When developing a high-performance website with WordPress, certain requirements will demand that your agency partner goes beyond the “out-the-box” functionality of the platform.
There are two main ways your agency partner may work with you to build out custom functionality:
- Bespoke development.
While plugins are the go-to option for many small and medium-sized businesses, it shouldn’t always be such a quick decision between those two options. If you’re working on an enterprise-grade website, your agency should always give careful consideration when determining the best approach in every scenario.
In this article, we’ll help you understand how to determine the right option between plugins and bespoke development for your own WordPress website.
Why Are WordPress Plugins so Popular?
Since WordPress is an open-source platform with a very active global community of web developers, there are tens of thousands of plugins readily available. For almost any use case you can think of, there’s almost certainly a plugin for it; probably even several.
Plugins serve so many businesses so well because they’re pre-built functionality that quite literally plugs into your platform.
One of the main reasons plugins are so popular, especially for smaller businesses, is because they’re usually free. This provides a great cost benefit over bespoke development, on top of the obvious benefits in the speed of attaining the new functionality as well.
Why You Should be Careful with Plugins
Despite their popularity, there are downsides to plugins too.
Relying on too many plugins, or using low quality plugins, may slow the speed of your site down significantly. A good WordPress development agency will try to keep the use of plugins at a minimum to ensure the speed and performance of your site isn’t compromised.
Poorly built plugins, or ones that aren’t maintained sufficiently, could also cause glitches and errors to occur with the functionality they’re adding to your site.
Security is another concern with certain plugins. If a plugin isn’t maintained and updated regularly, this will create vulnerabilities in your platform that could be exploited by malware or cyber security attacks. These vulnerabilities could also creep in if your plugins are auto-updated and left untested by your agency partner.
Some less experienced agencies often fall into the trap of using too many plugins, while others are simply unaware of the risks associated with plugins from untrusted sources. This has given a bad impression of plugins in some circles. The missing ingredient there, however, isn’t the value of plugins, it’s the agency’s best practices.
When to Use WordPress Plugins
If there’s a feature you need to add to your site that’s already been built perfectly in a trustworthy plugin, it’s worth considering that approach instead of building something from scratch.
However, here at SoBold, we ensure a strict set of best practices are followed, and due diligence conducted, every time we’re considering using a plugin.
We’ll always make thorough checks to ensure any plugin we use is best-in-class, aligned with our high-performance standards, and so should any other agency you work with.
This will include asking questions like:
- Does it have a large number of positive reviews?
- Is it built by an author with a good reputation?
- How active and trusted is the author in the WordPress community?
- When was the last date the plugin was updated?
- Has it been updated regularly enough in the past?
- Does the code quality meet our standards?
- Does the code align with modern WordPress development best practices?
- Is the plugin compatible with the WordPress block editor?
Before implementing a plugin on your platform, your agency should also use it in a local testing environment to ensure it functions as expected.
The majority of plugins are reliable, offering a quicker and easier approach than building something bespoke. However, there are many cases where bespoke development is the more suitable option.
When it’s Better to Use Bespoke Development
When it comes to sophisticated, dynamic websites, plugins may not be capable of delivering the required level of performance, security compliance, or functionality.
In these cases, your agency will turn to bespoke development to deliver what you need. This is often the necessary approach, because high-performance websites do require some complexity behind the scenes. And WordPress is arguably the best platform available today for bespoke web development.
Building out your platform by creating new features completely from scratch, tailored to your exact need, brings with it a wealth of advantages over using plugins.
This is particularly beneficial in terms of flexibility and customisation, giving you something entirely unique to your website. You’ll have complete control and ownership of your bespoke features, which provides greater security and seamless integrations with the rest of your technology systems.
Performance will almost always be superior with bespoke development, delivering a far greater user experience (UX) and improving your customer engagement as a result.
Bespoke development could even be more cost-effective in the long-run too, when compared to plugins that turn out to be problematic or aren’t updated past a certain point.
Rely on Your Agency’s Expertise
Determining whether to use a plugin or build something bespoke will be a decision your agency should guide you to make correctly.
Each website and each business are different, so the right option will be unique to your own requirements and circumstances. Therefore, it’s also worth mentioning that this must be specific to each individual requirement as well, rather than taking a blanket approach.
