What is Concrete 5?
Concrete5 is an open source CMS that powers over 500,000 websites. That might sound like a relatively small number of sites. However, the majority of Concrete5 websites are extremely powerful.
The beauty of anything “open source” is that it’s normally free and backed up by a community of highly-skilled, committed practitioners. In this case, an open source CMS such as Concrete 5 or WordPress benefits from the ongoing work of an online community of web developers. This means that it’s constantly improving and being updated. When we think about key website criteria such as speed, security and cross-device compatibility this is a very important benefit.
One of the unique features of Concrete5 is that it offers in-context editing. Unlike other CMS options, which tend to have a “back end” that you must log into in order to make changes, you simply edit your content by clicking on the relevant section of the page. The idea is that Concrete5 is completely intuitive, making website maintenance as efficient as possible.
There have traditionally been two common objections to content management systems:
- More powerful CMS packages have tended to be seen as too complex, keeping control in the hands of the web developer and not the end user.
- User-friendly blogging platforms such as WordPress frequently reach their natural limitation. This is one of the reasons why we have so many WordPress plugins which help us to continue developing WordPress’ capability.
Part of the thinking behind Concrete5 is that we should re-think the traditional CMS altogether. If you can manage and maintain the website on the site itself then confusing back-end systems become far less important. This in turn has a range of advantages which we’ll discuss in a moment.
So, then, Concrete5 is a powerful and user-friendly CMS. We’ll now look at the advantages of Concrete5 website design and apply this into an everyday business context.
What are the Advantages of Concrete5 Website Design?
In our experience, Concrete5 is a very attractive CMS for certain businesses in certain circumstances. We’ll look at some of the biggest advantages of Concrete5 website design and explain how this might affect a business using this system.
1. Concrete5 is Totally Customisable
The first big advantage of Concrete5 website design is that it’s totally customisable and extremely powerful. In other words, it’s a developer’s playground.
Some CMS options start with a clearly defined framework. This can then be adapted in order to build a site which meets the client’s specifications and objectives. Concrete5 doesn’t limit you in this way.
This gives web designers and developers the freedom to find completely bespoke solutions and then implement them freely. If a client has a unique requirement then Concrete5 gives us the tools to turn it into a fully functional, powerful website.
Our biggest Concrete5 project to date was working on a community site for the US Army. The site is designed to provide a hub for soldiers stationed in Europe, providing local information and events to help troops make the most of their leave and explore the wider area that they’re stationed in. With a dedicated team of staff managing the website, we were contracted to provide a range of support and infrastructure services as part of the redevelopment of the site.
We developed a range of new features, optimised the site and ironed out various teething issues. However, the most notable feature of the site is the completely custom database administration that allows staff to share content in various parts of the site. It’s completely bespoke and highly complex. The calendar and event functionality is unlike anything we’ve ever seen. From a development perspective it’s highly technical and very awkward. The site is still very easy to use, but the functionality required wouldn’t be possible through a plugin or conventional CMS.
If you’re looking to develop a website that is completely unique then Concrete5 might be a CMS worth considering. It gives you the freedom to throw convention out the window and develop exactly what you need. Yes, it tends to be a more expensive, time-consuming process from a development perspective, but if there’s no alternative then this is a very exciting proposition.
2. Concrete5 Requires Less Training that Other CMS Options
The big strength of a CMS like WordPress is that it’s incredibly straightforward to use. If you’ve used one WordPress website then you’ll have little trouble getting to grips with another. You can normally get your staff up to speed with operating a WordPress website within a relatively short period of time.
The perception of a CMS like Concrete5 is that it’s going to be more complex to use. However, this really isn’t the case.
Because Concrete5 allows what’s called ‘in-context editing’ (essentially, editing content from the page itself, not a back-end system) it’s actually incredibly easy to use.
This can have a significant long-term impact on the value proposition that Concrete5 offers. At a development stage, it’s free to get hold of but tends to be more expensive in terms of development hours. However, because Concrete5 requires less training than other CMS options it can actually save you time and money in the long-run.
Whether this is an advantage will depend upon your particularly organisation. Broadly speaking, if you’ve got enough active users that training is an issue (and ongoing cost) then an up-front investment in a Concrete5 website is likely to offer a long-term saving and make you more efficient in the process.
“Ultimately, the end user loves the interface and the ease of use. You’ll love that it saves you money and time!” Lucas Anderson
3. Concrete5 Allows Multiple Contributors
Of course, every CMS allows multiple contributors with individually assigned editing privileges. However, the beauty of Concrete5 is the way that it allows multiple contributors.
You can be extremely particular about the editing privileges that you give to users. This can be defined using almost any criteria whatsoever. It might be that you only want users to be able to make changes during work hours. Maybe you want to give individual departments a range of privileges for pages relating to their part of the organisation. With Concrete5, it’s completely possible.
The fact that Concrete5 allows in-context editing also helps to make the whole process work better. If you’ve got large numbers of contributors adding content across the site, you want to make sure that they’re improving the website and not leaving a trail of destruction!
Whilst other CMS options allow multiple contributors, Concrete5 offers a quality and consistency that is very attractive.
4. …Whilst Maintaining Custom Editing Privileges and Security
The perceived risk in allowing large numbers of contributors is that you won’t have control over what’s being published. However, in reality this really isn’t a problem. Concrete5 is a particularly good option if you need a system which allows you to implement a range of checks and restraints on how content is published.
This would be very attractive, for example, in a professional services firm. The likes of lawyers and accountants are seeing the huge marketing benefits of mobilising their professionals to create regular content relating to their practice area. It’s a great way to do business development, demonstrate your authority in key areas and boost your organic SEO results.
The challenge, then, is editing and maintaining this content. You’ll want your marketing department to be able to work through each article to optimise content and ensure that each article carries the same tone and flavour. You might want department heads to be able to check the accuracy of content being produced by junior members of the team. You might even want directors, partners or members of the board to have some control over what is ultimately published on the organisation’s website.
With Concrete5, this is very possible. We can simultaneously allow huge numbers of contributors and maintain tight editing controls. If you work in an environment where various systems are necessary to ensure consistency of quality, this is probably one of the biggest advantages of Concrete5 website design.
This kind of functionality is also very attractive from a security perspective. In the event that a former employee tries to publish critical content, for example, they will only be able to create content; they won’t be able to broadcast it.
Equally, if a hacker gains access to an employee’s account, they are still 2 or 3 steps away from actually being able to make changes to your site. In an industry where reputation is everything this is very reassuring.
5. Conclusion: Concrete5 is Perfect for Larger Organisations
Concrete5 is a complex and extremely powerful system. It’s capable of delivering bespoke functionality for even the most difficult of development objectives. However, it’s also incredibly simple to use, requires little training and provides outstanding security and editing safeguards.
In other words, Concrete5 is perfect for larger organisations.
If you’re running a small business or charity, WordPress is an outstanding CMS that will almost certainly be the best option for you. In an organisation where cashflow is tight, spending extra developing a bespoke Concrete5 site is unlikely to be the right approach.
However, if you’re looking to bring simplicity and accessibility to a powerful, large website then Concrete5 is an excellent option. Whether you’ve got web developers in-house or you’re outsourcing, it’s a CMS that gives you exceptional control and allows you to achieve the unique functionality needed by your organisation. It’s safe, secure, accessible and gives you the tools that you need to mobilise an army of regular contributors.
To find out more about Concrete 5 you can check out the Concrete5 website. If you’ve got any questions about the suitability of Concrete5 website design for your organisation then please don’t hesitate to contact us for a free consultation. We promise to answer your question – or point you in the direction of somebody who will be able to.