Why I Recommend WordPress As CMS

  • WordPress

I’m sometimes asked why I use and recommend WordPress as a CMS, instead of one of the other options like Joomla, Drupal, Expression Engine, etc. Here are some of the many reasons why I choose and recommend WordPress as CMS for many organisation’s web needs.

  1. WordPress is free for personal and commercial use.
  2. WordPress is very popular – lots more people use it in comparison to every other system.  This means there are:
    • more design templates (called Themes) – both free and commercial – available for WordPress than for other systems
    • more add-ons (called Plugins) available which allow you to do almost anything you need with a WordPress site
    • more WordPress programmers and designers all around the world
    • more documentation, help files and how-to videos
  3. WordPress is easy for non-technical users. One of the most important things for me is that non-techies can log in and edit their website quickly and easily, and because of WordPress’s quite intuitive admin screen, the support requirements are easier.
  4. WordPress is a very powerful Content Management System (CMS). Despite still (at least in v3) being configured “out of the box” as a blogging solution, it has almost every CMS feature you may need:
    • Parent and Child Pages and Posts
    • Categories and Page Templates
    • Multiple Users and different User levels (Roles)
    • Advanced Menu editing system
    • WYSIWYG Visual and HTML Editors
    • Plugins and Themes (templates)
    • XML import and export
    • loads more – there’s almost nothing it can’t do
  5. WordPress is open source, which means bugs and security issues are fixed quickly, and website owners can customise the system as much as they want themselves. It also means new features are available on a regular basis, and those updates can be applied within seconds using the easy update tools within the system.
  6. WordPress is the market leading Open Source CMS, according to the 2010 Open Source CMS Market Share Report:

When we add all this up, we reach the conclusion that for 2010, WordPress has moved into market leader role in the Open Source CMS space. We conclude that the system leads in key metrics for both rate of adoption and brand strength. What accounts for the surge in WordPress brand strength this year? There is likely no single factor explaining the change, but we would attribute the success at least in part to the following:

  • The success of WordPress 3. The newest major version release occurred in June of 2010.
  • The continuing popularity of the WordPress hosted blogging service.
  • A growing awareness in the market that WordPress is suitable for more than blogging.

But what about…

Security

Security is often leveled as a criticism against WordPress, and maybe deservedly so back in the day, but since 2007 or so WordPress has been very quick to roll out security fixes when found, and it hasn’t been any more often than other systems lately.

Other security issues with sites running WordPress are often caused by bad web server configurations or loose file permissions, i.e. not WordPress-specific, these are issues that can apply to any CMS (particularly those on shared hosting services).

Updates too often

The flip side of the security coin – and again this was very much the case in the past. Looking at the release history there were 5 updates in 2006, 16 updates in 2007, 7  in 2008, 9 in 2009 and 7 (up to 11 December) in 2010. Clearly 16 in 2007 felt excessive. However, with the easy update from the dashboard, you can update quickly and easily in 30 seconds or less.

Performance

WordPress is often accused of having poor performance, and I’m sure that some optimisation can be done, but out of the box on a good webserver with fast database, it’s quite good. Add caching  (WP Super Cache or W3 Total Cache) and you can serve static pages when you’ve got intense traffic. For extreme traffic use a fast webserver like Lighttd instead of Apache on dedicated server with caching enabled, gzip and minify your scripts and use a CDN and you’ll handle anything the web can throw at you.

Specialised Tasks

There are still certain specialised tasks that I wouldn’t use WordPress for, even though it’s possible and there are many plugins available to allow it to do almost anything

Ecommerce: I wouldn’t use WordPress as the main platform for an ecommerce store – I’d use something more specialised like Magento, ZenCart, OScommerce, CubeCart if going self-hosted, or Shopify, 1ShoppingCart etc if going hosted.

HelpDesk Ticketing: I’d use something specifically for ticketing (like osTicket), but I have seen many WordPress plugins for this.

Project Management Task Tracking: I currently use BaseCamp, and there are other open source alternatives which are more suitable than configuring WordPress, although again, there are plugins and themes available for that.

