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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- Your brand
- Your company values
- Your colour scheme
- Your typography
- Imagery and other visual content
- Structuring of pages
- And other visual components that are used to tell your brand’s story across your website’s design.
- 24/7 support
- Back-up and disaster recovery
- Fully-managed service
- Automated monitoring and alerts
- 99.99% up-time
- 100% pass-rate for data centre audits.
- WordPress by itself, out-of-the-box, is secure enough for most businesses to use.
- WordPress in the hands of an inexperienced or negligent agency will create significant security risks.
- WordPress is the hands of a dedicated, specialist partner is a platform you can trust and rely on without any concerns.
18 April, 2023
What is Visual Exploration in the Process of Web Design?
When a visitor lands on your website, the visual design is likely to be the first thing they’ll notice. It’s also usually the thing they’ll remember most.
75% of consumers reportedly judge a business’s credibility based on its website design. This first impression can make or break a prospective client’s interest in working with you.
The ultimate goal of your website is to attract and retain as many prospects as possible, and then convert them into clients. But most websites are designed in a way that leaves those goals unfulfilled, failing to reach their full potential.
With that in mind, your visual identity should be treated as a top priority within the overall design of your website. Believe it or not, this can have a significant influence on the growth and success of your business.
When working on a web design project, you should always go through a careful visual exploration phase to find the right visual identity for your website.
Whether you’re going through a full company rebrand or just refreshing the style of your website, it’s important to ensure your design is tailored to your specific target audience. This is how you begin to drive business growth through your website.
Without a visual exploration process, your website may not convey your company’s brand identity and values as clearly as you’d like it to.
In this article, we’ll outline the steps taken so you’ll know what to expect when working on a website design project.
What Does the Process Involve?
The purpose of this process is to define the best visual direction to take with your site.
This is a crucial aspect of your overall design, with aesthetic elements being brought together to create a look and feel that engages your site’s visitors and retains their attention. To achieve that, your visual design needs to establish a connection between your audience and your brand immediately. It should also demonstrate why your visitors should work with you.
Exploring your visual identity will cover a wide range of elements, including:
What are Mood Boards and How Can You Use them?
The main tool used to help determine the right visual identity is a set of mood boards.
These are a visual compilation of all the various elements that make up your website’s visual design. Each mood board is essentially just a single-page collage of design styles based on previous discussions and the findings from the research and planning phase of the process.
The aim of these is to capture your brand’s visual style and tone. This will give the stakeholders, and your designers, a shared understanding of the design you’re working towards.
Mood-boarding helps you visualise the work on your website’s design before it begins and agree on a design aesthetic that accurately reflects your brand identity and values.
Think of this like a problem-solving exercise. Your design agency will take a research and data-driven approach to conveying your brand identity, while also catering to your target audience and accommodating the latest industry trends.
Collaboration and Iteration
Like most processes within web design and development, this visual exploration process should be collaborative and iterative.
You’ll typically be presented with a mood board and a set of ideas by your agency partner, then given the chance to provide feedback across several rounds of revisions.
Rounds and revisions are always important in any creative process. It’s usually necessary for your agency to develop and present a minimum of three mood boards before the optimum aesthetic is agreed upon. This is a crucial step towards the ultimate goal of creating a new website that accurately reflects your brand and has a positive impact on your target audience.
Connecting with Your Clients Through Design
Your website’s visual identity is what makes your brand resonate with your target audience. Your design needs to clearly convey the values of your business, the quality of your products and services, and the reason why your visitors would benefit from working with you.
Working through this visual exploration phase is an important step towards designing a website that will attract more visitors and increase your conversions.
Once this visual exploration is complete, the next phase of your web design process will be to craft your website’s user experience (UX).
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31 January, 2023
SoBold launches bespoke online platform that is considered a “game-changer” for global financial services firm
SoBold, the High-Performance WordPress design and development agency, has delivered an industry-first portal for Rede Partners, a private equity fundraising advisory firm that provides fundraising services to PE funds across Europe, North America and the APAC region.
This bespoke portal, built on the WordPress platform, allows institutional investors to navigate upcoming funds advised by the placement agent.
