Concrete5 - a CMS with a good past, and a better future
Updated November 11, 2015

Concrete5 - a CMS with a good past, and a better future

John Smart | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source

Software Version

5.7.4.2

Overall Satisfaction with Concrete5

I discovered Concrete5 3 years ago. I was thoroughly disappointed with WordPress, and started to create my own CMS. Then an associate sent me a link to Concrete5.
It was all I wanted mine to be, and then some!
More recently, 5.7.came out, which has a new interface, and couldn't be easier for the end user.
The intuitive interface allows easy creation and management of pages, with help for SEO, and a wealth of plugins.

With different user roles, its easy to allow different departments to manage their own site areas.

We are a web host, and have an easy install solution for this program, but if you don't use that, the install is remarkably easy to do, with a friendly interface.
Like any online solution, it is not the best answer for every need. But it is the best answer for most needs. With an ever growing supply of themes and plugins, you should definitely look at this for your CMS solutions. Except for sites that we build needing a lot of custom coding, all of our web sites are now run on Concrete5.
  • In-line Editing: 7 + has in-line editing, so you see your changes appear in the place they will be on the live site, in the font they will be and the size that they will be.
  • File Management: Excellent file manager, allowing images to be grouped, tags added, lists of what pages use that image, so you can put the images in sets for being used together (in sliders, for instance).
  • Very Human! Every contact you make with the site, the mail that comes to you is from the owner of the group. (Yes, Concrete5 is Open Source.) Very friendly, very nicely done.
  • If you upgrade from pre 5.7 to 5.7, adding pages is rather tricky. Once you are familiar with it, it makes perfect sense!
  • If you are using an older computer, the admin pages are very slow to render.
  • In some cases, using the column tool will stop a responsive theme from being responsive. This is not the theme's issue, as we have used it many times in the same theme. Some pages stop being responsive, others do not. ("Stop being responsive" is technically incorrect, they behave improperly as they resize. This is with text-only content, and does not have images distorting them.)
  • The only way to add h tags is to click on the html editor of a block, and add the the tag to the heading.
  • Concrete5 has made it much easier for us to stay on top of keeping our websites current.
  • It also allows easy distribution of work load across departments.
  • The "Stack" feature allows us to design something that can be incorporated on many pages. Then by updating the stack all those pages are instantly updated - saving lots of time, and preventing us from overlooking any element that needs an update.
  • Amazing support. I have needed support once, and it was there - human and fast.
Aside from being more stable and more secure, Concrete5 manages all the plugins, so risk of infection through a nasty plugin is removed.
The Concrete5 user interface is much more friendly than the WordPress user interface. Ease of use, ease of install - both compelling reasons to make this your go to choice for a CMS solution. The server load is light too.

There is also an excellent ecommerce plugin for Concrete5 that neatly completes the package, making this a competitor for OpenCart as well!
Concrete5, like any CMS, is a very complex program So if you are building a site that has a lot of code and database calls, you would usually be better off building it without a CMS.
If a site is not heavily coded, then Concrete5 is an excellent choice. The only time we still use WordPress is if a client is very familiar with that platform, or it has plugins that the client needs that are not available on Concrete5. (This has only happened once!)

Concrete5 Feature Ratings

WYSIWYG editor
10
Code quality / cleanliness
7
Admin section
10
Page templates
9
Library of website themes
4
Mobile optimization / responsive design
10
Publishing workflow
9
Form generator
10
Content taxonomy
10
SEO support
10
Bulk management
10
Availability / breadth of extensions
7
Community / comment management
10
Internationalization / multi-language
7
Role-based user permissions
10

Using Concrete5

3 - Marketing, support and administration.
With different users updating different sections of the site we are able to keep the site fresh. And with the users not writing html code, the look and feel of the site remains constant. Any user can view the image library, and add to it as needed.
Users can also access key page areas that impact the whole site, allowing greater ease for larger updates.
1 - Really, all you need are basic computer skills, and the ability to write content. The beauty of the system is they don't need to be experts in Concrete5, html, or css. They just need to write.
Concrete5 will let you add any code you want - you are free to do that! But, the fact is for 99% of use, there is no need to do that, and just generating the content is all that is needed. The only caveat here, as mentioned previously in the review, there is no option to add headline tags - so if you want <h1>, <h2>, or any other <h> you have to hand code that. I am confident there will soon be a fix for this.
  • Ease of updating multiple pages. When changing a block that is used in multiple pages, the work load can escalate rapidly. With Concrete5, you just change the stack in one location, and all the pages using that are instantly updated. This is a huge time saver
  • Team members can change a page without the changes going live. Then management can review, and publish or correct, then publish as needed. This removes any need for urgent fixes.
  • Statistics help us to see directly which pages are doing well and which need a little help, allowing us to keep our site polished.
  • We use it as an intranet - we never bothered with an intranet before, but this makes it easy - and it is ever so useful.
  • That was not something we intended to do - I installed a Concrete5 locally for testing, then as others tested it too, we started leaving notes, then sharing files through it, and without planning on it, we had our first intranet!
  • We use concrete 5 to manage internal documents, CRM, even password management! (for a very carefully selected group of passwords, on a system that is not accessible from outside of our office) It is a most effective tool.
  • We are looking to do more with the ecommerce side of it, and rather than just developing plugins for our clients, we are planning on launching plugins for the general public to use.
Its a very solid, very consistent package that never lets you down or leaves you frustrated. It gets a 10/10 because its so much better than anything else currently available. It also gets a 10/10 because, even if not compared to others, it does not leave you wanting for features or functionality. It is an excellent piece of software that will answer almost every CMS need.

