Cyber security and data protection should be top priorities for your business right now. Of course, this is particularly important for large businesses, and those in strictly regulated industries like financial services, where the outcome of a cyber attack or data breach can be catastrophic.
As these security concerns continue to intensify, you must be increasingly careful and vigilant about the technology solutions you use. You should also take more proactive steps to ensure everything in your tech stack is built and managed in a way that minimises your risks.
When it comes to WordPress, there’s a common misconception that the platform isn’t secure enough for large businesses. This misunderstanding tends to come from the fact that it’s free-to-use, so it was originally more popular among smaller independent businesses and B2C blogs.
Today, however, WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system (CMS), and for good reason. Considering a significant percentage of that user base includes global enterprises, you’d think such popularity would be enough proof that it’s a secure platform.
On the contrary, large businesses still ask us on a regular basis, “Is WordPress secure enough for us?”
Is WordPress Secure?
The answer to that question is, yes, WordPress is a secure, stable platform, even in its “out-of-the-box” state. WordPress’s core code is thoroughly tested and quality-checked by a team of security experts continuously. Not only that, but the same team regularly releases security updates and reinforces any potential weaknesses before they can be capitalised on by cyber criminals.
In fact, the speed at which security updates are implemented in WordPress is arguably the fastest in the world today when compared with other CMSs.
Additionally, WordPress is open-source software, meaning all its code is available to the public. Users are constantly suggesting changes and updates, often to fix bugs in the code and minimise opportunities for cyber criminals. This keeps the platform safe and secure for everyone else.
But while WordPress does have the ongoing support of some of the most talented and devoted developers in the world, it’s not immune to security vulnerabilities. No software is, unfortunately.
That’s why it’s important to be aware of, and work with, some fundamental best practices for security. Listed below are some steps you can take to further strengthen the security of the WordPress CMS.
Best Practices to Strengthen WordPress Security
1 – Secure Hosting
The hosting service you choose for your platform will determine how secure and well protected your data will be.
It goes without saying that WordPress should be hosted in a secure environment, overseen by an experienced provider who prioritises security within their services.
Some things you should consider essential for a hosting provider include:
- A fully-managed service with 24/7 support
- Automated monitoring and alerts
- Back-up and disaster recovery
- 99.99% up-time
- 100% pass-rate for data centre audits.
Before choosing your hosting provider, do plenty of research to ensure they’re able to provide these measures. Most businesses will work with a development agency partner for WordPress, and that agency should be able to help you with this process.
2 – Back-Up and Disaster Recovery
Following on from the previous point, any good hosting provider should also offer back-up and disaster recovery services. These are like safety nets that will allow you to protect, save, and recover all your data in the event of any losses.
3 – Be Careful with Plugins
Plugins are a great way to enhance the WordPress platform with new capabilities and features. But you should only ever use plugins from reputable, credible sources, otherwise you could experience security problems.
It’s also important to keep all your plugins regularly tested, maintained, and updated. Again, this is an area where a WordPress agency partner will help you.
4 – Always Keep Your Platform Updated
When you’ve built a website with WordPress, you’ll often receive software updates from the platform. Any time this happens, it’s because a bug has been fixed or some improvements have been made to the software.
Keeping up with these updates is so important from a security perspective, because they’re designed to keep your site secure. By letting your site run on an outdated version of the platform, you leave yourself at risk of a known issue being exploited by a cyber criminal or some malware.
This is another thing that a good agency partner should take care of for you, so you don’t need to worry about keeping your platform up-to-date.
5 – Never Auto-Update Your Plugins
You have the option to enable auto-updates within your WordPress platform. While this may seem like an easy way to keep your CMS up-to-date, doing so can create technical issues and security risks that simply aren’t worth the convenience.
Each plugin you use will have its own button for you to turn auto-updates on or off. Any good agency will advise you to turn those auto-updates off and instead opt for a more secure approach to your updates, to maintain the resilience of your platform.
6 – Use Security-Specific Plugins
Another way to reinforce the security of WordPress is by implementing security-specific plugins like WordFence, Sucuri, or Defender Pro.
These handy tools will do a lot of the hard work for you, monitoring your platform and spotting potential vulnerabilities so you can fix them before they’re allowed to have any negative impact.
7 – Enable SSL
A secure sockets layer (SSL) is a protocol which encrypts the transfer of data between your website and your users’ browsers. Enabling SSL makes it more difficult for cyber criminals to steal or compromise data online. Don’t worry, though, as this will be taken care of by your hosting provider as a standard practice.
8 – Avoid Tools that Open Direct Access to Your Site Database from the Dashboard
Some tools and plugins will enable direct access to your site’s database from within your CMS dashboard. While this can make certain aspects of website management easier for you, it also creates security vulnerabilities. This is something you should always avoid, because these additions are often severe security risks.