Rede approached SoBold wanting to create a better user experience and improve fundraising outcomes for its customers. Rede wanted to achieve this by replacing its ‘Current Fund Offering’ mailout and PDF with an interactive, personalised, and secure online portal. Rede and SoBold worked in close collaboration to devise a simple, bespoke solution capable of delivering on a complex set of requirements, and that online portal soon became RedeWire.
RedeWire was fully integrated with Rede’s CRM system, Dealcloud, passing back data on user interactions and page views, allowing the team to follow up with interested clients.
RedeWire has been built fully personalisable for users, meaning that limited Partners are able to set all their preferences on first login, and through their account, allowing them to tailor the funds they see on their fund offering dashboard.
As part of the RedeWire platform, SoBold also designed and developed a bespoke front-end editing and approval interface to digitalise their offline fund approval process. This process has enabled Rede Partners and their clients to send out live previews of how a fund will appear on RedeWire, gather real-time comments, or make fully audited edits to a page’s content before submitting it for approval and publication on the RedeWire portal.
RedeWire has now launched to Rede’s full customer base and initial feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. The platform has already seen a high number of account activations and interactions within its first full week of use.
SoBold and Rede will continue to work together to develop RedeWire’s capabilities further and improve the portal’s user experience. SoBold will provide ongoing support to manage the platform and deliver enhancements on a monthly basis.
You can read more on our working relationship with Rede Partners here.
Gabrielle Joseph, Head of Due Diligence and Client Development for Rede Partners said,
“The SoBold team has been a real pleasure to work with and has successfully made our vision a reality. Originally conceived as a game-changer within our industry, we are thrilled with the outcome of RedeWire and have had several clients highlight how intuitive and easy-to-use the platform is.”
“Throughout the project, SoBold clearly understood our vision and provided thoughtful solutions to our needs. Choosing to partner with this team was one of the best decisions we’ve made, and we couldn’t be happier. We look forward to continuing to work with the team as the site evolves.”
Will Newland, Managing Director, SoBold said,
“We’re delighted to see such high early adoption of the new platform. The user feedback has been excellent so far, and this is the first of its kind in the private equity space, creating a personalised experience. We’re continuing to roll out enhancements on a monthly basis and can’t wait to grow the platform further.”
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9 June, 2023
Exploring the End-to-End Process of Website Development
Approaching a website development project can be daunting if you’re unfamiliar with the process and unsure what to expect. In this article, we’ll provide a detailed overview of the web development process to help you understand what’s involved, making it easier for you to approach a project yourself and avoid any pitfalls.
Your Role as the Client
If you read our recent series of in-depth guides through the end-to-end process of web design, you’ll know that process will usually involve a lot of collaboration between you, your team members, and the agency you’re working with.
Once you’ve been through that process and your design is complete, you’ll need to move to the development stage of the project to bring your designs to life.
You’ll likely have less involvement in the development stage, and less collaboration will be required, so your role will primarily be to sit back and relax while a team of skilled developers do their thing.
Depending on the project size, complexity and project management approach, you may have some touch-points with your agency partner throughout the process. If you are taking an Agile approach, this may include sprint retrospective meetings, or if you are working in a different way, this may just include short demonstrations, walk-throughs of certain pieces of bespoke functionality, or it could just be allowing you to start familiarising yourself with different features as they’re being built.
A Smooth Handover from Design to Development
One of our core qualities here at SoBold is ensuring the design and development processes work closely together. That’s achieved by not only having a very integrated design and development team in the office, but also ensuring we hold a thorough, detailed handover meeting between the designers and the developers at this stage. This serves as a key aspect of every project we work on.
The purpose of this is to give the developers a full understanding of the website or platform they need to build before any work begins, reducing the risk of error and accelerating the delivery time.
Every agency will have their own approach to this. It should usually involve the project designer(s) and project manager(s) walking the development team through everything that took place during the design process and explaining the thought process behind the decisions they’ve made. They’ll also give suggestions and guidance for how the design might be best approached from a development point of view.
Any questions the developers have about their task at hand can be answered during the handover meeting, and at any time throughout the development process, allowing the development work to flow efficiently and effectively.
The Benefits of Working with a Full-Service Web Design and Development Agency
It’s so important to align your web designers and developers, because, more often than not, there are fundamental differences in how they think and approach their work. If you decide to work with an out-and-out web design agency to design your site, with a separate development agency building it, you may encounter gaps in understanding between the two processes.
