Customers that go back to WordPress

As a front-end designer, I love the simplicity and flexibility of Kirby CMS. But recently I’ve had some customers who have decided to go back to WordPress.

The reason is mainly that they are not developers are need to pay for every change they want to make. They say that with WordPress they have more options to customize the site without writing code.

I would like to know if you have had similar experiences and your opinion about it.

I’m sur that when these customers will have changed 10 times 10 plugins and after 2 or 3 crashed, they will be back to Kirby with a more precise idea of what they want. :wink:

Personnaly, I had more troubles to convain (wordpress user) people with markdown. For exemple, Kirby columns plugin was for me a super solution. But for some (a lot) of users, it was difficult and fastidius, they prefered the wordpress text editor.

I had to re-think about how to build an admin and explain why it is a better solution for them. This way I also learned a loooot about how to define clients needs.

I find that generally people think Wordpress is the best because they don’t know any better. Its all about eduction. Once you prove the benefits of a system like Kirby, it’s all down hill from there. If my clients want a Wordpress site, I tell them to find another designer.


I heard that complaint, too. It’s a super interesting topic to discuss!

In my opinion you can totally provide WordPress-like customization with a Kirby based website. Most of the time that won’t make it any better.

While it may be true that Kirby sites tend to lay down a stricter content structure, I think it really depends on how you:

  1. understand the needs of the particular website and customer
  2. communicate the intentions and goals of your approach/solution
  3. use/create plugins to achieve an intuitive panel workflow

Point 1 is often problematic as many clients don’t know this themselves. But not defining a clear structure and priority for certain pages/functionalities upfront will lead to feature requests like “I need a WYSIWYG editor so I can make this text bigger, and red, and extra bold.” With WordPress this might be possible for the client by default but it won’t make the end product any better.
It’s probably not possible to provide the perfect structure for years to come, but it should definitely be the goal to set up the website as fitting and flexible as possible, without feeling the need to add additional features later on.

Having a great structure won’t help if the client doesn’t intend to follow it, though. With point 2 I mean: telling the client why there are only 4 menu items; why we don’t use that many fonts, font sizes and colors on the site; why that one call to action color should be used so carefully. There’s a reason the client came to you: your expertise. Some things might be totally obvious to us while clients don’t understand it right away.

And finally point 3 is a lot more important with Kirby than with WordPress and similar CMS like Typo3 in my opinion. You can’t just use a textarea and let the client type in download links, images, slideshows, columns, authors. Well, there are some clients that might totally love custom Kirbytags and prefer it this way. But most of my clients need carefully set up structure fields, image fields and custom plugins like a builder, modules, fieldtoggle, relationship or images field. There are a lot of great fields and plugins for Kirby, you just need to find and understand them. Or build them yourself, it’s not that hard.

All this might sound like a lot of work — more work than with WordPress. And that despite the fact people might think Kirby is the smaller, simpler solution. But actually it’s the more flexible, more sophisticated and especially custom-tailored solution. Just look at the “Made with Kirby and <3” topic.


As @thguenther pointed out, Kirby allows you to give any level of customisation you want to your clients. It’s up to you, together with the client, to decide just how much (or how little) of the site you want to make editable by the client.

For most sites, the clients are - at least initially - happy with just being able to edit the content. Add a picture here or there. Change the tags in a blog article.

As time passes, and clients become comfortable, it’s just natural that they want to do more. I’ve added functionality to sites that allows the client to change the colours of both background and text, choose slideshow animation effects, and select the opacity of elements on the layout. Similarly, I’ve created pages where the order of the sections is strict, while in others, the client can add sections and re-order them as they see fit. It’s all possible with Kirby.


On a company where I worked I was there “WordPress expert” for about 10 years. They almost fell off their chairs when I told them I don’t like WordPress anymore and that I switched to Kirby.

For a client to understand the difference, I think it’s really hard. Many of them judge what they see when comparing screenshots of the wp-admin/panel.

