WordPress vs. ExpressionEngine: Apples and Oranges?

This post has been a long time coming. Whether on Twitter or in the blogosphere, the question often arises, and I have been asked numerous times for my opinion on the ExpressionEngine vs. WordPress debate, and why one would choose one content management system (CMS) over the other.

My usual answer is that they cannot be compared. While WordPress had made huge strides in usability, for anything other than a blog it is an apple.

ExpressionEngine, with the release of version 2.0, makes for a lovely platform that is, as we will see, an orange.


Handling Content

The biggest difference between WordPress and ExpressionEngine is the way in which content is handled.

In WordPress, we all know that you can create a new post. This new post usually has a content section but may have some custom fields that are defined either on the fly or by the developer who created the template’s framework.

So, when you create a new post, the content will be displayed in different ways, depending on the category chosen and whether the category is a parent or child (i.e. sub-category). For the most part, though, whether they choose a new category or input data into pre-defined custom fields, the user will see the same input screen.

The items chosen by the user determine how the content is displayed. Some users like this. I think it shows WordPress’ roots as a blogging platform. This is not a knock because WordPress has certainly pushed the envelope on what can be done with a CMS just by uploading a few files. More to come on themes later.


Changing Channels

ExpressionEngine handles content quite differently. In ExpressionEngine, the user defines channels.

Each channel can be thought of as a separate blog—in fact, this is what it was called back in version 1.6.x. For each channel, you can define custom fields, categories and behaviors.

All of this is hidden from the average user in the administration portion of the website. The user would typically have access only to the “Publish” and “Edit” sections of the website and possibly some modules (which is similar to plug-ins in WordPress).


An Example

Recently we built a website for the Bay Community Church using ExpressionEngine. The website has a media section, and in that channel we created the following custom fields: title, description, image, audio and video files, file sizes, file lengths, and date on which the files were recorded.

Of course, channels can be as simple or as complex as you like (this particular website had five to six more custom fields for the media channel alone).

Most ExpressionEngine developers realize the power of the CMS’ add-ons, which also happens to be why most of them have been slow to move from version 1.6.x to 2.0. They know that most of the add-ons won’t be available for 2.0 for another couple of months.

With just a few add-ons, we extended ExpressionEngine, allowing church staff to add multiple files per entry. In the content structure of this particular website, a sermon series would be an entry on its own, and individual sermons for that series would be added to it.

To make it even more complicated, you could have any number of different types of fields in a channel (e.g. textbox, textarea, checkbox, S3 Integrated BucketList, FieldFrame Matrix, nGen File Field).

The website also has a section for small groups of people who gather for studies or fellowship.

If you navigate to a “New entry” page for the small groups, you would see a completely different set of custom fields (title, leader, location, meeting time, etc). So, from the user’s perspective, entering new content is easy because each channel is tailored to the content they are recording.


Why I Love ExpressionEngine

As a web designer, I love ExpressionEngine because it gives me extensive control. Most of my clients don’t have a single WYSIWYG editor anywhere on their website! I can control headings, MP3s, PDFs, lists and whatever else needs styling through CSS.

Unless they decide to learn HTML in order to apply inline styling, the design won’t be horrendously violated with 50-pixel blinking red fonts.


Content Construction Kit

I believe the Drupal community originally coined the term Content Construction Kit (CCK). CCK basically allows the user to define various types of content.

Perhaps the folks at EllisLab would disagree, but I would define ExpressionEngine as a CCK system. WordPress seems to be moving in that direction but is not there yet. Plenty of WordPress template developers are designing and adding to the framework, giving WordPress new kinds of functionality.


Changing the Look and Feel

For the most part, anyone can set up a WordPress blog or website with little knowledge of WordPress, PHP, HTML or anything else that would keep an Internet newcomer from blogging.

I have a non-technical friend who has set up several WordPress blogs without any of my help. Just download a template package; unzip it; upload it to wp-content/themes; log in; activate the new template; and voila! Magic happens, and you end up with a whole new website. WordPress shines in this area.


ExpressionEngine 2.0 Moving in the Right Direction

ExpressionEngine, on the other hand, has no easy way to add or change themes… yet.

With version 2.0, we are seeing the team at EllisLab starting to move in that direction. The team has added functionality that allows users to upload HTML and CSS files into folders with specific naming conventions (blog.group, main.group, portfolio.group, etc.), and you can synchronize the HTML and CSS files with ExpressionEngine, which will recognize and render them.

The problem is that ExpressionEngine only begins to shine when you get into its CCK capabilities. So, syncing files is great, but that does not get you the custom fields, categories and channels that bring ExpressionEngine to life.

EllisLab has added a file to the CMS named default_content.php, which is required to install a theme and which specifies default content, channels, custom fields and the like. But the file is not exactly intuitive.

ExpressionEngine fields are highly relational, so you definitely need to grasp SQL if you want to put a default_content.php file together.


Changing Themes

With WordPress, you can upload a new theme to change the look of the website at any time.

ExpressionEngine, on the other hand, allows a theme to be added only at the point of installation. So, if a user wants to change the look of their website, they’ll have to jump through hoops.

They would either have to keep their HTML, custom fields and other elements and then change the CSS and images. Or they would have to learn the system and then define custom fields, categories and channels. But this goes back to the way the two systems handle content.

Themes in WordPress typically all handle content the same way. Themes in ExpressionEngine do not.


What Have We Learned?

WordPress is especially good for PHP developers, tinkerers and bloggers. It is great for PHP developers because they can bend the CMS to their will; they can add functionality to the framework, as well as add custom fields and modify them at will.

It is great for tinkerers, who can set up a website easily; and if they ever get bored with the look and feel, they can search online for a new theme and have a completely new website in 20 minutes.

They can also download widgets and plug-ins that add functionality quickly. And having started out as a blogging system, WordPress really shines as a personal blog.

ExpressionEngine is great for front-end developers and designers because it does not require that users learn a difficult programming language in order to manipulate it.

Most HTML and CSS gurus can grasp the simple expressions and how to use them.

ExpressionEngine is the tool of choice for some well-known designers: Jesse Bennett-Chamberlain, Veerle Pieters and Andy Clarke, to name a few. It is extremely flexible, and few things cannot be accomplished with it.

As you can see, then, it really is an apples to oranges comparison.

This post was written exclusively for Webdesigner Depot by Marcus Neto. Marcus is a member of the ExpressionEngine Pro Network and is the man behind the curtain at EETemplates.com and Blue Fish Design Studio. He also has his say on Twitter @marcusneto.

  • http://blueflavor.com Leslie

    Well said! I think this answers a lot of the questions I get, as well. For most sites WordPress is not a good fit. However, EE is almost always something I can use. I would recommend WP for a blogger but not as a more robust site.

    Glad to know I’m not alone. :)

  • Halif Saban

    I love Expression Engine, however, it’s costly, compared to WordPress which is free.

    • http://createsean.com/ Sean

      I would consider WP more costly in the amount of time it takes me to develop for WP and the fact that getting support is like pulling teeth.

      • Jim

        Who needs support from WP often? There are plenty of communities that help very quickly. For the amount you pay for EE they better be supporting you ASAP. Seems the speed you can get a site live is faster with WP than EE. Mostly due to the ease of themes.

      • http://www.moraywebsolutions.com MorayWeb

        Having experience on both EE and WP I can vouch for the support through EE, although forum based they are a friendly development team, and boy do they know there product! I would disagree with the speed of development though, once you grasp the basics of EE you can have a site up and running in less time than hacking through all the files you need for a working WP theme. This assumes you are building your own and not plugging in a purchased/downloaded template.

      • http://www.iswitch.org Joao Carvalhinho

        Have you ever used EE support team?
        I have even had the team help me on Mysql configurations that had nothing to do with EE… I even went to the extent of providing them a temporary Administration account to help me tweak all the setup…

        I believe that for comercial sites, it’s well worth the money it costs.
        For a small company blog it’s overkill… would recomend Cmsmadesimple for that.

    • http://www.metaphorcreations.com Joe

      I have used both EE and WordPress.

      I do like the ease of building a custom theme/site in EE. The custom channels and fields are pretty easy to work with and implementing the EE tags within your templates is about as easy as it gets compared to WordPress.

      With that said, I have spent more time figuring out WordPress and I think I’ll be using WP for most of my projects now on. Once you figure out how to customize the dashboard and create custom post types you can basically create the same type of system as EE (from the clients perspective). It does take more work to create custom post types and customize the dashboard, but once you figure it out you can just re-use/modify the code in the future.

      So, for me it has now come down to the expense of implementing a CMS… WordPress is free, along with thousands of free plugins. EE costs $300 (commercial) for just the EE package, and once you start buying needed plugins (Matrix, Playa, FieldFrame, .htacc generator) for it (there are very few free, decent plugins/extensions) your initial cost of just setting up the CMS can get up $500-$600.

  • http://www.wesbos.com Wes Bos

    I’m really considering switching from WordPress to EE. I’ve used WordPress for a long time but I’m growing tired of hacking posts into what I want.

    PODS addon for wordpress should be integrated into the core :)

    • http://clarke78.com Darcy

      Wes Bos on Web Designer Depot…. Wha???????????????????

      P.S. Go CI first then EE, believe me.

      P.P.S. I’m building a WordPress Plugin… oh god

    • http://mikeschinkel.com Mike Schinkel

      Custom Post Types are integrated into core in v3.0 which is available in the development version today but will be released soon. They completely transform WordPress.

      While I would grudgingly have to agree that EE might be better than WP v2.9, once 3.0 is available there will be little reason left to spend the money on EE, get a smaller community, and have to learn a proprietary templating language.


      • Cosmin


        Although I admit EE is very powerful, I prefer WP for it’s huge community. The community behind it is what powers it really. I don’t have to wait months for a plugin to be updated. WP is GPL, people can pick up and develop from where others stopped.

        Take IE and Firefox. IE will never beat Firefox, because it’s closed-source and only a bunch of devs work on it. Firefox is contributed to by the whole world. Same with WP and EE.

        Anyway, it’s a personal choice. I opted for a huge community behind my CMS of choice + the price of free, instead of a, perhaps powerful CMS, with a smaller community and a notable price tag… :)

      • http://www.micstura.com Fabian

        EE is an elegant piece of software, but its most powerful value comes from its community. It’s a growing community with a strong foundation.

        Also, this notion that EE is closed source just because it is a commercial piece of software is incorrect in my opinion. It is not like IE in the slightest. IE 9 is free to download, but you can’t view or modify its source. I can augment my instance of EE to my heart’s content (fortunately, I’ve never had to).

        As far as, notable price tags are concerned, we use EE to build highly efficient, solution driven content managed websites. Our clients understand that our price is directly related to the quality and craftsmanship they expect from us. If we were building $500 websites, then I guess the EE’s price tag would be notable.

  • http://www.jordanwalker.net Jordan Walker

    Not to mention that Express Engine is built on top of CodeIgniter!

  • http://www.twitter.com/sefsar Youssef Sarhan

    I was having this discussion with a friend of mine recently. As a result, I am currently switching from WordPress to EE. Let’s see how it goes.

  • http://sexidesign.com Melody

    I think the major appeal of wordpress is that its so easy to use..Very cool comparison though, I hadn’t heard of ExpressionEngine before..

  • AJ

    Interesting article. I’m a hard core WordPress user but I’ll have to check more into Expression Engine.

  • http://www.squiders.com Web Design Maidstone

    I’m just about to set my first Expression Engine website live and must say I have been very impressed… I as pushed in this direction by a colleague and will reamin loyal to it from now on!

  • http://turnandface.com Adam Wiggall


    Great write up for those who haven’t got experience with both systems. Having used both now for a couple of years I agree with everything that you have written.

    I would add that if you provide sites to clients, the lack of control over custom fields in WordPress can be quite a challenge. This is most definitely one of the biggest advantages ExpressionEngine has over WP.

    Thanks for the insight.

  • http://www.v-render.co.in v-render

    I am a Wp-lover as it has control more on theme development. I cant say much about expression engine as i haven’t used it yet. but as per view having cck is must have for wordpress. I used drupal few times, It really helps when you have CCk to define various types. File handling is also not that good in wordpress but its improving for sure !