Working with an agency partner that has specialist expertise for both disciplines in-house will ensure your website is delivered on time, within budget, and directly aligned with your requirements. Having designers and developers in the same team who can share knowledge throughout the processes will almost always result in the delivery of a higher quality project too.
Building Your Website
With the handover complete, the developers will begin building your website.
Most development agencies will likely start with setting up the base. This involves setting up the base styles of the site which includes and is not limited to default colours, typography styles and global components – including button and link styles.
Once the base is set up, your developers would typically move onto the navigation and footer set up before moving onto building out all the page templates and blocks in the design should they be taking a block based approach.
Part of this process will often involve integrating certain components of your site with other systems you use within your business.
Peer Reviews and Testing to Maintain High-Performance Standards
It’s important for your agency to review and test internally all the elements that have been built, so any bugs are identified and rectified as early as possible.
Again, different agencies will have differing approaches to this. Here at SoBold, we leverage the size and experience of our team to conduct a thorough peer review process on every single component we build.
Following this internal review process, you’ll usually be given a link to your site in a staging environment.
All your content will have likely been carried over from your existing site and redirects should also be in place so that when you push the site live, any old redundant links will be redirected to the appropriate page on your new site.
If you have any live marketing campaigns running, it’s important to ensure your development agency and your marketing team (or agency) are in regular communication prior to this, so they can keep your campaigns updated in line with your new site’s launch.
Smooth Sailing Post-Launch
Once your new website is live, you’ll likely have a period of time whereby your agency will be on hand to fix any bugs that relate to the content on the new site. Here at SoBold we work with our clients for a period of 30 days following the launch of their sites, and any ongoing support beyond this 30-day bug-fix window will require a separate maintenance agreement.
Your agency should also go through the back-end of your platform with you, so you know exactly how to make changes to your website. For the most part, agencies will understand how important it is for you to be able to manage the site yourselves internally, and this is something we believe is crucial for you to be shown in detail at the end of the development process.
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5 January, 2023
WordPress vs Sitecore – Comparing Both Content Management Systems
Large businesses and enterprises in need of a content management system (CMS) today are spoilt for choice, because there are plenty of excellent platforms available. From WordPress to Sitecore to Drupal, the technology currently on offer is highly intelligent and intuitive.
But so much choice can make the task of finding the right CMS for your own specific business complicated and time-consuming.
Selecting a CMS is an important decision that requires a lot of research, followed by careful evaluation of all the various options. Of course, those processes can be very time-consuming. When you’re already extremely busy juggling dozens of other priorities, it’s challenging to give this the attention and effort it deserves.
To solve that challenge, we’ve done the bulk of the hard work for you. In a new series of articles, we’ll provide you with direct, objective comparisons between some of the leading options for CMSs, helping you relieve the headache of researching and evaluating them yourself.
In the first article of this series, we’ll be looking at the comparison between Sitecore and WordPress.
How Does the Security Compare for Both Platforms?
As we face ever-increasing concerns with cyber security, data protection, and various other digital challenges, finding a platform with robust security should be a top priority.
Sitecore has a reputation of being the leading CMS for large businesses, guaranteeing an enterprise-grade experience that includes a high level of security.
Sitecore’s security is also strengthened by the vast range of in-built features within the platform, which we’ll discuss in more detail later. There’s no need to purchase more third-party software or plug-ins to enhance its functionality, which means you won’t be creating any additional vulnerabilities or risks. The platform also receives frequent security updates which bolster your protection even further.
If security is a concern for your business, Sitecore should be high on your list of potential candidates for a CMS.
For a long time, many people believed the misconception that WordPress isn’t secure enough for large businesses. However, industry leaders such as global investment firm Blackstone, the NHS in England, global research and advisory leader Forrester, and multinational bank Standard Chartered now use WordPress for their CMS. This goes a long way to proving that wrong.
In fact, WordPress is already a secure, stable platform out-of-the-box. So, where did this myth come from?
Well, vulnerabilities can arise in certain scenarios. Firstly, strong security with any technology is dependent on a well-managed hosting environment. If you have WordPress hosted in a secure environment from an experienced provider, with proactive security measures in place, your risk will be extremely low.
