Yes, you read that correctly, WordPress isn’t the best CMS out there. WordPress is, however, the CMS I like best. My BCIT class on Thursday afternoons is one of those great groups of students that everyone should have the opportunity to teach. They challenge me constantly. No, not in a disrespectful way, in an intelligent way. They challenge me to challenge myself and learn more so I can teach them more (hence all my experimentation with Subversion).
This week, for example, I was working through the WordPress theme structure with a group of the students after class. They were looking for the way to convert HTML files into WP templates, so I was explaining how the parts pulled together. Their comments on the PHP-MYSQL system were pretty smart. They talked about other CMS systems and, thinking that I would defend WP without hesitation, I responded that it wasn’t that WP was the best, it was that WP was the one I liked the best and could teach them. There are more and more great CMS systems out there, and if you’re starting a project you should look at and even test other open-source alternatives.
It just so happens that I stumbled on a post that does a great job at looking at all the factors you should look at when choosing a CMS:
Content Management Systems (CMS) have evolved into more than just publishing content, but managing your workflow as well. CMS’s nowadays allow you to easily conceive, edit, index, and publish content, while giving designers and developers more flexibility in customizing their look and functionality. Although there are many that require advanced skills to operate successfully, this article is going to cover a select few that offer a balance between design, code, and end-user usability.
I choose WordPress for my projects because it does the job I need and want it to do. If I were building something more complex, I might choose Drupal because I am also familiar with it and know that I there are great Drupal resources around here that I can tap into if I need them. Other CMSes, I haven’t tried enough of them in an in-depth way to pass judgement.
What I’ve learned recently, and something we all need to remember, is that sometimes we need to make sure we’re using the best tool for the job instead of shoe-horning in the tool we like to use. I’ve seen more than a few WP, Drupal, and other systems made to do things they really aren’t good at doing. I’ve also seen a lot of development time and effort go into custom work to make something work, when maybe using something different at the beginning would have saved time and money.
Choose the right CMS for the project. Shoe-horning systems into place can mean more headaches in the long run.
For example using WordPress to build a “regular” website. Sure, it’s pretty easy. Sure I think it’s one of the best ways to do it, but it isn’t the only way nor is it alway the best way to do it. Every project is different.
It seems that each time I teach how to use WordPress to make a website (the next classes are in January btw), I can refine not only how I teach the course, but when picking WP is a good idea and when it isn’t. Each time I have the opportunity to sound like a WP fan-boy, blindly using WP for everything, or I can sound like someone who really have been around for a while. I choose the later.
Using WordPress as an example, learning how plugins work, how to manage users, how theme and templates work, and how server structures work are all applicable to other systems. Learn one, understand many. Then, learn more.
Always learn. Always challenge yourself.
Next on my plate? WordPress security and making my WordPress installs more secure. How about you? What’s your next thing to learn?