The decision shouldl be based on the most straightforward way to give you the capability you’re looking for. It will also involve ensuring that your site’s security, performance, and UX are maintained. Another important factor to consider are your circumstances, such as your budget, timeframes, the amount of traffic your website is likely to encounter, and so on.
For example, if your agency knows that one of your top priorities for your website is excellent performance, they’ll make different decisions in that case than they would if you were more concerned with the fastest possible time-to-market.
Some businesses even use plugins in the first phase of their website, then look to rebuild their plugin-based functionality with bespoke development when their business grows, or when they have more time and resources available.
It’s important to trust your agency partner with this decision and rely on their advice. This is why it’s so valuable to work with an experienced agency who understands your needs, so they can help you make the right choices and take the best possible option.
Finding the Right Balance for Your Website
Plugins can be very useful, and it must be said that many WordPress plugins are outstanding in their capability and quality. However, if your specific requirements demand more than a plugin can deliver, bespoke development will be the correct approach.
Regardless, it’s crucial to find the right balance to ensure your site’s performance, speed, and security are maintained.
Ultimately, your agency partner should always consider the specific requirements and circumstances of your project before deciding whether to use plugins or build bespoke functionality for your site. This makes it even more important to work with an experienced agency you can trust to guide you.
Discover more about the scalability and flexibility of the WordPress platform, and its ability to deliver complex requirements for enterprise websites, in our related article here: Just How Scalable is WordPress?
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- Brainstorming and ideation
- Assistance in research and information-gathering
- Writing copy
- Writing code
- Image and video creation
- Data analysis
- Automating manual processes.
- GPT-4 was released as an upgrade to Chat GPT. GPT-4 can understand images, process 25,000 words in one go, earn a top 10% score on complex exams, and even demonstrate some advanced reasoning capabilities.
- Adobe released Firefly, which is a programme with a range of new generative AI features. It can create outstanding new content using simple language, with almost-unlimited creative options like turning 3D compositions into photorealistic images and automating advanced video editing processes.
- GitHub launched CoPilotX, which can supposedly boost coding speed by up to 55%. CoPilotX has similar features to Chat GPT, but will be used by software engineers and developers to boost productivity and time-to-market.
- And, just last week, Stability AI released its Stable Diffusion XL model, offering photorealism through an intricate editing interface. It’s reportedly built with around 2.3 billion parameters.
25 April, 2023
The Changing Roles of Web Design and Development in the Age of AI
In the first few months of 2023, generative AI has burst on to the scene and begun to change our relationship with technology forever. Already, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that people in a wide range of jobs will have to adapt quickly or risk being replaced. In this article, we explore the impact AI is having on the web design and development industry, as well as how businesses, and people, should approach working with this innovative technology.
AI tools are nothing new. We’ve all been using them for years, from chatbots to predictive text to voice-controlled assistants like Siri and Alexa. But the recent mainstream adoption of AI tools such as Chat GPT, and the rapid advancement of the technology itself, has caused huge disruption across a number of industries.
Many assumed that people like marketers, software developers, and UX and UI designers would be some of the last ones at risk of having their jobs taken by AI, due to their need for creative skill and use of human emotion. Ironically, these roles have been some of the first to come “under threat” over the past few months.
AI’s speed and efficiency is already forcing us to ask questions about the future of the web design and development industry. With that in mind, one question in particular has dominated discussion online so far this year:
Are our jobs in danger of being taken by AI?
By now, you’re almost certainly aware that AI offers incredible value by accelerating workflows and augmenting skills. Some of the most beneficial use cases lie in:
AI can also devise entire business and marketing strategies, solve complex problems, and even create its own AI-powered applications from scratch. Perhaps most importantly, it can do all these tasks in a matter of seconds, when most of them would take a human several hours, days or even months.
The Latest News and Tools (at the Time of Writing)
Over the past few months, there are more and more AI-powered tools being released on an almost daily basis.
The number of AI tools that have been released recently is staggering, and the capabilities of some of them is truly mind-blowing. Just last month, in March 2023:
It’s both exciting and terrifying to think these highly intelligent tools are just the tip of the AI iceberg. When you consider how common it’s now become to use AI to develop even more advanced AI, it seems that the rate of evolution will only continue to increase exponentially from here.
How is AI Transforming Design and Development?
While these AI tools are extremely impressive, it’s not as straightforward as simply plugging them in and sitting back while they literally do your work for you. It’s possible we may get there one day, but right now we believe we’re a long way off.