9 – Encourage Your Users to be Mindful of Security
The biggest security risks, and many opportunities for cyber criminals, come from unsafe user behaviour, poor platform maintenance, and badly built sites.
Your behaviour, and the behaviour of your end-users – and your agency – should always be mindful of security. If it’s not, sooner or later you’ll encounter problems. Some security best practices you can introduce include making strong passwords compulsory for all users and implementing measures like two-factor authentication.
10 – Find a Trustworthy Agency Partner to Support You
We understand that following all these steps sounds like a lot of work. Of course, when you’ve got your own job to focus on, the last thing you need is to be spending time struggling through complex website security processes.
That’s why it’s so valuable to find a reliable, trustworthy agency partner when using WordPress to build and manage websites. A good agency will ensure everything is secure and up-to-date for you, so you can spend more time providing outstanding services and experiences to your customers.
It’s always worth taking time to find an experienced agency with a strong track record of building robust, secure sites, to give you the peace of mind you deserve. That means they should handle your secure architecture, testing, monitoring, updates, and ongoing support for you as part of their services.
Being Truly Secure is an Ongoing Process
When you’re selecting a content management system (CMS) to build critical digital assets like your website, security must be a top priority. It’s for that very reason more and more large businesses are looking to WordPress as their platform of choice.
However, it’s equally important to choose an agency you can trust, and one that has these security best practices incorporated into their approach. This doesn’t just stop at the delivery of your website, either. True security is a constant ongoing process, and your agency partner should help you through that.
Following the tips listed here will give you everything you need to build a resilient, secure website on WordPress, suitable for the enterprise.
Interested in learning more about WordPress? Discover how a global enterprise achieved game-changing results by using WordPress to build a secure, innovative, bespoke solution. Check out the story of RedeWire from Rede Partners LLP here.
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- Read our comparison between Sitecore and WordPress here.
- Read our comparison between Umbraco and WordPress here.
- In-depth research and careful planning
- Visual exploration and mood boards
- User experience (UX) design
- User interface (UI) design.
- 1,920px – For most external computer monitor sizes
- 1,366px – For most laptop screen sizes
- 992px – For most Notebook and iPad devices
- 768px – For most other tablet devices
- 375px – For most smartphones.
12 January, 2023
WordPress vs Drupal – Comparing Both Content Management Systems
There are plenty of similarities between WordPress and Drupal. That can make it particularly hard to choose between the two if you’re tasked with finding a new content management system (CMS) for your business. But when you’re about to invest in a new CMS, it’s an important decision that needs careful consideration.
After all, your CMS will be the platform upon which your website is built, and the influence that will have on your business growth and success today shouldn’t be underestimated. With that in mind, it’s crucial to find a platform that aligns with your specific requirements and enables you to achieve your strategic objectives.
To help you gain a clear understanding of the differences between WordPress and Drupal, and decide which one is better suited to your business, we’ve provided this helpful side-by-side assessment.
This article is part of a new series where we’ve explored direct, objective comparisons between some of the leading options for CMSs. In the third article of this series, we’re looking at Drupal and WordPress. You can find links to the other articles in this series at the bottom of the page.
Approachability and Ease-of-Use
A CMS is a big investment, and so you’ll want to begin getting good use and value from your platform of choice as quickly as possible. Like any type of software, though, some platforms are more approachable for the average user, while others will require you to have some previous experience to get going.
How Approachable is Drupal?
Drupal is aimed at users with some prior coding skills or content management experience. If you have technical skills at your disposal, Drupal can provide great functionality once you’ve put some time and effort into setting everything up.
For non-technical users, however, working with the platform and getting comfortable using it can be a long-term process. It’s an advanced CMS that doesn’t offer much in the way of straightforward usability “out-of-the-box” unfortunately. If your team is made up of non-technical users and beginners, this might not be the best platform for you.
Even if you work with a web development agency to help you get everything set up and tailored to your preferences, the complexity of the code will make their project timelines and costs higher than the average CMS.
How Approachable is WordPress?
WordPress is very approachable for anyone, even beginners without any previous experience using a CMS.
Simplicity is one of WordPress’s greatest strengths, and many would argue that elevates it above all its peers.
This usability allows you to get up-to-speed immediately with a very fast time-to-market for your site. That means you’ll begin to achieve a positive return on investment (ROI) much quicker than most other platforms. Almost everything you need to build and manage your website will be readily available when you first begin using WordPress, making it more approachable for the average user than Drupal.
As it’s such an intuitive platform, pretty much anyone in your team will be able to use WordPress. That will make it easier to handle the daily management and running of your site as a shared responsibility.
Functionality and Customisation
As touched on above, you should be looking for a platform that you and your colleagues will be comfortable using on a daily basis. If you don’t like the way a CMS functions, you should remove it from your shortlist of options.
