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WordPress vs the Rest of the World

    I have had the opportunity to meet and connect with many excellent developers over the years. My personal approach is to keep an open mind - after all, being part of a community should involve sharing knowledge, right? Since I have worked with many CMS platforms (Joomla, WordPress, Drupal, CMS Made Simple, ModX, Magento, etc.), I am always curious to learn how these platforms continue to evolve (or not - some CMS platforms have withered on the vine due to lack of ongoing  development and support).

    All these platforms share certain features:

    • They are coded in PHP (the world's most popular web application language), CSS, and javascript for a dynamic presentation layer.
    • They are powered by relational databases that typically run on MySQL or some other SQL flavor.
    • They have a secure administrator portal, also know as the backend view, which allows site owners to make various kinds of edits and revisions to content, images, product listings, deisgn, etc.

    Occasionally I run across developers who only work with one platform and will tell you that their platform is superior to all the others. In my experience, these developers are always - you guessed it! - WordPress developers - or more accurately, entrepreneurs who build websites using WordPress. They like to claim that you can do anything in WordPress that you can do in any other platform.

    My short response to that claim is "maybe" and my long response is "actually, not". Furthermore, I have run across three such individuals in the recent past each of whom built a WordPress site for a client and NEVER SHARED THE ADMINISTRATOR PORTAL (which is one reason these three clients came to me). The business logic is obvious enough. By keeping the administrator portal to themselves, they could then bill said clients an exorbitant rate for making simple edits, like updating content. This runs against the basic idea of.a CMS, .i.e. a Content Management System that is supposed to help non-technical audiences build and maintain their sites.

    Is this ethical? I do not think so.

    Furthermore, there is no shortage of online articles and debates about "WordPress vs. Drupal" or "WordPress vs. Joomla" or "Wordpress vs {you fill in the blank]".

    I find these debates tiresome and misleading, especially for organizations and business owners who are talking the big step of setting up their first website.

    Here is what I find in my experience:

    • WordPress is a fun, easy-to-use platform for an organization that needs a basic "brochure" style website.
    • It has an extraordinarily deep catalog of beautiful, eye-catching themes.
    • It also gives access to thousands of plugins that can extend the site functionality in many directions and vertical markets, including e-commerce, CRM, calendars, registration, etc.

    Here's where things can go quickly off the rails: managing WordPress plugins is a complex and often frustrating experience for site owners. Plugins may be buggy (i.e. do not do what they are supposed to) or conflict with other plugins. It is also difficult to customize the extended features that the plugins bring in.

    That is why I agree with many highly experienced WordPress developers who recommend a different platform IF the organizational requirements and/or business logic includes complex features like e-commerce, CRM, discussion forums, community portals, newsletters, user management, event management with calendar integration, online registrations, complex data applications (forms that repeatable data or more than 20-30 fields) and so forth.

    The real takeaway is that when planning to build a new site, use your imagination to think about how the website should evolves and function over the next 3-5 years. In other words, do a lot of research and think big. WordPress might be a perfect solution initially. It could also entail a lot of wasted time and money.