Why can't you have a Wordpress website?
Well, you certainly can, but it won't be Webreality that builds it for you.
To be absolutely clear, we have no beef with Wordpress itself. It's a fine product with a justifiably huge global following. April 2015 data produced by web tech analysts W3Techs.com estimated that Wordpress is the underlying content management system ("CMS") of over 23% of websites in the world. (See http://bit.ly/1NxfbvO for more details.)
We've produced Wordpress websites in the past, and found it an effective development platform.
So why will we not make one today?
It's a matter of technical and user support.
As a business, the ability to support our clients' marketing technology over the long term remains our primary objective. And with a relatively small team (16 at today's date, in Jersey, the UK and Poland) it is vital that we don't try and spread our tech focus too thinly.
We used Umbraco or nopCommerce for complex websites, transactional websites, and where substantial custom coding was required in addition to the core functionality of the CMS.
We only used Wordpress where a theme-based approach to design made sense, or where our client made a specific request for Wordpress as the CMS.
What we found was this.
- Using a Wordpress theme rarely achieved the expected substantial time saving compared with developing a custom design from scratch. It is very unusual for a client to accept a theme "as is", and that crucial project phase between soft launch and go-live, during which the client sees the development website for the first time, is a tempting opportunity for them to come up with "can you just..." and "it would be great if it..." requests. There are process-change opportunities to minimise this sort of problem, largely involving ruthless expectation management, but that sort of inflexibility to a client's needs or the usability objectives of their website does not sit comfortably with our culture.
- Wordpress users are no more delighted with the usability of the "back end" than users of Umbraco. In fact, where we've chosen to migrate a website from Wordpress to Umbraco we've had very positive feedback from clients who've had to convert from Wordpress to the new CMS.
- Wordpress presents a world of security risks that other CMS products don't. It's analogous to the risk of using Windows compared with other operating systems that have a much smaller global user base. Hackers will tend to go after the products that are easiest to target and in most common usage. In our time using Wordpress we spent substantially more time attending to actual or potential security threats to Wordpress-based sites than we've ever seen with Umbraco. It's not insurmountable with appropriate resource applied to security planning, but it's a resource drain that proved not strictly necessary for us and our clients when we have an excellent and very secure alternative product.
Crucially, as Wordpress was a marginal product in our business model, compared with Umbraco in particular, providing support for Wordpress to our usual standards was problematic. We just didn’t know it as well as we know Umbraco, with the result that support effort for any given problem was disproportionate, especially given that Wordpress had been intended as our lower priced CMS offering.
So, we decided that the correct decision, in line with our strategy of keeping extraordinary support at the heart of our business, was to refocus all effort on one core CMS product, and to drop Wordpress.
If you have a particular need for Wordpress, rather than just an “open source CMS”, we won’t try and dissuade you, but we will recommend someone else to build it for you.
If you have an open mind on which open source web CMS you use, and extraordinary support is important to you, please get in touch!