TYPO3 CMS is from our experience one of the best content management systems on the market.
We have used TYPO3 CMS for over 15 years and whilst we regularly re-evaluate this choice, it is still one of the best content management platforms available. So what makes TYPO3 CMS so good and why do we love it so much?
Here are 15 reasons to love and adopt TYPO3 CMS.
- Truly Enterprise class capabilities -
Whilst many CMS platforms might claim to be suitable for big business, most of these fall short when they start to scale, complex workflows are added and enterprise requirements are scoped in.
TYPO3 CMS is truly enterprise capable, having been built from the ground up to cater to the needs of large organisations and companies. There is little that can not be achieved with the TYPO3 CMS.
- Cost Free Licence & low cost of ownership.
Whilst cost might not be the defining factor in Enterprise, we love the fact that TYPO3 CMS is free.
As an open source platform TYPO3 CMS is completely free and whilst it does have a steeper developer curve, its TCO (Total Cost of Overship) is excellent compared to any other comparable platform.
Clients expect the likes of Wordpress to be free, but are genuinely surprised that an enterprise platform such as TYPO3 CMS is also free. Obviously you can add enterprise support options to Wordpress for a cost, but with an enterprise class CMS such as TYPO3, this is not necessary.
- Truly Open Source -
The benefits of open source is about more than being able to download the software for free … it is about having access to the underlying code and being able to change anything you want within it.
Unlike proprietary software, Open Source platforms like TYPO3 CMS allow developers to dive into the code, improving security, optimising performance and resolving issues, ensuring the platform is not held back by a commercial release cycle.
As a LAMP based CMS platform, you also get the benefit of the largest most active developer community which is a real boon compared to Java based CMS’s.
- Really easy to use -
Ease of use is of utmost importance for editors and teams, and here we are consistently surprised by how quickly clients get to grips with the content editor interface in TYPO3 CMS and how quickly they are training new members of staff.
Admitendly TYPO3 CMS has a bit of a reputation for being complicated (as there is so much you can control), but this does not mean it is difficult to use, and from experience we find editor training sessions generally take between 1.5 to 2 hours for a complete CMS novice.
- Drag & drop Page builder -
Most CMS’s have a predefined set of page templates, limiting the content publishers capabilities when they need to do something a little different. If you want to do something a little different, you either need to get the template changed (affecting all pages), or you need to make a new template. Not a problem on a simple site, but this creates management issues on more complex sites and also slows you down as you have to get developers involved (time/cost).
TYPO3 CMS obviously provides publishers with page templates (like any other CMS), but it also provides you with a mature page builder, providing you with a suite of layout components which can be added and arranged in any sequence, providing you with ultimately flexibility and control within a design framework.
Note - whilst TYPO3 and AEM were the only major CMS platforms to offer this, Wordpress’s recent addition Guttenburg is really interesting and once it matures will allow editors this important functionality. There are other plugin page builders, but the FE code is not performance optimised and can impact your SEO.
- Workspaces -
The ability to work in draft, staging and production environments sounds like an obvious capability, however it is surprising that very few content management systems provide this. Most CMS platforms allow you to add new pages or stories to be switched on later, but any changes to existing pages occur immediately which does not work in an environment where you might need to get approval/input, or even just to ponder the changes for a later time.
TYPO3 CMS’s Workspaces as the name suggests allows you to create ‘workspaces’ such as Training, Play, Draft, Stage and Production, allowing you to edit content in a non-live environment and once approved to push specific changes through the workflow into the live/production environment whilst leaving others for a later date. Complex rules can be configured to restrict which groups or individuals can publish/approve content ensuring governance and due process.
- Scheduled & timed content
As with many CMS platforms, you can schedule pages or articles to switch on/off at particular times, helping to automate the process and most importantly saving a colleague from the unenviable task of sitting up till the-late-hours to switch something live.
Where TYPO3 CMS is very interesting, is that it not only allows pages and articles to be scheduled, but you can also schedule individual content elements on the page (blocks of text, images, videos, CTA’s etc) to switch on and off at different times, allowing you to control the content of a page over time.
- Referenced content
Whilst you can easily copy content elements, pasting them into other pages, this can become an issue when updates to all these instances are required.
TYPO3 CMS allows you to ‘Copy as a reference’ content or groups of content elements, allowing you to paste/insert these into other pages. Editing a referenced content element updates all instances automatically, which is particularly useful for items like CTA’s. Rest assured, you can at any time make a referenced item unique, allowing you to customise single elements.
Many CMS platforms cater to multilingual needs by simply allowing you to build a separate tree structure for each language and then linking you back and forth between these with a language switcher. Others provide plug-ins or extensions allowing multilingual content, however these do not always play nicely with other extensions!
TYPO3 CMS was conceived from the ground up to be multilingual and offers a powerful language overlay approach, allowing you to translate the each content element that you want into another language. This is one of the nicest and most practical approaches we have found. Translation files can also be exported/imported if you want to use translation agencies for bulk site translations.
When you need a new site or microsite, it can be tempting to quickly spin up a new CMS instance, however you can quickly end up with a large number of sites that need to be managed from both an infrastructure and site configuration perspective, increasing management and risk.
