Getting Started with Craft CMS

A short guide to the best way to get started learning and using Craft CMS.


This guide is aimed at web devel­op­ers new to Craft CMS and in need of infor­ma­tion on how to get start­ed. I am reg­u­lar­ly updat­ing it and adding new resources. Book­mark this and check back.

Jump­ing Right In

Okay, you don’t feel like read­ing a lot of stuff right now and you’re real­ly just look­ing for how to learn Craft. Great, let’s get right down to it. (How­ev­er, if you’re more of the researcher, then con­tin­ue on with the arti­cle and dig deeper.)

  • If you need to share infor­ma­tion about Craft and its capa­bil­i­ties to non-tech­ni­cal stake­hold­ers, like your mar­ket­ing team, IT secu­ri­ty, or con­tent authors, then check out our Craft 101 video. We talk about Craft from the per­spec­tive of the dif­fer­ent stake­hold­ers in your com­pa­ny or organization.
  • To get start­ed right away work­ing with Craft and build­ing your first site, I shame­less­ly rec­om­mend Up and Run­ning with Craft. Sure, it’s on this site and I cre­at­ed it. But it’s been vet­ted by thou­sands of stu­dents and proven over and over to help you fig­ure out Craft. It’s com­plete­ly free with a free CraftQuest account.
  • You can also check out the writ­ten get­ting start­ed guide from Craft CMS devel­op­ers Pix­el & Ton­ic. It’s clear­ly writ­ten and focused on the offi­cial way to get start­ed with the Craft CMS con­tent man­age­ment system.

What Can Craft Do?

Per­haps you’re still test­ing the waters and want to eval­u­ate what Craft can do. You are val­i­dat­ing if it’s right for your project (or maybe you’re assem­bling some mate­r­i­al to con­vince your boss or client to approve it as a tech­nol­o­gy solu­tion). Check out these resources:

  • Craft CMS Fea­tures — The offi­cial list of fea­tures on the Craft CMS site. It’s a nice high-lev­el overview of what Craft can do and stays aways from impos­si­ble promis­es. Click on each fea­ture to get more detail!
  • Craft CMS Ori­en­ta­tion Guide by Andrew Welch of nystudio107. Andrew and I collb­o­rate on the CraftQuest livestreams and reg­u­lar­ly work and talk behind-the-scenes about all things tech­nol­o­gy. He is a great resource. 

Here are some high­lights of what you prob­a­bly need to know about Craft right now:

  • Craft CMS is a high­ly cus­tomiz­able and con­fig­urable con­tent man­age­ment system.
  • Craft CMS is not a theme-based sys­tem like Word­Press. You can build your tem­plates in that way but Craft does not sup­port a plug n’ play theme model.
  • That being said, Craft CMS doesn’t care about your design. And that is the beau­ty of the soft­ware. Com­pa­nies love it because they can get their own design and brand exact­ly how they want it with­out com­pro­mis­ing because of the lim­i­ta­tions of a theme.
  • Craft CMS is exten­si­ble via plu­g­ins and mod­ules.
  • Craft uses the Twig tem­plat­ing lan­guage for the tem­plate code. Twig is pop­u­lar and easy to use. 

Talk­ing to Devel­op­ers and Com­pa­nies that Use Craft CMS

The best way to find out details about Craft is to ask peo­ple who already use, and, in some cas­es, have been using it for years. Craft CMS has two pub­lic forums:

  • Craft CMS Stack­Ex­change — An online forum for get­ting help with Craft CMS. It’s real­ly use­ful for very, very spe­cif­ic issues and will reg­u­lar­ly come up in Google search results.
  • Craft CMS Dis­cord chat (a chat ser­vice for com­mu­ni­ties). This blog post from the Craft team is a good introduction.

If you’re stuck and need help, those two options are your best bet.

The Craft Mindset

Once you’re on the wag­on with Craft and ready to imple­ment as the solu­tion for your next project, it will be help­ful for you or your team to learn the Craft mind­set. This sounds a lit­tle hokey, but before you throw a bunch of con­tent at Craft, stop for a minute and learn how to approach con­tent and Craft together.

  • The Craft Mind­set — a 4‑part video course on how to think about how Craft stores con­tent. This will make it eas­i­er for you as you trans­late project require­ments, designs, and con­tent into a work­ing, ship­pable website.

Stay­ing in the Know

If you want to keep up with the changes in Craft, new releas­es, and com­mu­ni­ty activ­i­ty, check out:

  • Craft Link List — a curat­ed email newslet­ter deliv­ered every oth­er week.
  • Twit­ter #craftcms hash­tag — The com­mu­ni­ty reg­u­lary posts updates and ques­tions to Twit­ter using the #craftcms hashtag.

Need Help with Your Project?

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