Your Thoughts

What about you? What types of sites would you not recommend using WordPress for? Have you any comments or suggestions?

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About the Author:

Alastair McDermott is an online business and technology consultant specialising in web design & development, internet marketing and search engine optimisation. He has been building websites and software since 1996 and is a nine year veteran of using WordPress. He has co-founded several software, web and information based startup companies and has provided solutions for many large Irish and international organisations. Alastair blogs, and makes media of all kinds at WebsiteDoctor.com. Follow him on Twitter at @WebsiteDoctor.

15 Comments
  1. Small World!

    I got an email notice you linked my website PM-Sherpa only to find your blog post is on almost the same topic as my latest blog post. You’ve got some great points I didn’t cover, and I’m hoping you’ll like some of ones covered too:

    17 Reasons WordPress is a Better CMS than Drupal
    http://mikeschinkel.com/blog/17-reasons-wordpress-is-a-better-cms-than-drupal/

    BTW, since it’s a WordPress-vs-Drupal post would love to have your comments to balance out the pro-Drupal crowd in the comments…

  2. @Alastair – re:user experience: I couldn’t agree more. One of the reasons I left Drupal was my frustration at the user experience, and I’m technical so you’d think it might not bother me. WordPress was a breath of fresh air, and has been ever since. And thanks for the comment on my post. Cheers!

  3. Bob Sawyer

    We’ve found that for almost all of our new clients, WordPress has been flexible enough to recommend as a base for whatever site they wanted — from drink recipes (with some custom scripting) to a site/resource repository (using a customized DirectoryPress theme). We have a client using WordPress and the Shopp plugin for e-commerce, but by and large try to recommend Shopify for that where we can.

    Anyway – your article is spot-on. We back up our WP recommendation to our clients with many of these same reasons.

    Cheers,
    Bob

  4. Francis: I agree. However that comes down to web server configuration, so unless you’re running VPS (and the majority of basic sites won’t) it’s something to look out for when host shopping, not later on :)

  5. Ken Stanley

    I couldn’t agree more. I’ve started using WordPress as a content management solution more and more as it’s evolved and now there’s not much that it can’t do. I’m not a big fan of trying to shoehorn e-commerce or more advanced functionality into WordPress but it can do nearly everything else I need it to.

  6. What impresses me most is not the features that they do have, but how much each major .X release improves on the previous, e.g. the one-click update as a vast improvement on FTP. For all my criticisms, and I do still have a few (they won’t allow “tags” on Pages, srsly?) they are generally very much on the ball.

  7. Hi Vladimir,

    I haven’t tried LitePublisher. I’d need a fairly compelling reason to shift away from WordPress – i.e. something it couldn’t do, or a major derailment of the project by Automattic, etc. LitePublisher would need to be very fully featured, or alternatively, very Lite – as the name suggests, for me to try :)

    Cheers,
    Alastair.

  8. emeka peters

    WordPress is the best content management system. I have used blogger, joomla and the rest of others, but none of comes close to wordpress. To crown it all, plugins makes wordpress the best further. Am glad wordpress was created.

  9. GADEL

    I agree with you on most of the advantages of WordPress as a platform/CMS as compared to others like Joomla, Drupal. I think Google is trying to improve on Blogger too.

  10. Jaysee Blabs

    Great insights and I agree on a lot of things you just said. While I advocate Blogger I still think that WordPress still is the best platform out there if you are self hosting. The security issues will always be there provided you have configured your site well. And I also agree about WordPress being not that great as a platform for ecommerce. Great post overall!

  11. George

    Each platform has an advantage over the other. If we’re talking about eCommerce site, then Drupal is best use. But if we’re to look at simplicity in using, flexibility and the learning curve, then, no doubt, WordPress is best suited for such task. As a matter of fact, WordPress is now even being used by small businesses. Development sites like http://www.trimor.ph, openquarter.com, http://www.instantweb.com.au uses WordPress as their main platform, since it’s easier to make updates and couple to that, plugins to use are free.

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