Is Wordpress all it's cracked up to be?

  • Is Wordpress all it's cracked up to be?

    We have been planning to write this article for some time now, because over the past year or two, the web design industry has seen a massive surge in the popularity of Wordpress. The question as to which content management system to use arises, as it should, in every client meeting, and therefore we felt it was a topic that deserves further explanation.

    So what is Wordpress?

    Wordpress is a content management system (CMS), which allows users to easily login to manage their own website content without the need for technical ability or knowledge of website coding.

    It is an 'open source' solution, which means it’s free to use, as is the case with some other well known open source platforms such as Joomla and Drupal. However, just because it is free to use, does not mean that your website agency is over charging for the design & development of your website. There is still a great deal of technical knowledge and time that goes into developing a site on these platforms, and if the site were set up using the basic code provided only, then the results would be very minimal.

    Getting back to Wordpress, the platform was established in 2003, originally as a blogging platform, which later evolved into a CMS to manage all elements a website.

    So is Wordpress the right platform for my website?

    Pros:

    • Simple user interface
    • Vast plugin library
    • Easy to manage SEO
    • Multiple users/authors
    • Great blogging platform

    Cons:

    • Security
    • Design & development limitations
    • Plugin incompatibility issues
    • Restricted content management functions

    Wordpress is a good platform, in the right situation, however it can be extremely inflexible from a design and development point of view.

    If you are familiar with CMS systems you may have noticed that Wordpress websites often have a very similar look and feel, this highlights that point perfectly.

    Also the perceived ease of use can also result in problems as users attempt to do more than simply manage their website content, for example installing new plugins.

    We have seen a good number of Wordpress installations with issues due to plugin incompatibilities, or because someone has updated the version, causing compatibility issues and resulting in a very unstable site.

    Security is also a important consideration with this platform, as this tends to be targeted more than others and is far more susceptible to attack ‘out of the box’.

    So why the popularity?

    One thing is certain, as a platform, Wordpress has far more active websites than both Joomla and Drupal, for a number or reasons.

    At a basic level, Wordpress can be very easy to setup, and there are also a large number of 'templates' available, which can be easily utilised; this has been a contributory factor to the proliferation of DIY websites.

    Some businesses may only need a basic web presence and this may be sufficient for them. However, as soon as there is a need to do something slightly less standard or there is a business requirement for bespoke design, then it gets a lot more tricky.

    Also there is a perception that Wordpress is better for SEO than other platforms; this is actually a myth, since, whilst it is true that there are free, easy to use, SEO plugins available, the same principles still apply and Google will not favour one platform over another.

    So which platform should I use?

    We don’t believe there is one answer to this question, and there are a number of factors that need to be considered with any project before selecting the right platform. For example:

    • Design
    • Functionality
    • Security
    • Future scalability

    When due consideration is not given to these factors, the customer’s ideal objective is often constricted and adapted to fit with the  platform, rather than the other way around. Our view is that the 'brief will dictate the platform', and in some instances, an existing open source platform is not the right fit and a bespoke content management system may be required.

    However, typically, our recommendation would be Drupal. This was established in 2001, and, whilst it is less well known to end customers, it is very well know in the developer world, and is respected as one of the most robust, flexible, scalable and secure platforms.

    The reason that this is not as common is, quite simply, that it requires a lot more technical ability to develop, but the CMS element (in other words, the bit you see and interact with), is actually one of the easiest to use.