As the world's most popular CMS, Wordpress has become the Ford Focus or Toyota Corolla of the CMS world, with over 50% of the CMS market. The reasons for this popularity is a simple set of no brainers.
Reasons for Wordpress’s success
- Free & Open Source - as an open source CMS, Wordpress is a free to own and low cost to run on almost any server.
- Simple to build & deploy - any designer/developer can get a WordPress site running without requiring any special knowledge or a web development background.
- Lots of low cost & free themes - allowing you to get a site running without having to pay for design or template coding.
- Easy & intuitive for editors - allowing non-web people to manage their website within a few minutes.
- An array of plugins & extensions - turning a simple CMS into a more capable content management platform.
Whilst these are compelling reasons to select Wordpress, there are also some really good reasons why Wordpress might not be the best choice for you or your website.
7 reasons to find an alternative to Wordpress
Whilst Wordpress is a great choice for personal sites and some small companies and organisations online needs, many of its strengths are also its weaknesses.
1 - Scalability - Wordpress’s strength is its simplicity, but this is also its weakness as it was designed to power personal blogs and simple websites. Whilst you can build almost anything you want, the reality is that complex sites with numerous content repositories and relationships are extending Wordpress beyond what it was designed to manage.
2 - Multilingual - There are a number of great plugins that can be used to add multilingual functionality, however the downside is that compatibility between each of these plugins and the various themes, plugins and extensions is questionable, making Wordpress less than ideal for anything but the simplest of multilingual projects.
3 - Multi-site architecture - As a simple CMS, Wordpress has been able to manage multi-site environments for a while, however this is simplistic and does not offer the granularity and flexibility you could need for a true multi-site framework.
4 - Performance - Whilst Wordpress can theoretically deliver excellent FE performance (if you hand code everything), in practice, many themes, page builders & extensions that you would expect to use, offer very poor FE performance impacting Google benchmarks and ultimately penalising your site in SEO.
5 - Maintainability & Security - As a core platform Wordpress is secure and easy to maintain, however the risks and issues arrive when you combine a large number of extensions & plugins together, as these do not all play nicely, creating vulnerabilities, compatibility issues and upgrade blockers.
6 - Workflow & user management - Whilst Wordpress is nice and simple to use, it lacks features you would expect when managing teams of editors, publishing workflows and approval processes. In practice this impacts flexibility, manageability and governance.
7 - TCO (Total cost of ownership) - Wordpress is a low cost platform and is super easy to rollout and run, however as you extend and hack the platform to do more than it was conceived to do, adding in an array of extensions and plugins, the complexity quickly increases your running costs and before you know it, your Wordpress stack is a costly and complex beast to manage and maintain.
Considering these ‘Wordpress downsides’, unless your needs are super simple, you may well want to consider an alternative to Wordpress, ensuring you have a right platform to manage your site and its content.
Wordpress Alternatives - what is a better CMS than Wordpress?
If Wordpress, the world's most popular & ubiquitous CMS is not right for you, then what are you going to choose?
There are a number of other really popular CMS platforms, such as Drupal, Joomla, Wix, Squarespace and even Godaddy however to be honest all of these are limited or have major flaws of their own. Out of these Drupal is probably the best option, but again has quite a few of the same drawbacks as Wordpress.
There are also a range of new kids on the block such as CraftCMS, PyroCMS, Pagekit and Grav which are reality exciting, but whilst some of these may be the future of content management, they are all a little bleeding edge and whilst innovative, they are also immature and pose a risky choice.
So then onto the more mature, complete and high end platforms. Here we find a smaller selection of enterprise content management platforms such as Adobe Experience Manager, Sitecore, OpenText, EPI CMS, and Oracle WebCentre, however most of these are prohibitively expensive from both a licensing and operational perspective.
So what is our preferred choice? We choose and would recommend TYPO3 CMS which admittedly has developed a bit of a reputation for having a steep learning curve for developers, however this is a truly Enterprise class CMS platform offering a mature feature set, which is also open source, has an active developer community and strong install base and TYPO3 CMS is completely free to use.
TYPO3 CMS is the best of all worlds, striking a great balance between maturity, capability, popularity and cost of ownership. We have tried hard to find a more suitable CMS platform however TYPO3 CMS is still our recommended CMS for those who need a bit more than a simple Wordpress site.
Finn is a founding director of Liquid Light, and he still (after 22 years of web design) likes to get involved in projects. When he is not worrying about the clients, he is studying Chinese medicine, working with young criminals and doing spartan challenges.