Pros with WordPress

  • Tons of docs and examples around the world
  • Tons of plugins and themes
  • Easy to customize, select, drag & drop and you have a site
  • Easy to change developer because many developers knows WordPress

Cons with WordPress

  • The admin contains many things that are not even used by our site
  • The frontend contains classes, javascript and css that we did not ask for. It came from WordPress or plugins
  • Because of the above the page takes more time to load
  • It require a database which will slow down the system a bit
  • There is much to load with PHP before the page is displayed which slows down the site
  • In my experience the wp-admin is quite slow as well
  • Because of popularity it’s hacked from time to time
  • It needs automatic updates all the time to stay secure

Pros with Kirby

  • Much better crafted. We can do more with less code in many cases.
  • In the panel you add what you need, instead of remove what you don’t.
  • Building a site feels almost like only using pure html/php/css/js without a CMS, not in the way
  • Because it does not require a database it’s in most cases both fast and easy to backup.
  • Plugins can’t force js/css into our site. We developers are in complete control.

Cons with Kirby

  • Less known CMS means less plugins, docs and examples.
  • It costs money, but it’s worth it because of the pros.
  • It’s not yet possible to save to a database with the panel if needed. A database class is however available.

There are maybe more things and the above can be hard to describe to a client.

Maybe tell the story like this instead…

Once apon a time there was two houses. One house was called WordPress and the other was called Kirby. Both houses looked beautful from the outside. The WP family bought the WordPress house and the KB family bought the Kirby house.

The WP family was even more impressed when the discovered all the things in the house that they did not even ask for, like a built in ice machine and a helipad on the roof. Also they could move the rooms, objects and even change colors of things in the house. How cool! They decided to move the toilet to the livingroom. Taking a poo while watching fotball is awesome, they thought!

The KB family was also happy, but they did only get what they asked for. No toilet in the livingroom, no helipad on the roof and no ice machine.

One day the WP family noticed a really large cable in the garden, along with a big water pipe, when they was cutting the grass. They did not want it, but removing it was harder than expected.

When they finally succeded with removing the cable, they whole helipad fell down beside them. What a mess! Oh well, they did not care much because they had never used the helipad anyway.

Then they did the same thing with the water pipe and removing it resulted in a flying ice machine, landed on the grass.

The KB family was passing by and wondered “What’s going on? Why is there a helipad and an ice machine on the grass?”

The night came and the WP family noticed some monsters in the livingroom, building new doors and eating some of the furnishings. How did they got in? Later they found some holes in the basement. The KB family did not have any known holes or monsters.

The next day the WordPress house looked like a construction site. The KB family was passing by and wondered “What now?” Not even the WP family knew what was going on. A man from the construction team said “It’s a frequent update, get used to it! If you want your house secure from little monsters, this needs to be done!”.

After the update was done, a wall was missing. The WP family asked the man from the construction team why and he replied “This wall was not compatible with this update. Sorry, it’s nothing we can do. Build a new wall, or maybe it’s easier to build a new house from scratch.”

The WP family now got tired of all the fancyness that did not help them, so they bought a new house and they called it… Kirby.


What a Monday morning :joy:

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I think that made my day :smile:


The way I see it:

  • Kirby is a content management framework in PHP with no database for professionals/tech savvy people
  • Kirby panel is a content management system to expose it to non-tech savvy authors, so they can manage the content

The way I always explain it:

tl;dr: Wordpress is usually used by people who want to “click their site together”, with all risks involved of being hacked when not up-to-date, performance issues, plugin incompatibility etc. If you want a professional setup, tailored to your needs, without before mentioned drawbacks, people should at least consider another solution.

Of course there are companies who do proper wordpress development, with plugins & themes that are professionally built, but even those sometimes need thorough updates because of wordpress core development directions/choices. In practice this usually means that the client has to decide to come up with unforeseen paid updates or deciding to stop updates with all safety problems.

Kirby does an awesome job in providing an unopinionated CMF to developers, a minimalistic panel for users and a great developer experience by properly separating content from logic.