Secondly, plugins are something to be cautious of when it comes to security, both in terms of where they come from and keeping them properly maintained. Security threats will be minimised if you only use plugins from trusted sources. You should also ensure you always keep them tested and updated, ideally working alongside security-specific plugins like WordFence.
We appreciate this may sound like a lot of work. That’s why all the examples of the businesses succeeding with WordPress have the support of an agency partner who ensures all these things are taken care of during the development stage. It’s worth noting, though, that this will also be the case when adopting any CMS in a business setting.
Which Platform is More Scalable?
One of the most important aspects of a CMS is its scalability. A CMS is a long-term investment, and this is one of the most influential factors in determining whether that investment will be successful or not.
You’ll need to ensure your site can evolve as your business grows and your needs change over time. This will require an infrastructure that can quickly and easily scale with more pages, additional functionality, and perhaps even more sites, without the burden of hefty costs for more development work.
How Scalable is Sitecore?
Sitecore is designed specifically for large businesses, so its scalability is up there with the very best. Sitecore is a robust platform that allows your digital presence to grow seamlessly as your business grows, even if you need to build multiple sites to serve different groups of users in different languages.
How Scalable is WordPress?
WordPress is another highly scalable platform. Despite some still mistakenly believing that WordPress is suited to smaller businesses, you can use the CMS to build sophisticated, industry-leading sites. Like Sitecore, WordPress is agile and scalable enough to grow alongside your business and adapt to your changing requirements.
How Capable are these Content Management Systems?
The main purpose of a CMS is to provide a software-based infrastructure upon which you can build and manage websites and applications. While most CMSs are similar on the surface, with the same fundamental functionality, they each have unique features and capabilities that differentiate them
For example, one critical indication of quality for a CMS is how easy it is to use. Once you’ve adopted a platform, you and your colleagues will need to feel immediately comfortable using it on a daily basis. If a CMS can’t provide good usability, it’s probably one you should avoid.
Sitecore as a Content Management System
Sitecore is actually considered a fully managed ‘digital experience platform’ that comes with more capabilities than the average CMS.
Most of its best features are readily available as soon as you begin using Sitecore. That allows you to get a high quality site live very quickly without additional work within the platform.
However, Sitecore typically provides quite hierarchical, complex workflows that might be frustrating for small or agile teams. This can also create longer development cycles than usual, giving you a slower time-to-market than more intuitive systems like WordPress.
WordPress as a Content Management System
WordPress is easily the most popular CMS in the world right now, with around 45% of all websites built on the platform. One of the main reasons for that is its ease-of-use, with simple and efficient content management
This usability allows you to get up-to-speed quickly and share responsibilities across several members of your team, even if they have no previous content management experience.
WordPress also makes it convenient to edit content on a page-by-page basis, saving you valuable time, with its block-based design an ideal method for customisation and site management.
How Much Personalisation do they Provide?
The ability to customise and tailor your site’s content to your target audiences is more important today than ever before, with so much of modern business now taking place online. Therefore, this is another important point to consider when choosing between your various CMS options.
Personalisation in Sitecore
When compared with other platforms, Sitecore’s personalisation is excellent. Sitecore will provide you with a great deal of control over the structure and design of your pages, allowing you to tailor your user experience and drive greater performance for your site.
This is particularly useful for larger businesses with high volumes of potential site visitors, delivering competitive differentiation and driving increased conversion rates.
Personalisation in WordPress
WordPress is also highly customisable. You can use its flexibility to get creative with your design, and build bespoke features and functionality to better engage with your audience.
There’s not much to separate Sitecore and WordPress in this area. The gap in personalisation becomes even smaller if you find an experienced agency with WordPress-specific expertise to help develop your site and improve your customer experience.
Integrating with Other Systems
Before your business invests in any digital platform, it’s important to ensure that technology can integrate easily with your existing software. Whether it’s your customer relationship management (CRM) or any other marketing systems, any digital tools you currently have should ideally be compatible with your new CMS.
How Sitecore Integrates with Other Systems
Sitecore integrates well with other systems. It allows you to achieve out-of-the-box integration with most of the leading CRM software, and plenty of other digital tools and platforms.
