Concrete5 – is a free open source CMS that comes with a reach feature set and powerful design customization options. The software allows building different types of projects, including online magazines and newspapers, small business websites, web stores, non-profit and government websites, personal home pages, community and social projects etc. Hundreds of thousands of professional web developers have chosen Concrete5 as a trusted web design tool and lots of beginners are right about to master the service.
So, what makes Concrete5 a worthy solution for web designers willing to establish professional web presence? Does it possess one-of-a-kind features that make it prevail over its multiple competitors? How long does it take to explore the platform and what can you avail in the long run? To answer these and other system-related questions, it makes sense to prepare a detailed Concrete5 review and that’s exactly what I’m going to do right now. Let’s get started.
1. Ease of Use
Concrete5 is not an easy-to-use system for newbies, when it comes to functionality and feature set. However, it’s quite understandable and convenient to use for everyone. As a CMS, it requires preliminary download and installation, but you can also test the service for free on the web, using their trial version.
The platform provides deep flexibility in code programming and web page editing to let you create mobile-ready and attractive websites from scratch. It comes with built-in themes and add-ons meant for those users, who are not interested in learning coding basics, but you should realize that the actual power of the system lies in its coding capabilities.
Concrete5 comes with intuitive website Editor that makes it easy to set up and customize your project to avail high end result. A convenient WYSIWYG content editor allows watching the process of website creation in progress, while drag-and-drop option lets you choose and arrange the major website elements as you need. Thus, the CMS proves to be a good web building solution both for web design pros and for non-techies, who are not that aware of coding intricacies.
Beginners, however, may face problems, while exploring the system and creating first projects with it. This is because the CMS still implies at least basic programming awareness and it also takes time to be mastered. If this is your first web design experience, then it makes sense to test and improve your skills by choosing cloud website builder like Wix or uKit. These systems are simpler and feature-rich enough to let you develop quality websites.
2. Features & Flexibility
Concrete5 provides an extensive range of features that cover a variety of design customization needs. You can explore the feature set in the control panel before you start working on your project development. Here is a detailed overview of Concrete5 functions:
- Integration Options – The system comes with a set of built-in extensions and add-ons. Dozens of them are also available in Concrete5 Marketplace and you can browse it any time of the day to pick the apps you currently need. Some of the most popular add-ons currently include Block Designer, MrKDilkington – Full Screen Background Image and Overlay, Simple Gallery, Styled Maps, Formify, HW Simple Block, GDPR+Cookie, Whale OWL Carousel, Simple Back to Top, JeRo’s Cycle2 Slide Show and many more.
These apps are free and paid, but if you have long-lasting web design goals, it makes sense to give preference to paid extensions. They are safer and they can also give your project advanced functionality. Mind, however, that building an eCommerce website with Concrete5 may not be a good idea, especially if you wish to launch a large store. The thing is that the CMS lacks useful integrations with popular eCommerce services used to organize sales, set up payment and shipping options. Thus, the platform is a great choice for starting informational portals, blogs and enterprise websites.
- Marketing Tools – The system lets you create online forms and collect website data via the use of advanced marketing tools. The system offers an intuitive form builder, which allows creating and editing online forms in almost no time. You can also create surveys to find out your users’ opinions regarding versatile topics.
- Integrated Reporting – With Concrete5, you can generate system reports to view real time website performance results. This is done in a single dashboard, which is quite convenient, quick and effective. The feature lets you watch and control the statistics of user sessions, their behaviour and other parameters that are crucial, when it comes to website performance.
- Blogging – The CMS is an ideal blogging solution that allows adding and customizing full-featured blogs. You can choose multiple tools to set up your project. Concrete5 comes with RSS syndication, support of multiple categories, topics etc. You can also set up post display options, assign blog access rights to multiple authors and adjust blog settings based on your needs and project type.
- Integrated Commenting System – The service comes with integrated commenting system that supports threaded comments and allows organizing and holding discussions. There is also the individual like counts option, comment moderation feature, spam identification, avatar set up, commenter authentication opportunity. As a website owner, you can enable or disable anonymous comments as well as sort out the available comments to fit your project requirements.
- Modules – The system grants access to lots of modules you can choose and integrate into your projects to enhance their functionality and design. The modules are built-in and you can browse them to pick those that fit your website specialization most. Some of the modules worth mentioning here include RSS support, banners, web stats, feedback forms, blogs and voting, website search and more.
- Access Control – Concrete5 allows setting up user permission rights and manage your website users. You can create various user groups based on your own criteria and project publishing policies. Apart from that, you can take full control over your content workflow here by creating individual and password-protected website pages with limited member access.
- SEO – The CMS is well-optimized for the search engines and so are the projects created with it. No special integrations, plugins, apps or add-ons are required to boost SEO parameters. You can be 100% sure your projects will get to the top positions, granted that you manage to make proper settings. Thus, you can customize website URLs, generate sitemaps, set up meta tags etc.
