WordPress vs. The World
July 27th, 2009 | CMS
Recently a client asked me why WordPress was better than creating your own CMS. Long story short; I think WordPress is really good. Creating your own CMS seems like re-inventing the wheel. I do think there is merit in trying other things. I list some alternatives that are interesting.
Also we have to consider the source of the complaints my client heard: people who love making and tweaking the perfect CMS. I think it would be normal that CMS developers aren’t going to have too much nice stuff to say about WordPress, in the same way that WordPress lovers trash every other similar framework. It’s a very polarizing subject!
Keep in mind that when looking at examples the design is irrelevant. You can design a site to look as good on any platform. They are offered as “oh really?!” material.
Pros to Creating your own CMS
There are the best I can think of, I’m sure those developers could sell this better…
- It sounds pretty elite
- Creates a niche
- The client will have to come back to you for service
- It creates jobs
- You can customize it 100% as you please (arguably you could take the time to do this to WordPress or anything else though).
Cons to Creating your own CMS
Having your own isn’t all about being unique and glorious, there are downsides;
- There is no community of helpful developers, there is just your team. Will they always be your team? Can other developers learn it easily enough?
- The engine isn’t as tested. WP is installed millions of times. Bugs are found and worked out.
- All updates / versioning / new features have to be painstakingly developed vs. just downloading someone else’s excellent work
- Why recreate something if the tools exist? Much that can be created can be found for free and up in a fraction of the time.
- More often than not it seems if there’s a little bug it’s easier to just learn to live with than to dig through the code trying to fix it.
I feel that WordPress is still going to be the best CMS choice for a lot of clients for several reasons.
- It’s dead easy for even the least-savvy client to maintain
- It’s probably one of the fastest to work with – very easy
- It has one of the healthiest communities – (the nerds who help so readily with no regard for their time and hardwork… heroes really)
- There are a ton of plugins to expand functionality
- It’s free
Also, it’s well used in the industry. Here are some sites that are well loved and highly trafficked built on WP
- Web Designer Wall
- Revision 3
- Ford Autoshows
- Martha Stewart blog
- Playstation blog
- Xerox blog
- Yahoo Anecdotal
- And lots more
- I have heard it said that (unless it is specifically optimized) if WordPress experiences the “digg-effect” on anything but the best hosting the site can go down temporarily. (digg-effect = the story gets on the front page of digg.com and experiences 500,000+ hits in a day. Some servers choke on this, (likely regardless of WordPress)) There are however caching plugins to help combat this.
- WordPress was made as blogging software, so it doesn’t always work as a CMS (eg. if there is no Posts section like blog or news)
- It doesn’t natively allow some higher end functionality. Honestly, I don’t know too much that can’t be done, but I have heard this said before. When I had to make a fairly robust site recently I knew that it was just going to be easier to do on Drupal.
ALTERNATIVES TO WORDPRESS
There are literally thousands of CMS out there. You can preview many here at Open Source CMS (PHP is what I’ll use 99% of the time). Here’s a closer look at a couple other popular frameworks.
Drupal / http://drupal.org
Drupal is one of the most powerful out-of-the-box CMS I have ever used. Super big learning curve and it required a lot of reading for me to sculpt a fairly simple newspaper site (The Kincardine Independent) Drupal is highly customizeable, and also has an active community. My development time was quite a bit higher on this than the average WordPress site, and it would be quite a bit harder to use for less-savvy clients.
Some Drupal Examples:
Expression Engine / http://expressionengine.com
I hear of Expression Engine being highly spoken of by web mavens and big-name agency people. The big catch is that it isn’t free. There is a setup fee, as well as an annual liscence (more info). There is tech support and plugins made by the in-house team. I have never used it, so I’m not sure how it stacks up against WordPress. I think this could be an example of adding a price tag adds value in the mind of the consumer. This could be a good point in working with the higher-end clients. EE just feels elite.
We’ve come a long way since they days of HTML + FTP. Finding the right CMS means finding one that works well for the developer and the client – but most importantly serves the content in the best way possible for your readers and users.