How WordPress Integrates with Other Systems
WordPress tends to be the easiest platform to integrate with your existing systems, because most brands and other SaaS products have already made themselves compatible.
This means you can deploy WordPress with minimal disruption, regardless of whether you’re building a new site from scratch or migrating your current site from a different CMS.
Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
Of course, you’ll also want to ensure you’re getting a solution that will deliver good value for money. With a CMS, the total cost of ownership (TCO) can vary greatly from one platform to another, due to factors like licensing fees and update-driven maintenance.
Sitecore Initial Investment and Ongoing Costs
Sitecore is an expensive option, even if you have a large budget to work with. You’ll be required to purchase licences for the platform with an ongoing renewal fee each year. These licenses come in tiers, so if you want to access the full range of benefits from Sitecore you’ll have to opt for the most expensive offering.
On top of that, you’ll also need to account for development costs with an agency, hosting costs, maintenance and support fees, and various other expenses that give Sitecore a very hefty total cost of ownership (TCO).
Furthermore, Sitecore requires ongoing management and maintenance to handle regular large-scale updates to the platform. When updates occur, new versions of the software come with a big price tag and may cause you to pay for additional development work to get your site up-to-speed.
However, this could be a worthwhile investment if Sitecore’s features and capabilities are necessary for your specific requirements. If you’re looking for a quality, trustworthy enterprise-grade platform, Sitecore can justify the cost.
WordPress TCO and Value
Conversely, WordPress is a much more cost-effective solution with a drastically lower TCO. Licenses for WordPress come at no cost and the software is entirely open-source. That means your implementation costs would be limited to just hosting, agency fees, and post-deployment support.
If you decide to use any plugins or extensions of the platform, these will be licensed and paid for separately. However, businesses rarely need to bolt on many new tools or capabilities because WordPress is such a feature-rich platform already.
When WordPress is updated, unlike Sitecore, managing and testing your site can be done in just a few hours at a much lower cost.
A Word on Agency Partners
One thing both Sitecore and WordPress have in common is the small selection of platform-specific agencies who can build high performance sites for large businesses using this technology.
A CMS becomes far easier to use, and easier to drive strong return on investment (ROI), if you have a specialist partner supporting you.
Finding an agency with the necessary experience and expertise to help you leverage these platforms to their full potential should be another important influence on your choice. From integration, to development, to maintenance, all the benefits and advantages of the platforms will require an agency to help you fully unlock them.
How to Make Your Decision
So, with all that information, how can you decide between the two?
Both of these platforms are excellent options that would serve most businesses extremely well. After all, there’s plenty of good reasons why some of the biggest companies in the world use Sitecore and WordPress.
Ultimately, when looking for a CMS that’s the right fit for your specific business, you should make a detailed assessment of your strategic objectives, unique requirements, budget, users, and other important factors. Use that to determine which solution is most capable of meeting those needs.
If you still need more help working through this process, read our comprehensive guide to understanding and evaluating the enterprise options for large businesses here.
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25 January, 2023
Is WordPress Secure Enough for Large Businesses?
Despite being the most popular content management system in the world, many large businesses and organisations in strictly regulated industries are still asking, “Is WordPress secure enough for us?”
This article will give you a detailed explanation of how WordPress can provide enterprise-grade security, to help you make your own decision about whether it’s secure enough for your own business. We’ll also share some helpful tips to enhance the platform’s security and reduce its risks even further.
As technology has become more pervasive in our daily lives, cyber security concerns have intensified, especially in the workplace. Each year, we read about more high-profile cases of global brands becoming victims of malicious cyber attacks, most often with sensitive data being the real target.
As a business, you should be increasingly careful and vigilant about the technology solutions you deploy today. This is even more important for large businesses and organisations in industries with strict regulations, where the consequences of security issues can be catastrophic.
When you’re choosing a content management system (CMS) to build critical digital assets like your website, security must therefore be a top priority.
Despite being the most popular CMSs in the world today – powering almost 45% of the world’s websites – WordPress is still seen by some as the platform for smaller organisations. You’d think its popularity alone would be sufficient evidence that WordPress is secure, especially as a large fraction of that user base includes enterprises across both the public and private sectors. However, when it comes to WordPress security, there are still some question marks.
So, is WordPress secure?
