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6 Things Dissenters Don’t Know About WordPress

Yesterday I was asked to defend WordPress' against 400lbs gorilla Drupal at local marketing group LA2M. Having used both systems for some time, I have a strong sense as the pro's and con's of each platform (neither is perfect). Of course WordPress is my top choice and I do have reasoning to back it up which I communicated to the group of 70+ attendees. Interestingly enough, as the discussion was not so much a debate as panel that answered questions I noticed an interesting pattern. Much of the supposed benefits of Drupal were expressed in such a way that it made WordPress seem incapable of those benefits... which was not the case. Unable to rebut before the next question, many viewers (and the pro-Drupal speakers) didn't get to hear this. To address this I felt it would be best to outline these common misunderstandings in this blog post.

Here are the six things that dissenters don't know about WordPress:

1. WordPress is Incredibly Scaleable

There is a misconception that WordPress can only handle small sites because it was built as a blogging tool. If you need a large site with a lot of content WordPress will choke and die. Not true, sites like SmashingMagazine and TechCrunch have hundreds of thousands of pages of content and still run lightening fast. WordPress can be run on multiple servers if needed or integrated with a content delivery network if you have high amounts of traffic or a particularly large website.

Additionally WordPress.com, the hosted version of WordPress has over 20 million blogs running on a version of WordPress (using the multisite mode). If that doesn't demonstrate scalability I don't know what would.

2. WordPress is NOT Just Posts and Pages

While WordPress originated as a simple blogging platform that only had posts and pages, it has come along way with custom content types. Drupal has always been strong in this area, with the CCK (Custom Content Kit) allowing the creation of flexible data models and have now integrated that capability into the Drupal core. Unbeknownst to most Drupal developers, WordPress also has this capability built into the core (since version 3.0).

The custom post type gives developers the abilities to create content types that have have their own data structure that doesn't need any resemblance to  posts or pages. This content can be displayed anyway you wish and can be dissected, mashed up and output if you so desire. Additionally, with plugins like Magic Fields, Custom Post Type UI, PODS and Advanced Custom Fields this can all be done from the WordPress backend. Along with custom taxonomies content can take any shape, can be sorted, classified and output anyway you need it.

3. WordPress is NOT Just for Simple Sites

Many people gravitate towards Drupal because they think that it has more capabilities than WordPress. WordPress is thought of a "simple CMS for simple websites." In reality, WordPress is extremely extendable. In fact I have yet to come across a project that you outright couldn't do in WordPress (not that it is the best fit for all projects, just that it would be technically possible.) In fact here are some capabilities WordPress can easily accomplish:

  • Facebook clone
  • Forums
  • Digg Clone
  • Newsletter
  • Wiki
  • Customer Relationship Management System
  • Twitter clone
  • Invoicing system
  • Project management system
  • Calendar system
  • E-commerce website
  • Job board
  • Classified board
  • Real estate listing site
  • Business directory
  • Auctions website
  • Review website

And that isn't even all of them. With custom post types you could conceivably do just about anything.

4. WordPress Has Great User Management

I have no problem admitting that Drupal has really powerful user management capabilities. Drupal was originally a community based platform that has evolved into a CMS "Framework," so much of the user management capabilities have been left in the core. That being said, WordPress can have extremely powerful user management if you need it. I would say that the average website doesn't need complex user management capabilities, for most businesses you only have one or two people maintaining the website. If you do need more power there are plugins like User Permissions, User Access Manager or User Role Editor that can give you that functionality.

Those plugins allow you to create groups, restrict group capabilities on a detail level (including editing, adding or modifying plugins, etc...) restrict page editing to specific groups, etc... Pretty much anything you would need with a community based site.

