Part of Quadra's line of work involves developing bespoke websites for our clients. News earlier this week reported that WordPress is being used by 25% of all websites as their Content Management System. With such a massive proportion of the internet using WordPress you may wonder why we deliberately choose not to use it when building for our clients.
Just to fill you in (if you don't already know), WordPress was first released in 2003 as a blogging system, allowing users with little to no development knowledge to easily set up a platform for their content. WordPress had impeccable timing, the blogger boom around this time meant it expanded quickly and had plenty of developer contributions to functionality. What started as a blogging platform has since morphed into what WordPress is today; home to a quarter of all websites.
Despite all of WordPress' fame and glory, our CMS of choice here at Quadra is SilverStripe. SilverStripe is a New Zealand born CMS and Framework that's been around for 15 years and Open Source since 2007. It's cross platform, meaning it can be installed on any operating system (eg, Windows, Linux and Max OSX). They explain this further on their website: "SilverStripe is the intuitive content management system and flexible framework loved by editors and developers alike. Equip your web teams to achieve outstanding results."
We can totally agree with that statement. Here are a just a few reasons why we use SilverStripe instead of WordPress (contact us if you fancy hearing some more):
1. MVC Framework:
MVC stands for Model View Controller, which means that when building an application, the code that deals with its data, business logic and appearance should be written independent of each other. As a developer I like my code to be organised and divided in a sensible manner. Whilst you may argue that this is up to whoever writes the code, having a framework that encourages you to do things the right way definitely helps.
2. Extensibility and Bespoke Features:
We all know WordPress has a bazillion plugins available around the web, and they can be installed with just one click. But what can you do when the plugins you find doesn't have that key detail featured that happens to be the most important one for YOUR use case? Well... you build a plugin yourself. Whilst SilverStripe frameworks may not offer as many plugins, it has a solid set of features and tools that allows you to easily extend a website functionality.
When writing the code to extend your site, you'll naturally want to make it in the most effective way. As a client, you'll also want your project to be cost effective and delivered in time. That's where SilverStripe's awesome documentation comes in handy. For those just getting started with developing, SilverStripe offers a number of lessons that will get you up and running in no time. For the more seasoned developers, their API Documentation covers just about everything you need to know about the framework and how to extend CMS functionality. There's also the community forum and IRC channel where there's always someone willing to help you with your issue.
4. Easy to manage:
Building a new website or application is a very exciting experience but what happens after development is complete and the site is live?
SilverStripe has a more controlled release cycle than WordPress and with semantic versioning, keeping track and upgrading the CMS and Framework is a simple process. Unlike WordPress, there's no one click button to upgrade the CMS, which may not sound fantastic but trust me, its much safer. The risk of taking a website down or partially losing functionality at the touch of a button isn't an advantage. Even worse, one of your carefully selected plugins may not support a new update, leaving you and most importantly, your client, with a broken experience.
5. Intuitive CMS interface:
From a client perspective one massive draw of SilverStripe is that managing pages and files with SilverStripe is a breeze. The CMS allows for great customisability, with the possibility to group related sections of the CMS together and a good system for managing assets (images, documents, etc). Making these assets available to the end user (with or without the need for authentication) means that our clients can edit their own site as they please. We offer CMS training to all of our clients who use us to develop their website, these short sessions give them additional control and allow them to add or edit content when they see fit.
There are many reasons why tool A may be more suitable than tool B when starting a new project and WordPress does indeed have its strong points. One of which is that good SilverStripe developers aren't easy to come by and it tends to be easier to find an agency promoting the use of WordPress for this exact reason.
When making a decision between SilverStripe and WordPress, one should keep in mind that contrary to its popularity, WordPress is still primarily a blogging platform. Despite its admirable efforts, WordPress is a leopard that simply can't change its spots.