ExpressionEngine can do it all... For a price.
Updated August 29, 2015

ExpressionEngine can do it all... For a price.

Lee Whitworth | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 5 out of 10
Vetted Review

Software Version


Modules Used

  • Calendar, Channel Images, Freeform Pro, Google Maps for EE, Membrr, Super Search, User, Wygwam & many others befitting their respective projects.

Overall Satisfaction with ExpressionEngine

Satdaya is a creative services firm that includes web development among our services. We recommend and use ExpressionEngine to our clients when their projects and IT needs require more flexibility than what most other content management systems can offer. D&D Technologies is one of those clients, and they have been with us and using Expression Engine since version 1.x! We have also built our firm's project management system with ExpressionEngine, and our software as a service venture, Eventida, also uses it.

ExpressionEngine is unique in that it allows you to build your own content structure to fit, manipulate, and output your information exactly the way you want. Its template structure is like a blank canvas - any HTML, any CSS, any Javascript, any PHP can be used within the templates any way you'd like. Therefore, it is a viable solution to many business problems that require managing and displaying information online.

  • 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
  • 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. 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.
  • ExpressionEngine has been positive in that we were able to use it to develop complicated IT solutions that my firm and clients needed. These solutions, such as our internal project management system and Eventida, have been absolutely invaluable to my firm.
  • On the flip side, many of our clients have found ExpressionEngine development and management to be cost-prohibitive to their businesses. ExpressionEngine IS expensive to develop and maintain, and we do our best to warn our clients in advance.
WordPress has millions of users. Millions! It also has thousands of plugins and add-ons, both free and premium, an easy, automatic updating system, and a user-friendly control panel. It also has numerous installable themes that can fit a wide variety of website needs, from the simple blog to the full-blown web shop. In the Internet, you could probably say that there's a WordPress website at every node. It's fast and cheap to build and maintain, and almost "plug-and-play" in nature. In fact, an user with zero HTML/CSS experience could easily set up and run their hosted WordPress sites.

ExpressionEngine, by comparison, has a much smaller user / developer community, and is more geared towards meeting larger, corporate-driven IT needs and, more importantly, budgets. It requires careful planning of your entire system from the content structure to the templates and how its various add-ons and modules can work together to meet IT specifications. And one must be able and willing to learn to code.

Unfortunately, because of the high resource and budget requirements, more people are choosing WordPress and other less resource intensive content management systems. In my professional opinion, automating the software update system in a manner similar to WordPress would go a long way towards making ExpressionEngine a more attractive and budget-friendly solution.
It really depends on the scope and scale of the project in question, and not to mention its budget. As a creative services firm we analyze a projects informational needs and determine which solutions are best. We highly recommend ExpressionEngine for projects that have complex IT requirements and large budgets for both initial development and ongoing support.

ExpressionEngine Feature Ratings

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

Using ExpressionEngine

5 - We use Expression Engine for our custom built company Intranet / project management system. Our scope-based system helps us to keep track of the work done on various projects, contractor / employee time logs, and allow us to deliver comprehensive estimates and reports to our clients. Our clients can also control their budget and prioritize the work we do by logging into our system to discuss, approve or decline proposed tasks.
2 - Expression Engine is best for people with skills in HTML & CSS. Some programming skill is a plus, although it is not a requirement - anyone with zero programming can use Expression Engine. For best and completely custom results, knowledge of PHP and MySQL are the best skills to have when working with Expression Engine.
  • Project Management.
  • Information Management.
  • A versatile CMS that can be used for any type of project.
  • We built an extensive time logging and project tracking system with it.
  • We have built interactive databases for a variety of purposes with it.
  • We use it for any project that requires an extremely flexible content management system that allows one to essentially build an information database exactly the way it needs to be structured.
Because of the costs involved with using Expression Engine, not just in software license fees, but also in professional time and expertise, we only recommend Expression Engine for large-scale projects, and even then only for clients who are comfortable with large budgets. We do not recommend Expression Engine for clients with shoe-string budgets and/or minimal requirements, such as a simple blog site. There are better, more cost-effective solutions out there.