in their functionality that trying to do anything custom with them quickly becomes a chaotic mess and regular hair pulling.
  • So bare minimum out of the box, that the cost of the initial purchase is sneaky as you'll spend a lot more on addons and modules.
Steve Garcia | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 9 out of 10
Vetted Review
Reseller
Review Source
  • First-party and Community Support - ExpressionEngine has a large support base both from EllisLab, the maker of ExpressionEngine, and the vast community of users. Any challenges that arise during a project, there is either a third-party plugin or a solution already posted on a discussion forum.
  • End-User Experience - Every website we build is custom from the ground up; no two are alike. Each install of ExpressionEngine is built and organized to fit that specific client. With the use of custom fields, our clients can easily update and maintain their website while keeping the styling intact. Many systems will give one large WYSIWYG box and it's up to the user to ensure the styling of the content matches the page and branding. ExpressionEngine allows us to create a entry form guiding them through the process of creating or editing a web page. We can decide how strict or loose the content areas are based on the technical expertise of the client or website administrators.
  • Templates - The templates built into ExpressionEngine use native HTML for rendering. Within the HTML, we're able to inject their tags into our code to process the functionality. This makes moving our front-end code into the back-end quick and seamless. This is incredibly helpful for maintenance purposes as we find reading HTML is far quicker and easier to read and diagnose than PHP code.
  • Third-party Plugins - ExpressionEngine has a large community of module, extension and plugin developers to help solve any challenge. Custom fieldtypes can be easily installed for better user experience. Powerful add-ons for eCommerce and site searches developed by well-known and highly reputable companies ensure support is always available. ExpressionEngine does not suffer from an over-abundance of third-party plugins questioning the level of support especially with ExpressionEngine system updates.
  • License - ExpressionEngine is a licensed product and has a license fee that comes with each install. Most of the additional first-party functionality that is available outside of the core ExpressionEngine install has a license attached. For large websites with a lot of functionality, software licenses for ExpressionEngine and third-party plugins as well can cause the price to exceed the budget of a client.
  • Third-party Plugins Required - EllisLabs has been making strives in adding native functionality into ExpressionEngine that would have required third-party plugins in previous versions. They tread carefully not to punish plugin developers who are selling their plugins by building it into the system at no additional charge, however certain functionality like page organization for site navigation should be already included and more streamlined for the client.
  • System Updates - Compared to other content management systems, ExpressionEngine is not the easiest when updating to newer versions. Its a manual process of copying, uploading and moving files. There is no "push-button" approach without purchasing a commercial add-on by a third-party developer. With the requirement of third-party plugins to be added for user experience, each system update will require a proactive approach by the plugin developers and the admin updating the system to ensure the plugins will work on future versions. Most admins will wait several months to ensure plugins and minor bugs are ironed out prior to updating.
Rachael Swogger | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 8 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
  • It integrates well with your design and development features, so all you have to do after setup is create the appropriate fields and enter content.
  • It integrates well with many different tools and plug-ins, so whatever you need in addition to ExpressionEngine features, there's a tool out there that will connect and work effectively.
  • It would be nice to have easier access to older saved versions of pages.
Eric Nance | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
  • Flexible templating engine - ExpressionEngine makes no assumptions about what type of website or application you want to create. It does a good job of separating data from data presentation, allowing you to choose the front-end framework that works best for your/your client's needs.
  • Robust community support - The ExpressionEngine community is very helpful. There are many resources for third-party add-ons and technical support answers.
  • Forward-thinking architecture - Built on CodeIgniter, ExpressionEngine uses a well-documented and proven PHP architecture that is scalable and powerful.
  • Third-party AddOns - ExpressionEngine's flexibility is also a drawback. Because it makes no assumptions about your web project, it doesn't offer every feature under the sun. Expect to increase your budget to accommodate the variety of third-party AddOns that really make it shine. Not everything is done well, and some functionality is best left for dedicated third-party solutions.
  • Configuration - ExpressionEngine requires time and expertise to get an installation really dialed in before you can hit the ground running. There are a lot of configuration options, and adding third-party AddOns to the mix increases the amount of configuration. However, this is a good example of the power of the software. You have a lot of options and can really dial in security settings, software behavior, administrative access and so forth.
Juan Bolivar | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 9 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source
  • Customizable
  • Independent subsites
  • Easy to use and to learn (it took me a little bit to learn about this CMS and start doing my own plugins)
  • The variety of plugins is not that big, besides the database is the best one in performance