These tools are highly sophisticated and intuitive, and their adoption is probably going to change the way we all work forever. However, this should be seen as technology that will augment and enhance people’s ability to do their jobs, or create new jobs entirely, rather than “steal” them away from us.
The current use cases for AI are mostly just ways for you to do your work, much faster and more effectively. This could either be done by automating processes to save time, or by supplementing your existing skill-set with new capabilities with the help of AI. For example, if you wanted to convert your code from one language into multiple languages, you would be able to do this with the help of Chat GPT.
When it comes to user experience (UX) design, one crucial thing AI will always be missing is human empathy, emotion, and understanding. A company looking to create a high-performance website that supports their strategic business goals and engages their target audience will fail if they don’t take into account human understanding and collaboration between them and their web development agency.
Outlining the What and the How is important, but the Why is arguably what drives great UX and UI.
“Design is not just a visual experience, it’s an emotional one. It should make people feel something.”Nathan Shedroff, Author and Professor of Design Strategy
UX design is a nuanced, collaborative process, focusing on the specific requirements of the business and the specific needs of the target audience. You can save a lot of time using AI to produce a high volume of early conceptual designs or accelerate your copywriting process. But without the human element, none of these things will be authentic or anywhere near the required standard.
Potential Concerns and Risks with AI
Of course, we’ve not even mentioned the rising concerns and risks associated with AI yet. Just last month, over 1,000 technology leaders and influencers signed a petition to halt the development of generative AI until more governance can be introduced to ensure its safety.
There are still some serious grey areas regarding the use of this technology in business as well, from regulations and legal implications to the copyright of creative work like logos and images. These are providing opportunities for a wide range of new forms of cyber crime, phishing, and “deep-fake” imitations which could spiral out of control if left unchecked.
There are also plenty of moral issues surrounding AI that we must consider. For example, what implications will there be for our society if global businesses do begin replacing humans with AI on a large scale?
A key concern is that Generative AI is also having a significant impact on the environment, which is a conversation most people seem to be avoiding for the time being. With the global fight to reduce carbon emissions intensifying, and more businesses placing sustainability at the core of their values, there needs to be some action taken to balance those priorities with the efficiency and speed enabled by AI.
The SoBold Perspective
From our perspective, as a leading design and development agency, we believe that people will always want and need to work with other people. Personable relationships, real-life experience, and critical thinking are all essential parts of our work. In many cases, that’s also what many of our clients value most about our services.
Granted, we’re always looking for innovative new ways to push the boundaries, and AI is an incredible tool that will help us do that. But it won’t replace crucial human characteristics like empathy, emotion, and subjective opinions.
It will, however, help us spend less time on low-value tasks, and more time to focus on building stronger relationships and gaining a deeper understanding of our clients’ needs. That will only result in improving the work we deliver, which is something we’re always striving to achieve.
The Verdict on AI (for Now)
This year will probably be looked back on as a turning point in history when AI was introduced to the world. But this technology won’t replace too many jobs just yet. Instead, it will enhance our ability to work smarter, faster, and more efficiently.
For now, the only people at risk of losing their jobs to AI are those who fail – or refuse – to adapt to this new way of working and embrace the change. Similarly, if you’re using AI because you’re being lazy or complacent, that will also cause problems. You should never use work produced by a generative AI tool without checking its quality and accuracy, and you’ll always need to add a human touch before considering it finished.
On the other hand, if you’re forward-thinking and agile, embracing AI will make you exponentially better at your job. Here at SoBold, we’re personally most excited by how AI has the potential to help us vastly improve the service we deliver for our clients.
Of course, this technology is evolving so fast that it’s difficult to predict where we’ll stand a year from now. We’ll be discussing this, and lots of other important trends, in our new monthly newsletter.
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24 March, 2020
SoBold’s response to COVID-19
In response to COVID-19, we’ve put in place a number of measures at SoBold to make sure we can continue to provide our services to our clients around the world as well as do what we can to help contain the spread of the virus.
It’s helpful to reflect on the fact that we offer a service whereby the performance and outcome of work produced will not be affected at all.
We’ve moved to full-time remote work
SoBold has decided to close our office in London and have our employees work remotely until further notice.
We’re doing this in an effort to help prevent the spread of the virus because, while most SoBold employees are healthy and not in the high-risk category, we appreciate that is not the case for all of those around us, or in the wider community we live in.