But there are certain factors and potential pitfalls you should be aware of if you’re considering WordPress as your CMS of choice.
Understanding Security in a CMS
As business challenges with cyber security and data protection continue to grow, selecting a platform that offers robust security is crucial. But how does that work, exactly?
Ultimately, a CMS like WordPress is just a piece of software, and all software can be vulnerable to security issues in a variety of ways.
The most obvious of these is a cyber security attack, either by hackers, a virus, or malicious software (malware). Any CMS used in a business environment needs to be built to withstand these attacks on a daily basis, and WordPress is definitely capable of doing so.
Another significant risk is when software has accidental weaknesses, issues, or vulnerabilities – known as bugs – built into its code. Bugs are common in software, and they can manifest as anything from a box appearing in the wrong place on your website to a platform vulnerability that leaks mission-critical data to cyber criminals.
Bugs aren’t difficult to fix, and we’ll explain later in this article why WordPress users can be confident that these kinds of risks are minimal with the platform.
However, when it comes to a CMS’s security, it’s important to understand the following point:
The biggest security risks, and the greatest opportunities for cyber criminals, are unsafe user behaviour, lack of best practices, insufficient maintenance, and poorly built sites. Not the platform itself.
Your behaviour, and the behaviour of your end-users, is an area that can be exploited or cause problems if you don’t prioritise security. That’s why it’s necessary to take a proactive, rather than reactive, approach to protecting your data. The rest of this article will help you do that, and remove any concerns you still have about WordPress security.
Is WordPress Secure?
The misconception that WordPress isn’t secure enough for large businesses still lingers, but why? Well, the main reason is because the platform is free-to-use, and so it was initially most popular among B2C blogs and smaller independent businesses.
Today, however, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Industry-leading enterprises such as private equity advisory firm Rede Partners LLP, global investment firm Coller Capital, and global research and advisory leader Forrester use WordPress for their CMS, just to name a few. This goes a long way to proving the apprehension towards WordPress security is unnecessary.
So, let’s explore the WordPress platform in more detail to understand why these global enterprises have full confidence in the security of their data, as well as the data of their clients and partners.
WordPress is already a secure, stable platform out-of-the-box.. You can rest assured its core code is highly secure, because it’s overseen by a team of security experts who thoroughly test and quality-check it on a continual basis. They regularly release updates and reinforce any potential weaknesses before they’re exploited to protect you against any new-found threats.
A team of security analysts study the ever-changing cyber security landscape and respond to it with speed and precision.
While WordPress may be seen by some as a CMS for small businesses, the speed at which security updates are implemented is arguably the best in the world when compared to other platforms.
WordPress is also open-source software, which means all the code it’s built on is available to the public. Anyone from outside the WordPress team can view it, download it, and make adjustments to it. Users often suggest their own changes and updates to the code by submitting them to the WordPress moderator team for approval. If improvements are made to the WordPress code, these updates will be released to the global user base.
These people are part of a global community of dedicated, passionate users who work hard to ensure the platform is always developing into the best version of itself possible. Anything WordPress’s own team misses, the developer community will catch. This means users are often fixing bugs and shutting down potential opportunities for cyber criminals, keeping the platform safe for everyone else.
WordPress Security Vulnerabilities
While WordPress does have the support of some of the brightest developers in the world, who keep it as secure as possible, they can’t take care of everything for you. As mentioned earlier, your biggest security risks will probably lie within your own business, regardless of what CMS you’re using.
Additional security vulnerabilities can arise in certain scenarios, often caused by ignoring best practices or failing to take responsibility for simple maintenance of the platform.
Your hosting environment is an important factor that can influence how secure and protected your data will be. Your WordPress websites will be hosted in a server that stores your files and data in a data centre.
WordPress, like any platform, should be hosted in a secure environment, with an experienced provider who prioritises security as part of their services. This should include putting proactive security measures in place for scenarios like unplanned down-time or even natural disasters.
Secure hosting should also involve automated monitoring for malicious activity and vulnerabilities in your servers and software, as well as incident response.
Before choosing your hosting service, be sure to carry out some due diligence and look into the security best practices of your host. In many cases, it’s wise to work with an agency partner who will help you with this, but more on that later.