    I will try expression Engine for sure now !
    Thanks for sharing views.

  • http://tahah.com TahaH-Studio

    First :P, Great article

  • http://shinemarketing.com Stephen Pratley

    Interesting that you say “ExpressionEngine is great for front-end developers and designers”.
    It’s actually best for clients! Once the various channels have been set up for each type fo content, they can just get on with pouring in content and promoting the site.

    We stopped building on WP and Joomla about 3 years back and hardly get any support calls for our EE sites, even on quite complex ecommerce jobs. Training on smaller sites is now done over the phone rather than on site and the usual response at the end is “Is that all?”

    To me that says it all.

    • http://eetemplates.com Marcus Neto

      Stephen I would have to agree with you. On more complex sites the ability to provide a form that lists all of the available fields has been a plus with my custom clients.

  • http://ansh.thisisitonline.info Amberly | Web Designer

    Interesting article.
    From day one am using word press and it suits all my needs.
    according to me Word Press is the best

  • Kris Handley

    In regards to Handling Content

    WordPress 3.0 has better support for custom post types and the custom field template plug-in now supports them too. So everything is about to get much easier when using WordPress as a CMS.

  • http://www.onebrightlight.com Christopher Robert Kennedy


    Great article. I agree that WordPress is a great platform for people who don’t want to pay to “make it their own”, and that ExpressionEngine is really more of a “tool” rather than “solution”. The great thing about ExpressionEngine is that anything I can do in WordPress, I can do in a shorter period and about 4 lines less of code than in EE.

    As for the WordPress 3.0 software, I still think the software is too focused on being a Blog first and CMS second to really be a viable system for me, or anyone who wants to build a site by their own rules or workflow.

  • http://www.ChrisNager.com ChrisNager

    Love it! Well written, Marcus. You taught me how to use ExpressionEngine. Now that I have used both WP and EE, I can truly appreciate their differences. Thanks for the article!

    • http://eetemplates.com Marcus Neto

      No Problem Chris. Glad to hear you are understanding that it is not an either / or and that there is room for both depending on the needs of the client.

  • http://www.vitalbranding.co.uk/Letterhead-Printing.html Letterheads

    I like the simplicity of WP design for blogs as there are some smart designed templates out there. It’s easy to setup and use, but I won’t consider using it for any complex CMS application. I don’t think its set up for that. Prefer Drupal or Joomla for those types of application.

  • http://tom.ride-earth.org.uk/ Tom

    Thanks for this – really enlightening. I’ve been wanting to get around to looking at EE for a while. It looks very powerful for more complex requirements.

  • http://timani.net timani

    I have used a number of the open source CMSs’: Drupal, WordPress, Joomla and more recently EE.

    IMO i think that Drupal is most certainly powerful but needs a real programmer, its not user friendly for the average joe. Joomla is good, and nice for some good functionality like simple document sharing, directories etc but a bit bloated.

    Which leaves WordPress, which is excellent in terms of ease of use, but there are definitely features lacking, it is definitely a blogging engine first but strides are being made. Plugins are plentiful and with the new Buddypress release still a tasty morsel.

    I think EE is definitely the middle ground between power and functionality of Drupal, and the aesthetics of WordPress. At the moment i dont think any of the 3 is ideal, but i definitely do think each one needs to be wary of the other, especially Drupal and WordPress because of the speed of the ascent of EE.

  • steve

    How does Moveable Type compare with these two? I haven’t used EE enough, and the last time I did was years ago. I love using WP. The theme designs and the new frameworks are getting more and more robust, while keeping the ease of use.

  • http://zavrab.com/ zavrab

    i love wordpress, and it is free :)

  • http://feedgrids.com Dimi Arhontidis

    I have been a long time user of WordPress and love it. Our new site however http://feedgrids.com was built on Code Igniter so it only made sense to implement EE as our CMS, for the original content of the site.

    Our site was built without a CMS originally because we didn’t think we would need it, since we are a design “feed aggregator”, until we decided to offer our own original content to our users.

    This is where EE shined! Even though myself and Derek are new to EE, It took us 1 hour to take our existing html and css code and dump it into EE and boom, we had a CMS driven side of our site that is identical to our aggregator side. You can’t even tell the difference. I don’t think we could have done that with WordPress in that time frame.

    Both great frameworks, it all comes down to what your needs and situation is. As far as Drupal goes, they need to hire some UI/UX guys before I can seriously consider Drupal a useful tool, sorry.

    Great article!

    • Michail

      I agree with Dimi. I’ve been developing themes and plugins for WP for four years. As soon I got my hands on EE (without any knowledge) it took me 1 hour to port a html/css template and less than a day to finalize a customer’s website. I believe EE is a playground for web designers with a strong and promising (ver 2) framework.

  • http://www.thefunkhouse.co.uk slee

    The biggest thing for me is the ease of use that WordPress provides. You ask someone who has never used either of them to add a new page to the website and WordPress wins hands down.

    • http://eetemplates.com Marcus Neto

      This would depend on how the site is set up. There are methods with ExpressionEngine that make it extremely easy for end users to add additional pages/sections to a site. Structure is an add-on that I will be highlighting in a future article that makes it very simple and is getting rave reviews from many of the EE Pros

      • http://www.thefunkhouse.co.uk slee

        I would be interested in seeing that. I am always interested in using EE but each time ive trialled it ive not found it to be very friendly for a client to use. WordPress is so easy to adapt and straight out of the box it has almost everything I need with just a few plugins you can further adapt it. I would be very interested in finding out more about plugins or addons for EE that can be used to make it easier to use for both me and the client.

  • http://www.joviawebstudio.com Ryan Battles

    To those that complain that EE costs too much, I think of how much time it would take me to create customizations via PHP to a WordPress install in order to give it the flexibility of a default EE install. In the total cost of time billed to client, the EE solution is actually cheaper.

    • http://capelinks.net/ CapeLinks

      Good point Ryan. Especially if the client wants to expand their CMS functionality later on.

    • http://elizawhat.com Elizabeth Kaylene

      That depends; does your WP developer know what s/he is doing? If not, they will charge more because it will take longer to complete the project. If your developer does know WP inside and out, it won’t take them as long to complete what the client wants, and normal fees will still be the same. Try justifying charging a client for software, labor, AND design!

    • http://createsean.com/ Sean

      Agreed. And try getting support from the WP community is next to impossible. Free does not mean it has no cost. The cost in time makes WP more expensive than EE.

  • http://www.NickYeoman.com Nick Yeoman

    I don’t even need to read this article I used EE for a year as the developer before me choose it. Finally talking my boss into stop paying for the useless product we switched to wordpress, which we also were not entirely happy with, but it wasn’t useless.

  • http://www.onebrightlight.com Christopher Robert Kennedy

    @Nick Yeoman, I’d be interested to know how your previous dev set up the system. The big appeal of ExpressionEngine is that you have practically a blank slate when you start. It gets as complicated as the developer makes it.

    I certainly enjoy WordPress for the ease at which you can get started with a blog, I just think that it has limitations when used as a CMS that frameworks help with, but never truly solve.

  • http://elizawhat.com Elizabeth Kaylene

    Maybe it’s because I understand PHP enough to work with WordPress, but in most cases WP has been able to do anything I needed it to. I currently have two blogs and two full websites running on WordPress, as well as several clients’ blogs and full websites running on WordPress. I can make WP do pretty much anything, although it does have some limitations (such as editing right in the page a la Geocities, which a recent client really wanted). I’ve even used WP as a CMS for a newspaper!

    However, I’d never heard of ExpressionEngine before, so I’m glad to see another option to offer to my clients (though I’m not sure how feasible it will be, since it isn’t free and many of my clients are nonprofits).

    • http://341design.com.au Chris Howard

      “editing right in the page”

      I think there’s a plugin in for that!

      And that’s why I keep coming back to WordPress. I’ve tried to leave, but either it receives significant upgrades, or the plethora of plugins draws me back. Nearly every time I want to do something different in WordPress, I am able to find a plugin to do it.

    • http://www.digitaaldier.nl Steven

      Well, this doesn’t entirely float. Take for example the Playa module (www.pixelandtonic.com). It costs $75, and allows you to set up many-to-many relationships between any channel. Now you might argue that $ 75 is a lot for basically a field-type, but how much time would this cost to develop in WordPress? Even if you have a die-hard developer’s time at your disposal, it would take him at least 5-6 hours setting this up. In those 5-6 hours you (not someone else you pay to do it) could’ve bought ExpressionEngine, bought Playa, installed them both and have all the channels and relationships set up. And moreover, since content is completely separated from layout etc, your client could theoretically already start filling those channels with entries. So by the time you’re done building your layout, the content should be done as well.

      • http://mikeschinkel.com Mike Schinkel


        Or instead of hiring that developer for 5-6 hours, just download and use this free plugin to create relationships between different post types:


        “Ignorance of the WordPress is no excuse” (paraphrasing our men in blue here.;-)


  • http://www.webtasarimsitesi.com web tasarim sitesi

    wp is free. that is a important for many times.
    thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.onebrightlight.com Christopher Robert Kennedy

    @Elizabeth Kaylene:

    I don’t think you necessarily have to TELL the client you’re charging. I usually build it into my hourly rate, and the clients don’t mind. I think the biggest issue stems from the always existing “posts” and “pages”. Granted you can add “custom fields”, but from what I understand, they’re not searchable out of the box (as we learned with a client site), and they’re a little bit unwieldy to an absolute beginner.

    The thing that our new clients *love* about ExpressionEngine is that the software has incredibly granular controls, which means that we can streamline their publishing experience, while giving more robust controls to content admins and then developers, etc.

    • http://elizawhat.com Elizabeth Kaylene

      You don’t? Don’t you think that’s pretty dishonest? I would rather use a free CMS with possibly limited capabilities than be dishonest to my clients regarding what I am charging them for.

      • http://www.onebrightlight.com Christopher Robert Kennedy

        No, I really don’t think it’s that dishonest. I rarely have to tell my clients what I’m using for the job, because they want a package price. I figure out the number of hours required to build the site with ExpressionEngine versus the use of WordPress, then get my package price from there.

        If anything, I let them know that the cost of any software is included in the price, and any related licenses become theirs from then on. As such, I have yet to have one single client balk or reject the use of ExpressionEngine. I had one client who moved to WordPress in order to try to save money at the recommendation of his in house web guy, who called me 3 months later to ask me to migrate them back.

        And to be perfectly frank, when a client wants me to do the same thing with WordPress, the cost is usually higher, as there is a lot more training for the client involved, not to mention there is more finagling to do many to many relationships, etc.

        Bottom line is, my clients have very little interest in being nickel and dimed, and in an region where the turnkey solution reigns supreme, I can provide them with easier and faster service than with WordPress.

      • http://www.moonbeetle.com Joris Heyndrickx

        I choose my CMS software based on the project requirements. Free or commercial whichever fits the bill best. I reckon my client is better served that way. If it’s a free CMS, all the better. If it’s a commercial CMS, I mention the cost in my budget and requirements proposal. Totally transparant.

        Charging for commercial software that you need to buy for your client’s site is perfectly justifiable. Choosing a free CMS just because it’s free, knowing up front that it will make your job or the site administrator’s job more difficult is rarely the best solution.

      • http://eetemplates.com Marcus Neto

        I just don’t get the fascination with Free… You need to use the tool that is right for the job and allows you to get the job done faster and not the one that may seem cheaper. And with thousands (or tens of thousands) of dollars getting thrown around for websites nowadays are they really going to balk at 500$ for licensing the right tool for the job? Just keep an open mind. I really really think there are some good points for either system.

      • http://esdev.net Shawn Scammahorn

        Agreed. I’ve built sites on both WP and EE and I like both of them. But they each have their strengths and weaknesses.

        I used EE on a site for a bank. They have rates for some of their programs. Interest rates for just 1 program are included in terms and conditions on several pages and in various other spots throughout the site.

        Instead of changing the percentage on every page that makes mention of it, they only change 1 field and it’s updated throughout the site no matter where it appears. This saves them loads of time and trouble.

        As you say, you just have to pick the right tool for the job.

