People have asked me this question:
What platform should we use for our web site? We simply want a business web site. We might have a blog, or maybe we won’t for now. We have will just a few people in our organization with the ability to update the site. What should we use?
It’s a fair question.
WordPress has a reputation mainly as a blogging platform – individuals use WordPress to publish a stream of articles. When you think of solutions for “real” web sites, WordPress does not naturally come to mind.
Larger, more complex solutions such as Drupal and Joomla are also available. They both have an “everything including the kitchen sink” reputation – you can allegedly do virtually anything with a Drupal or Joomla based site. Either Drupal or Joomla can certainly do the job.
But WordPress has a reputation for simplicity, while Drupal and Joomla and other content management system (CMS) platforms have a well deserved image of being very complex to set up and administer.
How Do You Choose Software for Your Web Site?
We can answer that question once we know the intended use of the site. Let’s pose the following questions.
- Will you have several different departments that manage their own areas of the content on the site? Here’s an example: a small town web site might have separate sections for the parks and recreation department, and the police department. Each department’s area is managed by a specified person in the town’s government offices.
- Do you have interactive or content needs for the site that go well beyond posting occasional fresh content and providing a blog with available public commenting? For example, do you sponsor a membership organization with many members, each of whom can manage their own site profile and content such as files areas, message boards, and personal blog space? Or do you have a very complex e-commerce catalog with online ordering? Or do you plan to set up an online newspaper or classified ad space?
- Do you plan to have different classes of users, moderators and administrators for your site, each with a certain level and scope of authority?
If the answer to any of these questions “yes”, then you may need a high powered CMS such as Joomla or Drupal. You need to consult with an IT professional and carefully assess your requirements in detail.
If the answer to all three questions is “no”, then WordPress, by far, is your best current choice for your site.
WordPress is going to have a much larger selection of available pre-packaged themes available free or for purchase, most for for under $100, than Joomla or Drupal.
With WordPress, it’s quite possible that you can find a site design that you or your client will love at one of the theme marketplaces such as Theme Forest. It’s far more likely when using Joomla or Drupal that you need a web designer with strong graphics talent to handle site design, because you simply can’t find just the right template design.
WordPress is, to put it simply, a mass market, and the customer base for Joomla and Drupal templates, while large, is far smaller than for WordPress. The demand for innovative WordPress themes is so strong that virtually any taste can be accommodated with an off-the-shelf template.
WordPress is most suitable for the case where a small, cohesive group of stakeholders manage and administer the web site. In other words, you don’t have web site areas for multiple departments that are each managed by different people.
A WordPress site is going to be much easier and faster to develop with than Joomla or Drupal, and less of a pain to administer, simply because its scope is much smaller than Joomla or Drupal. The “back end” administration of an installed platform like Drupal requires an IT system administrator type level of skill and knowledge.
Joomla and Drupal are much better suited for the needs of an organization that requires things like security layers for different classes of users, and partitioning of “sandboxes” where multiple departments are allowed access for updating their own separate areas of the site. For example, I know of a Joomla public web site for a small town where the recreation department and the police department each have their own separate administration accounts and managers.
Joomla (or Drupal, or others) are the natural choice when the management of the site content itself becomes complex.
Isn’t WordPress Just for Blogging?
In a word: NO. You can readily create “real web sites” in WordPress.
The capability to set up static pages, or pages that don’t have ever-changing lists of articles is the usual definition of a standard web site. WordPress passes this test with flying colors.
This is a WordPress site. You just happen to be viewing the area of my site that is organized as a blog.
A “just for blogging” web site would only have blog entries. The home page for a “pure blog” site is just a list of teasers from the most current blog articles.
Most business sites can’t devote their content only to chronological articles. And most owners will find that business sites shouldn’t allow public comments for most customer facing copy, which would tend to distract the visitor and dilute the message.
Almost all business and organizational web sites have a static home page. Or, mostly static copy and content as a “front page”.
WordPress templates are available which provide very rich designs for a static home page, as well as static pages.
And plugins and settings are freely available in WordPress to turn off comments for any content that you desire, whether it’s for blog postings or for static, public facing product and service descriptions.
Let your business and organizational needs – and not preconceptions or dogma – guide the choice of content platform for your business.
WordPress is the right choice for the majority of small and medium sized business web site. More complex CMS platforms such as Joomla and Drupal are available for more complex organizational needs.