5. WordPress Can Address Your Workflow Needs

It is likely that new web content will need to be approved before it goes live. This is described as workflow and it is the process of how the content must be created, reviewed and published. By default WordPress has a few ways to manage this, including private pages (you must be logged in to see), password protected pages and draft pages. If you need a more sophisticated system you can use Edit Flow, Zensor, User Submitted Posts, Peter's Collaboration E-mails or Peter's Post Notes to add the functionality you need.

6. WordPress Can Rock E-Commerce

In my presentation I made the mistake of saying that at some point you should use a full fledged E-Commerce system rather than WordPress. While I still believe that hard core e-commerce sites should run on an e-commerce specific platform, it did make WordPress sound like an poor candidate for selling items online. Through a handful of great e-commerce plugins, you can use WordPress to sell products online including the following features:

  • Real products
  • Digital / downloadable products
  • Tickets / event registration
  • Subscription / site access services
  • Real time shipping integration
  • Payment gateway integration
  • Product variations (colors, sizes, types, costs, etc...)
  • Quickbooks integration
  • Affiliate management
  • Custom fields / product types
  • Pricing levels
  • Wish lists
  • Recommend products
  • Discount codes
  • Stock management
  • Import / export capabilities

These capabilities exist in the plugins or through already available plugin extensions. No custom development is required.

Additionally WordPress has been able to integrate with outside e-commerce systems like Magento, ZenCart and OS Commerce since as early as 2008.

Summary: Why I Love WordPress, but Drupal is Great Too...

I love WordPress because it is kind to my users, the end client. WordPress was designed to make the management of your site easy and that is exactly what it does. Because of it's ease of use it has reached the level of fame that it now enjoys (powering over 60% of the top 1 million websites that have a CMS). This level of fame has lead to the endless capabilities that allow us to take this simple website CMS and turn it into complex web applications.

That being said I recognize that WordPress is not right for every project. There will be situations where Drupal is a better fit (or some other system all together). I don't think Drupal is a bad platform, I have used it enough in the past to understand it's capabilities. I just prefer WordPress because it makes it easier for me to build sites and my clients to manage them.

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48 Comments So Far

  1. Pingback: 6 Things Dissenters Don’t Know About WordPress | WordPress Ann Arbor

  2. This is a very helpful writeup. More people need to hear this as they make the decision between Drupal and WordPress.

    I would like to hear your thoughts on one thing that has given me some consternation about WP. Alec Kinnear of spells it out:

    “Too fast an upgrade cycle. You have to keep upgrading your site, whether you like it or not, for security reasons. There are no security releases only new versions. Feel the pain for a commercial site with running a full complement of plugins.”
    (source)

    Choosing plugins carefully solves most of the problem, but even then, when you’ve been relying on a plugin, there is no guarantee that it will continue to be supported in the future.

    I’m a loyal WP user and am building a business based on WP sites, but I wondered if you could speak to this issue of the quick upgrade cycle. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

  3. Great post! I’m always keen on promoting WordPress!

    Just wondering where you got the ‘(powering over 60% of the top 1 million websites that have a CMS)’ stat from? The best stat I’ve managed to get is that WordPress powers 13% of the internet based on Alexa data. I’m keen to know about the 60% figure you’ve mentioned. If I can chuck in a 60% figure in talks and blog posts then that would be awesome! :)

  4. @Bronson – http://trends.builtwith.com/cms

    It is 60% of the top 1 million that run on a CMS, vs all sites (which is like 13%).

    @Ethan – The update cycle is actually a pro, not a con. Typical of a Drupal person to see upgrading as an issue however. Drupal updates frequently break plugins, themes, etc… WordPress updates are almost always seamless (and are easy).

    Drupal has the same frequency of security holes as WordPress (or any open source project) only they are not addressed as frequently due to upgrade issues and WordPress is a bigger target because it powers more sites. I would rather click “upgrade” once a month and not worry about being hacked then having a huge site breaking update twice a year.