Evaluating Concrete5 and Competitors

Yes - Concrete5 replaced the CMS I was building myself, and also WordPress, PHP Nuke and Joomla.
Each solution always left you wanting. It was too complex to develop for, too complex for the end user to manage, too many security issues, too large a foot print, needed too many resources.

Issues that have never slowed Concrete5. It isnt perfect, nothing is perfect! It may be perfect for one site, but far from it on another! It is, overall, by far, the best CMS I have used or developed for.
  • Product Features
  • Product Usability
  • Prior Experience with the Product
The community supporting it. Its so friendly - you dont always see that on open source projects.
If I could do it all over, I would have started using Concrete5 much sooner than I did.

Concrete5 Implementation

Some web hosts (such as mine!) have a tool allowing you to install concrete 5 with just a few clicks. If you have access to that, then it really could not be easier. If you dont, its still really easy! You just have to create a MySQL user and database
Yes - Installed the software on a subdomain, tested it.
built theme, tested it
added pages, tested and reviewed
moved to live domain.
Change management was minimal - When software is written this well, there is no need for extensive training.
  • There really were none. Its simple, and well done. Sometimes simple gets really complicated, but not with concrete 5

Concrete5 Support

The site is built to be self-helping, and it works really well. You get "paid" with karma credits, that you can cash in. Payment for helping to find bugs, fix bugs and support others. This means that when you have an issue, there is a rush to help you! The one to helps gets the recognition, and there are many wanting to help.
ProsCons
Quick Resolution
Good followup
Knowledgeable team
Kept well informed
No escalation required
Support understands my problem
Support cares about my success
Quick Initial Response
None
No - I am a developer, so if issues arise (which is very rare) I can usually fix them faster than I could fill out a report ticket. However, in helping clients who have made changes themselves, I have passed the requests up to the developer, and have never had to wait long for a reply, which has always been complete.
Yes - It was,
I was able to help with the resolution,In fairness, the issue was more with a configuration issue on my server. Even so, the help I got was monumental! Fast, accurate, not accusing, not condescending. As I recall, the issue was well described in a pre--existing document on the site. My search was not up to par!
I confess to forgetting the details, but I asked the lead programmer a question, regarding optimizing the MySQL databases, and he sent me a full answer, and a Concrete5 tshirt!
I stall have the shirt, and I still have optimized tables :)

Using Concrete5

I have clients who have called themselves computer illiterate (and worse!) who find this so easy to use, and so much fun! In all the clients I have set up in concrete5, or migrated to concrete5 from Joomla or WordPress, I have not received a single complaint, only gratitude.
ProsCons
Like to use
Relatively simple
Easy to use
Technical support not required
Well integrated
Consistent
Quick to learn
Convenient
Feel confident using
Familiar
None
  • editing a page. You log in, you navigate to the page (looking at the site as you would normally see it, with a new menu at the very top) then click "edit". now you can click on any content, and change it in-situ - not on an admin pop up, but right there on the page. Same font, same size, same color. So easy!
  • Stacks. you can make some content (say your social media links) and put it on one, some or all pages. Then, if you want to add another social link to it, you add it in one place, and it instantly updates all the occurrences of it
  • Form building. It has never been easier to build a simple, or complex form. beautifully written form builder makes it so easy!
  • SEO - a bis issue with many CMS's is the page titles are often DOMAIN.com :: page name
  • Ugly, not great for SEO. Now, I often have to go back and do SEO later, as I am focused on other things - with concrete5, I can go to one page, and fix meta title, content and (now depreciated) keywords for every page, from one screen
  • As I mentioned before, when upgrading from pre 5.7. to post 5.7 adding pages is very awkward. Once you learn that, there is no stopping you! And once you learn that, you see how much easier it is in the new version.
  • Sadly, upgrading from pre 5.7 to post 5.7 is not automated. All plugins need to be rewritten, all content needs to be copied by hand. Its frustrating, but given the scope of the upgrade, well worth it.
Yes - The mobile interface is somewhat reliant on the theme being used. Assuming oyu are editing a mobile theme, then the interface is as good as can be expected.
I do not find it as pleasant experience to edit pages on a mobile device. Not because of the interface, more because of the small screen! If you are used to working on complex issues on a small device, then you should finds this a breeze

Concrete5 Reliability

The site works extremely well, the front end flies, searches and form submissions are very fast indeed.
The reason its a 9 not a ten? the back end can be a little slow at times, and this is unfair, because for the backend to be so amazing, it has to do a huge amount of work!