  • http://hypertransitory.com John G

    I left EE years ago after they couldn’t provide a decent, simple method of generating an xml sitemap for Google. They were WAY behind the curve on that one. The workarounds found on the forums were much more hassle than they should have been, so I moved on to Joomla, which had a simple extension to manage it and I never looked back.

    I’m sure EE can do this now, but it was a huge disgrace back then. I’ve yet to see anything EE can do that Joomla can’t do with the help of extensions, and also for FREE. I’ve never had a problem with Joomla I couldn’t fix with help from the forums, but I guess it depends on your level of expertise.

    As for WordPress, I just started a blog on there and it’s working out great. I wouldn’t try to use it for anything more than that.

    • http://eetemplates.com Marcus Neto

      Rest assured EE can output sitemaps now ;-) I understand your use of Joomla. I used to use it on occasion. But I found 1.0 to be confusing to clients. 1.5+ has been better but templating Joomla is not my favorite thing to do. I can do it… but it is not my favorite thing to do.

  • http://armeda.com Dre

    To add to this post, I think you should look at the new custom post type capabilities added in WordPress 2.9 which will now have a UI in 3.0 when it releases in May.


    This adds capabilities more inline with a traditional CMS, further moving WordPress away from only being a blog platform.

    You can also add custom post templates which manipulate the way you enter data. This adds flexibility for designers and developers to simplify the experience for their clients:


    • http://www.onebrightlight.com Christopher Robert Kennedy

      I’m definitely interested in seeing how WordPress plays this out. As I said above, I’ve so far had bad experiences with Custom Fields not being searchable, treated as sub areas, etc.

      It’ll be interesting to see what WordPress does.

    • http://eetemplates.com Marcus Neto

      very nice Dre. both links are bookmarked for reading during downtime at sxsw. I have always been fascinated by the extensibility of WordPress and new it was only a matter of time before people had to stop hacking it in order to get to a more robust system. I have been reading up on 3.0 and some of the changes that it brings and think they are heading in the right direction. Thanks for the links.

  • Cole

    I’ve been working on a few custom WordPress sites recently have found it fairly easy from a designer point of view. But realize it will not fit many corporate style websites. I’ve done one Drupal site on my own and it was painful. Of course I knew nothing about it at the beginning. I am NOT a programmer, but a designer/HTML/CSS guy that also understands programming and web dynamics fairly deeply, but little of the actual development nuts and bolts of PHP or .NET. I work with dev partners for most functional sites. But, being able to work at a certain level in a solo capacity is a huge plus for certain types of projects and generally allows better profitability. CMS implementation is something I’d prefer to do on my own up to a point.

    So, my questions about EE are:
    – Can a designer person fitting my description above, with limited PHP experience crank up a site reasonably quickly?
    – Any designers using EE care to offer any insight in to the learning curve they experienced for their first EE project?
    – What is the overview of upgrading EE from a point version to another or when there is a patch of somekind?

    Thanks for the article!

    • http://www.moonbeetle.com Joris Heyndrickx


      1. For EE it’s necessary to have PHP knowledge, but it helps if you run into complex project requirements where PHP can offer a solution. It really depends on the type of site. If you need a 5 page site or a blog, WP is faster to setup.
      You need to take some time to learn how EE works as a CMS, thus getting familiar with the control panel. Since EE uses a template language, you need to learn that as well, but, it’s easy to pick up as it’s a matter of {tags} and properties.

      Tip: videotutorials + User guide + forum + get to know EE people that will get you jumpstarted

      2. The biggest issue in the learning curve is finding the best solution to a problem. EE is so flexible that you can solve a problem in many ways, but it takes experience to know what will work best for you and the client who needs to maintain the site. Often is about how to organize certain stuff. This goes for WP as well.

      3. EE upgrades get released far less frequent than WP upgrades and since you need less plugins, less chance of things go broken after an upgrade. The developers of the most essential plugins you’ll need have a good reputation of keeping up with upgrades.

      • http://www.moonbeetle.com Joris Heyndrickx

        correction: For EE it’s NOT necessary to have PHP knowledge,…

      • Cole

        Thanks! Joris. Good info. Template tags and such all things I’ve done before. It would be, as you mentioned, getting familiar with solving problems in the best and most efficient ways and the general concepts of the system. I will have to take a close look. Finding the time to do that is a killer though.

    • http://eetemplates.com Marcus Neto

      – Can a designer person fitting my description above, with limited PHP experience crank up a site reasonably quickly?

      Absolutely. You are the perfect candidate for EE. The language is easy to understand. There will be a period of learning the system but I think you would find it lighter lifting than learning PHP to do really custom stuff for WP.

      – Any designers using EE care to offer any insight in to the learning curve they experienced for their first EE project?

      It took a few projects to really get my feet wet. I have an article that I am working on right now and will be submitting to WDD next week (not sure when it will get published) that should help get you started.

      – What is the overview of upgrading EE from a point version to another or when there is a patch of somekind?

      Simple in that you just upload some files. More difficult than WP with it’s one-click upgrade (which is kick ass by the way) but really? can we not upload some files? ;-)

      • Cole

        Inspiring comments Marcos. I’ll definitely be looking for your article. I never wanted to get code all stuck under my finger nails…’cept a little ActionScript. Having tools to create a variety of well oiled machines without the bloody knuckles is what I’m looking for.

    • http://www.iswitch.org Joao Carvalhinho

      I’m an economist with some love for webstuff… My first CMS was Joomla “basic” with no custom content.
      Then jumped to EE to build my site.

      In no time (a week working 1-2hrs at nights) I had a first version with 8 sections all using different content pre-defined fields. I had about 10 templates to encompasss every tpe of content.

      Saw a theme I liked, and in a week time I had redone all my site to the new template (with 1 template and {tag} programming , adding a lot more functionality to it (related posts, matching field, iffs.. etc)… after having problems with Utf-8 and portugese chars, I remembered I had access to the support team… :) They helped me setting all up just right.

      Two weeks later I was Writting on the Wiki on how to solve some Search optimization / result template thinggy.

      It’s really about the “problem solving” part. From the moment you learn how it works.. you feel you can do anything.

      Nowadays, I opt more for Cmsmadesimple.org offer. It has {tag} with smarty, and is almost has powerfull as EE and has lots of integrated Extensions… and is free…

      But EE is in my heart has the tool of choice.

      ANd yet… still an economist :)

  • Joe

    I tried installing the Expression Engine Core and got this error:

    “ExpressionEngine will not run on a MySQL server operating in strict mode”

    …it’d be nice if Expression Engine got with the times and would support strict mode.

    I’ll be interested to tinker with this thing, though. I’d never heard of it before.

  • http://www.moonbeetle.com Joris Heyndrickx

    If you need a blog, WP is the perfect tool for the job. If you need a multilingual blog…after you’re done comparing some plugins that compete in that area…you will be happy to discover that WPML takes care of almost all aspects that need translation too.

    If you need a CMS, you will discover that EE out of the box has more features but lacks some important ones (auto-generated navigation, tagging) for which some commercial plugins (read: Add-ons) exist. They add to the cost.
    If you want to “stretch” WordPress to a full blown CMS you will not only need a lot more plugins to extend functionality (providing they exist). Since there are so many plugins, you will need to invest time to test a few. Not all of those free plugins are so great. Some have far too many configuration options, some show up on the dashboard at places where you don’t expect/want them and some are just “not entirely” what you needed. The less out of the box features, the greater the need for plugins.

    One thing that gets often overlooked is that you, the developer/web designer, needs to teach and train your customer HOW to use the CMS.
    Say you want to add a new news item for the News section.
    WP: Posts > add a content > assign it to the News category
    EE: PUBLISH > “News Articles” channel > add content

    Tip: compare the use (also from a site owner/admin perspective) of WP’s custom fields with EE’s. And do these “custom write panels” WP plugins also work for your multilingual site? (retoric question)

    About those FREE plugins that sound so appealing… enjoy them while they are free but don’t expect developers to provide support and continuity forever. Never upgrading your CMS software to make sure all working plugins keep working?

    Comparing EE to WP is pointless if you don’t use the right too for the job. Either you choose your weapon and run with it or you spend equal time learning the two…to discover that it all depends on the project.

  • http://www.onebrightlight.com Christopher Robert Kennedy

    @Joris Heyndrickx:

    I’ll say this for ExpressionEngine: I started out for three years doing WordPress exclusively, and though switching to EE was a bit of a hassle the first month or two, several things started “clicking” quickly.

    I have to really recommend Mike (@boyink on Twitter) Boyink’s training website, http://www.train-ee.com. I learned things rather quickly through that website, and of course, I also splurged and took one of his intensive training courses. After that, I was up and running with few issues.

    The one thing I have to say that I’ve found that’s far superior to Joomla, WordPress and every other OpenSource solution is that the community of ExpressionEngine developers seem much more helpful, both in the forums and on Twitter. I think the fact that we “buy” the software means we all feel invested in the system, and as a result, we all want to help each other learn anything we can. That’s not to say WordPress users aren’t helpful, but I have at least 2 or 3 questions on the WordPress forums that are still unanswered, or just have a suggestion to “read the codex better”. You don’t find that with EE users.

  • http://wdmac.com MAC


    I’m a professional “webdesolper” pushing Word Press to the limits, and I haven’t found any “job” yet that can’t be done trough it.

    This article seemed a bit “propaganda” to EE rather than a fair comparison between the two CMS.

    I’ll stick to the one that is free… Nice try though!

    MAC :)

    • http://www.onebrightlight.com Christopher Robert Kennedy

      Asides from the fact that the article is about why ExpressionEngine is different, I don’t think there’s much to really discuss. The article sums up in the end what WP has advantages in versus ExpressionEngine, but to expect that you get a 1 to 1 comparison defeats the purpose of an “Apples to Oranges” comparison, doesn’t it?

      WordPress gets plenty of exposure and evangelism, and Marcus makes his references to where WordPress shines, but is it so terrible that we have a piece that actually discusses what another CMS can do, and the possible workflow(s) behind it?

    • http://gustavoliedke.com Gus

      Untill now I had no problem in migrating my clients website to WP as a CMS and they look nothing like a ‘blog’.

  • http://www.bj2design.com Bjarni Wark

    I have yet to use EE as I found the backend for setting up and integrating a custom design a bit of a headbend (I am sure once I continue on and become familiar with its language it will be easier).

    I have been focusing on WP and for small to medium sites it does a good job as a CMS.

    What I would like to see is a comparison of the same site using the two systems, that way I could see how the two where used to achieve it.

    • http://eetemplates.com Marcus Neto

      hmm… interesting idea for an article. Might ponder that one. But I fear it might end up being a book ;-) and one that no one would want to read!

      • http://www.bj2design.com Bjarni Wark

        Yes I think it would be interesting and clarify what each are good at. You would need the same people creating both the WP and EE site from the one design, working together to create the best solution with the CMS at hand, maybe two designs, a simple CMS then one that is a bit more complex.

        Or maybe have two teams competing and have them each create the same site with documentation etc, Oh yes with all the spare time we have while sunning ourselves at the beach : )

        I think EE might be better when things get more complex over WP, Im coming from more a front end designer.

        Good article by the way.

      • http://www.bj2design.com Bjarni Wark

        Better still use the same xhtml/css design and then integrate with WordPress and Expression Engine and see how they both handle the site, maybe two sites one more complex then the other.

  • http://www.webdevtuts.net/ marcellpurham

    WordPress is great in my opinion but I am strongly think about changing over to expression engine considering the fact that not every has it and it sounds front-end friendly. I love wordpress do not get me wrong but you have to know some php to get some of those cools functional integrated into your website. I’ll have to give it a go.

    Great article

    • http://www.onebrightlight.com Christopher Robert Kennedy

      Marcell, I have to say that coming from WordPress myself, after the initial readjustment of the way I was thinking, I am now far more comfortable with using #EE for pretty much anything other than a straight-up blog with RSS.

  • Shiva

    The only kick I have on WordPress is that they are like Microsoft, a new update every time you sign in(an exaggeration of course). EE and WordPress are used by two differing sets of people to an extent as was noted, but there are many highly thought of people who are tied to WordPress. But then again, how deep do you want to go, what are you making and free vs cost.

