, LLC.

Can WordPress stand up against a more traditional  CMS?

I recently received this email from a reader, and wanted to address it here for everyone.

Hi Kevin,

Great site, portfolio, and articles.

I had a quick question if you can spare some time…

I’ve worked with WordPress for about a year now, and have lately wondered if something like Modx is more appropriate for larger sites.  I love working with WP, but the approach with Modx is nice.  The only reason why I have wavered is that WP doesn’t seem as well geared to facilitate a 200 page site.  Unless there is a hidden plug-in that I don’t know about that allows for each page management that you know about?

I’d like to continue to work with WP because if a client wants to sell online, easy implement.  Easy managing of a lot of basic things like forms, media, etc.

But other things like multiple fields, where Modx excels at out of the box, is always done with a plugin etc.  Or even the page management that I’m talking about, again, that modx does great out of the box.  It just seems like more of a real CMS to me, but WordPress seems to have so many plugin solutions that make things very easy.

Any insight to this would be much appreciated.  I hate thinking that I’m not using the best system and sometimes its hard to find good comparisons online.  I was thinking since you’re such an avid WP user, that you could sway me back toward WP. ;)

Thanks for your time Kevin,

Best Chris

I would like to start by saying that I have little hands on experience with MODx, but have used similar options such as SilverStripe, and believe that both are very powerful and well built tools in their own right. By no means do I advocate that they could not handle this job well, I am simply stressing that WordPress is capable of handling many common CMS scenarios as well. It doesn’t deserve the bad rep it get’s.

I constantly see criticism of WordPress being strictly for blog use, and it really has great potential as a CMS. With the most robust plugin library around, you can quickly bolt on functionality as needed.

WordPress plugins are not “hacks”

I constantly see arguments against using WordPress as a CMS because you need to “hack” it in order to make it work. I think this is a misunderstanding best explained by the bad taste left in your mouth after troubleshooting issues that result from a faulty plug-in. The real trick is knowing how to choose the right plugins for the job, along with gaining a thorough understanding of the WordPress functions available for use in your themes.

Choosing the right plug-in for the job

A few rules I live by when choosing a plug-in for a specific CMS setup:

  1. Be sure that it has a decent sized amount of supporters & users. This will tell you that most of the frequently encountered issues you may face have likely been solved already. You can usually gauge this by the number of downloads that plug-in has.
  2. Be weary of using plug-ins with lower than a 3 1/2 star rating. Take this with a grain of salt, as you never really know why those ratings were given. This is just a general rule of thumb I tend to follow.
  3. Be sure that the plug-in is compatible with the latest build of WordPress. This tell’s you that the plug-in is still being supported and developed. It probably has a decent sized community of users behind it contributing to it’s code too.

How to handle Chris’s specific scenario with WordPress

wordpress page treeNow, how could we go about handling the specific predicament that Chris is encountering?

  • You could use the More Fields plugin to add additional editing fields to WordPress, making it function similar to the way MODx does.
  • Next, you could tap into the WordPress Page Tree plugin to make managing 100+ pages easy.

For more considerations on deciding whether or not WordPress is the right choice, be sure to check out Devlounge’s amazing post, Things to consider when using wordpress as a CMS. Chris, best of luck. Let me know how it goes and what you finally decide on.

Choose what you’re most comfortable with

At the end of the day, I say use what you feel works best and are comfortable with. I’m sure you’ll find that if you hang around the MODx forums, the trend will be that MODx is the choice to go with. If you hang around the WordPress forums, I wouldn’t doubt that the opposite is true. It’s all perspective. If you’ve spent your time focusing on learning one solution over another, of course you’re biased towards promoting that solution; because you know it far better. You know what’s better about your system, because you don’t know the potential of alternatives. Be open minded, you may just learn something.

Any other thought’s out there? I’m all ears.

Meet the Author

Kevin Leary, WordPress Consultant

I'm a freelance web developer and WordPress consultant in Boston, MA with 16 years of experience building websites and applications. View a portfolio of my work or request an estimate for your next project.