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Is WordPress the Right CMS for Your Organization?

WordPress, a simple Content Management System (CMS), has been a mainstay in the web world for 10 years—and it continues to be used more than any other CMS platform. As of 2021, there are 28,183,568 live Wordpress sites. That’s 43% of the market share! Even though WordPress has become a first consideration for content management, it may not be the best fit for your organization now and in the future.

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To start: WordPress is a great solution for specific clients and projects. Because of its reach and widespread popularity, there is an extensive library of themes and plugins (or software enhancements) available—many of which are free. In addition, WordPress’ ecosystem is built on a “plug-and-play” methodology that quickly allows you to create a highly-functional website. Simply create a layout, find the plugins you need, and you’re ready to add content to your website.

This kind of website is perfect for organizations that plan on having a single static page, a limited amount of content, or limited plans to expand their online presence in the future. WordPress may not be the right fit for every project due to its limitations, lack of flexibility, and security concerns. Other options could provide your organization with a more robust and scalable system that will meet current and future needs.

One Size Fits None

The reality is that WordPress’ “one size fits all” functionality may not be the solution it appears to be.

You may be familiar with stores that promote “one size fits all” items. In theory, they are creating a garment that looks average on the majority of their customers. Because they are accommodating so many different sizes and shapes, no one truly gets the perfect fit. It works, but it’s not custom. WordPress works the same way.

By default, WordPress’ CMS comes with pages and posts. Pages build the bulk of the site’s content while posts are sectioned into a blog-like structure. Both content types include a title, content, and featured image.

Posts also have the option of including categories and tags. However, if you need custom content categories and page structure, WordPress’ fields and functionality can quickly become restrictive. For example, a university may need its website to have custom categories for degree options. Then, each major and minor might need custom fields. Ultimately, you’d need plugins to expand the ability of the CMS. And more plugins, more problems.

Other CMS’ provide a more tailored approach to content management. Instead of having all your site pages as single and static, the site is built custom to the needs of your organization. It creates flexibility and allows you to have a dynamic site with a system built on structure rather than scattered and unorganized pages.

Think about your current website, or the website you hope to scale up to: What do you want it to be able to do? Do you want to be able to make an update in one place that populates throughout the site? Do you want it to load quickly? You may want to look at other options outside of WordPress where more complex applications and customization come standard.

Learn to COPE: Create Once, Publish Everywhere

The concept of creating an entry in one place that populates everywhere it’s used around a website is called COPE (Create Once, Publish Everywhere). For example, if you’re having an event and the date changes, you could change that date on the event page and it would also update on your homepage where the event is featured, on your main event listing page, and in a promo elsewhere on the site. If you tried to do this in WordPress, the content itself wouldn’t be reusable unless it was built in a very specific way with that particular need in mind. Most of us don’t have the foresight to plan out every little bit of content and how it’s used on the site until we see it in action. For most, after manually updating the event date in all the places it shows up across the website, they realize the content maintenance nightmare they’ve landed in.

Another CMS could be more optimal using the same amount of time (and other resources) it takes to make WordPress align with your needs. That’s because other systems function with COPE in mind from the start.

More plugins, more problems.”

Plugins Aren’t Always “Plug-and-Play”

As we’ve mentioned—more plugins, more problems. In order to create a site with COPE and other important functionality, WordPress requires the use of plugins. Plugins are good in theory but can end up problematic in real-world applications. Because WordPress plugins are meant to be “plug-and-play,” they attempt to guarantee functionality by adding a ton of extra code. All of that extra code causes “bloat” and can drastically impact your page load time and general website performance. And according to Google’s latest search update, site speed and performance are now even more crucial.

Plugins also have the same disadvantages as WordPress. If the functionality you need is what the plugin provides, it’s excellent! But in the real world, it could be that your specific need is only met 80% of the time with the plugin. The other 20% will either not be possible or it’ll create more work to implement than simply building out your functionality from scratch. You save time but hurt your performance in the long run.

And lastly, there’s one more downside to plugins. Because plugins are often created by third-party developers and not WordPress itself, they don’t always get updated when WordPress does. For example, if WordPress releases a system update, there’s a good chance that the plugin won’t also receive an update, or at least not right away. Developers need time to react to a system update. When that occurs, your plugin can “break,” causing it to stop offering the functionality you were using it for. As a result, you have to scramble to find a new plugin while losing conversions and offering a poor user experience on your website in the meantime.

Once you start adding more and more plugins to supplement your WordPress site, you’re also increasing the possibility of plugins conflicting with each other. What was once an easy solution can turn into a long-term problem for your organization.

Is Bespoke the Way to Go?

Do you know what you need on your website? Are you looking to expand your content and functionality in the future?

If your answer is yes, creating a bespoke website using a more flexible CMS is probably your best bet. You’ll be able to build a beautiful front-end website without the constraints of a limiting CMS on the back-end.

It’s essential to move with caution and understand that as your website or organization expands, you may need to support that growth with a more complex website. WordPress may be the right choice if you’re looking to build a simple website without much customization. However, if you foresee rapid expansion in the future or know that your organization is complicated (like most of them!), we recommend considering a different CMS to set you and your organization up for success.

If you’re interested in digging into the details of what CMS would best fit your organization, please drop us a line—we’d love to chat!

Check out our revisited article on this topic which takes a deeper, more technical look at if WordPress is right for your organization:

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