When considering a redesign of a company website, a large scale organization must choose a stable and secure platform that will deliver the functionality and performance that it needs to meet its goals. It is also important that it be extensible so that it can grow with the organization over time. WordPress, now ten years old, has become a major contender for use for enterprise business websites.
Although WordPress started ten years ago as a blogging platform, the core team, with strong open source developer support, puts out a version updates every 1-3 months, and major version updates once or twice a year. Since the release of version 3.0 in 2010, WordPress has become the most used CMS, while the use of the other CMS platforms continues to plummet. In addition, there are now 60 million WordPress web sites and 22% of all new websites use WordPress as their platform.
Major Concerns Addressed
There are several main concerns for those tasked with making a choice of an enterprise business web platform. The solution must:
1. Be Secure
Security is a major concern for any public web platform. Code review is the best practice to insure that a particular platform is secure and since WordPress is open-source, it is one of the most comprehensively peer-reviewed source code in the world. Security vulnerabilities or breaches are typically discovered very early with patches deployed within hours or days, and installed with a couple of clicks.
Security also relies on firewalls, password policies, and reducing attack vectors as much as possible. For sites that are more vulnerable due to attack on the basis of politics, religion, or other bellwether situations, additional measures can be taken to use third-party programs and webhosting that provide premium firewall protection.
You can find more information about hardening WordPress on the WordPress Codex.
2. Handle Traffic with Stability
WordPress is now the platform of choice for some of the best known, high-profile, heavily trafficked websites that easily handles the delivery of a great deal of multi-media content. These sites include PBS, MSNBC, Mashable, and CNN.
It is also being used for some very large Enterprise deployments like Best Buy, who employs WordPress in a multi-site system, so that each of their stores can have their own local WordPress sites, which are powered by and integrated into the main company WordPress site. Best Buy also use WordPress to power their Best Buy Mobile site.
3. Organize Content, Both Text and Multi media in Creative Ways
There are over 20,000 WordPress plugins and hundreds of well-tested theme frameworks to use when building WordPress websites. WordPress handles Posts Pages and Custom Post Types allowing you to build new taxonomies. Sites can be developed for Real Estate, auctions, billing and invoicing, career listings, online reservations, presenting and delivering online courses, management of events and registrations, membership sites and e-commerce. There are also integrations with Mail Chimp, Facebook, Instagram, Authorize.net, PayPal and so many more third party programs. Images, Video Audio and PDFs can also be easily integrated into a WordPress site.
Out of the box, WordPress includes support for multiple users with permissions that include subscribers (read-only), contributors (can submit content for review by editors), authors (can write and publish their own content), editors (can review and publish any content), and administrators (can add plugins and themes, make configuration changes). There are plugins that add even more levels of user permissions and even access to certain content so that there can be departmental content with separate permissions for the different departments.
4. Have Professional Support
The community of developers contributing to WordPress core, building themes and building plugins is enormous. There are thousands of web sites dedicated to WordPress tips, tutorials, and support. The community loves to help other WordPress users often at no charge. People give their time to hold free WordPress Meetups (workshops) and low cost WordCamps (conferences) in most major cities worldwide. With the popularity of WordPress, the WordPress community now supports a vast number of WordPress designers and developers who are available for hire for website development and support.
5. Be Easy to Use and Maintain
WordPress was built as an easy to use simple blogging platform and has added enhanced features and functionality over the past ten years. As an open source platform you will not find the hefty maintenance contracts that come with proprietary systems. Nor will your organization be beholden to one vendor for ongoing support. In addition to ease of development, WordPress is committed to serving non-technical users. In fact, WordPress is the easiest CMS for a non-technical person to learn to use. The features of WordPress have been driven by the needs of the content people first before growing into a full Content Management System. Every feature had to be usable by bloggers, including non-technical ones. This development path is more successful as evidenced by the slow progress that Joomla and Drupal are making on this front. The fact is that their ships are still being sailed by technologists. For example, Drupal still doesn’t ship with a WYSIWYG editor.
Ease of use is an issue that both Joomla and Drupal are trying to improve. But it is hard to make a program easier for end-users when it was originally developed by and for developers to use and maintain.
The following are additional examples of the use of WordPress by large organizations, such as the United States government, Universities, E- commerce and Museums. Other examples can be found in the WordPress Showcase.
CIO.gov This site is a great example of how the federal government of the United States is using WordPress. And not just any old department but the U.S. Chief Information Officer and the Federal CIO Council which serve as a central resource for information on Federal IT. This site showcases examples of innovation and identifys best practices for Federal IT leaders and the CIO.gov site is also used to keep the public up to date about how our Government is tying to close the technology gap between the private and public sectors.
Kartell This website functions as the flagship online store for official Kartell merchandise featuring best sellers like Louis Ghost Chair, Mademoiselle Chair, Bourgie Lamp and Componibili Storage Modules. It was built using the e-commerce plugin, Shopp.
BBC America Britain’s best shows and groundbreaking American originals, BBC America. This huge WordPress Multisite install is site for all of the BBC America shows. Each of the sites has its own child theme, which is powered by the main framework.
Drew University This is a beautiful example of a WordPress Multisite application which uses WordPress to run more than 140 of their departmental sites on their campus. The site is a power user of plugins in addition to its core functionality and is easy for its as well as its editors.
Tenement Museum This is a beautiful site and a wonderful example of what a museum website built with WordPress is and can be. This site has world-class design and you feel like you have an experience of the museum from visiting the site. The mission of the Tenement Museum is to,
“preserve and interpret the history of immigration through the personal experiences of the generations of newcomers who settled in and built lives on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, America’s iconic immigrant neighborhood”.
Powerhouse Museum The Powerhouse Museum’s website had a major redesign in April 2004 and was built using WordPress. The Powerhouse provides an API for others to access their collections and also has developed a WordPress plugin that anyone can use on their WordPress site to show the object of the day or a group of objects from the collection. The Powerhouse Museum is located near Sydney, Australia. It is a public museum operated by the State Government for the people of New South Wales. There is estimated to be well over 500,000 separate items in the Museum’s collection.
The Museums, Galleries and Archives of Wolverhampton Built with WordPress by Orangeleaf Systems in the UK, it is a large-scale multi award winning website for the Wolverhampton Museums Service. The site features a collections display and management system and news and events systems for the services partners and provides a nice example of the use of the WordPress Event Manager Plugin.