- Social Media Sharing – Concrete5 allows for effective social media sharing via the integration of the Fast Social Share Buttons plugin. This is how your users can get access to your website data in social networks to view information shared there.
- Advanced Security – The system employs the latest tech achievements to protect your website info. It’s up to you to apply captcha, enable content approval option, Audit Trail feature, email verification, login history etc. All websites created with the service are SSL compatible, which allows enhancing project security.
The platform makes it possible to launch responsive websites that can automatically adapt to various screen resolutions and dimensions. Right after the installation, Concrete5 offers a standard template you can either edit or replace with any other theme of your choice. If you don’t manage to find a suitable free template in the built-in designs section and prefer the second option, you can either look for Concrete5 templates on the web or visit the integrated system Marketplace to browse the collection it involves.
Fortunately, the system allows selecting versatile themes to start any kind of project and you can also use CSS coding skills to give it the preferred design. The average cost of paid themes available there constitutes $30. If you have such a need, you can also order a one-of-a-kind theme developed by third-party designers specially for Concrete5, but this solution will cost you more. Keep that in mind.
It’s possible to format each and every web page individually, uploading images and videos, responsive grid points and stacks. At the same time, there is a WYSIWYG editor that comes with a drag-and-drop options to let you create website design that comes up to your brand name. As soon as you authorize with the system, you’ll be redirected to user interface, where you’ll see several buttons, which let you customize website design and add new elements to selected web pages.
Among the design customization options you may try, it makes sense to mention the choice of background and link colors, replacement of the overall website color scheme, set up of title fonts, text and navigation elements, such as type, size and outlines. The web pages are made of elements that can be picked and adjusted in the visual editor. If there is any block missing here, you can add it right in the user interface – just activate the “+” button in the upper menu. Thus, you can flexibly customize the template without code editing. This will certainly appeal to non-techies.
4. Customer Support
Whatever problems with website development you encounter, Concrete5 team will augment you in one of several ways. The system offers an informative blog with lots of niche-related articles and it also has extensive community support provided via Forums, Slack service, training and certification programs. There are also multiple tutorials available at the official website of the CMS, informative documentation as well as Contact Us section, where you will come across a web-based business inquiry form that lets you get in touch with the developers team of the platform.
5. Pricing Policy
Concrete5 is a free open source CMS you can download directly from the official website of the platform. To publish a ready made website, however, you won’t go without investing into hosting and domain name registration. When it comes to selecting a reliable hosting provider, giving preference to Bluehost will be a good idea.
The system works great for the CMS users, providing a set of stunning perks, including one-click installation, fast page load speed, multiple scripts etc. Bluehost offers an extensive integrated Marketplace, eCommerce features, business apps content marketing tools, free domain registration during 1 year and lots of other advantages. As to the pricing policy, it is also among the niche leaders. Currently, the system offers three subscriptions: Basic ($2.95), Plus ($5.95) and Choice Plus. In case you’re looking for a more advanced feature set, the host lets you Go Pro investing $13.95/mo only into the plan.
Additionally, you may face the need to invest into paid plugins and templates. Although, the basic Concrete5 functionality allows going without extra app installation, this may still be a good idea, if you wish to boost your website performance and drive more traffic. Reach the integrated Marketplace of the service to pick the best free or paid themes and add-ons there. The average template cost constitutes $30. The price of powerful apps that provide deep project flexibility starts at $100. This is especially true, when it comes to shopping for eCommerce plugins.
6. Pros and Cons
Concrete5 is quite a controversial system. It comes with a list of pros and cons users should know in advance to be ready to face the potential difficulties while working on their project development. Have a look at the major merits and demerits of using the service now.
| ✔ Two website editing methods – open code structure for web design pros and visual editor for first-timers;|
✔ No coding skills required;
✔ Easy to download and install;
✔ Backup version;
✔ Multilanguage support;
✔ Integrated Marketplace with dozens of plugins, templates and add-ons;
✔ Quality SEO;
✔ Marketing tools.
| ✘ Not quite easy to master for beginners;|
✘ Lack of live customer support;
✘ Insufficient of eCommerce functionality.
Concrete5 has distinguished itself as a reliable and quite understandable open source Content Management System. It comes with pre-designed templates and apps meant for those, who wish to avoid complex coding issues yet don’t intend to creating a website from scratch. Likewise, there is an opportunity to edit website codes to get a completely unique website design here. The system boasts active user community, professional support of developers as well as extensive training opportunities.
The CMS encompasses functionality, safety and ease of use, especially when compared to lots of other popular systems. It is quite possible to set up a quality website with it without coding skills at all, but this may still take some time in the long run. However, if you are really looking for a simple yet professional web design solution, then why bothering about intricate CMS nuances? There are lots of credible website builders out there, which can help bring all your design ideas to life.