While Drupal and WordPress are similar at first glance, with the same fundamental functionality of a CMS, there are some unique features and capabilities that differentiate them. There’s also a wide range of ways to customise them to your own liking.
Working with Drupal
While the complexity mentioned in the previous section does require considerable time, effort, and money to get past, once you’ve got there you’ll likely find Drupal is a good CMS to use for building and editing your website.
Drupal’s user interface (UI) is fairly easy to get used to. You can publish, edit, manage, and organise content with flexibility, adjusting your page structure and site navigation. You can also lean on a large library of website themes and modules, which are additions similar to WordPress’s plugins, to tailor your CMS to your own unique specifications.
Working with WordPress
As a CMS, WordPress’s simple, intuitive functionality allows you to seamlessly launch and manage your site. It’s very convenient editing content on a page-by-page basis with WordPress with its block-based design. This allows you to create quality content from day one, with the freedom and flexibility to make adjustments to the platform as and when you require.
WordPress also allows you to customise it as well with a vast selection of plugins and themes. The difference between WordPress and other CMSs, though, is that there’s not much you’ll need to change about it out-of-the-box before you can begin using it comfortably.
Because it has a lower cost and faster time-to-market, it will free up more time for you (or your agency) to focus on higher value work, like differentiating your site from competitors or developing personalised content for your customers.
When writing down the criteria that you’ll use to select your CMS, security should be one of the first things on that list. Threats to cyber security and data protection are increasing by the day, for businesses of all sizes across all sectors, so it’s crucial to ensure you select a secure, trustworthy platform.
How Secure is Drupal?
One of the major advantages of a CMS that’s aimed at those with web development skills is that the users of Drupal work hard to ensure the platform is highly secure. Drupal regularly receives security updates and additional reinforcements to protect the platform.
Of course, you still need to test thoroughly and continuously double-check there are no vulnerabilities in your system. This is usually the responsibility of your agency, and a good partner should always prioritise security at the core of any development project.
How Secure is WordPress?
WordPress is a secure platform, but some still carry the misconception that it isn’t suitable for large businesses. To find evidence of its enterprise-grade security, though, you only need to look at the number of organisations using WordPress as their CMS of choice today.
Still, there are some potential vulnerabilities that are important to be aware of. For instance, be careful when adding plugins to your WordPress platform. As WordPress runs on open-source software, some developers will inevitably release plugins that aren’t secure, so you should only use plugins from reputable sources.
When you do use plugins, you’ll also need to test them thoroughly and keep them updated, and ideally have them working alongside security-specific plugins such as WordFence. These are issues that a good agency partner should be well aware of and handle for you.
Security is also influenced by the hosting environment of your platform. You can reduce your security risks further with WordPress if you find a trustworthy, well-managed hosting partner to look after your system.
The Global Communities
An active community of developers is a valuable asset for a CMS to have. This is a selection of dedicated users who work hard to contribute to growing and improving the platform, either by releasing new updates and plugins or fixing bugs in the software’s code.
For businesses like yours, the community could make the difference between having a small issue resolved quickly or growing into a big problem. Communities also provide resources to learn more about the technology, to further develop the digital offering you provide to your customers.
Drupal has a fairly niche, but very passionate developer community supporting it. The size of Drupal’s community is considerably smaller than more popular platforms like WordPress, mainly because of that higher degree of coding skill required to use the CMS easily.
However, that doesn’t detract from the level of support or added value you’ll receive if you do opt for Drupal. New themes, modules, and updates are often released to contribute to the quality of websites that can be built on the platform.
Most of what’s been discussed as strengths of WordPress in this article can be put down to the hard work of the community adding to the software.
WordPress’s community is truly global, with millions of users regularly producing innovative new themes and plugins that your business can pick up and begin using with ease.
No matter what issues you run into with your WordPress site, there will always be help readily available from the community.
WordPress users are renowned for their events as well, with free meet-ups and conferences often held to help users learn more about the technology. WordCamp, for example, is a non-profit event that has been run by the WordPress community since 2006 across several continents. WordPress also hosts an annual event called WordPress accessibility day, designed to help increase awareness of the importance of accessibility in modern technology.
The Cost and TCO
Another important aspect of your evaluation will be the cost of your CMS, and its long-term total cost of ownership (TCO).
The platform you choose will need to deliver good value for money and a strong ROI. How easily you can achieve these will vary depending on the CMS and how well it aligns with your business’s requirements.
Drupal’s Up-Front Investment and Ongoing Costs
Drupal is an open-source platform, which means it’s free to use. In most cases, Drupal is a good option in terms of value when compared to other CMSs.
You’ll only need to worry about costs like agency fees for development, your platform hosting, and post-deployment testing and maintenance.
