Concrete5: a powerful and user-friendly CMS
June 22, 2014

Concrete5: a powerful and user-friendly CMS

Kirk Roberts | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 7 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Software Version


Modules Used

  • Designer Content
  • Add Multiple Pages

Overall Satisfaction with Concrete5

As an independent subcontractor Concrete5 is one of my primary solutions to provide content management capabilities to my clients and their clients. Concrete5 blends a polished, friendly user interface with extremely powerful behind-the-scenes technology that is on a par with better known systems such as Drupal. Perhaps its best known feature is its "in-context" editing.
  • A very friendly user interface based on Twitter's Bootstrap. The importance and value of having a polished, well-designed interface cannot be underestimated as it directly affects the "usability" of the system.
  • A marketplace of free and paid add-ons and themes that are vetted by a Peer Review Board. Add-ons (a.k.a. plugins) are checked for compatibility before being made available in the marketplace and authors who sell add-ons have an incentive to keep their code up to date. Compared with some other systems there seems to be less chance that an add-on is going to conflict with others, or that the add-on will be abandoned.
  • Security seems to be quite good. I have not even heard of a Concrete5 site getting hacked. As such, system updates are not mandatory just for security patches. This means there is potentially less upkeep to the system.
  • The system was designed from the ground up to run a page-based site (as opposed to a system that was originally designed for blogging but can also now handle pages).
  • Depending on the needs of the site and how the system is set up there can be multiple ways to edit content, which can be confusing if not handled well by the developer and training.
  • No built-in way to migrate content from WordPress.
  • As a developer Concrete5 has been a differentiator as a valuable product that was relatively unknown when I first started using it (in 2010). Many people were already looking for alternatives to "the big three" (Wordpress, Drupal, and Joomla).
  • Concrete5's stable marketplace has allowed the addition of some requested site features that I wasn't ready or willing to create myself at various points over the last four years. This enabled me to deliver on some projects that otherwise I wouldn't have been able to do.
  • Perch,Wordpress
I often use Perch for smaller site builds because it is simpler, lighter, and faster than Concrete5. Perch has become more and more capable and along the way is taking over some of the medium-size sites I build.
WordPress was designed for blogs, and its ubiquity has made it a common hacker target. I avoid it entirely now because it is unusual that I build blogs.
I have some concerns about the direction of the product and have been investigating other solutions. For the capabilities it has I still like Concrete5 a lot and continue to use it when appropriate.
Concrete5 is well-suited for use on general-purpose marketing sites and can easily handle a wide range of content. Add-ons provide many ready-to-go solutions for more particular needs, and the framework makes it relatively easy for developers to create custom applications that blend in seamlessly with the system. Although the system can handle specialized tasks like blogging or ecommerce as part of a larger site, if your site really IS a blog or a store there are better options out there.

Using Concrete5

1 - It's just me, so everything.
1 - These are really not Concrete5 specific, but more to do with any CMS:
  • Content editors, who don't need any technical knowledge, but must not be afraid to click buttons (e.g. not techno-phobes).
  • Technical person who can assist if errors come up in updating the system (these are rare).
  • The original developer or another Concrete5-savvy developer to assist if site editors encounter an unforeseen use case that needs addressing. This may also require a visual designer to help maintain design consistency on the site.
  • Marketing websites that are somewhat large.
  • Marketing websites that may require reshuffling pages and sections of the site.
  • Marketing websites that may scale up significantly in the near future.
  • As an application framework.

Evaluating Concrete5 and Competitors

  • Product Features
  • Product Usability
Ease of use. It absolutely had to be easy for my clients to use, but also easy for me to implement. For client use it had to look good and function smoothly without techy, confusing jargon. In my research during 2009 - 10 Concrete5 was definitely the best available CMS that was easy to use yet still very powerful and flexible.
The CMS landscape is constantly changing with new products appearing and established products evolving. The most important thing is that a CMS makes it easy for the site editor to update their site and Concrete5 provides all the tools to enable that. What I've learned about evaluating CMSes is that once a developer starts to "know" a CMS they will claim it's "the best CMS out there" so it's probably more valuable to get opinions of people that actually use the system. Beware though: the same system can be implemented well or poorly for each specific use case. In general people don't seem to love their CMS. They either use it and don't really notice it (a great outcome) or they actively dislike it because it gets in their way.

Concrete5 Implementation

It's important that any CMS is implemented by a skilled developer. Content management is not a commodity. One of the keys I've found with Concrete5 is to create a homogenous content-entry method (e.g. focus on in-context editing OR focus on using the Composer feature). This seems to make it more likely that site editors will be able to easily come back to editing after a layoff without having to "remember" too much.
Not sure - I'm not familiar with the term "change management".

Using Concrete5

The interface is rather sleek (uses an adaptation of Twitter's Bootstrap). If implemented well it can be VERY easy to use. The learning curve is progressive: it's easy to do simple things and along the way you learn there is a lot of power and flexibility.
Like to use
Relatively simple
Easy to use
Technical support not required
Well integrated
Quick to learn
Feel confident using
  • In-context editing: navigate to the page you want to edit and start editing
  • The core system is built on pages so accessing data is pretty simple
  • User management is powerful
  • Advanced permissions can be cumbersome, but not difficult