I can understand some feedback from authors with WP experience as well; especially when it comes to “gaps” in the panel. Most solutions offered in the panel are very straightforward, but then basic stuff (from a user perspective) such as working with tables is lacking and can be a pain.
The markdown syntax which is exposed to authors always require explanation to users as well. Same with custom kirby tags, but in the light of this topic, WP has the same issues with their “tags”. Usually they get on with them quite fast, but it always demands special attention.

Actually I have high hopes for K3 to address some of these “issues”.


That’s indeed a lovely way to start a Monday morning and Jens’ post almost made me spill my coffee :coffee: :smiley:

I’m trying not to talk about my opinions about Wordpress and focus on Kirby instead.

My experience with client work is, that it’s never really a problem to educate clients who expect to end up with a high quality website. They take the web seriously and they take you as an expert seriously and trust your judgment (most of the times :)). Whereas it’s almost impossible to start arguing with someone who “just wants a website” or “full control over their website without knowing any HTML”. To be honest I started sending people to Squarespace, Jimdo or whatever myself in many cases. I think such clients are actually even better of with a real “no-brainer” solution like Squarespace than hosting their own Wordpress site and I don’t mean this in any negative way at all.

But with Kirby we try to focus on the content in a totally different way and especially in a more future-proof way. I know that it takes more effort during the development process and during the client-convincing process, but I truly believe in the long-term benefits.

I also know that we still have some work to do to make the user experience and developer experience around that even better, but as @bvdputte said I think we are on a good way here with K3. The answer is definitely more and better custom fields though and most definitely not just a simple WYSIWYG :slight_smile:


Thanks everybody for your comments.

@jenstornell I agree with the advantages of Kirby and that’s the reason I’m using every time more KB than WP.

As @bastianallgeier mentioned, there are clients that want “full control over their websites” and in that case, they prefer a multipurpose WP theme with hundred of options or install a page builder.

@bvdputte Yes, markdown syntax is another common issue and also theme change/update or plugin installation for non-tech users.

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I don’t actually see Markdown as an issue. It’s just slightly different to what people are used to, which is mostly because in the beginning people sought to emulate Microsoft Words toolbar (aka TinyMCE and friends) because they figured people were too stupid for anything else.

There are plenty of desktop markdown editors out there, some of which like Write app can edit remote files on a sever, although I have never tried it.

I tend to agree for basic formatting and links. But what about tables? Or custom Kirby tags (which can lead to other ux problems such as e.g. using parenthesis inside a custom kirby tag)?

It’s not always straightforward. I like initiatives such as @thguenther’s kirby-enhanced-textarea; they enhance UX, but do not cover aforementioned things. But brilliant stuff is there; e.g. the internal page linker.

I personally like to read stuff like links as text (as markdown) as well because it enables me to scan for mistakes faster. But a remark I then sometimes get is it “clutters” the text. It’s all a matter of personal preference, I guess?

Oh sure, I use things like enhanced textarea because it does help with the more complicated bits. I was really taking aim at the traditional style editors that have a million buttons, and on first look Kirby is very sparse. People assume its not very powerful because there are not very many buttons. I educate them otherwise!

The table issue a tricky one. My usual way round that is to use @texnixe spreadsheet plugin. Clients are more comfortable laying a table out in Excel.

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I’ve been meaning to write this up and as soon as I get a chance I’ll do a deep dive into it, but in the meantime:

I’ve a customer that needed sites built in 2014 and wanted “easy updates” and said he was comfortable with Wordpress. So I built new themes in Wordpress and he got exactly what he asked for. Which isn’t exactly what he wanted. Two years of updating and hand-holding and after a while I even had trouble figuring out where things were to fix them.

But it’s time for complete updates, and I asked if he was willing to try something that, yes, would require some training on his part, but would give him exactly what he wanted, and could be extended easily by anyone with a bit of cleverness and patients.

His sites are now on Kirby. With Bootstrap4 components as December’s he can add to build any page. And it took an hour of training and only 4 or 5 random questions to get him up and running with all the skills needed to really make his site exactly as he wants it.

And it’s screamingly fast.

No more WeePing for that client. And the others are moving over soon, too.