However, the aforementioned complexity of Drupal often causes agency work to be more costly and time-consuming than it would be when working with platforms like WordPress. From basic set up and development to customisation, it’s possible your TCO will continue to grow over the years the longer you’re working with Drupal.
WordPress’s Low Cost and TCO
WordPress, on the other hand, is a very cost-effective solution with a much lower TCO than with Drupal.
It’s another open-source platform with no license fees, and you’ll rarely need to add on new features or capabilities because it comes with so much “out-of-the-box” already.
WordPress development is more simple and affordable, as are its maintenance and support. As mentioned earlier, the fast time-to-market helps you get a high quality website launched quickly so you can begin seeing ROI almost immediately.
Understanding the Role of an Agency
The role of an agency has been mentioned several times throughout this article. That’s because most businesses with a great website will have worked with an agency partner with platform-specific skills to help them bring their vision to life.
An agency can support you with hosting, design, development, maintenance, security, and updates, each of which can be highly complex and challenging to handle alone.
Therefore, it becomes even more important to consider how easy your CMS is to work with, not just for you and your team but for your development agency as well.
With a platform like Drupal, that has a reputation for being difficult and time-consuming to work with, agency projects are likely to be quite a big investment, and an ongoing one at that. WordPress is a platform that’s far easier to work with, meaning that the cost of releasing a quality, secure website will be much more affordable.
A CMS becomes far easier to use when you find an agency with the experience and expertise to help you gain as much value from the technology as possible. Whichever platform you choose, you’ll find it easier to achieve positive ROI if you have a specialist partner supporting you.
Deciding Between Drupal and WordPress
Both WordPress and Drupal are perfectly good options for most businesses looking for a new CMS. While there are strengths and weaknesses to consider, the most important thing is to keep your business’s specific needs in mind.
Make sure you’re clear on your strategic objectives, unique requirements, users, budget, and other factors to inform your decision. Once you’ve done that, use the comparisons in this article to see how each CMS lines up against what you’re looking for. It should then become evident which platform is more suitable for you.
If you need more help in your evaluation of the various CMS options:
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2 March, 2023
Harnessing Your New Website’s Full Potential by Taking a Block-Based Approach With WordPress
Did you know you can use a block-based approach with your WordPress website to gain more value from the platform, with significant advantages in flexibility, scalability, and ease-of-use?
In this article, we’ll explain what blocks are, how they work, and how you can use them to build enterprise-grade websites quickly and efficiently, without compromising on quality.
WordPress is the most popular content management system (CMS) in the world right now, and it has been for a while. Unfortunately, though, some people still have the wrong impression that it is a CMS that can only be used to build more simple websites that do not have any real complex functionality or integrations, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
In fact, WordPress is far more intuitive and robust than most realise. The fact that around 45% of all websites online today are built on the platform goes a long way to prove that. WordPress also provides more scalable, agile capabilities that are perfectly suited to building enterprise-grade websites if leveraged in the right way.
There are intelligent – but still very straightforward – ways to use WordPress that can unlock more value from the CMS. If done with the right guidance, this can make WordPress a far better option than the more traditional, rigid approach of building websites.
This is an opportunity most large businesses are currently missing out on. In this article, we’ll show you how using blocks is a more flexible approach that can provide you with a wealth of benefits.
Understanding How Using Blocks In Your Website Backend works
In 2018, WordPress released a new block-based design and editing user interface (UI), known as Gutenberg. Instead of the typical page creation and editing functionality of a CMS, where you’d input text and images into a rich text editor, you can now build your site by creating and using a set of components. Components are blocks of code which have pre-defined style and input types.
Each component is named, to denote what it is from the perspective of the front-end of your site on the web page.
Note: Some agencies only provide a list of block names, but here at SoBold we also provide screenshots of each block so you can see it first. This makes the process much easier and saves you a great deal of time.
Each part of each web page is made up of these components, as pictured below.
However, taking a bespoke approach, you can design and construct unique blocks that are entirely your own. Blocks or components can be built for you by your agency so they’re bespoke to you, your style guidelines, your design preferences, and so on. And, when building your site, you can go into your pre-built components and edit things, like changing background colours, adding images, adding text, and so on.
This can be set up for you by your agency, so you have everything you need to create, edit, and publish new pages with your pre-built blocks. Anytime you need to create a new page, you just have to pick the appropriate components and place them in the correct position to quickly and easily build the page.
The Business Benefits of Using a Component-Based Approach
Scalability is one of the greatest benefits of using these blocks, especially if you are wanting to continue to build out your sitemap and build out the content.
This scalability is where WordPress really shines, enabling simple, rapid, virtually limitless scaling of your website with a high level of accuracy. This is a cost-effective way of growing without having to compromise on the quality of your design.
