WordPress Grows Up

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From Blogging Platform to Enterprise-Level Content Management Solution 

When MercuryWorks’s clients need content management for their web solutions, one of the decisions we guide them through is choosing the right web content management (WCM) system for their needs. The WCM industry is quickly evolving to meet the ways that companies deliver content digitally. In 2020, Gartner even retired its WCM Magic Quadrant reporting, citing that the market is fully mature and that more clients are demanding the dynamic, personalized content across devices and channels offered by digital experience platforms (DXPs).

Does this mean that websites and traditional content management are dead? Not even close. While end-to-end digital experiences may be the “new hotness,” many B2B and B2C enterprise solutions still need traditional content management. While sometimes a full-featured, heavy duty, end-to-end licensed WCM platform such as Adobe, Sitecore or Acquia is necessary, other times it is not. In fact, sometimes the scale, scope and weight of these types of WCM solutions can become a hindrance in the success of the web solution. Some web solutions can be highly effective with a relatively basic, lightweight platform.

In those cases, we often recommend WordPress as a web content management solution.

WordPress began as a blogging platform in 2002, but a lot has changed in the nearly 20 years since its creation. Today, it powers 34% of all websites in the world (including 14.7% of the world’s top websites such as The Walt Disney Company, TechCrunch, and BBC America).

WordPress has grown up and grown into a stable, secure WCM for many content delivery needs. Moreover, WordPress can be used as an effective headless CMS platform integrated into web applications.  We often hear clients’ initial concerns about WordPress as an enterprise-grade solution—and in many cases, what used to be problematic about WordPress just isn’t the case anymore. Here’s what’s changed.

Better Hosting Environments

WordPress is (and always has been) an open-source platform, which offers many benefits but has also made it historically vulnerable to security breaches. These problems were compounded by traditional hosting environments, where up to thousands of websites were hosted on a single server—relying on the host’s default firewalls and malware scans and making all websites on that server susceptible if one website’s security was breached.

Modern hosting environments, however, are built with WordPress in mind. Managed WordPress hosting is a service offering all its own, with companies like WP Engine and Pantheon redefining the technologies upon which WordPress sites should be built. In addition to hosting your website on a private or semi-private server, managed WordPress hosting provides threat detection and alerts, automatic patches and minor updates, and security best practices such as SSL certificates, disaster recovery, plug-in approval and recommendation, and multi-factor authentication to protect your site. Managed hosting environments can also offer functionality to improve speed and performance, such as different development/staging/production environments, versioning, caching, CDNs, and highly scalable architecture to handle surges in traffic. Building WordPress sites on more stable environments significantly reduces their vulnerability and allows teams to enjoy the lightweight, open source benefits of WordPress without assuming unnecessary risk.

A More Robust Platform

WordPress offers an easy-to-use WYSIWYG editing interface, allowing non-technical editors to upload and publish content without engineering support. While it may not offer all the bells and whistles (or the expense) of a full-scale DXP, the platform is quite mature and full-featured, especially for an open-source WCM platform.

By updating features and adding more robust tooling over time, WordPress has hardened into a more mature product suitable for enterprise-level content management. More out-of-the-box functionality equates to fewer plugins and greater stability; one recent example is the WordPress Gutenberg block editor first introduced in 2018, which in some cases has eliminated the need for separate “page-building” plugins. Just in the past year, WordPress has also added accessibility and performance improvements such as color contrast settings and lazy loading, along with data privacy enhancements to allow companies to maintain regulatory compliance. With an average of two to three updates each year, WordPress has demonstrated a reliable maintenance and support schedule and is responsive to the evolving needs of its users.

A Mature Open-Source Ecosystem

Not only has the platform itself and its hosting environments matured over time, but so has the WordPress ecosystem. There are more than 50,000 WordPress plugins currently on the market—and while their quality may vary, the number of stable plugins with good support has never been higher. WordPress’s continued dominance in the WCM market and its mature codebase and feature set has fostered an industry of highly trained professionals and development partners, along with more mature processes and best practices.

Headless CMS for App Integration

In cases where a traditional WCM may not work well or be too restrictive in nature, WordPress can be used as a “headless CMS.”  For example, when doing mobile-oriented development, you can easily use API calls in a headless CMS to deliver content to a Progressive Web App or React Native platform. Similarly, you can make use of JavaScript frameworks in your apps and rely on headless CMS architecture for pushing content to various platforms. In terms of using WordPress as a headless CMS, it already has REST API built in, which means we have the API part sorted. Furthermore, we can make use of the familiar WordPress back end to manage the content.

Choosing a WordPress Development Partner

Companies in need of content management no longer have to choose between WordPress’s ease of use and the stability, support, functionality, and performance of other solutions. At MercuryWorks, we leverage the best of WordPress—from superior hosting environments to multisite installs to sophisticated front-end frameworks—to create lightning-fast, flexible, and secure websites for enterprise.

WordPress isn’t always the best option solution but is often a very good fit.  Want to find out if WordPress is well suited for your web content management needs? Reach out to us today.

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