One of our focus areas when building websites for clients is not only how the end user will experience the site, but how our clients will be able to manage the backend and have a tool that serves their ongoing needs. We rely on a few different Content Management Systems (CMSs) to provide this backend infrastructure, and choose the platform according to client needs. But what are all of these systems and why do we choose one over the other? We begin by explaining WordPress.
- WordPress is free and open source, and has built a strong community around it
The fact that WordPress.org is open source means that anyone can download and use the core completely for FREE. This access opens a world of possibilities for developers to test, bend, create and share all things WordPress.
- Ultimate creative flexibility (for developers in particular)
Again, because it’s open source, we have granular control over the structure and style of any WordPress-based websites. This allows us to take highly customized designs and translate them into pixel perfect websites.
- Great visual editor + a customizable and flexible backend
The basic visual editor is what WordPress originally became known. Not only is it super easy to edit content, it’s also easy for us as developers to refine the backend experience to suit your specific needs. We have the ability to create custom post types, custom fields, and define a range of content pieces that help keep everything organized perfectly. At Mangrove, we prefer to build the website backend in a straightforward, yet detailed manner so there’s limited chance of “breaking” anything on the site as client edits are made. With WordPress we have much more control over how the backend is set up when compared to a proprietary system like Squarespace or Shopify.
- Plugins allow us to build further
WordPress plugins, or add-on modules, exist for nearly everything you can imagine. This doesn’t mean they should be used in excess (in fact, we recommend a limited approach), but there are particular plugins which allow us to extend our development reach in an efficient and cost-effective way. Some of our favorite plugins include Gravity Forms, Advanced Custom Fields, and WooCommerce.
- WordPress is SEO Friendly
WordPress structures websites in an “SEO-Friendly” way, basically using Search Engine Optimization best practices at its core. This includes the way WordPress organizes content, internal links, and permalinks (the url you see in your browser) to ensure maximum searchability. In addition, there are a few great SEO plugins such as the All-In-One SEO Pack and Google XML Sitemaps that can give you an extra SEO boost.
- Backups are easy to configure
It’s easy to create ongoing WP backups, especially on the right host (e.g., WPEngine provides nightly backups and one-click reverting). We always configure weekly database backups that are emailed to us for safekeeping should things go awry. Note: Revision history can be utilized for safer editing (although they are not foolproof—revisions do not always cover all editable fields and shouldn’t be relied on blindly).
- Security is the number one drawback of WordPress. Because it’s so widely used, it’s become a major target of hack attempts. However, the good news is that the WP core team keeps a close eye and releases security patches often. The best way to safeguard against these attacks is to update on a regular basis (or have us help you out with maintenance).
- Even though WordPress is very flexible, it still has limits—for larger projects with complex member interactions and other advanced functionality, it often makes sense to build a completely customized platform. In this case we would recommend one of our partner organizations to make sure you’re in the right hands.
Who we recommend it for:
- Clients who want customized design and backend flexibility.
- Clients who will update their site frequently.
- Clients with sites that may continue to expand or if more complex functionality is anticipated down the road.
- Some e-commerce sites (depending on the requirements).
With WordPress’s flexibility, it’s usually our “go-to.” WordPress has repeatedly proven to be the perfect tool for small to large.
updated, March 2016