  5. really great write, wordpress good for publishing, magazine or publishing site, there are some other plugins to make wordpress even further like community site, but the best thing is wordpress easy to learn not like any other cms

  6. I’m also a huge fan of wordpress, as this is the system that i’m most comfortable using as I got my first start using the wordpress platform, but there are a world of other systems available to build a website or blog, and it would be wise to learn at least two more systems, just in case wordpress lose it’s effectiveness, which I really don’t see happening, but hey you just never know. Great value by the way I really enjoyed it thanks.

  7. it’s very helpful for me.Ross Johnson, thanks for your excellent insights

  8. Life is full of debates but a fair assessment is always a great way to find common ground on both sides of the debate of which you have done well! Thanks for the insightful post.

  9. it’s very helpful for me.Ross Johnson, thanks for your excellent insights

  10. A lot of CMS reviews are always from a developer point-of-view. It would be great to read client and end-user reviews.

  11. A beautiful and high quality information.this paper is accurate to be useful. Thanks to the author.

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  13. Great Post & a great blog.
    Thanks

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  15. I agree, WordPress seems to be the best imo simply because the development process is so fast.

    I can’t wait to see what happens to CMS in about 10 years.

  16. By ying posted on August 29, 2011 at 10:43 am
  17. I agree too

  18. Great Post …

  19. wow amazing i love it….i need this very much..thanks for sharing this…more…

  20. Nice post man. I need to look more into the custom post types.

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  22. Yep, I agree,

    It’s not right for every project, but we’ve used it for everything from a simple website to a review website for example.

    WordPress is capable of a lot more than people seem to think.

    Many Thanks,
    Darren.

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  24. Couldn’t agree more. I really feel after 3.0, WordPress made the formal leap into a tried and true CMS, and its only getting bigger and badder. It feels like the Silly Putty of CMS’….I can stretch it as far as I need to without it breaking and mold it into any form I desire.

  25. even i have owned a wordpress site.
    All the steps briefly explained. But wordpress is not used for all purposes related to website. Thou nice article

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  27. I love WordPress for all these reasons

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  29. Both WordPress and Drupal are easy for CMS, but Drupal has to be the best. Either way I enjoyed reading

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    This is a great post and makes me think of where I can fit in. I do a little bit of everything mentioned here and I guess I have to find my competitive advantage.

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  34. Amazing value as always, word press has so much flexibility its amazing. I really like word-press for its simplicity and nowadays there’s so many plugins that make using word press even more simpler. Great post!

  35. WordPress is indeed scalable. All of the US Federal government websites expect for the public facing pages of Whitehouse.gov are powered by WordPress. Source: Face to face conversation with Andrew Nacin, WordCamp Columbus 2011.

  36. By Mike P posted on February 16, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    My issue with WordPress may just be my lack of understanding how to customize the look and feel of the presentation layer WITHOUT hacking the code in a way that would NOT break with the updates. When I was able to wrap my arms around how Drupal “works”, it just made sense to me. The whole “system” of creating a “sub-theme” folder containing my “hacks” is just plain awesome. When I had to do my first update, I about passed out in fear of losing everything… Do what? You want me to delete all of the core folders/files and install the new core…And you want me to be comfortable with that??? Well, I did and everything just seamlessly “worked” (even in a LAMP environment running Drupal 7 multisite)… I will work with wordpress (because it seem to be more End-client friendly) in the future!!! Love your Post and Your blog… Mike P (AKA WebSensei71)

  37. Awesome post, I currently use drupal and joomla and this post is a real eye opener, thanks.

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  41. What I particularly like about WordPress is the development of 3rd Party Framework themes. Granted that it takes an extensive coding and development knowledge to bring WordPress to it’s maximum potential but the theme frameworks simply allow you to bypass a lot of the coding and focus on what you need to build it for.

    And don’t get me started on the plugins. A plugin like gravity forms for example is something I wouldn’t even dream of building from scratch. But when I’m using wordpress + plugin, it’s just plain intuitive. Simple. It’s not for everybody but it does almost 90% of what I need it for.

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