Blocks provide you with a great deal of flexibility in building, editing, and structuring of pages as well. The ability to customise all your components, along with the intuitive drag and drop functionality, allows you to effortlessly adapt and expand on your website.
Building components, and repurposing them repeatedly across your website, is a highly efficient way of growing your site. It also makes it very difficult to make mistakes or take a wrong turn.
This efficiency of reusing blocks across your website will free up time for you to develop innovative new features, or focus on improving the service and experience you provide your clients.
If you have non-technical members of your team who would benefit from using WordPress, blocks will almost certainly improve the usability of the CMS for those people.
An easier design and editing function helps more members of your team create web pages within clear, pre-set brand guidelines. That’s another aspect that frees up more time and resources to focus on higher value tasks.
If you’re working with a design and development agency, this also makes it much easier for them to be able to train you and enable you to use the platform to manage your site.
All this efficiency and ease-of-use will enable you to achieve a faster time-to-market for new web pages, extensions of your site, or even entirely new websites.
That can, in turn, create competitive advantages for your business, particularly if your competitors are working with CMSs that are slower and harder to use.
Whether it’s you or your agency handling this, you can create and publish new web pages quicker than you could with any other approach.
Lower Costs and TCO
As a result of all of the above, you can reduce costs on development and design, and achieve a much better total cost of ownership (TCO) with the WordPress platform.
Something that takes an inexperienced agency days to complete with the classic design approach can be done in hours using bespoke blocks. This drastically reduces development costs and gives you a lower TCO in the long-term.
The Importance of Finding a Capable Agency Partner
As mentioned earlier, bespoke blocks provide you with a proven way to unlock more potential with WordPress and gain greater value from the platform. However, in order to do that, it’s important to find the right agency partner. You’ll need an agency with enterprise-grade expertise and a certain level of skill to guide and support you through this process.
Taking this approach to building WordPress websites is nothing new, but the real value here comes in creating blocks that are completely unique and specific to you, then enabling your team to use those to scale your site.
Many WordPress agencies may lean on the generic block editor. But to get this right, you should push beyond that to find a partner who can educate you on the opportunities of using a bespoke design system to build a high-performance website that’s effortless to manage and edit.
A great partner will also facilitate this for you in a way that ensures you have control, removing the risk of any users making mistakes with the flexibility of this system. You won’t need to worry about the integrity or quality of your site being spoiled because all your components will be built specifically to prevent that.
You’ll gain tremendous value from receiving an intuitive, quality website that you can easily grow at will, but one that’s also managed and supported by an experienced partner. Sticking to these blocks helps you stay within brand guidelines, adhere to best practices, and keep your site consistent.
You then have the choice to manage, edit, and expand your site yourself, or rely on your partner to do it for you quicker, easier, and more efficiently than they would with a traditional CMS.
Making the Most of Your WordPress Platform
Modern businesses today require a powerful, sophisticated CMS that can deliver great websites at scale with enterprise-grade performance. WordPress is a platform that’s built to provide all those qualities and more. Embracing this block-based approach is the most effective and efficient way to achieve that.
With a skilled agency partner to help you maximise the value your business gains from the platform, you’ll quickly realise just how well WordPress can deliver agile, intuitive websites.
If you’re in the process of evaluating platforms to deliver a bespoke web development project, check our comprehensive guide to assessing and selecting the right CMS here
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17 May, 2023
Preparing Your Website for Development after the Design Phase
The end-to-end process of web design is made up of a number of different phases that should all inform and complement each other.
When working with a web design and development agency, they should use their expertise and experience to guide you through this process, which consists of:
Once you’ve completed each of those phases and you have a design that you’re proud of, your agency partner will be tasked with preparing your website for development.
This article will explain the process of preparing a website for development, helping you understand what’s involved, what to expect, and how to approach it.
Designing Your Website Across Different Break-Points
In a recent article, we explained how the purpose of your UX is to help your visitors complete a task or process on your website as easily as possible, ultimately leading them to follow a call-to-action.
Your UX is brought to life by your UI, which includes all the visual and interactive elements of your website, from colour and font to buttons and scrolling.
Towards the end of the UI design phase, the next step will be to roll out your designs across a number of break-points.
Break-points are the screen sizes of devices that your design will fit within. This allows your website to be designed as responsive and optimised for use across a wide range of different devices and channels.
This is important because certain aspects of your site may not translate down perfectly across different screen sizes.
Here at SoBold, we design sites across the following break-points, but this may vary from agency to agency:
If you want your website to be designed as mobile-first, it’s important to raise it at the beginning of the project so your agency can create your wireframes in that context. However, you should only ever make that decision based on real data regarding your target audience’s preferences.
In this case, your agency should work with you to conduct some additional research and determine the best screen size for your particular audience. This will ensure the UX designers work with the right starting point for your high-fidelity wireframes.
