High-end CMS features, great community!
Antony Gravett | TrustRadius Reviewer
April 19, 2014

High-end CMS features, great community!

Score 9 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source

Software Version

v2.5.5

Modules Used

  • NavEE, MSM, Updater, HJ Social Bookmarks

Overall Satisfaction with ExpressionEngine

ExpressionEngine (EE) is being used for our two major brands, The Human Element® and LIFO®, training and occupational development systems we market in the US and manage worldwide. We use it for both public websites, http://thehumanelement.com, and http://lifo.co. We manage mostly static pages, with some dynamic elements that take advantage of EE's database underpinnings.
  • Content management: very easy to log in and add pages or make changes.
  • Managing global elements and implementing them site-wide. Need a new logo or sidebar element? Change one "embed" and it's implemented throughout your site.
  • Dynamic content that needs sorting by date. From the obvious such as blogs, to the less so, such as event listings, EE's extensive category management, display options and sorting make it relatively easy to flow dynamic content into your pages.
  • Simple commerce: yes, it's unsophisticated, but it's a breeze to set up and manage.
  • Image management isn't as effortless as other solutions, but it's getting better ... plus, there are a myriad of third-party tools that add more features in this area
  • Updating to the latest version of EE involves a lot of technical work in FTP, and can get messed-up easily if not done exactly right. It is a far cry from a typical OSX or Windows update experience, to be sure.
  • This is not an in-page editing scheme, such as Barley — you will be managing content from a separate, back-end admin site, and so it feels less "hands-on" than the in-page CMS's out there. That said, there is way more power to EE than these other offerings.
  • We don't run any sales or marketing initiatives directly through EE, so its ROI is best evaluated for its "getting out of the way" and allowing relatively complex sites to be managed by multiple staff members and at different proficiencies. So, I'd say efficiency is a definite factor.
  • I think that it has been easier to deliver precisely formatted web content through EE, mainly because of its advanced and flexible template engine. I think that leads to higher efficiency, again, and to a consistency of image on the web that is critical to our success as a brand.
I have evaluated a number of other products — both traditional CMS's with back-end control panels, and the "in-page" editor types — and end up coming back to EE because of its flexibility, speed, and support. The support aspect has been beefed-up, with a modest monthly support plan being available, which has been useful to me. When I have a problem, I would rather not rely on forums and other online resources — I need individualized support, and Ellis Labs offers that.
Over the years, ExpressionEngine has matured into a very powerful and well-supported product, both in terms of technical support and in terms of a huge variety of third-party tools that work with it. People ask me "why not WordPress?" and my usual answer is that EE represents a much more closely managed form of CMS where its modest cost pays off quickly in terms of consistency and "trainability." The other key factor for me is being able to reach out to their Pro Network and find web developers that can assist with projects we choose not to handle internally. My experience with Pro Network members has been consistently very good.
If you are able to provide training in the use of EE's control panel, then I would recommend it wholeheartedly. The person you train will need to have some technical proficiency, so I feel that this product self-selects based on that skill level. If you want a quick page editing tool for a small website without any dynamic content such as a blog, EE is not well suited, though Ellis Labs offers a simpler solution for that scenario, too.