    • http://www.metaphorcreations.com Joe

      EE (and EE plugins) have updates all the time as well… they just don’t tell you every time there’s an update. If you check out the latest build of EE or your plugins compared to what you are using, I’m sure you’ll find that you could use an update. And updating EE is a much bigger pain in the butt than WP (which is maybe why they don’t notify you of every update).

  • sam

    there is the Magic Fields plugin for wordpress that allows developers and non-developers to add CCK style fields to wordpress. It also allows you to extend your content organisation beyond just “Posts” and “Pages”. for example you can add a custom content type (or Write Panel as it is called in the plugin) which opens up endless options for display. for me this plugin is equally as valuable as WordPress itself. Its the first plugin i install for every build i do.

    • http://341design.com.au Chris Howard

      Too true. I’ve setup a special post type for a client in WP using MagicFields that lets them post job adverts. It has additional fields for contact, file attachments, closing date etc. It also pulls in a separate page for the standard gumpf that’s required on each ad.

  • http://www.designlovr.com ximi

    You definitely have to keep in mind that WordPress started (and still is) a blogging platform and considering this it is astonishing what can be achieved with a little tweaking and customizing.
    And I completely agree with the conclusion that they can’t be compared.

  • http://www.okeedoke.com delayne

    We have worked hard to create a custom content management system that we back all of our designs with. Not only is it easy for the client to maintain and more flexible to expansion and adding functions, but it also increase SEO. My theory is, if possible create your own, or working with EE because it is more customizable.

  • http://www.cmstheme.net CMS Themes

    I would love to try EE after reading your thoughts.

  • http://www.ukpb.co.uk/ Buy My House

    WordPress is really prolific for use and it is also free.

  • http://insraq.com/ insraq

    WP is user oriented while EE is developer/designer oriented. They are designed for different users thus cannot be compared :-)
    Nice article. I personally prefer TextPattern, an open source CMS. It is very similar with EE, but free to use.

  • Stu Green

    Great post, it’s good to see that EE is being considered a viable alternative to WP now.

    You might all want to check out another CMS that’s built on CodeIgniter (which is what EE is built on), called Halogy – it’s built for designers and is launching this summer.


  • http://lava360.com Lava360

    thanks to you guys. we are getting better and better in wordpress. always find good info about wordpress. keep it up :)

  • http://www.gport.nl Gerben van Dijk

    Have used both, I guess it depends on who is gonna use it in the end.. For me EE is perfect, but for my customers WordPress is way easyer to learn.

  • http://www.ysbeer.com Robbert

    I have been using WordPress for several clients now.

    For some it works, for some it doesn’t work. I was really a fan of WordPress at first but it has too many features and a too complex interface for the client. For next projects, I will come up with my own CMS.

    Never used Expression Engine though. It sounds good.

  • http://www.imuridesign.com rainer designer

    Hello. I’m gonna to publish scientific journal online and consider wordpress as the best solution for this task. Could you give me some arguments that expressionengine is also fit for this project?

  • http://www.sugarwebdev.co.uk David Bell

    Thanks for a great article and very timely.

    Can echo the thoughts of a great many people here. Love WP and have used it extensively over the last two years. My issue is having all my eggs in one basket. I think EE will become my 2nd CMS of choice. This article really helped me to make up my mind, thanks to everyone!

    I agree with the fact that you really need to push WP hard to do certain things. It is a fantastic platform and version 3.0 is going to be very exciting with the MU version being rolled into the core.

  • http://pixeno.com Pixeno

    Great article!

    I’ve always wondered about Expression Engine and its pro’s and con’s.

  • http://john.onolan.org JohnONolan

    Your post would have been both correct and relevant three or four months ago… but these things change rather quickly and I’m afraid you missed the boat on this one! Worpdress 3.0 introduces pretty much all of the features which you describe as unique to EE. The proverbial WordPress Apple is fast obtaining a citrus injection that makes these two platforms far more comparable than ever before.

  • http://www.pushpsds.com Glenn Sorrentino

    I use Expression Engine on my site – and my agency uses it on all of our clients’ sites and we love it. And the lite version is FREE.

  • http://webtoolkit4.me Gerasimos

    EE without fieldframe, ff matrix & playa is pretty much another CMS. For me, if the budget allows it, i am sold to EE. If the project is a 5 page site + a blog, wordpress is my platform of choice.

    The only real advantage that i’ve found in EE (without any addons) is that even if you don’t want to, it pushes you in a more structured way of doing things. Other than that if we pretend for a minute that there are no addons around for both systems, wordpress is a winner here.

    my $0,02.

    • http://www.onebrightlight.com Christopher Robert Kennedy

      Fieldframe is free. Matrix is not, and only if you’re referring to the new version. The previous version is still free. Playa is only necessary if you’re using many to many relationships.

      As far as your suggestion of the 5 page site and blog, I think you’re absolutely right, as long as you’re sure that there won’t be many new features added at a later point.

  • http://www.4over4.com Large Format Prints Expert

    Thanks for the information!
    I’ve been using WP for my posts, but I agree that there are some limitations to it.
    Hopefully, I’ll be able to use EE- I’m going to try it out.
    Thanks again.

  • http://www.dharne.com/website_design.php Jane Cooke

    This is the first time I am reading about ExpressionEngine. From your detailed post, it looks worth a look as an option to Joomla more than WordPress which would be more oranges to oranges I think.

  • Kris Handley

    WordPress has a one click upgrade. Mwuhahahaha.

    I could seriously never switch to a platform that made me upgrade by hand. Yes I really am that lazy.

  • http://www.danmorton.ca Dan Morton

    I’ve only had the experience using wordpress but I should probably expand my horizons into other blogging tools.

  • http://www.pagepropeller.com/webdesignrichardsontx.html Web Design Richardson

    It’s nice to hear someone talking about ExpressionEngine It’s not really the same as wordpress as you point out. I would also like to add that wordpress is free as ExpressionEngine costs 100.00 for a personal license and over 200.00 for a commercial license.


  • hithere

    One of the reasons EE surpasses a lot of “free” solutions that has not been mentioned but is important for developers.

    They have a more robust and strict svn for extension developers ( not to mention codeIgniter).

    That means they maintain more control over add-ons ( plug-ins.. whatever) so they adhere to “better” coding and standards.

    One of the problems with wordpress and other open cm’s is there is no structure or overview of extensions. This leads to some really ( I mean REALLY) badly written stuff that eventually starts to hurt the core.

    • http://beatpanda.co.cc Matthew Gerring

      “That eventually starts to hurt the core”


      The whole point of plugins is that you’re not modifying core. This comment doesn’t make any sense.

    • http://mikeschinkel.com Mike Schinkel

      “there is no structure or overview of extensions”

      What does that mean, exactly?

      I moved to WordPress from Drupal (and 12 years of ASP+SQL Server before that and 7 years of Clipper before that) and have been pretty damned impressed with how plugins are architected in WordPress.

      “badly written stuff that eventually starts to hurt the core”

      How do plugins, even badly written ones, hurt the core?

      • http://341design.com.au Chris Howard

        dude! Clipper! High five!

      • http://mikeschinkel.com Mike Schinkel

        LOL! Didn’t think there were many people around these days that remember Clipper. But since you noticed, here’s my cred for once being a “Clipperhead” :-)


  • Pol

    If you want flexibility try http://symphony-cms.com/ The basics of XSLT are not so hard to learn and the benefits.. uh oh…

    • Luso

      Is it hard to learn? I’m not a programer, my skills are HTML/CSS and some jQuery.

  • http://esdev.net Shawn Scammahorn

    I came from a mostly HTML/CSS background before learning ExpressionEngine. Once you learn the terminology in EE it’s pretty easy to get going since you don’t have to learn an entirely new language.

    Here are some resources and tutorials that helped me a lot when I was just starting out:

    /end shameless self-promotion

    • Cole

      hehe…I’ll be glad to check that out!

  • Arthur

    It is all good, but so far no single article can give a precise and professional answer to that subject. I have seen many articles comparing different CMS but all of them were quite alike. And this one is no different from the others. And it looks like the purpose of this article simply to raise the debate amongst readers due to incomplete research and poor explanation of the subject… A good point the author mentioned – this is like comparing an apple vs. orange… Joomla, EE, WP, Drupal, ModX, CI, Symfony… and so on and so forth. Who is the best? No one!

    • http://eetemplates.com Marcus Neto

      Exactly the point. To be honest I would love to write a thorough comparison but no one would read that book eh? Even a comparison of creating a simple website would prove lengthy. I really was not trying to stir the pot even though that is what some people have suggested here. I like both systems. I just really think that WordPress gets plenty of press and people have questions about how ExpressionEngine works. So this was a way of introducing that thread.

  • http://3circlestudio.com/ Justin Carroll

    Thanks for putting this together. A few months ago I was asking around about EE. I have adopted WP as one of my trusted CMS solutions (not exclusively though). I don’t think EE is making WP sweat, I think Tumblr is though. I think WP should make EE sweat. WP 3.0 could be a devastating blow for EE.

    Not everything is about money and the price tag doesn’t bother me, but I am surprised that EE carries such a hefty price tag for a piece of software that doesn’t include some major standard practices among CMS systems such as themes. And that’s exactly where it fails me. It doesn’t mean I won’t use it, just means I can’t hang my hat on it right now. I’m excited to see what they’ll do in the next version.

    • http://www.moraywebsolutions.com MorayWeb

      I am keen to see what WP3 brings, the more competition the better the products become for us! I would say though that if the lack of themes was the issue for EE you may be missing the point. EE allows development of a site as you would if it were static, then you hook it into the cms with a few simple tasks – you build the site itself, not a theme to lay over it.

  • petar

    really dont think anything will ever come close to wp’s popularity..

  • Mox

    I’m not a programmer, rather a designer.

    I find WP much more intuitive than EE—seriously.

    I could never get my head around EE, and what’s more I found support pretty lame. If I wanted help with something that the forum or FAQ’s didn’t cover then I was quoted a $200+ fee ‘to look at it’…

    And it’s expensive overall.

    • http://eetemplates.com Marcus Neto

      not sure why you would have been charged for support unless you were asking some 3rd party dev for it. But I find it interesting that you are more comfortable with PHP tags vs the Expressions in ExpressionEngine.

      • http://mikeschinkel.com Mike Schinkel

        EE expressions are a proprietary extension to EE which there are many orders of magnitude less written about than has been written about PHP. I can only test knowledge of EE expressions in EE but I can test PHP anywhere it is installed which is probably 3 orders of magnitude more places. Third party editors like NetBean, PhpED and PhpStorm support debugging through PHP expressions but there is no editor support (that I know of) for debugging EE expressions.

        But, I also believe that in hindsight the creation of Wiki syntax and BBCode was a really bad idea vs. teaching people to just learn HTML.

      • http://eetemplates.com Marcus Neto

        I so get yah now. Most people that work with EE though are designers though and not heavy lifters like you ;-) So PHP while a better programming language and more powerful is not something that they want to get into. Hence their use of EE. Not right or wrong just different.

      • http://mikeschinkel.com Mike Schinkel

        With full respect I do think you do yourself a disservice by not being open to learning PHP (whilst you are willing to learn EE’s proprietary language!)

        When I’ve done the same type of thing where I’ve willfully allowed myself to stay ignorant of an area (which I’ve more times than I care to admit; “doing sales” comes to mind :) I’ve always finally come around and learned that which I put extra effort into avoiding. In the final result I’ve always realized that I simply caused myself more time, effort and expense in the long run than if I had just bitten the bullet from the start.

        Anyway, just my perspective, you don’t have to accept or agree as YMMV. :)

      • http://eetemplates.com Marcus Neto

        PHP is on the list. Just have not had a chance to dive any deeper than the basics.

  • http://www.g13media.com MadRukus

    WordPress is awesome compared to the other free solutions out there, I have not tried ExpressionEngine but will soon.

  • http://www.moraywebsolutions.com MorayWeb

    ExpressionEngine ticks all the boxes for me, and pulled me away from WordPress without a struggle. A big plus as far as I’m concerned is the fact that the new EE2 is built on CodeIgniter it opens the door for module development much wider to include the global CI developer community.

