The latest version is packed with new features and free to use. Here's why you should check it out.

If you're looking for a free blog or a platform for your design portfolio then there are plenty to choose from these days. It's always tempting to default to WordPress, but if you want a strong alternative then you should check out the brand new version of Craft CMS.

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In development for the past three years, and completely rewritten and redesigned, Craft 3 is available now and claims to be three times faster than the previous version, as well as boasting hundreds of new features and improvements to help you get your next site online with ease.

Craft enables you to create custom content models so that you get exactly the site you want. You can see what your pages will look like in real-time with a built-in Live Preview that updates as you type, and with its Matrix field it becomes simple to create longer-form pages with multiple content types.

And if you're aiming for an international audience, it features powerful localisation tools to help you target specific languages and territories.

Essential new features of Craft

Craft 3 s image editor means you can prepare pictures without the need for Photoshop

Craft 3's image editor means you can prepare pictures without the need for Photoshop

New features in version 3 include Multi-Site, enabling you to run multiple sister sites from a single Craft install, an image editor with which you can crop, rotate, flip, and set focal points on all your images, and an inline asset preview that lets view your photos and assets everywhere in Craft CMS by pressing Shift + Spacebar.

The biggest new feature, though, is the Craft Plugin Store: a secure online marketplace that enables you to buy plugins directly through the Craft Control Panel without having to hunt through third-party sites. It's the easiest way to add extra functionality to your site or to implement extra tools to match your skillset.

Get all the plugins you need in Craft 3 s secure Plugin Store

Get all the plugins you need in Craft 3's secure Plugin Store

You can find out more about Craft 3's new features here. Cost-wise, the great news is that the Solo version – ideal if you're building a website for yourself or for a friend – is completely free. And if you're building sites professionally for clients or teams you'll want the Pro version, which comes in at a very reasonable $299 plus $59 per year for updates, and offers user accounts, custom branding and developer support.

If you want to try it out you can hit the Craft demo page to get your own demo site to fool around with, but if you want to jump straight in it's available to download or buy right now.

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