The Cost of Using Concrete5
Having done numerous Concrete5 installs, and having used Concrete5 since version 5.3.x, I thought it would be helpful to share some of the incite we as a company have with regards to the cost of running a Concrete5 website. While many of these concepts will apply globally to any sort of website you create, I thought it would be helpful to those looking at migrating to a Concrete5 site, or possibly even starting a brand new Concrete5 site to know a little about the cost of it.
Open Source - Free
Concrete5 is an open source content management system (cms). Because it is open source, this means that the CMS itself is free to download and use. This also means that if you have suggested improvements, you are able to modify the source code of the CMS and request for your changes to be made for future versions of the software. Right now the source code for Concrete5 resides on GitHub. Version 5.6.x and then there is a separate branch for the new latest and greatest versions 5.7+. You can also download the latest release version of Concrete5 from their website.
For some more interesting reading, click here to see what the CEO of Concrete5, Franz Maruna, has to say about their free product.
Concrete5 like most frameworks, needs to be installed. Fortunately this is relatively simple, we have a how to written on how to Install concrete5 manually. Many web hosts also offer one click installers or quick installers that will do this for you. That said, if you don't know your way around your web hosting platform, and aren't really technical, you may end up needing to hire someone to get you started. This shouldn't be a major cost, since anyone remotely familiar with modern web frameworks should be able to do this install in less than an hour, and anyone who's done it before probably less than 15 minutes.
As with any sort of framework you use, Concrete5 is constantly undergoing development, and this means that your site is going to need updates to patch bugs, security vulnerabilities, etc. Concrete5 has a built in updater, which often makes updating as simple as hitting a button. However, there have been numerous issues with trying to update reported on the Concrete5 forums, and we've seen quite a few ourselves unfortunately. Usually these are related to skipping multiple versions when trying to update, or if you have some incompatible packages or themes installed. So if you don't consider yourself a particularly tech savy user, you may want to have some technical resources on standby to assist you with upgrading.
We've written a blog on how to Update Concrete5 as well as how to restore an old version of Concrete5 if your upgrade fails. When things go wrong with upgrades, this can turn out to be costly. Not only do you end up with site downtime, but you also end up having to restore an old database, and changing some php configuration files. If you have someone who really knows what they're doing performing these actions, impact should be minimal with near 0 downtime. However, if you are simply a user who edits their site and prefers to stay out of the technical realm, it can often take hours or days trying to get the help you need to get your site back up and running, and if you didn't take a backup before you upgraded, this can often mean a complete website rebuild.
Countless times we have seen failed Concrete5 upgrades/updates, and were called in after the fact to clean up problems. Concrete5 updates work perfectly fine 99% of the time, but please make sure to take backups before performing them or hire someone who has experience performing them.
Themes and Packages
So you've got your site installed, and while Concrete5 has a lot of awesome features baked into it, sometimes you just need some additional ones. Concrete5 allows programmers to build themes and add ons that allow you to extend Concrete5 with installs. Some of these are free, but some of them can cost money as well. Be sure you know what is available to you out of the box, and what you might have to pay for after the fact. If you've never used Concrete5 I highly recommend their video tutorials to get a quick introduction.
If you need something unique to your website, and you can't find anything to suit your needs in the Concrete5 marketplace, changes are you are going to be looking at some serious out of pocket expense at this point. With development rates varying pretty drastically (typically a decent developer is going to cost between $50-$250 an hour) this can be a large cost to getting your website to function how you want it to.
Again, we're back to something that all websites need, but you shouldn't forget to include web hosting in the price of your website. There are many shared hosts out there that work great for small web sites (we happen to be one of them). Shared hosting is usually less than $15 per month, and keep in mind that you often get what you pay for. There are many who discourage the use of GoDaddy web hosting for Concrete5, as it has cause numerous problems with installing.
Also, don't forget that you'll also need a domain name so people can access your website. Usually these run somewhere around $10 per year, so not a huge cost by any means.
In short, Concrete5 can be a very affordable solution to getting a website up and running that is simple to build with and relatively easy to maintain. As Franz mentioned though, developers have gotta eat too, and so if you're looking for some custom functionality or theme, be prepared to pay a little bit for it.
For those of you looking at using Concrete5 vs Wordpress, try and take cost out of the equation. They both have similar pricing models, you get the base product free and pay for some add-ons / themes. In reality, what you need to be looking at is the functionality you are after, and decide which one will work best for your needs.
Need Additional Help or Have Questions?
If you need any additional help or information regarding concrete5, here are some options for you:
- First and foremost the Concrete5 community. Create an account on www.concrete5.org and post to the forums with any problems or questions you might run across. This helps alert the developers of problems people are having so that the product can be made better or more user friendly in the future.
- Secondly, please feel free to chat with some members of the concrete5 community over IRC. You can do this by visiting https://kiwiirc.com/client and joining the channel #concrete5. Here you'll find members of the community (and our staff often is frequently hanging around there) who can give you their opinions and experiences.
- Thirdly, please feel free to contact ExchangeCore's development team. I list us as the last option because while we know what we're doing, we also come at a price and we hate to see you throw money away when there are other options. That said, we have extensive experience with Concrete5 on many levels and you can trust that we know what we're talking about when we give you answers to your questions, we can be reached by visiting our Development Contact Page.