    The flexibility in content structure that EE offers natively far outweighs the time taken to hack WP in to a proper CMS in my opinion, and those that grumble with it costing – pass the cost on to your client, believe me they will appreciate a far better control panel and the increased support you/EllisLabs can offer them on the product itself.

    I will still use wordpress for clients who either specifically request it or where the site is purely a blog, but “for everything else there is ExpressionEngine” – I for one will not go back to WP if I can at all avoid it!!

    Great article, and some good comments too! :)

  • John Macpherson

    Excellent article and i agree with everything said.

    EE is a great bit of kit which i found after using WP for years. Its(EE) now the tool of choice for anything other than a very basic 5 page site with news.

    I love the community over there too and another vote for EE from me.

  • http://www.evowebdev.com/blog/ Ray Gulick

    Terribly biased “review,” aided by a general lack of understanding of how to use WordPress as a CMS. I don’t doubt that EE is a very good platform, and that it does some things better, or at least more easily, than WP.

    However, in the hands of someone who knows what they are doing, WP is a suitable platform for more than 85% of business websites (there are better solutions for “enterprise” sites). Further, WP is much more easily grasped by “lay people,” so handing off a website to a client requires far less training.

    • http://eetemplates.com Marcus Neto

      you mean someone that is familiar with PHP? Cause to do the things that you can do in ExpressionEngine you really need to know PHP. I find it interesting that you think I was biased. What leads you to believe that? I have to say I like both systems.

      • http://mikeschinkel.com Mike Schinkel

        To do things in EE you really need to understand their expressions and templating language which is programming but without nearly as much educational resources as there are for PHP.

        To-may-to, To-mah-to; it’s still programming.

  • http://tinyurl.com/jonatanfroes Jônatan Fróes

    I’m pretty familiar with CodeIgniter, but I’ve never tryed ExpressionEngine… Should I try?

  • http://www.iswitch.org Joao Carvalhinho

    Eengine is great because it is powerfull yet simple for advanced uses because of the {tagging} concept.
    It tends to get very expensive when you start adding modules, but as they are paid, the support an overall qualitty is usually top of the notch.

    For free CMS and modules nowadays I use CMSMADESIMPLE that is free, simple and has a lot of free and powerfull modules that integrate very well with the base functionalities (even 1 click download/install of modules) and has the {smarty} language embedded also.

    It lacks on the back-end on the possibility to create “channels” with a dedicated fieldset… But it’s awfull simple to operate and maintain.

  • http://beatpanda.co.cc Matthew Gerring

    Have to say I totally disagree, since you’re comparing out-of-the-box EE and WP. WP out of the box isn’t good for non-blog sites, but about 2 minutes in the “add plugins” admin menu fixes that. Not to mention that there’s no practical difference between EE’s “channels” and the custom post types and taxonomies introduced in WordPress 2.8.

    You also completely glossed over the fact that WordPress comes with two content types out of the box, both posts and static pages.

    I work for an advertising agency where we’ve created dozens of WordPress-powered sites for our clients, and they are all extremely satisfied. Can’t see any reason to pay money for what is apparently a less capable paid platform.

    • http://mikeschinkel.com Mike Schinkel

      I definitely agree with all your sentiment. Still I was thinking that “channels” seem to be more like the WPMU functionality than custom post types and taxonomies. BTW, I think the latter features are absolutely transformative for WordPress which I’m wildly excited about, just not the equivalent of channels. (Maybe that’s where real apples vs. oranges exist? :)

  • http://www.scottkclark.com/ Scott Kingsley Clark

    If you want CCK for WordPress, then use the Pods CMS plugin – podscms.org – simple as that.

    • http://binarym.com/ matt mcinvale

      WordPress + Pods = Perfection.

      I’ve used Expression Engine and wasn’t impressed by it at all. WordPress is much easier to work with and handles things much more gracefully than EE.

  • http://mikeschinkel.com Mike Schinkel

    Hey there’s some irony here, what with Web Designer Depot.com running on WordPress. No? ;-)

    • Jesus Couto

      Irony? What’s Web Designer Depot? I don’t consider WordPress a CMS at all. Sure they’re trying to moving to it, but still a long path to walk in that direction. I see many worship WordPress just because everyone’s tend to compare it to some other alternative. And since they’re more “familiar” with WP if things don’t come out as easy as they intend to, compared with WP and they’re knowledge at it, that alternative it’s easy dropped.
      Many biased opinions here on both sides but just because one thing is popular does it mean that’s the only viable option?
      Yes I used both systems more than once yet I still prefer MODX and Textpattern.

      • http://mikeschinkel.com Mike Schinkel

        Just because you don’t consider is a CMS doesn’t make it so. :-) Take a look at 3.0. I’m using it and with it’s custom post types it is just incredible.

        I can’t speak to other’s “worship” of WordPress, but I came to appreciate it after using Drupal for 2 years and trying to use EE. Prior to that 12 years of ASP+VBScript+SQL Server. WP has an elegance to it that *no* other solution currently captures. I find that while WP make not be the easiest to get the first 85% done, it’s by far the easiest to get the last 15% done, at least given the systems I’ve worked with (admittedly I’ve not worked with the latest EE.)

        And yes, lots of biased opinions all around. But I will say popularity has far more value than you give it credit for. Popularity means: 1.) lots more articles about “how to” in WP, 2.) lots more people who can be hired to help, 3.) lots more people who will help for free, 4.) lots more free and commercial themes, 5.) lots more free and commercial plugins and 6.) much greater likelihood that emerging technologies and emerging services will be integrated sooner than later. Sure you can go with a “viable” much less popular solution, but why give up all six of those benefits?

        If you like MODX and Textpattern, knock yourself out. OTOH, if you’ve not used the latest version of WP, you don’t know what you are missing.

      • http://www.evowebdev.com/blog/ Ray Gulick

        Great points about the benefits of popular solutions, Mike; its very popularity provides the demand, energy, and momentum that drives WP forward. Give WP another couple of years, and I think it will be considered a fully fledged CMS by even the “purists.”

      • http://341design.com.au Chris Howard

        When is a content management system a CMS?

        Is WordPress not a system to manage content?

        Not all cars are created for the same type of user, but at the end of the day, they’re still all cars. You can’t go off-roading in all cars, nor drive at 150mph in all cars, and some cars you can’t fit six people in, but they’re still al cars.

        Not all CMSes are created for the same type of user, but at the end of the day, they’re still all content management systems.

  • http://rolling-webdesign.com Theo

    Great article and very good conversation. After reading all this i`l give EE a try.

    Thank you all.

  • http://www.codeline.ch Sebastian

    Interesting read – as always on WPD – totally loving your site! :)

    I’ve heard a lot of EE before and the UI looks really nice and usable; but I am reluctant to pay for it.

    Looking at the Pricing information (http://expressionengine.com/overview/pricing/) provided by EE it seems heavily overpriced. You have to pay additional $$ for plugins that are – sorry for using the f-word again – free for WP (or any other CMS. Typo3, SilverStripe…).

    If EE would be around 50 bucks I might consider having a more thorough look at it. But at the moment I think it is pretty overpriced.

    Yes, WP may tend to require a lot of plugins (it actually does :D ). But I have never ever encountered a situation where I could not overcome the drawbacks of WordPress – be it with a plugin or doing it all by myself in good ol’ PHP :)

    Yes, WP may tend to have a cluttered backend. But – again – there are solutions to this (even the WP guys know about the problem and are addressing it).

    Perhaps it takes longer for a certain step to be accomplished in WP compared to EE; but as an experienced WP coder I know my way around. The resulting additional costs may be equal to the license fee required for EE (which has to be paid every year).

    In the end it always comes down to personal taste and skills. As a web developer I know PHP and can take full control over WP.

    • http://www.codeline.ch Sebastian

      sorry, WDD, not WPD. I’m lost in abbreviations ;-)

  • http://www.zachrodimel.com Zach

    At the end of the day, that keeps costs low and the client happy.

  • http://turnkeye.com TurnkeyEcommerce

    I like WP

  • http://freewheelin.nu Yvonne

    Having coming across this debate many times, I was really confounded when I finally made a WP site. WP and EE are incomparable!

    If you only need a broschure site or a blog EE may be an overkill, but for anything more complicated WP won’t do, unless you want to rewrite the whole thing.

    WP is good if you have no money and want to be up and running quickly. 1-click install and choose a theme. Maybe you need a designer to help you customize it, but it’s basically DYI.

    I had heard that the WP control panel should be great but I find it messy. How do people manage their content once it grows large? In EE the control panel is customized to meet each client’s needs (this depends of course on how good the developer is in setting up a workable data architecture).

    If EE is a good CMS or not is actually a question of how good the developer is in structuring data on the backend and information architecture on the frontend. Changing one parameter in an entry could rattle through numerous pages and make changes and updates across several web sites. This is what clients pay for. Ease of management/design that meet their needs. “Free” doesn’t necessarily meet those requirements.

    • http://mikeschinkel.com Mike Schinkel

      Which version of WP did you work with? Was if 2.9 or especially 3.0? If not then you should do yourself a favor and revisit; 2.9 was a major improvement and 3.0 is a watershed version with custom post types and built in menus.

      What about the control panel do you not like? The fact that it has functionality you want to hide? That’s an interesting question; one I haven’t thought about but evidently other’s have in WordPress, just use this plugin (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/admin-menu-editor/) Did you ever try it? Maybe it would have solved your issues with “messiness?”

      BTW for me it’s not about “free” or not, it’s suitability to task. I find WP just works the best for most of the tasks I need.

      • lossendae

        You really seems to not have any experience with other recent real CMS platform don’t you?

      • http://mikeschinkel.com Mike Schinkel

        Only if you don’t consider Drupal, Joomla or MODX a CMS.

      • lossendae

        And even by knowing those CMS, you still say that WordPress is THE tool for every task?

        That’s quite a bold statement.

      • http://341design.com.au Chris Howard

        @lossendae, Mike said “I find WP just works the best for most of the tasks I need.”

        Hmmm? “Most”

        Whereas you say he said “every task”.

      • lossendae

        My mistake then :)

        Pretty sure it was rethorical but fair enough.

      • http://341design.com.au Chris Howard

        Thanks for the tip on the admin-menu-editor. That’s what I love about WP – there’s a plugin for everything.

        Tell me tho, how does one get ones mitts on WP3.0?

  • http://1900tr.com/blog garyb

    I decided to give WP another try (2.9) The results, change back to EE. Since I only want a single blog I will be using EE core. It’s free and has everything I want built in and it will not change my post code!!

  • http://341design.com.au Chris Howard

    You’ve certainly piqued my curiosity about EE. I last looked at it a couple of years ago but will have to check out 2.0.

    I’ve yet to encounter a site that I couldn’t do in WordPress, but I surely that day will come.

    I do find the backend of WordPress to be clunky and can get messy. Training is not something I look forward to. There’s too many fields and menus. It desperately needs a streamlined user back end. Most users just need a single page where they can edit the content of pages or posts.

    From the designer/developer pov, WordPRess continues to meet my needs. And with some excellent plugins like WP-eCommerce, Wp-Cufon, Magic Fields and Pods, it just keeps getting better.

    I’ve recently switched to a new framework, Headway (www.headwaythemes.com), for the majority of my development too, which I’m find a real time saver with its wysiwyg editor.

    There’s also this fallacy here that you have to hack PHP to get WP to do anything decent. That may have been so even as little as 12 months ago (I know I was), but, again, there’s just so many really GOOD plugins out there and WP has improved so much, I find I’m doing less and less PHP.

    I will certainly look at EE, as I am a bit of a software junkie and do want to be prepared, when or if, WP doesn’t meet a cleint’s needs.

  • http://341design.com.au Chris Howard

    Well, trying EE 2.0 but it is trying. Am about ready to give up. Haven’t got past the installation yet. Says “Fatal error: Class ‘Installer_Config’ not found in /Users/chris/Sites/sites/ee/system/core/Common.php on line 159”

    Sure I could go searching for the answer, but the point is, it’s already hard work. Not a good start for EE.