While the WordPress community is one of the platform’s greatest strengths, interacting with unsafe additions to the software can also be its downfall for some businesses. It’s important to be cautious of the constant stream of new features, updates, and plugins being made available, because some of them could create issues for you.
To avoid these problems, you shouldn’t download plugins unless they come from recognised, credible sources. Furthermore, you should always ensure all your plugins are correctly tested, maintained, and updated.
We appreciate this may sound complicated. For that reason, you should entrust this responsibility to a partner. When using WordPress to build and manage websites, a good agency should help you ensure everything is secure and up-to-date.
When you’re running a website or application on WordPress, you’ll regularly receive software updates from the platform. Any time an update comes through, it’s because certain bugs have been fixed or some improvements have been made.
It’s crucial that you keep up with WordPress updates because they’re there to keep your site secure. By leaving your site running on outdated versions, you’re at risk of a known issue being exploited by cyber attacks. Again, this should be taken care of by your agency partner so you don’t need to worry about keeping your web platform up-to-date.
Tips to Strengthen WordPress Security
If you still have doubts, there are some simple steps you can take to further strengthen the security of the WordPress CMS. Some of these more general tips can also be applied to most website platforms and other software software products in general as well.
Use a managed hosting service that offers enterprise-grade security.
You wouldn’t rent an office in a building that leaves its doors unlocked at night. Why would you place your sensitive data in a data centre that isn’t fully secure?
Some things you should consider non-negotiable for a web hosting provider to offer include:
Put back-up and disaster recovery services in place to ensure you’re protected from all potential risks.
To build on the above point, ensure your hosting service has measures in place for back-up and disaster recovery. This fail-safe measure will give you a way to save and recover all your data in the event of any losses.
Do not use, or allow your agency to use, any plugins from unrecognised sources.
As mentioned earlier, only use plugins from sources you trust. You should also keep all plugins and additions to the platform up-to-date, and make sure they’re rigorously tested – or, rather, make sure you can rely on your agency partner to do this for you behind the scenes.
Use plugins alongside security-specific enhancements.
You can further bolster the security of the WordPress platform by leveraging security-specific plugins such as WordFence, Sucuri, and Defender Pro. These can inform you of potential vulnerabilities or incidents so you can respond quickly before they have an impact on your business.
Don’t use tools that enable direct access to your site database from within the dashboard.
Some digital tools or extensions give direct access to your site’s database or files from within the dashboard, to make managing your website easier. This is something to avoid, because they’re often a major security risk.
Enabling SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) introduces a protocol which encrypts the transfer of data between your website and your users’ browsers. This makes it more difficult for cyber criminals to steal information and data online.
Encourage your users to follow security best practices.
You can put all the security measures and data protection possible in place, but they could all be for nothing if a weak password or bad behaviour compromises your website.
Some security best practices every business can easily implement include making strong passwords compulsory among all users and introducing additional measures like two-factor authentication.
Rely on an Expert to Minimise Your Security Risks
As touched on throughout this article, another factor which will determine how secure your WordPress platform is will be which agency you decide to work with.
While deciding whether to invest in WordPress is a big decision, don’t underestimate the importance of finding the right agency partner to support you with your CMS, especially when it comes to WordPress security.
Ultimately, you should understand that:
Your data will be fully protected if you work with an agency who takes security seriously and prioritises it at the core of every development task they deliver for you.
That means they should be capable of handling secure architecture, testing, monitoring, updates, and ongoing support for you as part of your service. You should always take the time and care to find a specialist agency partner who has a proven track record of building robust, reliable sites, to ensure you’re minimising your risk.
WordPress is a Suitable Platform for the Enterprise
Cyber security and data protection are critical for businesses of all sizes, across all industries. But it can’t be denied that large businesses often face more severe consequences by falling victim to a cyber attack or data breach.
Choosing a platform that you have total confidence in is a necessary factor in the process of evaluating your options for a CMS.
When you have your own role and responsibilities to focus on, the last thing you want is to be constantly worrying about the security of your site. Following the advice and best practices listed in this article will provide you with a highly resilient WordPress platform with enterprise-grade security. That will allow you to spend more of your time creating an outstanding website that differentiates you from your competitors and drives business growth.
If you need more help understanding and evaluating platforms to deliver a web design and development project, read our comprehensive guide to selecting the right solution here.