A Thorough Hand-Over from Design to Development
This phase of a website project involves a process that takes a lot of careful work and close collaboration between the different teams within an agency.
Here at SoBold, we make a point to ensure the design team talks the development team through all the work they’ve done on your mood boards, UX design, and UI design in detail. This includes explaining the decision making process behind everything they’ve designed.
While a lot of agencies will just hand the designs to the developers and ask them to start building, we believe this is something that should be treated as more of a team effort. Doing so as a core part of our process has proven to add tremendous value to the work our clients have received in recent years.
It’s beneficial to the overall project for the developers to fully understand why the decisions have been made about the designs. It’s also important that they’re given a detailed run through of what they’re building within the context of the whole site.
For example, there may be a fairly complex block which is built early on in the development process. If the developers are made aware that slight variations of this same block will be used several times throughout the site, they can save valuable time and work more efficiently by repurposing the first block when it’s first built.
This hand-over is crucial in ensuring the development process runs smoothly, providing you with a high-performance website that meets your expectations, delivered on time and within budget.
A Well Designed Website Ready to Be Built
After the hand-over is complete, your agency will be able to export all your design assets and the developers will begin building your website.
While web design may seem straightforward when explained like this, in reality it’s a complex process that requires a great deal of specialist skills and expertise. That’s why it’s so important to have the support of an agency partner you can trust and rely on to guide you.
Working with a talented agency will ensure you’re able to create a unique design that will resonate with your target audience and help you achieve your strategic business goals through your new website.
Keep an eye out for our upcoming blog series where we’ll walk you step-by-step through the web development process, making it far more approachable and easy to manage for you.
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4 January, 2023
SoBold’s 2022 Round-Up
As we’re now into the first week of 2023, this feels like an appropriate time to reflect on what was another thoroughly successful year for SoBold in 2022.
We’re now working with enterprise clients and providing them with excellent website design and development services. We’ve also continued to grow our client base and are proud to have consistently produced outstanding work on their behalf throughout the year.
We’re pleased to have strengthened our presence in the healthcare and financial services industries. Now, we’re looking forward to building and managing more scalable products for our clients in the year ahead.
Our High-Performance Team
The definition of “high-performance” will vary from person to person, and you may have your own idea of what it means to you. For us, as an agency, it means every member of our team holds each other accountable to always perform at the highest possible level, so we can achieve a standard of excellence for all our clients.
We’ve used “high-performance” as a core value of our company since day one, and have worked very hard over the years to build a “high-performance” team. In 2022, this continued to develop and has allowed us to push those standards even higher, which is something we take a lot of pride in.
We were excited to see all three of our business teams grow in 2022: design, development, and operations. Over the past year, we also made a conscious effort to ensure the whole agency is working closer together as a more functional unit, for the benefit of our clients.
As the team has grown, we’ve had to implement more processes, which has allowed us to scale, and will enable us to continue to scale, as we move into the next cycle of our business.
Congratulations to Ivo Georgiev, who’s coming to the end of a successful apprenticeship scheme, which he did with us and the help of QA’s Tech, Digital, and IT Apprenticeship.
The SoBold Website!
In 2022 we launched our new SoBold website. Finding time to do this while continuously delivering projects for our ever-growing client base was a challenge, but one I’m really proud of the team for managing so well. We used this as a beta project to roll out a new SoBold workflow, and whilst there’s still some way to go to perfect this, we’re really happy with how it’s looking on the front-end!
Every member of the team worked on this in some way or another, and we’re already getting considerably more inbound leads and exposure from it.
We’ve been working hard on becoming more active in the online community as well, and this is notable particularly over the last quarter where we’ve increased our marketing. We were fortunate to be interviewed by Cloudways, who are a cloud hosting service provider we work closely with, and you can see this interview here.
Clutch has continued to be a new business driver for us and our profile has gained more exposure amongst the country’s best website design and development businesses.
We’ve also begun producing a selection of in-depth guides and blog articles to help our community more easily navigate the current technology landscape. You can find all that useful content on our blog.
We’re grateful to have worked with so many wonderful people from some brilliant clients over the past 12 months, and have built an array of different sites each with their own unique brief and challenge.
If you’d like to gain insight into the process we follow with our clients for project briefings, check out this recent article, which also includes a helpful brief template.
This is a great chance to showcase below some of the work we’re most proud of in 2022, for a selection of companies who are doing some very interesting things to make positive change in their respective industries:
Built and Live
Jamie and the Jam – Jamie and the Jam conceptualise, create, deliver, and manage beautifully bespoke content for their clients and their audiences.
Amplitude Clinical – Amplitude is a leading UK Patient-Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs) and clinical outcomes platform.
Arenko – Arenko is a market-leading technology provider enabling the clean energy transition.