    I am determined to get this done though, because I am pig-headed, but certainly not impressed with how complex the installation still is.

  • http://www.sawebdesigner.co.za SA Web Designer

    I believe every web designer should go with EE

    • lossendae

      I believe every web designer should go with MODx.

      Yeah, i know! A world without argumentation is beautiful.

      • http://www.evowebdev.com/blog/ Ray Gulick

        Love it when someone thinks they know what’s best for everyone else ;-)

      • http://baneydesign.com Adam

        When I started my search over 3 years ago for a CMS, I started with WordPress, got confused, and gave up. So, I tried EE, got even more confused and upset, then gave up. When I came across MODx, I loved it! But, soon found out that making a blog was near to impossible (never did make a blog with MODx), e-commerce was impossible, and also I had to hack the text editor to display my predefined styles…too much time and work! I no longer use MODx.

        I did more research (over 2 years ago) to tackle WordPress, and learned it! I was so impressed with how easy it was to install, create templates, edit pages, and with plugins there are so many more capabilities…as a CMS, not just a blog. I also like that WP is completely Free. Support is nearly non-existant, but there are many, many forums/blogs/WP docs in which all of my WP-related questions have been answered. WordPress has served (and serves) me well.

        What makes me want to look into EE more now is that I feel somewhat limited at times with the Custom Field Template plugin in WP. That plugin has helped out a bunch with how pages are updated and arranged with info in WP. I really do like WordPress, but would like to wrestle with EE once again. I don’t like the fact that EE is $250 plus another $40 per year (commercial license). I would be happy to pay $50 or even $100, but $250!? I don’t like the $40 annually, it’s just more overhead.

        If WP 3.0 is a great as everyone says it will be, maybe WP will make EE extraneous.

        Someone else here commented…as designers, we just need to pick the CMS that fits our/our clients’ needs the best and use that. I agree.

      • http://mikeschinkel.com Mike Schinkel

        If you feel limited with custom fields check out the Pods plugin.

      • lossendae

        Like every tools, once you know it, you think it’s the best no matter what others will say.

        I do think that MODx is better as a CMS than WordPress. For various reason, i find it more easier to deal with with out having to hack it EVER.
        It’s more a framework than a pure CMS so you can “build” upon it if you know a little bit of coding.

        The templating system is easier than WordPress too.

        Now, i also think that WordPress has a better looking backend manager, more plugins, is far above any tool for blogging and is more suited for less techies people out of the box.

        Then again, there are case where both MODx and WordPress are both not the best solution.

      • http://baneydesign.com Adam

        @Mike Schinkel

        Thanks for the plugin suggestion. The “Pods” plugin looks very promising.

  • Tom

    Forgive me for pointing it out as I do not necessarily disagree with the author but as he is a member of the Expression Engine Pro network is this not simply a promotional piece dressed up as an article?

    • http://www.webdesignerdepot.com Walter

      Many articles on WDD are simply author’s opinion. They invite a healthy discussion and exchange of opinions. Note that WDD was in no way compensated by Expression Engine to feature or write any articles.

    • http://onebrightlight.com Christopher Robert Kennedy

      And yet the site is run on WordPress. Does that make them any more culpable when an article is written that is heavily in favor of WordPress?

    • http://eetemplates.com Marcus Neto

      We use WordPress, Joomla and ExpressionEngine in the office. I am not on staff and my clients demand the correct solution not just a CMS by name. I thought I was fair to both systems but apparently you disagree with my thoughts on WordPress.

      I think I should say here for the record that there are things that each and every CMS does well and there are some things that it does not do well. The examples from above are just a few. To say that any CMS is perfect is to pull the wool over your own eyes. That system has not been created yet.

      So please don’t accuse me of doing nothing but writing a promotional piece. I do however see a need in the community for information about ExpressionEngine as WordPress has been beat to death. The other CMSs have less than 25% of the amount of information online as WordPress so I wrote this article (and a few more are in the works) to help people understand the strengths (and weaknesses) of EE.

  • http://341design.com.au Chris Howard

    I reckon we need to take the EE proponents with a grain of salt because they have made a financial investment in their tool. It’d have to be pretty bad for them to speak ill of it.

    It’s like me and the Headway theme framework for WP (http://headwaythemes.com). I spent the money so you can bet I’m going to make sure it works and be an evangelist for it. (It is really good, and saves time especially for the straight forward sites; however, it is leading edge so has a few quirks and bugs still.)

    Really, to use any system and really see if it’s any good, you’ve got to use it in production. If you just play with the 30 day trial you might get an idea of it, but, given a familiarity with another system like WP or MODx, you’ll probably think you’ll only use it if you absolutely need to.

    To choose EE, it’s a reasonable financial commitment. Not surprisingly, if you make that commitment you’ll bend over backwards to get your money’s worth. And subsequently, probably become an evangelist. If I ever spend the money on EE, you can bet I’m going to make sure it works and be an evangelist for it.

    EE used to have a lite version a few years back. I wonder why they got rid of it coz it would have been a good way to bring people onboard.

    • http://freewheelin.nu Yvonne

      I think you’re wrong here. It’s not a question of financial commitment. EE is not expensive. In fact compared to closed, commercial CMSs it’s a bargain.

      My first copy of EE was the free version of pMachine. I got hooked because of the philosophy behind EE. No pages, only data that can be remixed in whatever way you want.

      Today I don’t find it responsible to suggest a solution that depends on a horde of plug-ins that may or may not work with the next upgrade. Clients pay for a solution that should last for a reasonable time. Second, WP has a long history of security issues. See http://secunia.com/advisories/search/?search=wordpress and compare to EE. I can’t look a client who needs a robust solution in the eye and say that I offer quality, so EE it is.

      • http://341design.com.au Chris Howard

        One thing has become apparent listening to all those who support EE. Developing websites using EE sounds expensive.

        Especially if the extension you want doesn’t exist ad you have to either develop it yourself, or pay a third party.

        To quote the EE site: “142 Add-ons and Growing!”

        I’m sure they’re all as robust as EE itself, but that’s very limiting.

        WP does have issues – but that hasn’t stopped some very major organizations using it and for large operations – which throws into doubt many EE people’s claims here WP is only good for the small stuff, and that the security and upgrade issues maybe aren’t as big as made out.

        All that said, I still want to look at EE and give it a fair go coz it does sound like it would be useful. (I finally got it working on a different server although it’s throwing up a lot of errors on the page. Fortunately the backend is working. Now I’ve just got to make the time and find some good tutes – esp on the front end design.)

      • http://www.onebrightlight.com Christopher Robert Kennedy

        @Chris Howard:

        You’ll get the most out of going to http://train-ee.com and going to Mike Boyink’s free tutorials, especially this one: http://www.train-ee.com/courseware/free-tutorials/category/building-a-small-business-site/

        As a side note: Mike shows you how to do all of this without a single add-on.

      • http://eetemplates.com Marcus Neto

        @chris howard

        Development with ExpressionEngine is not cheap but it is not expensive either. Let me explain…. Most of the sites it’s fans are working on are those that would be looking at enterprise or more complex home-grown so when you compare the 250-500 you might spend on a full on complex site using ExpressionEngine it is way cheaper than the enterprise solutions and better and faster than a homegrown solution.

        If I were you I would try 1.6.x vs 2.0 as 2.0 is a public beta for a reason. So if you are using 2.0 that is probably why you are getting the errors.

      • http://341design.com.au Chris Howard

        Thanks, guys.

        So far, all my clients’ needs have been able to be met by WP – even ones with 50 or mores on their site.

        But tt niggles me somewhat that I have only one string in my bow, coz I know it’s going to happen one day that WP won’t be enough and I’d rather not be caught out when that happens and have to miss an opportunity.

      • http://341design.com.au Chris Howard

        that should say “even ones with 50 or more pages on their sites”

        Well, I’ve got a coffee, a comfy chair, closed all my projects I’m working on, and am going to sit down and watch a few EE vids. :) I need the break anyway.

      • http://mikeschinkel.com Mike Schinkel

        @Yvonne: “Today I don’t find it responsible to suggest a solution that depends on a horde of plug-ins that may or may not work with the next upgrade. Clients pay for a solution that should last for a reasonable time.”

        There are two perspectives here. Experienced WP people know the subset of plugins that are well maintained and then there are the rest. If you are using one of other plugins on a client project you say “We can use this plugin for $250 of my time but be aware in the future if the person who wrote it doesn’t maintain it I may have to update it for you and that could cost $2500+.) ” In many cases the EE person instead can only say “EE doesn’t do that but I can develop if for you for $2500+.” So which is really better? I prefer the former, you the latter. I’m not sure how many clients would prefer the latter though, if they knew better.

        @Yvonne: “WP has a long history of security issues.”

        Unless you can identify specifically why as part of their respective architectures WP has greater potential for vulnerabilities than EE I’ll call that a fallacious argument. WP is far more widely used than EE and thus people find a lot more holes. If EE had as many users you can bet there would be as many holes found.

        WP is also revved more frequently than EE and as such many of the vulnerabilities are from new revisions. If you don’t update immediately and wait a bit to let the knew version shake out you don’t expose yourself.

        The question is, how quickly do those security holes get patched. I think you’ll find the WP community places top priority when vulnerabilities are found.

      • http://freewheelin.nu Yvonne

        1) I don’t say that WP has “greater potential for vulnerabilities than EE”. I pointed you to its history of vulnerabilities.

        2) “If EE had as many users you can bet there would be as many holes found.” Purely speculative.

        3) “We can use this plugin for $250 of my time but be aware in the future if the person who wrote it doesn’t maintain it I may have to update it for you and that could cost $2500+.) ” Clients don’t want future costs. And, how expensive will WP eventually be if you use 10-15 plug-ins?

        4) Many functions are native to EE and can be extended and used in creative ways. There are also numerous add-ons – some free, some at a cost – and a very active community.

        5) EE has its limits, and occasionally, custom development or another solution is needed.

      • http://mikeschinkel.com Mike Schinkel


        In response to your list:

        1.) If you want to discredit WP go ahead and claim that “WP has greater potential for vulnerabilities than EE” rather than implicitly doing so. That’s as dishonest a debate technique as the politician who starts out his speech with “We are not here today to debate whether my opponent was involved in unethical practices so we won’t discuss it. Instead we’re here to talk about my qualifications…”

        2.) Fair. But you must admit likely to be true, no?

        3.) So who decried you to be the arbiter of what all clients want? In my experience some would rather reserve but not spend vs. knowing they have to spend.

        In the case of 10-15 plugins 1.) nowhere near all of them will break on an update especially if you follow the practices of sticking with mostly those that are known to be consistently updated. In your hypothetical the client would have to pay 10-15 times $2500 ($25k-$37.5k) and in my hypothetical they’d have to pay just $2500 to $3750 up front. Are you really trying to argue that yours is better in all cases? (Better for you if you’ve got a naive client with a big budget, I’ll give you that.)

        My example makes the assumption that feature sets for core WP and EE are similar. But it’s a pure fact that WP has a lot more plugins offering a lot more functionality than is available “off the shelf” for EE so the point is still valid even if EE has some additional core functionality compared to WP.

        4. & 5.) Not seeing how that is any different from WP, especially related to custom development and it’s downsides. (Custom development is like add-ons/plugins except only you and/or the client gets to pay to keep it current when a new version breaks it. Community plugins often get maintained without the client having to pay for it.)

      • lossendae

        WP is known for his not so well coded (and i’m polite) core.

        Just google it.

      • http://mikeschinkel.com Mike Schinkel

        That’s older code, code that has already been hardened against exploits. The current code being added is actually quite good from what I’ve seen (For reference, I have 20+ years coding experience with a Comp Sci background and have been a former programming instructor so I know a bit about code, especially database level coding.)

      • lossendae

        – 12 years of ASP+SQL Server before that and 7 years of Clipper before that
        – 12 years of ASP+VBScript+SQL Server
        – 20+ years coding experience with a Comp Sci background and have been a former programming instructor, especially database level coding

        You often justify the quality of WP by saying that you have experience.

