Here at New Tricks we have always created websites for Young Pups (people and companies just starting out) and Working Dogs (established small businesses or new businesses who want and need to look like the experts that they are).
But more and more we are seeing Big Dogs (larger companies who have big needs for e-commerce, career management, employee directories, many service sectors or practice areas) making a decision to go with WordPress.
When we first started out in 2009, we had to explain to clients why using WordPress was the best solution for their website and convince them to use it. Now, most companies, regardless of size, know they want to use WordPress, and come to us because of our extensive experience with WordPress.
Unfortunately, going with WordPress doesn’t ensure you will have a great site, no matter what the size. It is easy to do a WordPress site but, then again that makes it easy to do a bad one.
This is especially true if a company hires a developer without specific WordPress experience to create their site or hires someone who doesn’t have the breadth of experience to do it right. This problem is relatively easy to avoid by hiring companies who have a successful WordPress track record with references specific to creating WordPress websites that function properly, and who will be there for you when you need them.
A really foolhardy decision usually made by larger companies is to have someone convince them to develop a totally custom site or use a proprietary content management system. This strategy locks the client into a long and potentially painful relationship with the developer.
When everything is created from scratch it has to be built and tested which means that the development time is usually quadruple what it takes to build a WordPress site that uses stable, underlying code to provide most of the functions and features. Matt Mullenweg, in his state of the Word address at WordCamp SF this month, reported that 91% of all WordPress sites were developed in less than 200 hours.
Totally custom sites are usually built by developers, for developers and their administration will usually fall to the developers as well. Whereas the beauty of a WordPress site is that it is easy for end users to administer. Not being able to do that will stop a team in its tracks, especially today, when the website needs to be the hub of your content marketing efforts.
The following offers some background as to why WordPress is the best choice for Big Dog sites.
In 2003, WordPress was launched as a free, open source blogging software. Since that time, WordPress has been constantly evolving, with core programmers led by Matt Mullenweg releasing major updates once or twice a year.
With the release of version 3.0, in 2010, WordPress quickly became the most used CMS platform while the other major players, Joomla, Drupal, and SharePoint and DNN, continue to decline. Now, eleven years later, WordPress powers over 60 million websites, 23% of all new websites in the world. It is no longer just for bloggers or small businesses.
Large companies are changing to WordPress in droves. According to Builtwith.com, WordPress currently powers 44% of the world’s content management websites. Drupal with less than 12% and Joomla with less than 2% of content management websites have declined in usage and continue to lose ground.
Since WordPress is now so well accepted as the CMS of choice for smaller businesses and organizations, when new web projects are proposed, WordPress often comes up as the CMS of choice .
However, the IT departments of larger organizations, being tasked with making sure the choice of website platform is sound, often have objections to using WordPress. These issues are easily overcome when they are presented with a plethora of universities, governmental organizations, major news outlets and even fortune 500 companies adopting the platform.
A beautiful example of a WordPress Multisite application is the Georgia State University website. GSU University uses WordPress to fully power over all of their departments across campus. The site makes extensive use of plugins and core functionality and provides a good experience for both users and editors.
Cody Benson, of Georgia State University, was a key player in directing the migration of the GSU website to WordPress two years ago. He reported that they found the money in their budget to fund the project by discontinuing the support contract for their legacy custom CMS. Not only that, but GSU got the site built in a year which would never have been possible with most any other platform. As developers realize it’s merits, more enterprise sites are being developed using WordPress.
Five concerns individuals making a platform decision may have about choosing WordPress for large or enterprise wide website projects.
Security is a major concern for any public web platform. Code review is the best practice to insure that a particular platform is secure. Since WordPress is open-source, it is one of the most comprehensively peer-reviewed source codes in the world. Security vulnerabilities or breaches are typically discovered very early and patches deployed within hours or days can be installed with a couple of clicks.
Security also relies on firewalls, password policies, and reducing attack vectors as much as possible. For sites that may be vulnerable to attacks on the basis of politics and religion, there are additional measures including third party security programs and hosts that can provide further levels of security. You can find more information about securing WordPress in the WordPress Codex.
2. Ability to Handle High Traffic
WordPress is now the platform of choice for some of the best-known, high-profile, heavily trafficked websites that deliver high volumes of multi-media content. These sites include PBS, MSNBC, Mashable, and CNN.
It is also being used for some very large enterprise deployments by companies like Best Buy, which employs WordPress in a multi-site application. Using multisite, each of the individual stores has its own local WordPress site powered by and integrated with the main company WordPress site. WordPress has also held up for heavily trafficked celebrity sites including fan sites for Ryan Seacrest, JayZ, and Katy Perry. These sites demonstrate that WordPress can definitely be used for large scale, high traffic websites.
3. Ability to Organize and Handle Text and Multi-Media Content
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 the creation of new taxonomies.
Sites can be developed with functionality specific 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 MailChimp, Facebook, Instagram, Authorize.net, PayPal and many more third party programs. Images, photo galleries, slideshows, video, audio and PDFs can also be easily integrated into WordPress sites.
Out of the box, WordPress includes support for multiple users with varying permission levels including 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 limit access to certain content so that there can be departmental content with unique permissions.
4. Availability of Professional Support
The community of developers contributing to WordPress core, building themes, and building plugins is enormous. There are thousands of websites dedicated to WordPress tips, tutorials, and support.
The community loves to help fellow 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 around the world.
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. When a company chooses a custom or proprietary CMS they are basically on the hook to that developer or company for the ongoing development and support of their website. This is a dangerous and expensive way to go.
5. Ease of Use and Administration
WordPress is committed to serving non-technical users; therefore, WordPress has evolved to be the easiest CMS for a non-technical person to use. The features of WordPress have been driven by the needs of the everyday users, not of the techies. Every feature has to be usable by bloggers, most of whom are non-technical.
Ease of use is an issue that both Joomla and Drupal are working on. But it is hard to make a program retroactively easier for end users when it was initially built to make things easier for technical people.
Building a simple to use program and adding functionality over time is an easier path and more successful than the other way around 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.
Other Enterprise level Companies Using WordPress
Here are a couple of sites you might not realize are powered by WordPress:
BBC America: Britain’s best shows and groundbreaking American originals, BBC America. This giant WordPress Multisite install is the home for all the BBC America shows. Each site has its own child theme, which is powered by the main framework.
Tenement Museum: This is a fantastic 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 Tenement Museum preserves and interprets 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;
You can find many other examples on the WordPress Showcase.