TYPO3 CMS is a multi-site platform allowing you to run many sites within an install. Assets and content can be shared across sites, reducing duplication of effort, and overrides can be applied allowing for customization. Obviously ACL’s can be applied allowing you to manage which teams have access to each individual site.
- Front end editing & responsive previews
TYPO3 has an incredibly powerful backoffice as well as an intuitive front end editing capability, providing editors with a comprehensive interface for managing content.
One of the great features of the Backoffice is the responsive preview which allows you to see how pages will display across different devices screen sizes, allowing you to optimise how your content will display.
- Batch editing of records
Whilst it is easy to edit a single record, there are instances when for example doing SEO updates, making taxonomy updates or when larger restructures are needed, that editing individual items can be a bit slow and cumbersome process.
In these circumstances TYPO3 CMS’s batch editing is fantastic, allowing you to quickly edit multiple items in a single process. I have truly wished Wordpress allowed this!
- Built for security & control
TYPO3 CMS platform is built for security and has an excellent track record of maintaining a secure codebase/platform. On top of this TYPO3 CMS has a powerful ACL engine, allowing users and groups to be assigned access to specific functions as well as sections of a site in both the back office as well as the front end.
In practice this means you can allow some users to perform almost any task, whilst restricting others to only being able to edit specific pages, or types of content.
- FE display layer is yours to code exactly as you like it
Fundamental to a websites performance is how its HTML/CSS is written, and this can have significant impacts on browser & device compatibility, search engine ranking & performance as well as accessibility compliance.
Whilst most CMS platforms claim to offer this, in practice we see this to be a facility with many Site Core and AEM rollouts really suffering. Even the likes of Wordpress suffer once you start extending it with page builders such as DIVI. TYPO3 CMS allows you complete control...the only reason for poor performance is your own (or developers) sloppy practice!
- Extensible & flexible
Finally we get to our last point ... extensibility. Like most other CMS platforms there is an extension architecture and here TYPO3 has a rich and vibrant extension library allowing you to extend existing features as well as adding completely new ones.
One great ability here is that as with other open source platforms you can hack the core, but this hampers upgrades and updates which overwrite your changes. Here TYPO3 CMS allows you to extend the core as an extension helping to resolve this issue, which is really useful especially if you are managing many sites.
Hopefully we have given you a good idea about why TYPO3 CMS is such a great content management system and enticed you to adopt this as your content management platform of choice. There are however a few downsites to TYPO3, so beware.
So what are the downsides? 3 reasons not to choose TYPO3 CMS
As TYPO3 CMS specialists, we might have a bit of a passion for TYPO3 CMS compared to other platforms, but we are also pragmatic and there are some downsides.
- Not as popular as Wordpress, Drupal or Joomla -
Unfortunately it can be harder to convince clients to adopt TYPO3 CMS as more popular options such as Wordpress or Drupal are ubiquitous and have become household names. The same can however be said for cars… but would you rather a Toyota Corolla or a BMW?
The popularity and market awareness of other platforms is creating a friction point for TYPO3 adoption and whilst TYPO3 is not as popular as WordPress or Drupal, it is worth noting that with over 300,000 active sites, TYPO3 CMS is far more established with a much stronger developer community compared to the likes of AEM, Sitecore or Sitefinity.
- Steep developer learning curve -
TYPO3 CMS is from a developer perspective more complex to configure and get running, causing many a newbie to curse, cry and give up, but once you have taken the time to understand TYPO3 CMS’s architecture and methodology, it is incredibly powerful and flexible.
TYPO3 CMS is not for the casual user, this is not Wordpress or Squarespace! TYPO3 CMS is one of the most powerful CMS platforms on the market and does require you to learn its ways. If you are a designer or a casual developer wanting to quickly spin up a new site, then TYPO3 CMS is most probably not for you.
- Flexibility can be a double edged sword -
One of the greatest aspects of TYPO3 CMS is its flexibility. From both a developer and editor perspective there are often many different ways for doing things, which can be incredibly useful, however this can therefore create its own set of issues.
The downside is that you not only need to understand the benefits of doing it one way vs another, but also that you need governance in teams otherwise it can create confusion. The upside is that there are often benefits or cases where a one-shoe-fits-all solution restricts your ability and here flexibility from both a development, configuration and content management perspective is a distinct benefit, however this does play into our previous point about the learning curve.
For agencies we think TYPO3 CMS is one of the best choices when deciding which CMS to adopt. If you are a casual user, a small design agency rolling out simple sites without a proper dev team or do not want to invest the time/effort to learn this platform then TYPO3 CMS is probably the wrong choice, however if you want features and functions such a true multilingual, workspaces, flexibility content layouts with high performance FE display layers and are willing to invest in this, then you will have a seriously capable platform.
As a site owner TYPO3 CMS is a compelling choice as you get a platform which completes head-to-head with the likes of AEM and Sitecore, for a very different cost (TCO). If you only need a small low cost site then Wordpress, ModX etc might be a better choice, but if you want the flexibility of page builders, high performance front end code, exceptional SEO, publishing workflow, multilingual etc then TYPO3 is certainly one of the best choices you can make.
Finn is a founding director of Liquid Light, and he still (after 22 years of web design) likes to get involved in projects. When he is not worrying about the clients, he is studying Chinese medicine, working with young criminals and doing spartan challenges.