        As a matter of fact, i know developpers that have 30+ year of experience behind them and still produce bad code, expecially when they do php to follow the money trend.

        I don’t say that you’re like them, or that experience is bad, just that i’ve seen many articles and examples on WP core (for reference), plus, i’ve taken a look myself at the code, and even in its 2.9 still a spaghetti code CMS.

        It is not as bad as some people would like it to, but EE is way ahead of WP on that matter.
        And the next completly rewritten version will push it further.

        Exploit is one thing, due to its popularity, WP will always be a target of choice for hackers.
        But WP also lacks OOP, elegance, PDO and a good framework structure.

        I’ll not put it in the same category of Joomla (which is in many ways a bad CMS), but the cool kid is sure getting old.

      • http://mikeschinkel.com Mike Schinkel

        I only give experience so you known I’ve had programming courses at Georgia Tech and that I didn’t just start program last year. Yes people with experience can be bad coders, but people who are self-taught and who haven’t been programming long are more likely not to be good coders (I know, there are exceptions to that too.)

        Drupal’s code is much better than WP’s too, but after using Drupal for 2 years I realize it’s over-architected and much harder to get things done with compared to WP. WP’s code may not be as good but it’s architecture is better for real world apps.

        I used to think that OOP was a panacea (I used to teach OOP for $1500 a day in the early 90’s.) I now believe it is very overrated and often causes more harm than good. Elegance is in the eye of the beholder and I have come to believe WP is very elegant. I’ve also come to believe PDO is overkill, and I think WP has a very solid framework, albeit just not one you prefer.

        As for Joomla vs. WordPress, please don’t disrespect WP in that manner. ;-p

      • http://341design.com.au Chris Howard

        @lossendae said:

        “You often justify the quality of WP by saying that you have experience.”

        That’s harsh! So many people get on forums and say “I’m a such and such, and i reckon…” And they expect us to take their opinion as gospel simply because they said they are whatever.

        Now Mike backs up his experience, not just says he’s an experienced developer, you take him to task for it. That’s unfair.

        If he was a noob, you woulda bagged him, and but instead you question his credibility because he *is*experienced.

        He can’t win!

        Just what experience does a person need to have a valid opinion on WP?

        Regards “the cool kid is sure getting old”. Maturing I’d say.

        WP has grown from just a kid into a mature adult, but it does show the effects of its childhood.

        WP has suffered by its rapid success, as happens. It is due for a total rewrite. Maybe version 4.

        We’ve drifted from Marcus’s original point, which is “purpose”, and are focusing on one aspect.

        I don’t think anyone, Mike included, would argue that WP or EE will be a fit for every a job. Quality of backend code is only one part of of that decision, and for many clients, an insignificant part, but for others, quite significant.

        However, Marcus did suggest the gap between them for purposes was pretty wide (apples and oranges), but the WP folks here are suggesting it’s not that wide, it’s more like mandarins and oranges, or apples and pears.

      • lossendae

        @Chris Howard

        I didn’t mean to be harsh.
        More precisely, not harsh on his experience but on the fact that experience doesn’t justify the quality of the code of WP.

        I like when people back their opinion with facts and examples, not CV’s.
        Of course, within an article comment section that have so much participant, it’s not really possible.

        And of course again, he can’t win. At least from my point of view :)

        @Mike Schinkel

        OOP is a style of coding.
        The target audience of WordPress don’t need it (yet) since they are not coders to begin with (the vast majority of them).
        As long as the API is good enough.

        However, PDO is going to be needed at some point.
        I would like WP to work with PDO, or propose a new dedicated ORM.

        I’m not really worried, WP as enough devs support to evolve one way or another.

      • http://mikeschinkel.com Mike Schinkel


        Something tells me that if I were pro EE you’d be championing my CV here… ;-)

        There’s not a question of OOP being needed or not; it’s a style as you say. It has its benefits and it has its drawbacks. Drawbacks include (but are not limited to): “Fragile base class”[1] and the complexity of OOP can make it a nightmare for debugging[2].

        Moderation in all things and I’ve come to believe OOP works best when used sparingly. OOP is not a panacea. WP does a good job of balancing procedural with classes where they make sense. For example, widgets in WP are objects, the hook system is not and it works brilliantly. I’ve even come to appreciate the global variables. Globals seem to work well when they are well known and reasonably fee. That fits WP’s use of them (although WP probably does have too many globals.)

        As for PDO, I think this wp-hackers post[3] sums it up from the WP perspective: “Direct SQL in and of itself is not a bad thing, because if you know what you are doing … there is no reason to further extend it by abstracting the SQL out. You are adding overhead where none is really needed.” To that I think I need add nothing more.

        You ask for examples, not CV. I think I’ve been giving them, including here:
        [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fragile_base_class
        [2] http://it.toolbox.com/blogs/tricks-of-the-trade/today-oop-ii-the-drawbacks-1745
        [3] http://lists.automattic.com/pipermail/wp-hackers/2009-January/023930.html

        That said, where are your references? Seems I’m only hearing opinion… ;-)

        Anyway, probably best to put this thread to rest. These are just religious debates that don’t change the mind of the debaters. For the record, I’ve commented to counter the premise of the post that EE is superior to WP (which I think can only ever be an opinion and not fact) and that WP’s greater adoption and 3rd party support has significant value that proponents of EE are dismissing and/or denigrating.

        Is there value to EE? Probably. But so too is there great value to WP.

    • http://mikeschinkel.com Mike Schinkel
    • http://1900tr.com/blog garyb

      @Chris Howard

      “EE used to have a lite version a few years back. I wonder why they got rid of it coz it would have been a good way to bring people onboard.”

      Maybe you should open you eyes! The free version is still around, it is called core. It has been around since EE was pMachine.

      • http://341design.com.au Chris Howard

        “Maybe you should open you eyes!”

        lol. True. Is there documentation anywhere on what core lacks?

  • http://1900tr.com/blog garyb

    @Chris Howard

    I don’t know of any documentation.

    Here is what I do know from using both.

    license is personal or org use only.
    Only can run a single blog.
    Doesn’t require zend optimizing
    no Discussion Forum Module
    no support or pro network.

    the forums are great, help is quick.

    That’s about all I know about. The documents are the same for both.

    • http://eetemplates.com Marcus Neto

      the simple commerce and membership modules are also missing from core.

  • http://baneydesign.com Adam

    That’s funny that this article came out when it did. Just yesterday I started my journey to learn EE. Through this process, I will see if EE is as easy to use as WP. I like WP very much, so I hope that EE can measure up. :)

    So far, I have installed EE (Commercial), which is just as easy to install as WP (Super!). I am working on learning how to build a site from scratch (PSD & XHTML). Maybe in another month or so I’ll make a post on my blog with my comparison of these two CMS’s. I have to learn EE for my new job, so I will be using my new knowledge in a working environment.

    This was a great blog post. I can see so much discussion! Great!

  • http://1900tr.com/blog garyb

    @Chris Howard

    I finally found the differences between all 3 versions of EE.


  • http://www.h-o.nl Paul Hachmang

    To be honest, i havent started using wordpress for one reason: It didn’t support custom fields. At the time i couldn’t find a good solution for this, so decided to go with something else.

    Dispite that EE cost a startup fee, you need to purchase some extensions/modules before you can start, i still think EE is cheaper to build with.

    But what truly is the main advantage it is AMAZING flexibility. It’s template engine is nothing like i’ve ever seen in any other system. If a customer asks can we have a section with movies where users can rate te movie and i can associate actors with it, i can say: no problem.

    I’ve worked with ExpressionEngine for two years now and can say that expressionengine is has things at the core that make it truly great:
    – EE is essentially a very high level database management tool. Developed in such a way that client’s can add/edit their database content easily and allow me (a frontend developer) to build everything a client wishes.
    – An extremely flexible template system that allows me to do almost everything is litte effort. The little effort thing is very important, since it allows me to get any data in any form i want.

    • http://mikeschinkel.com Mike Schinkel

      Point of note: WordPress does support custom fields, and I’m pretty sure it has as long as I’ve used it (over 2 years.)

      Just wanted to make sure someone didn’t read your comment and get the wrong idea.

  • http://www.h-o.nl Paul Hachmang

    And one other thing about EE and its template engine:
    – The main thing is that EE isn’t feature based. It doesn’t have a bug tracker included, but you can make a bug tracker with EE. EE doesn’t have blog functionality, but you can make the best blog ever. EE doesn’t have a event calendar, but you can make the best event calendar you want.

    I kinda took this for granted, but after working with Magento for a half year, i realized what made EE truly powerful.

  • http://www.jasonstephens.net Website Design Worthing

    Great post, many thanks. Definitely going to test-drive EE now, and evaluate vs Wp v3.0 and see if it still merits the fee. If WP 3.0 can match the way that EE handles content then WP has caught up, plus as many others have said, the fact that it is free, is a snip to re-theme, and has a huge community is in it’s favour.

  • http://RobErskine.com Rob Erskine

    I don’t know about you guys.. but

    TextPattern > all cms

    Totally kidding of course. I’m going to try out Expression Engine on my next project, it seems like i’ve really underestimated it here.

    Thanks for the post

  • http://www.zhngdesign.com/blog wong

    EE is a good platform, it can do much more easily compare to WordPress, especially the if and else in their template.

    One thing added to EE, creating template files without uploading. EE can easily create CSS, HTML or PHP without the need to re-upload a new file. That is one feature I’m waiting on WordPress :P

  • http://sean-fisher.com Sean Fisher

    I believe that WordPress has gained some ground as a CMS with the recent release of WP 3.0 and custom post types. Maybe a revised article?

  • Brad

    As far as changing themes goes…how often do you actually change the theme of your site?
    With ExpressionEngine, any WordPress template is an ExpressionEngine template if you know some basic HTML/CSS.

    I’ve used both and trying to use WordPress as a “CMS” for a larger site is like trying to teach a cat to dance. I’ll stick with the flexibility that EE offers.

    EE does offer a free Core version for blogs and non-profits as well.

  • http://www.scianderson.com scianderson

    I have developed plenty of sites on both platforms.

    Both are great products with a different set of tools to suit your brief. My tip would be to spend time invested in learning both.

  • http://psdtohtmlconversion.com psd to html

    As a user of WordPress every single day, I can honestly say that I know the ins and outs of WP. It is very easy to use and customizable. But lately I have been getting bored doing the same thing over and over again. And I am looking for something new. Everyone I know keeps hinting at EE. Which i am seriously going to take a look at.

    Also there has been a debate regarding premium WP themes and WP that has a lot of the theme builders scrambling. Basically the argument is this: WP license is GPL and any derivative work that uses WP must fall under the same GPL. Alot of people do not like this.

    In this debate there are a lot of voices saying “Why not just switch to EE”, which is really the reason I have started looking into it.

    So I guess I will continue to use my beloved WP and see EE on the side. Who knows what may happen

  • http://baneydesign.com Adam

    At the time I commented in this blog post, I was more a WP supporter than an EE supporter. Strangely, enough, I am now an EE supporter. I don’t hate WP, I just can’t do as much as easily with it. I don’t care anymore that EE is paid-for. I feel that the money spent for EE is well worth it in both the CMS and support. These are my 2 cents. :)

  • Jen

    After reading the article and the comments, I have to say that apples and oranges is correct. I think if you wanted a true comparison, you should be comparing EE to Django. Though you can create a CMS with WordPress, it wasn’t designed, initially, to be that. It was a blogging engine but some really talented folks hacked a CMS out of it and it would seem that since then, the WP folks have been developing a blogging platform into a full-blown CMS. It’s what the community wants and I see it happening and I suspect it will still be open-source.

    For those that brought up security concerns, a little work and keeping things updated pretty much takes care of those concerns. I don’t begrudge the EE fans their gratitude towards EE but the two platforms, right now anyway, just aren’t the same.

  • Jerry

    The most valid argument for using EE I’ve seen is how much easier it is to get clients up and running with EE vs WP. For a really demanding client it may be the better choice especially if you can easily pass the cost on to them.

    It’s more about what’s good for the client than what’s good for you.

