ExpressionEngine? Hmm... Only if you like making your job easier and your clients happy.
April 12, 2014

ExpressionEngine? Hmm... Only if you like making your job easier and your clients happy.

Brian Mallett | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 9 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Software Version


Modules Used

  • Assets, Backup, Custom System Messages, Channel Videos, Editor, Forms, Tagger, Updater, Devot:EE Monitor, FreeForm Pro, Hacksaw, ifelse, LG Polls, Matrix, NavEE, Better Meta, Live Look, Playa, Quicksave, SEO Lite, ThEEditorCodeMirror

Overall Satisfaction

ExpressionEngine has been chosen as the primary CMS of use for our company when we begin a new project here at Black Belt Designs. If the customer comes to us with a previously existing base, we will evaluate it and determine if a change is either one, necessary, or two, feasible. So far, each client has been extremely happy with the change over to ExpressionEngine if they were previously using another CMS.
  • If you know HTML and CSS, you can begin using ExpressionEngine. Unlike other CMS products out there, you don't necessarily need to know PHP, C#, .NET, or any other language.
  • If you DO know PHP, you can extend ExpressionEngine to limitless usages. The 'hooks' provided within the code base allow you to further stretch ExpressionEngine's capabilities to whatever needs you might have. You can think of ExpressionEngine as a 'development environment' that allows you to define the needs.
  • ExpressionEngine allows you, the developer, to establish guidelines for your clients during the development process. There are no boundaries or limitations that bind you to specific realms.
  • ExpressionEngine's control panel is clean, simple, and allows users to create, edit, and find their entries with ease.
  • Maybe not a weakness per se, but one thing that tends to 'get' people in the beginning is the understanding of the parsing order. There are many thing that ExpressionEngine can do. One thing you will find yourself questioning is "Why aren't my variables rendering properly?". Many times it is due to a parsing order issue. One thing that can help with this is properly mapping out your development prior to beginning your code.
  • The use of third party addons is a great extension to ExpressionEngine. However, you definitely want to keep a development version of your project on ice for any updates to, not only your addons, but ExpressionEngine yourself. There is not a good way to 'roll back' your project once you update your version.
  • Multiple environment development scenarios can prove to be problematic. This is to be somewhat understood though due to the reliance of the database driven nature of the CMS itself.
  • The reliability of ExpressionEngine and the upfront time it saves in terms of development have been the primary reasons we accepted ExpressionEngine as the base of 99% of our projects. Time is money and the time saved by simply launching ExpressionEngine and developing using its template driven design process cuts time exponentially.
  • The reusable code blocks, snippets, and global variables alone cut development times in half. Top that with the available addons from third party providers and you find yourself having more time to focus on customer first worries.
  • Once you have developed with ExpressionEngine and become comfortable with it, you can build a bootstrap install of your most used configurations. This allows you to launch a development environment for a new project and automatically begin with sometimes 60% of the work already done.
  • You have control over what your customer sees. You also have control over what the entry templates look like for your customers. This means that you know what the answers are to the questions that will be coming your way. Good documentation makes your support job much easier.
  • WordPress,Joomla!,craft,eZ Publish Platform,DotNetNuke,Drupal,Concrete5
Ultimately you want to go with something you are comfortable with. Everyone is different and that makes any review an opinionated guessing game. That being said, ExpressionEngine is a feature rich, flexible CMS that allows you to develop without limitations. If you want something that is a simple click to install, drop in a 'theme', and go then ExpressionEngine is not the right choice for you. If you want a CMS that allows you to make the decisions along the way in how, not only your project looks, acts, and feels, but also in how the CMS itself can look, act, and feel then ExpressionEngine is miles above the rest.
ExpressionEngine provides us with the flexibility we want and need in regards to development for our customers and their project requirements. This along with top support and a growing community of fellow developers, ExpressionEngine feels more like a close knit family of developers at times rather than a corporal product. The more we use the product, the more we get help from fellow designers and developers, the more WE feel like giving back to the ExpressionEngine community.
If you are developing a web project in which maintenance of your content will be handled by multiple people, content will be changed or modified frequently, memberships are required, or look to be complex in nature then ExpressionEngine is a shoe in for most projects. A simple website of 2-4 pages in which content will remain static and not be maintained at all might be overkill.


I have personally never found any complications when trying to receive support from EllisLab in regards to ExpressionEngine when using the support plans they offer. I have always been responded to promptly and received satisfactory help with whatever my needs were in an extremely timely manner. This makes rating the support offered an easy job for me.
Quick Resolution
Good followup
Knowledgeable team
Problems get solved
Kept well informed
No escalation required
Immediate help available
Support understands my problem
Support cares about my success
Quick Initial Response
Yes - Depending on the project at hand, I will subscribe to ExpressionEngine's offered paid support plans. For most of my problems, I pose my issues to the ExpressionEngine StackExchange community where we all try to help each other out. If you need help on something that is sensitive then the paid support definitely proves to be worth the money. I have run into instances in which I would not have successfully completed a project due to a catastrophe an addon created. I was able to get almost immediate support contact and help from EllisLab and get the issues resolved that day.
Yes - The bug I found was with the development of a new fieldtype being offered natively in ExpressionEngine. I was unaware of it being a bug at first. I just knew I was not seeing my intended results. I entered a support ticket and, while receiving support, we both came to the conclusion of the offending action. It was entered as a bug and I was sent a patch to install until the next release was issued. The patch was included in the next version release.
I had an issue when I was working as the web developer for a company that used ExpressionEngine for their CMS. This company maintained all of their own servers, blocked access points from outside the network to any content behind their firewall, and due to their own security, forced an uncommon installation of ExpressionEngine. EllisLab was not able to receive access to the CMS, the control panel, the website, the database, etc... They were flying blind. This is not something they typically provide support for. I was graciously provided support and was able to offer a screen share session in which they spent the entire 9 hour day via shared screen and chat providing me support. This ended up spanning over the course of 3 days and was mind-numbingly painful from my end. I can only imagine what it was like for the supporting side. The supporting employee, Robin, was always receptive, understanding, light hearted, and extremely helpful. This instance won me over in terms of the support offered by EllisLab.