WordPress setting the minimum standard for web content management systems

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The popularity of WordPress has been consistently on the rise all over the world. But in Finland, its popularity has grown so fast in such a short time that you could say there is a “WordPress Boom” going on in Finland.One factor driving this boom are advertising agencies who are quite openly championing the use of WordPress as their default web content management system (CMS). Also this “boom” has given birth to numerous WordPress specialist companies based in Finland.Especially for article-driven websites, WordPress has become the default choice – even for bigger brands. This should not come as a surprise to anyone who has followed the product development of WordPress. WordPress has focused almost exclusively on the development of features related to article publishing.

North Patrol is a consulting firm specialized in the design of digital services and information systems. We shape ideas into a vision and service concept, find the best architectural and technological solutions, design a functional user experience, and compete to find the ideal partner for implementation work. We do not sell implementation projects, nor do we sell licenses; we are genuinely on the side of the customer.

22 August 2013

Perttu Tolvanen

And since the rise of content seems to be biggest trend after social media right now there are lot of websites coming out that are conceptually very focused to delivering different kinds of article streams.

Easy starter package and a unique way to add features

Another factor contributing to WordPress’ growth is its close cooperation with Automattic – a company who runs the world’s largest WordPress cloud environment. WordPress.com is an easy way to try out publishing with WordPress – and it also offers possibilities to grow your website when success reaches you.

WordPress.com offers an option to export all your files and data onto your own servers, and continue using WordPress – just with all the customization possibilities and availability of add-ons. This is one of the world’s rare cases where easy and cheap cloud service also has zero vendor lock-in.

The ecosystem of add-ons is one major thing that sets WordPress apart from many competitors. With over 15 000 plugins you’re guaranteed a wealth of features to cost effectively extend the functionality of your website. Also it’s easier to control and update the basic functionality of WordPress, when a significant portion of specialized functions is managed through plugins.

Automatic updates and good hosting options

In fact, WordPress’ ability to automatically update to the latest version makes it the envy of its competitors.

Joomla has especially had its fair share of updating problems, and organizations with WordPress are set on a safer path – even though popularity always brings more attacks against the system. Naturally WordPress also needs continuous care, but it helps when you have a fairly small “core package” and an update model that works.

Maintenance solutions for WordPress are also exceptionally good. Usually agencies actively recommend a third party hosting service and this way the customer is genuinely able to change agencies in the future if the relationship doesn’t work out – and most agencies offer also services to keep the WordPress updated and safe from attacks.

High-quality features – just not for everything

WordPress excels especially in its high productization rate. The organization behind its development – WordPress Foundation – has not invested a lot in making customization easier for developers. The focus has instead been in improving the basic content management functions and improving the add-on ecosystem. This is quite a different approach than for example Drupal has to product development.

Weaknesses of WordPress emerge usually with diverse online publications and when there’s a large number of content contributors involved. In this case, limiting contributor access to certain types of content and functions proves to be needlessly complicated.

The capabilities to reuse content are significantly more complicated than with other competing CMSs. That weakness can also be a deal-breaker in some cases where content producers want good tools to independently build libraries of reusable elements.

Another limitation to WordPress is its ability to manage multilingual websites – something which rules it out as a tool for many bigger web projects. However these features are not usually required in typical smaller scale online projects – and some fairly simple scenarios can be solved with add-ons.

Not a source of easy money for agencies

Not everything is so rosy of course. WordPress is by no means a moneymaker for agencies or other service providers. Implementing a website on WordPress can be quite cost-effective, especially when the client’s needs fall within its capabilities.

If the content and layout plans are ready, the technical implementation generally ranges between €3000 and €9000 (+tax) for mid-size WordPress projects. Most WordPress implementations probably even fall within the “couple-thousand Euros” class. This is mainly because there are so many students and small web shops pumping out WordPress sites with a very efficient cost-structure.

High-end WordPress websites for media companies can easily have an implementation budget ranging from €15 000 to €30 000 (+tax). Therefore even technically focused service providers need a lot of projects to keep the cash machine humming.

Agencies and other service providers in Finland

At the moment, there are a still quite small number of companies focusing on WordPress in Finland, and the majority of them still don’t actively market the product. Some examples of companies: H1, Aucor, Wysiwyg, Arkimedia and Kvaliitti. Then there are also digital agencies who quite openly state that WordPress is their preferred CMS choice, eg. Frantic and Byroo.

The availability of partners is perhaps the biggest differentiator of WordPress when it comes to Finnish market. Main competitors, Silverstripe, Concrete5 and ExpressionEngine don’t have a solid network of partners – at least not yet.

But even if the partner choices are yet limited, it can be predicted that at this rate, Finland’s online landscape will be buzzing with WordPress powered websites over the coming years.

Perttu Tolvanen

Perttu Tolvanen is a web concept design and content management system expert.

Perttu consults with clients on project planning and defining requirements, and supports customers in selecting content management systems and implementation partners. His areas of specialisation include facilitating concept design workshops and selecting content management systems.

Perttu has ten years of experience with web and intranet projects, including serving as a project manager and consultant. Earlier in his career Perttu has worked in procurement and as a project manager at a large media company, a content management system consultant at a large IT company and an independent, neutral consultant at his own firm. He is also a well-known seminar speaker and blogger. Perttu is also the editor of Vierityspalkki.fi, a Finnish blog about the Finnish internet and its creators.


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