Dictate.IT – Dictate.IT helps healthcare organisations across the UK and Ireland harness the power of speech to deliver seamless, efficient, and effective document management.
Edgerley Simpson Howe – Edgerley Simpson Howe are specialist out-of-town retail, leisure, and commercial roadside property consultants.
Pippo – Pippo lets you book your GP appointments whenever and wherever suits you.
Common Purpose – Common Purpose offers exceptional personal training in the heart of Mayfair. If you’re looking to start with a new gym or PT in the new year, Common Purpose are your guys to speak to!
Still Waiting to go Live!
Coller Capital – Coller Capital is one of the largest global investors in the private equity secondary market.
Healthlink – Healthlink connects more than 15,000 medical organisations across Australia and New Zealand.
Konnect Net – Konnect Net helps businesses in the insurance and health sectors exchange data in a quick and secure way.
There’s also a handful of special clients listed below that want to highlight, either because of the longevity of the relationships or the positive impact our work has made on their businesses:
Kapow Primary, whom we’ve been working with since 2018, is now used in almost one third of all UK primary schools, with over 30,000 primary school teachers using the Kapow Primary platform each week.
Our amazing Kapow team has been working on some really inspiring projects over the past few months particularly, and we cannot wait to share more when we publish these live.
You can learn more about our work with Kapow, and how we first started, in our case study here.
We started working with Rede Partners in late 2019 to help bring their vision ‘RedeWire’ to life. RedeWire is a new interactive online limited partner (LP) portal, providing instant access to Rede’s current fundraising offering.
RedeWire has had a closed launch, so we’re really excited for it to launch to their wider audiences in Q1 of this year.
Transport for London
Transport for London has renewed its cookie management contract with us for a fifth successive year. This highlights not only the great work we’re doing with them, but the importance of the relationship we’ve built with them.
We’re proud to have been working with Clanwilliam since 2017, and our relationship has flourished each year since then. We initially started working with their Global HQ, before being rolled out across their three divisions Clanwilliam Ireland (site being redesigned in Q1 2023!), Clanwilliam UK, and Clanwilliam ANZ.
We work with over 15 of their brands designing, developing, managing, and hosting their websites. We also work closely with these brands to help them with their branding and print design activations.
2022 saw Clanwilliam take a major shift in their global brand, choosing us to help them rebrand from Clanwilliam Group, dropping the ‘Group’. We worked closely with their Global Brand and Communications Director, Lauren Turner, to help bring this to life.
We all went into the process looking to rebrand Clanwilliam in its entirety, changing the logo and creating a completely new brand. However, we quickly realised the logo was going to stay and the brand needed to change around this.
We uplifted Clanwilliam’s colour pallet and fonts, creating a new brand that much better reflects their company’s values and ambitions.
You can see a more detailed case study about what we did here.
It’s Not All Websites Though!
Our talented Graphic Design Team was busy in 2022 too, across multiple rebrands and supporting various Knight Frank divisions. Some of our Knight Frank work is highlighted here.
We’ve also successfully managed to move all our clients into our Positive Park Hosting environment, which is based in Cambridgeshire. This has meant all our sites are running on a more optimised and bespoke server, tailored to their needs. Our VIP enterprise-grade support at the hosting park has made a positive impact, ensuring all our clients have peace of mind that their sites are secure and stable.
The hosting environment is an eco-friendly data centre that uses 100% renewable energy and is certified by the Green Web Foundation.
You can learn more about our hosting solution on our WordPress Website Hosting service page.
In addition to working with our clients, we’ve also been working hard on improving our processes, becoming more compliant and becoming a more reputable company across the board.
We became ISO 90001-compliant in 2022 and have successfully put our project management systems in place. Our Project Manager, Anna de Moraes, has been instrumental in implementing processes to optimise our workflow, and she’ll continue to drive the business forward into 2023.
We were absolutely delighted to work with Nation.Better to get a Skilled Licence VISA sponsorship as well, which opens up opportunities for us to hire more global talent. This is something as a business we’ve been looking forward to for a while now. Getting this licence and already hiring two people, and giving them the opportunity to work in London, is something we’re really proud of.
2023 and Beyond!
2023 is only going to be bigger and better for us here at SoBold. We have big plans to execute on our hiring strategy and intend to grow the team across all areas of the business. Doing so will help us continue to improve the service we provide to our clients.
We’ll continue to work with key clients in our industry focuses: healthcare, finance, real estate, and SaaS. As we work with more medium to enterprise-sized clients, we’re confident we’ll become more recognised as the High-Performance WordPress agency.
Thanks for reading. We hope you have a great year in 2023!
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29 March, 2023
Just How Scalable is WordPress?
When looking at content management systems (CMS), scalability refers to the ability to expand and grow your site with more content, capabilities, features, and functionality.
Your CMS is a long-term investment, and its scalability will have a strong influence on whether or not that investment is successful.