We have a responsibility towards these people, including others who work in our building and those we come into contact with during each others’ daily commute.
We’ve set up enhanced support for remote work
We don’t believe it’ll cause much disruption to the rest of the team and business.
Most of our clients, for example, will be familiar with remote meetings; we regularly host virtual meetings between clients and SoBold.
All team members have access to reliable remote conferencing and workflow tools, so they can speak to anyone either within SoBold or outside of the organisation, whenever they need or want to.
This means we can continue to frictionlessly share and work collaboratively cross-functionally, with the ultimate goal of always delighting our clients and partners.
Free support to those directly affected by the closure of their businesses
We want to give back and help businesses and individuals that have been so badly damaged by the closure of their shopfronts, gyms, restaurants and other businesses in the hospitality industry.
We are offering free website help to these businesses during these tough times.
If you would like to get in touch with a team member about this, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
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7 November, 2022
The Top Five Benefits of WordPress for Large Businesses
If you’re responsible for marketing, you’ll be well aware of the importance of a great content management system (CMS) for digital products like your website, mobile apps, staff portals, and so on. You may even need to create bespoke digital processes or systems unique to your business, such as internal training platforms or communications channels.
WordPress is the most popular CMS available today, powering almost 45% of the world’s websites. That popularity is on the rise, too, as more and more businesses realise the vast potential of the platform and the benefits it can deliver.
However, there’s still a misconception that WordPress isn’t suitable for large businesses. That’s no more than a myth, though. In fact, some of the biggest companies in the world use WordPress for their CMS.
But what are the specific reasons why that popularity has spread into the enterprise market over the past decade or so? To answer that question, let’s take a detailed look at the benefits and advantages WordPress offers large businesses:
1 – Scalability and Agility
WordPress is famous for its high level of scalability. However large your company, or the size and complexity of your site – as well as the amount of traffic passing through it – WordPress won’t have any problem managing that load.
Scalability is one of its most prominent advantages for large businesses, because it’s also agile enough to easily evolve and grow alongside your changing requirements.
The platform is more robust than most realise as well, with enterprise-grade performance and speed. This great performance also means user adoption and retention will always be high, helping you drive strong return on investment (ROI) on all the digital products you build.
2 – Flexibility and Customisation
WordPress is equally renowned for its flexibility and customisation, which are particularly useful for complex or bespoke development projects. You can use its flexibility to build bespoke features and functionality into your website or create an entirely unique system from scratch.
In large organisations where company-specific processes and workflows are common within your sites, this makes WordPress a highly beneficial option.
3 – Fast Time-to-Market
Thanks to its simplicity and intuitive usability, WordPress is a very efficient platform to build with. That gives you the advantage of delivering development projects with a very fast time-to-market. This is a significant benefit of any CMS, as it helps you save time, reduce costs, and provides more opportunity to test, iterate, and innovate.
4 – Integration
WordPress is very easy to integrate with other systems. Because most large enterprises have a lot of legacy technology to consider when implementing new systems, this is a huge benefit WordPress has over more cumbersome CMSs.
WordPress also integrates very well with back-end systems that are vital to your daily operations, such as HubSpot, Salesforce, PowerBi, and so on. This minimises disruption to your business while integrating WordPress into your existing tech stack.
5 – Low TCO and Strong ROI
WordPress comes with a very low total cost of ownership (TCO) when compared to other options. Unlike most CMSs, you won’t need to invest heavily in adding new features or capabilities, and you won’t need to worry about expensive extra work to manage upgrades or updates from the platform.
Because WordPress is so agile and rich with dynamic capabilities and features, it’s also proven to deliver strong ROI in both the short and long-term.
From a long-term value perspective, your initial projects won’t just stop at initial implementation, either. As your project or requirements evolve and your business grows, WordPress can seamlessly adapt and grow with you.
Other Points to Consider
It’s important to remember that every business, and every project, is different. While the benefits listed here do make WordPress an excellent CMS, you should still carefully evaluate how well it aligns with your specific objectives, requirements, budget, and other needs.
It’s also important to understand that most businesses will need the support of an agency with platform-specific skills and expertise to help you leverage a CMS to its full potential. As is the case with all platforms, it will be vastly easier to achieve your objectives and gain greater ROI, if you have the support of an experienced specialist partner to guide you.
If you’d like to learn more about WordPress, or need help deciding whether it’s a suitable option for your own requirements, we have a comprehensive guide to evaluating and selecting the enterprise options for a CMS here.
