Wordpress is the most famous Content Management System, but does that make it the best choice for all use cases?
WordPress is the most used Content Management System (CMS) in the world, with some estimates that it powers 27% of the world's top 10 million websites. It is Open Source under the GPL license and can be used free of charge.
WordPress began life in 2003 as fork of B2/cafelog and was originally designed as a blogging platform. This blogging ancestry shows itself throughout the code and user interface with 'posts' being a common concept even on sites that are not blog based. However with its wide popularity come a large number of plugins which add additional functionality to WordPress sites taking it well beyond blogging and into more advanced functionality such as eCommerce.
WordPress sites are usually based on prebuilt themes which are then tweaked or modified to get the branding that is required. This predefined approach makes it easy to get a website up and running quickly but places limitations on how the front end of your website looks and feels. This provides a wide library of off the shelf functionality, but also blurs the line between developers and content authors, giving users the options to 'shoot themselves in the foot' with incompatible or insecure plugins.
Speaking of security, with its popularity and legacy code comes a wide range of security issues. It is vitally important that WordPress sites are kept up to date. This not just includes the core, but also all of the plugins and themes that are used on the site. This can add a high maintenance commitment as there may be many elements to update at once.
SilverStripe is an open source web framework and CMS released under the BSD license. SilverStripe is developed in New Zealand and the forms the core of the Common Web Platform for the New Zealand Government.
SilverStripe requires more developer input to setup, configure and develop when compared to WordPress but with this comes a greater degree of flexibility both in functionality and design. A site built on SilverStripe is built to your specific needs and requirements, not a collection of plugins that most closely provide those features.
For developers there is a community around SilverStripe which is much smaller that WordPress,but does provide knowledge, support, expertise and modules. SilverStripe code is modern and robust and encourages good coding practices from third-party developers.
For a content author or website owner you are given access to all the features you need for your role without an overwhelming array of settings, configurations.
SilverStripe has a high level of security throughout the code base and very few vulnerability issues reported compared to other systems such as Joomla, Drupal and WordPress. The consistent coding standards and robust core help make upgrades run smoothly across the code, custom code and third-party add-ons.
With powerful data management features SilverStripe can do more than power a website, it can be used to provide the backend for native apps or a web based interface to complex data driven applications among other features.
Why we prefer SilverStripe
SilverStripe gives us the flexibility to develop to products our client's are asking for and the control over the code to make sure it matches the requirements. From a blank slate it is quicker to get a WordPress site up and running as long as there are existing plugins and themes that match the requirement.
Custom development both in terms of functionality and design are more difficult in WordPress increasing up-front development costs. Security patching and juggling third-party contributions take more maintenance time increasing on-going costs as well.
Many of our clients need the backend to support a mobile app and API development and our existing data synchronisation tools work well with SilverStripe, ensuring that they can run their systems from a single backend.
We do host and support a number of WordPress sites, when our clients specifically require it, or move to us from a previous developer and do not want to rebuilt their websites. These sites have a higher load of unwanted traffic and require close monitoring in order to keep performance levels acceptable on the same systems that can run SilverStripe sites comfortably.
We are always looking to find the right tool for the right job and for the majority of our clients the power, flexibility and structure of SilverStripe fits will with the products that we are creating.