“When sustainable business growth is a top strategic objective, you need full confidence that your web presence can seamlessly scale and evolve to support that growth.”
This requires a platform that allows you to quickly and easily create new features and functionality. Ideally, you should be able to do this without having to invest significant time and resources into additional costly development work.
WordPress is One of the Most Scalable Platforms Around
Evidence of WordPress’s great scalability can be found in the fact that almost 45% of the world’s websites are built on the platform. That includes global enterprises such as investment firm Blackstone, research and advisory leader Forrester, the NHS England, and leading pharmaceutical company Hutch Med.
This is because WordPress websites can seamlessly scale as your needs change and your business grows. You can easily add a high volume of new content to your site at speed without compromising on quality.
WordPress is also renowned for how easily you, or your development partner, can build bespoke features and functionality, so your site can keep evolving with new capabilities to support more advanced requirements.
“No matter the size or complexity of your site, WordPress can provide fast, intuitive development capabilities with ongoing growth acting as a natural outcome.”
Using WordPress at Scale
Developing, managing, and maintaining a high-performance website at scale is a complex challenge. For that reason, it’s important to work with an experienced web design and development agency who can enable continual growth and support you through it.
Part of your agency’s services will include configuring your platform, and building your site in the back-end, in a way that encourages long-term scalability. We’ll explain our own approach to this in more detail in the next section. But first, let’s look at some of the fundamental ways to use WordPress at scale:
Bespoke Features and Functionality
If you want to build out your website with new capabilities, WordPress stands above all its competitors thanks to its ability to develop bespoke features that are unique to your site.
WordPress is built on PHP, which is the most popular development language around, as it’s currently used by over three quarters (77.5%) of all websites with a known server-side programming language. With PHP, WordPress has a significant advantage over other CMSs, because it allows you to create virtually anything and integrate it with the platform.
WordPress also comes with a vast range of plugins, which can help with adding to, and enhancing, the existing functionality of your site. Plugins are an essential aspect of WordPress development, but it’s crucial that you only choose the most reputable, tested, and proven plugins.
Your agency partner should be experienced in this plugin selection and use their past experience to recommend the best ones to use for your specific requirements. Your agency partner should also be able to advise you on how plugins will scale with increases in website size or traffic volume to help preserve your site’s performance.
Using plugins that are not regularly updated, or that come from unknown development owners, could harm your site by making it heavier, slowing down your page loading times, and possibly even creating security vulnerabilities.
Using a particularly large number of plugins is another situation that could result in slower loading speeds or other performance issues. Be mindful that use of plugins can reduce the bespoke development time needed to build your site, and the use of too many plugins could cause performance issues. If you find yourself in this situation, it could be an indication that your development partner might actually be taking shortcuts.
The Importance of a Trusted Partner
Whether you’re using plugins or building new bespoke features, your agency will be able to take care of all of these crucial aspects of your development for you. Their support and guidance will ensure you can expand your site freely without running into any technical issues.
Once you have everything you need in place, your agency will then be able to accelerate the speed at which you can scale moving forward. A great agency partner will also provide you with ongoing education and support, allowing you and your team to build your site out easily and efficiently by yourself too, whenever you want or need to.
Taking a More Scalable Approach – Building with Blocks
While many agencies still use a more traditional method of developing sites with WordPress, taking a block-based approach provides even greater opportunities for dynamic scalability.
As an alternative to the time-consuming practice of inputting text and images into a rich text editor in your CMS, the block-based approach allows you to create each page on your site more easily with a set of pre-built components.
Components are blocks of code with pre-defined style and input types. You can use and re-use these components across multiple pages of your site to scale it at a much faster pace. Any time you want to create a high volume of new content, you simply pick your already-built components and place them in the correct positions.
This is an approach that enables virtually limitless growth of your website at speed with a high level of quality and accuracy. Building components that can be reused across your site will also deliver added benefits like increased efficiency and reduced costs. This in turn provides you with more time to focus on developing better services and experiences for your site visitors.
The block-based approach to building websites is another way to make your WordPress platform leaner for better performance as well, because it removes the need for a bloated library of unnecessary plugins and features.
An Enterprise-Grade CMS
Scalability should be a key aspect of your criteria when selecting a CMS to build a website. Rapid growth and flexibility are crucial for your platform of choice.
Despite some still mistakenly thinking it might not be up to the task, you can use WordPress to build large, robust, high-performance sites at speed, and easily adapt them as your requirements change.
This arguably makes WordPress one of – if not the – best CMS options available today. When you look at some of the world’s leading businesses currently using the platform to great success, that argument becomes much easier to appreciate.
Like with any CMS, though, the key to successful scalability is having the support of an experienced, trusted agency partner behind you, ensuring you’re leveraging the platform to its full potential.