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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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26 May, 2023
Contentful vs WordPress: Which Platform is the Best Choice for You?
Deciding between two content management systems (CMS) is no easy task. Your CMS is an important long-term investment, so you must ensure you choose a platform that will meet all your requirements, both now and in future.
If you’re currently weighing up the pros and cons between Contentful and WordPress, there are some key differences between the two platforms that you should be aware of.
To make this evaluation process easier for you, and help you pick the best option for your business, this article provides a direct, objective comparison between these platforms.
Different types of software will provide you with different capabilities and limitations. The Contentful and WordPress platforms can both deliver quality enterprise-grade websites, but they each take a slightly different approach.
Contentful is a cloud-based “headless” CMS. Being headless means that the back-end of the platform you use to publish, edit, and manage content is not directly connected to the front-end of your live website.
Your content is managed and stored in one central hub, hosted within the cloud, and this is the back-end of your platform (also known as the “body”). APIs are then used to take your content from the back-end and present it in website form.
A headless CMS gives you a high level of flexibility and customisation with your website’s front-end. These same APIs allow you to publish your content in different formats in different channels as well, facilitating a multi-channel approach to marketing.
This makes Contentful a flexible platform that can meet a range of different content requirements, but it is admittedly more complicated than the traditional approach to website management.
WordPress is a traditional CMS that provides a more straightforward approach to managing your website. You can use WordPress to build sophisticated, dynamic sites with a simple, user-friendly set of tools.
While most businesses use WordPress in the traditional way, the platform can be leveraged with a headless approach as well, allowing it to match the scalability and multi-channel capabilities of solutions like Contentful.
WordPress gives you the flexibility to choose how you’d like to develop your website, based on the complexity and size of the project, and the objectives you’re trying to achieve. In the likely case that you’re working with a web design and development agency, that can all be handled for you by your partner.
The Scalability of Each Platform
Your business will grow and evolve over time, so you need a platform that can quickly and easily scale up with new features and functionality. You also need to ensure the platform can handle high volumes of traffic and maintain performance as your audience grows. That’s why scalability is one of the most important aspects to consider when choosing a CMS.
How Scalable is Contentful?
One of the main benefits of a headless CMS is that the infrastructure allows you to grow your digital presence rapidly, on a large scale.
The back-end offers easy customisation, and the cloud-based nature of the platform allows you to scale up dynamically whenever you need to.
Its multi-channel capabilities also inherently promote the idea of developing your content in different formats at a larger scale, while always maintaining consistency. This enables you to produce individual pieces of content once and easily repurpose them across different channels a number of times, saving valuable time and resources.
This can all be done without any concerns over technical issues like server capacity or network bandwidth, because the platform is delivered in a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model.
How Scalable is WordPress?
WordPress is a highly scalable platform in its own right, currently used to power the websites of some of the largest and most successful businesses in the world.
The platform is agile and scalable enough to grow seamlessly alongside your business and adapt to your changing requirements, whichever way you decide to use it.
As mentioned earlier, taking the headless approach with WordPress can provide the same enhanced scalability and pervasive multi-channel capabilities as Contentful, if you require those aspects from your CMS. This can also deliver benefits with speed of development and time-to-market, saving you valuable costs with your agency partner.
Expanding your WordPress site with the more traditional approach is made even easier than most other CMSs as well, thanks to the platform’s unique block-based editor. This is a method of building websites that provides great benefits in the areas of flexibility, efficiency, and ease-of-use.
WordPress also allows you to continually enhance your site with new features and functionality through bespoke development, with almost no limitations on what can be achieved.
Like all technology, some tools are more approachable for the majority of users, while others will require some existing skills. This makes ease-of-use a key part of your criteria when selecting a platform to manage your website. You’ll be using it almost every day, after all, so you need to be comfortable with it.
How Easy is Contentful to Use?
While Contentful being solely a headless CMS does have its advantages, such as scalability and customisation, this approach also creates some challenges for the average user.
For example, adding content to Contentful can be difficult because it doesn’t provide you with a way to preview how your content will look in the front-end of the website.
Contentful doesn’t have a simple editing interface on the front-end, so there’s a much higher risk of error with this platform than with most others.
Granted, Contentful’s user interface (UI) is well structured and intuitive, but it’s also known for being more difficult for non-technical users than platforms like WordPress.
