WordPress Lessons Learned (Part 2)

On March 4, 2015, in WordPress, by Janice Burney

WordPress Lessons Learned

Content management systems operate in a continually evolving landscape. The popularity of open source solutions has caused a shift among developers from custom coding environments to open source CMS solutions where the source code is completely open and available for customization.
WordPress builds are well suited for sites that require less integrated content and UX/UI expediency such as on a microsite. A keyword specific URL on a microsite helps drive traffic while relevant and compelling content helps position the business as an industry leader.

The advancement of open source as a viable enterprise solution presents both advantages and shortcomings.

Advantages

  • Low investment cost – the source code is available for free therefore the initial entry cost is minimal
  • Customization – integration and customization opportunities allow for integration with other programs
  • Community support – a community support approach can mitigate the issue of uncertainty and offer a vast network of support vs. single, commercial developers
  • Easy to use Features – such as a WYSIWYG editor, plug-in architecture and a template system are easy to implement without knowledge of complex code
  • A diverse set of widgets and plug-ins – enhance site functionality and user experience
  • Easy to update – as enhancements are made to WordPress, keeping the installation secure and up-to-date is as easy as updating the core codebase
  • Minimal training – with built-in editing tools, similar to the one used in Word, an administrator can easily add and delete content, manage users, keep the software up-to-date, and add additional functionality from the widget library

The WordPress open source platform provides many advantages, however there are also significant shortcomings. WordPress Proof is incumbent with areas of unpredictability as service level agreements and exact scope requirements cannot be setup in advance.

Shortcomings

  • Long-term cost considerations – WordPress is free but a major portion of the CMS budget is shifted to services such as integration, usability testing, training and content restructuring among other things
  • Customization – typically a template or a shell needs customization for each individual organization. This requires the same amount of development time and cost as any other type of CMS
  • Enterprise level community support – while a diverse and active support community is attractive for smaller applications, it has drawbacks at the enterprise level where specific service level requirements need to be maintained
  • Compromised ease of use – as applications become more advanced and the business requires significant customization, this can compromise the ease of use
  • Update limitations – upgrades and patches require additional resource costs as well as the increased likelihood that upgrades will impact the current implementation and integrations
  • Security – while WordPress takes great strides to maintain a secure platform, there are risks inherent in any open source system, especially in the case where standard security procedures and protocols are not followed
  • Clearing Cache – when publishing content to the website, the web master needs to clear cache and in some cases restart the browser to ensure the content is rendering properly

Additional Hurdles

Complex business requirements are not best suited for development on WordPress. In particular, complex business flows, while not impossible, are pushing the limitations of WordPress. Human error plays a role during deployment of complex web builds as a multitude of variables require attention.

Use WordPress when building a microsite, blog or simple web application. For more robust online architecture in the open source category, consider Drupal or Joomla and set aside a customization budget.

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