Wordpress as a Content Management System, and when WP is Appropriate for the Job at Hand

Wordpress can be used for many aspects of online content management. But the tool may not always be the best to use in certain situations.

If you’re thinking about developing a website in general, and you’re unsure about whether or not WP is right for you, you may want to consider what type of website you’re focused on building, and what tools WP has to offer (or lack thereof).

Below contains a list of all the projects I would use WP for, and ones where I don’t feel it’s absolutely necessary to use Wordpress:

When to use Wordpress:

Personal Blogging – If you’re only looking to write a blog about your day-to-day activities, then WP offers all the tools you’ll ever need.

Whether you’re video blogging (vlogging), audio blogging (podcasting), or just plain writing, there’s plenty of plugins out there that can assist you in setting these features up. Whichever plugin you’re looking for will depend on the situation and what features you’re looking to express on your new blog.

People can even comment on your posts if you’d like them to.

A Simple Article Site – Wordpress can be a great tool to use as an article database. Say for example you are a sports fan and you like to write professional articles about your favorite team’s players, the teams management capabilities, or how the team is performing in a particular season.

One great feature about WP is that it employs a category system, so you can organize all the articles you write in a professional manner. And you can have as many categories as you want, there’s no limit.

One more thing to mention about categories is that they are hierarchical. Take the sports analogy I mentioned previously, you could choose to have some top-level categories about a variety of sports (Football, Baseball, Basketball, etc.) and underneath each of those categories you could have “football team”, “basketball players”, etc. You can name them whatever you wish, you have a lot of freedom when it comes to categories.

A Small Business Site – One more situation in which I would recommend using Wordpress is if you run a small business. Why you ask? Well because:

  1. It’s free to install and use. Small businesses don’t normally have the largest budget to work with and it helps keep costs to a minimum.
  2. The back-end is fairly easy to understand. Time is money in a business and you won’t have to spend too long learning the ins and outs of creating a few basic web pages.
  3. Separation between the main business aspect and the blog is possible. You can set the option of giving your homepage a static page instead of displaying the most recent posts (as with most blogs).

When to not use Wordpress:

Now that we’ve covered some instances where Wordpress is easily manageable, I want to go over a few types of sites where WP is not ideally recommended.

A Larger or More Corporate Business – While Wordpress has great flexibility in what it can offer to the individual or who that may run it, it also doesn’t contain out-of-the-box solutions for those companies that generally look for advanced features.

Many aspects of these larger sites include things such as syndicated news feeds (to keep employess, investors, etc. up-to-date.) and either flash or AJAX interfaces, which WP doesn’t employ initially, and would require advanced coding techniques which Wordpress doesn’t normally support.

While it is possible to develop a custom Content Management System based off of the Wordpress Platform, it requires just that, customization. You’d be better off just building a new system from scratch as you’d be the one who understands how the code works and interacts with database, given that you’re the one who’ll likely design it. Not to mention this way you won’t have to worry about conflicts between PHP functions, classess, other coding aspects.

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t add a blog aspect to a corporate website, in fact, I’d say it’s ideal for that purpose. You just shouldn’t build the entire website around it’s files and the database.

An Online Community - I would avoid Wordpress altogether if you even remotely plan on building a social network of any sort. The user registration system is pretty limited in what it can offer people who sign up, and the comment template can get overwhelming if several people decide to comment on a post, as members or guests.

Identification can also become an issue, while people can post comments and such under any name they wish, ID conflictions may occur. There is no cross-checking script that can detect whether guests who comment are actually the same people that might join using the login and password system.

While Wordpress MU and Buddypress do exist, these require precise, careful planning and management systems to actually be considered effective additions within the Wordpress environment (after working within the environment personally for a few months). Theme and plugin options are limited here because there’s multiple places they can be installed, and may not work properly in one area or another, as it has trouble locating which to use first, which blogs should employ the use of which installed plugins, etc.

While a WP-backed social community is a nice idea in theory, the implementation is just executed poorly. This is one of the reasons I decided to employ the use of vBulletin as a feedback system for Engipress.

A Highly Secure Intranet (or equivalent) – One more broad website style that one may want to avoid using Wordpress for is an online location that only permits privileged access and contains sensitive information.

The simple reason behind this is that Wordpress is Open-Source. What this means is that anybody can view the source code that makes up Wordpress. This includes script kiddies and crackers, who may want to access sensitive data that is normally involved in these types of sites. And since these types of hackers have already had time to analyze and access the structure and underlying PHP code of the CMS, they’re going to use every potential Wordpress weakness to exploit whatever they can find to gain entry to wherever they wish to look, including potentially damaging the database (either by changing information around or just flat-out deleting it).

While this post certainly doesn’t cover every type of website out there, it should hopefully give those who are looking into it a basic idea as to whether or not they should use Wordpress in their specific situation.

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