Handling the API rules is also complicated without the help of an experienced web development team. If you’re working with an agency, you may end up calling on them regularly for tasks that you could likely handle yourself in other CMSs.
How Easy is WordPress to Use?
Conversely, WordPress is renowned for its simplicity and ease-of-use. Even if you don’t have any existing knowledge of coding or content management, WordPress is very approachable and easy to learn.
When you first get started with WordPress, virtually everything you need to set up and manage your website will be readily available within the platform.
Publishing, managing, and editing in WordPress are all quick and convenient, thanks to an intuitive back-end that provides you with everything you need to build out a content-rich website.
Thanks to this ease-of-use, most of the people within your team will be able to use WordPress, allowing you to share the responsibility of the daily management and running of your site.
It is worth noting that taking a headless approach with WordPress does also require experienced web developers to be able to manage the platform though.
Security should always be a top priority with any software you introduce into your business. If you’re considering a CMS that seems like it could be unable to provide the enterprise-grade security you need, it’s wise to continue looking for more reliable alternatives.
How Secure is Contentful?
As a cloud-based SaaS product, Contentful comes with useful in-built security features, including HTTPS data encryption, role-based access controls, and multi-factor authentication.
Headless CMSs also take a different approach to security compared to traditional platforms like WordPress. Its use of APIs allows you to control access to your content through a token-based authentication system, and it uses industry-standard encryption and secure storage measures to protect your data. With that in mind, Contentful should be seen as a very secure and robust platform.
How Secure is WordPress?
WordPress is a secure, platform. To find proof of this, you only need to look as far as the wealth of global enterprise businesses that have chosen WordPress as their CMS.
As with any software, though, there will always be vulnerabilities or potential risks that can arise in certain scenarios. For example, WordPress regularly releases updates to its software, and failing to test your platform upon these releases could lead to bugs or security issues creeping in. Similarly, certain plugins can create security problems if taken from the wrong sources or left untested for too long.
Finding an experienced agency partner you can depend on is usually a wise move to reinforce the security of your website. That partner will also be able to support you with important related services like hosting, maintenance, and ongoing optimisation.
Cost and TCO
Your CMS also needs to deliver good value for money and a low total cost of ownership (TCO).
To understand your long-term TCO, you’ll need to take into account things like license fees, hosting costs, maintenance, bespoke development with your agency, and more.
Contentful’s Initial Costs and Ongoing Investment
Contentful has basic and premium pricing plans for businesses, although you can use the platform for free to see if it’s a good fit first.
The basic plan starts at around £250 per month and supports up to twenty users, so it’s only suitable for small businesses. The premium plan is priced based on the resources you’ll use, such as number of users, API requests, and storage. You can usually expect this to start at around £450 per month.
However, as mentioned earlier, most businesses will require a lot of support from an agency to get the platform set up in both the back-end and front-end. You’ll likely need ongoing work from an agency to ensure you can use the platform to its full potential as well, which won’t come cheap.
All these things tend to add up to a high TCO over time, making Contentful less cost-efficient than some of the other CMSs around today.
WordPress’s Low TCO
WordPress is one of those solutions that is far more cost-efficient than Contentful, with a much more reasonable TCO.
Its software is open-source and the platform free to use. This means your initial costs are limited to just hosting, agency fees, and any other support you may need once your site is live. Plugins and extensions of the platform are licensed and paid for separately.
As WordPress is such an intuitive and easy-to-use platform, it’s also affordable to run it and manage it, even if you do use an agency to handle that for you. This includes any bespoke development or customisation requirements you may have, which experienced agencies can often deliver with a very fast time-to-market as well.
Which Platform is Right for You?
Both these CMSs will enable you to build sophisticated, high-performance websites that will support your business goals and allow you to gain an edge over your competition.
As you’ve seen throughout this comparison article, they each have their strengths and weaknesses, as do all the other CMSs available today. That means you need to base your decision on which one is the best fit for your specific business.
For example, a headless CMS, whether that’s Contentful or WordPress, may be too complex in many cases. But if you’re looking to execute a holistic multi-channel marketing strategy, it might be the right choice for you.
In the early stages of your evaluation process, it’s crucial to carefully consider your own unique requirements, objectives, budget, resources, agency relationships, and various other factors.
In order to make the right decision between two CMSs, you need to understand which one will be more suitable to deliver on your needs and expectations, both in the immediate term and for years to come.