    From a development standpoint, EE is very intuitive up front, but there’s a learning curve with its templating engine, and modifying the link structure is nowhere near as easy as it is in WP. Yea, you can modify the structure of the links with EE, but to do it you’ve got to hack up some PHP in your templates (think if/else statements), which means more calls to the database and more code to maintain.

    The financial cost of using EE is infinity times that of WP, but as of EE 2.0 you can buy a multi-site manager add-on which lets you manage unlimited sites under 1 EE install. Total cost: $500 for 3 sites + $50/site after that. So I’d say the costs of using EE itself are manageable.

    Here’s my take on it though. An experienced WP coder can bend WP to do almost anything that EE can do, and if a client actually wants something really crazy and custom that WP can’t do and EE somehow can, EE probably isn’t the best tool for the job anyway. You can do forums in EE out of the box (for an extra $hundo) but if I’m doing a forum, I’m using a third party solution. You can do membership with EE out of the box, but if I’m doing membership, I’m using a third party solution. You can do ecommerce with EE, but if I’m doing – you get the picture.

    Also I say that the price of using EE *itself* is manageable, but it’s like every single extra component to using EE. Want the best EE training material? Pay for it. Want add-ons? Pay for them. Want to upgrade your version of EE?


    • http://mikeschinkel.com Mike Schinkel

      “It’s more about what’s good for the client than what’s good for you.”

      Which is a perfect reason why people should provide solutions in WP instead of EE.

      Most of the comments about WP on this page are about pre-3.0. 3.0 changes the game completely with respect to WordPress.

      EE is also a niche product and finding people who know how to work with EE is harder and those people demand more money because they are fewer of them (another reason why WP is what’s good for the client.) Selling a client on EE is like selling them a Mercedes-Benz A-Class in the USA; they might be a great car but you can’t easily get service for one so what benefit is that?

      Or as a friend of mine likes to say “Besides that Ms. Lincoln, how was the play?” (sorry for the obscure reference to those of you who are not from the USA and don’t know our history…)

      While yes it there may be some cases where it will be easier to get an EE site online quicker than a WP site what we are going to see are out-of-the-box vertical market WP plugins (see this which I wrote: http://www.thebusinessof.net/wordpress/blog/two-wordpress-strategies/) It’ll be much better for clients to just buy a pre-build solution for their needs in WordPress then have a custom app developed for them in EE. (I’m not talking design but instead functionality. Clients always need custom design which WP enables brilliantly.)

      As a testament to support for WordPress vs. EE let’s check out StackOverflow:

      http://stackoverflow.com/questions/tagged/wordpress (3000+ questions)
      http://stackoverflow.com/questions/tagged/expression-engine (8 questions)

      Even better, let’s check out the just opened WordPress Answers:


      (There isn’t even a StackExchange site *proposed* yet for Expression Engine. Maybe you should propose one and and see if there are really enough users to get one going?)

      As for the cost of EE vs. the lack of cost for WP; the thing that many people don’t get about the cost of EE and passing on to a client is that value-based-pricing is very different from cost-of-goods-sold (COGS). EE is a COGS and thus is a deduction from a consultant’s gross revenue. Whenever possible a good business strives to reduce its COGS sold because doing so enables it to generate the same profit from lower sales.

      Value-based pricing is more about the value that the end client can get from a purchase. So if the client is sold on EE then the consultant doesn’t have to sell more because the client already expects to have to pay for EE. But it the client knows nothing about the two then by choosing WP the consultant can generate greater net income even if it takes a bit longer. And time is fungible for many small business freelancer/consultants.


      • http://baneydesign.com Adam

        @Mike S.

        What improvements did WP make in 3.0 that make it so much better than the pre-3.0 versions?

  • Mercedes

    @Mike Why drive a Volkswagen when there’s a Mercedes-Benz around?

  • http://joomphp.com joomla

    i love Joomla

  • http://baneydesign.com Adam

    @Mike Schinkel

    You stated:

    “‘It’s more about what’s good for the client than what’s good for you.’

    Which is a perfect reason why people should provide solutions in WP instead of EE.”

    On the contrary, EE is both better for the developer and the client. I have a client who is totally non-technical savvy. With EE, they have the confidence now to enter content and not have to worry about code, linking this to that, etc. EE does the heavy lifting for them. I know WP is free, but, as always, “you get what you pay for”.

  • George

    Expression Engine have gotten sooooooooooo greedy and are charging through the nose for modules and licenses! Personally I think EE is overrated and a pain. Also having to buy the modules again for each domain is a joke! Wayyyyy behind the WP community in terms of sharing and caring!

    • http://baneydesign.com Adam

      If you care about getting something done and something of quality, EE is the premium choice of the best web designers/developers. WP is for those who want a cheap (free) website that is a pain to make work and update the EXACT way you want. WP is for blogging, and outside of that WP has some issues that aren’t as usable as they should be.

      This is the biggest reason why I switched. WP took up too much of my time trying to make it “work”, and clients were always afraid of updating their website, even after training meetings. WP can do some website management, but when it comes to a client being able to logically and quickly update a site without it being too complicated or non-user-friendly, EE is king. EE is flexible for the developer, designer, and (most importantly) the client.

      “You get what you pay for.”

  • Chris

    “.. EE is flexible for the developer, designer…” You funny!

    Hmmm? This is the same EE that doesn’t let you change templates/themes once it’s installed?

    So when the client comes back in 6 months time and asks you to change the design, maybe three column instead of two column… it’s a five minute job?

    WordPress absolutely canes EE for flexibility. If anything, WP’s flexibility becomes a disadvantage.

    • http://baneydesign.com Adam

      Don’t know about you, but I can change designs and layout as easily as in WP.

    • http://baneydesign.com Adam

      Hey Chris. Could you help me then?

      I’m not saying to NEVER use WP. I have a couple clients’ websites that are run on WP, and for their uses, WP is a good solution.

      Some clients had trouble adding images and video into pages/posts. For example, if a client has a large photo from a digital camera and they want to place it in a page/post, they have to re-size it to fit the page/column. Here’s the issue: a 1500×900 pixel photo is not technically “re-sized” if all they do is shrink the photo without truly re-sizing the photo to 300×180 pixels (decreasing file size as well). Yes, it is smaller visually, but not correctly re-sized.

      Similar issue with a video: the client isn’t going to want to memorize the width and height in pixels that a video should be (File, YouTube, Vimeo, etc.) for a given page column. Columns are different widths based on the page layout. How is a client going to know the pixel width of a one-column layout to that of a two or three-column layout?

      I want my client to concentrate on CONTENT for their site, not coding or anything else technical. They need to add pages, categories, paragraphs, images, video, audio, and all with just a few short steps. This is a major usability issue with WP, and the top reason why I switched.

      At first, I had such a struggle with having to pay for EE. I thought, “why pay for EE when WP is free?” So, I set out to prove EE wrong, and that WP was better. After a few months of extensive testing and “arguing” with EE, I came to the conclusion that WP just won’t do what I need it to for different situations. For example, take a look at my website on the Home page ( http://baneydesign.com/ ) and the Portfolio page ( http://baneydesign.com/portfolio/ ). I wanted to do this with WP, but just couldn’t figure it out. The only way to update these pages was to code them manually, not even using WP to manage them. Doesn’t this defeat the purpose of a Management System?

      I think this is a great (hot) discussion, and I’m learning even more about my CMS choices, and why I do what I do. If you have any suggestions or tips on how to accomplish these types of functions in WP, please let me know. You can contact me through my website ( http://baneydesign.com/contact/ ) if you would like to discuss things further. I can give you my Skype name then as well. I am definitely open to other ways of doing things (not just with EE). I want to progress, grow, and to be able to be both innovative and maintain the best quality possible.

      Thanks for your comments! :)

  • http://www.bigtunainteractive.com Adam Hermsdorfer

    We just started doing Expression Engine work, and this is a great article summarizing the differences between WordPress and EE.

  • DM Specialist

    Dear WebDesignerDepot readers,

    After days of searching for a good forum where to post this message, I have found none. Therefore I apologize if this is not the right place but if you know of a better one, please tell me.

    I’m new to the web dev industry and am trying to figure-out this CMS thing.

    Firstly, allow me to clarify that I am a project manager and NOT a programmer. Still, on behalf of my client, it falls under my responsibility to make the decision about which CMS platform is best for this project OR, if one is necessary at all for his website. I am however, designing the site.

    This website is rather small but despite it’s size, it does have a decent level of complexity due to the functionality the client wishes to have.

    In case someone out there mentions the “F” word, let me say that Flash is something the client wishes to avoid (Just personal choice). Instead, we will be using the usual suspects: HTML, CSS, Javascript/Jquery. Possibly but not sure PHP and AJAX. Remember, I’m not a developer, this is what I’ve been hearing from speaking to various developers.

    Without further ado, let me describe in more detail:

    The main function of this site is to showcase my client’s work as a video editor. He has a total of 19 short video clips and about 30 pictures.

    The website will have a total of 7 pages but 3 of them are what I refer to as “video pages”. These video pages will share the exact same design, layout and functionality and are the ones which will showcase the 19 video clips divided as: 7, 7 and 5.

    Each video page will implement two main components: A jquery video player with a customized skin to match the design and a jquery thumbnail picture scroll (also with customized skin) who’s function is to control what the video player “plays”. I.e., when the user clicks a thumbnail in the scroll, the video player plays corresponding clip. I’ve seen this done with pictures but not with videos.

    One of the site’s pages will have a photo gallery (with the 30 pics) that shares the same design, layout and similar functionality as the video pages. That is: user clicks on thumbnail in the scroll and a “picture player” displays corresponding picture.

    Finally, and to make things trickier: the jquery video player and picture player will implement a lightbox feature where if the user clicks on the video or picture, a lightbox zooms on top of the current web page to display the content at a larger scale.

    My client plans on swapping, adding or removing a couple of videos two or three times a year. Depending on what movies he has worked on.

    Another important fact is that he doesn’t want to deal with updating the videos. Instead he would like me to provide this service.

    Before I move on to my questions. I should note that I am aware of the existence of custom CMS systems and their downsides such as lack of documentation. On the other hand, I’ve been told that an open source CMS will have too much overhead for this project.

    Also important: I wouldn’t need the CMS to compress the video clips or resize the pictures. I will be doing these tasks.

    Now to the million dollar questions (please excuse any dumb ones):
    Based on the number of videos and pictures, functionality and estimated frequency of updates:

    a) Does it make sense to implement a CMS system at all in this case? Please keep in mind that the CMS should be able to not only swap, add or remove videos and pictures. But it should also allow for thumbnail pictures in the 4 scrolls to be “independently” swapped, added or removed. This is necessary b/c client needs flexibility in choosing thumbnail pics that could be different that their larger counterparts.

    b) Can a CMS (open source or custom) add or remove assets while also taking care of the dimensional modifications necessary to the jquery scrolls as a result of these changes?

    c) Once you choose a CMS (open or custom) are you stuck with it or is it possible to switch over to an open source one with reasonable effort and cost?

    d) If you recommend open source, which do you think would fit best for this unique and fairly complicated project?

    Any brave takers?


  • http://www.ryancramer.com Ryan

    Regarding your use of the term CCK when referring to EE and WordPress: have a look at http://processwire.com which is built around this concept.

  • http://iamautocomplete.com/ Angelee

    I just started to explore my WordPress dashboard and I think I’m falling my heart for it.. Its free and its so super easy to arrange stuff in it. As for ExpressionEngine, I came across with it before just for research purposes. No matter what CMS one can use, what counts are content and design.

  • http://www.newviewit.com Custom Website Design

    It’s really nice to see Expression Engine getting some credit! Getting really tired lately of hearing about WordPress non stop across all the major blogs. There are alternatives and for designers Expression Engine is fantastic!

  • http://www.fldtrace.com Lucian

    I like using WordPress for my projects as I became really fast accomplishing tasks in this platform. With 1-2 plugins I can customize the back-end, so it is easy to use, with less clutter.

    I used EE and I agree is powerful. I would consider it for more robust projects, but WordPress can accomplish anything EE does with little hacks.

  • http://baneydesign.com Adam

    Unfortunately, it’s those little “hacks” in WP that makes it more time-consuming. I can do much more, more quickly with EE.