Simple but scalable CMS platforms?
March 14, 2014 1:53 PM   Subscribe

What should I be looking at in addition to Wordpress?

My employer (I won't name directly, but see my profile) is looking to replace our current SharePoint based CMS. SharePoint works OK, but our implementation was built up over years with dozens of different consultants. We've ended up with something too difficult for our end-users to update and too slow for our devs to push out quick changes.

We're looking heavily at WordPress for its general popularity and ease of use. Drupal and Joomla have both been rejected already as "too complex for our end-users". Concrete5 has come up as a possibility, but there are concerns about getting support/long term viability in going with a less popular platform. Are there other possibilities that I should be looking at?

We'll be migrating about 2,500 pages of mostly static content getting about 2 million visits a month. The main problem we've had with WordPress is that we'd like various departments to have control of their own content without the ability to edit anything else. We've proofed this out using various plugins, but there's also resistance to relying too heavily on 3rd party plugins.

So...any favorites out there that I should be checking out?
posted by Eddie Mars to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
ExpressionEngine, CraftCMS.

I haven't used Craft yet, but it was developed by a great house of ExpressionEngine add-on developers.
posted by clearlydemon at 1:58 PM on March 14, 2014

Have you considered going to something like Mezzanine or the more recently introduced Wagtail? They're Python products (using Django), so you'd have to have Python developers in the loop, but both should get you the fine control over permissions you're talking about. (There may be Joomla plugins that make editing more user friendly, but my knowledge there is several years out of date; using Drupal or Joomla with some bits to make it easier for non-technical users would seem to me like a better solution than building up WordPress to get the workflow you need, but you know your own user base.)
posted by snarkout at 2:25 PM on March 14, 2014

Best answer: One solution might be to use the WordPress Multsite with the exact same theme for all of them so they look like one site but they're not. Then each department has its own login for its own WordPress and nothing else. It would be complex but any decent WordPres pro could help you with it.

Regarding "relying too heavily on third party plugins": Yes, this can be an issue, but don't forswear plugins until you KNOW they're a problem. The plugin universe is where cool stuff happens, and where WordPress can be extended beyond what Automattic is willing to do.

WordPress is a better choice than ExpressionEngine, especially if the skill level of your users varies a lot. It's a much more robust community, it's cheaper, and it's easier to use for admins and for users alike.
posted by Mo Nickels at 2:40 PM on March 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Concrete5
posted by kirkaracha at 2:40 PM on March 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Drupal is no more complicated than WordPress when the end user interface is set up properly.However, Drupal is a lot better if you are looking to integrate with other systems. If its a simple blog system WP is fine. If this is an enterprise project your devs will get very frustrated with WordPress. If its a document heavy system you may also want to be looking at something like Alfresco for document management.
posted by COD at 3:37 PM on March 14, 2014

Siteleaf and Ghost are also other options, though the latter is a lot more blogging focused.
posted by dame at 3:41 PM on March 14, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions so far.
On WordPress multisites, that was my first thought too, and I proofed out a demo site along those lines. The issue we ran into was making content from sub-sites appear on the main site. I found a few plugins which handled this, so maybe we should revisit.

The issue with 3rd party plugins is that they are kind of what got us into our current situation. We hired outside contractors, they built custom SharePoint web parts and left. We are now stuck with aging, poorly designed web parts and management doesn't want to put ourselves in that situation again. If we go forward with any of these platforms, they'll have to get comfortable though.

On Drupal, do you have any specific recommendations? I've installed Panels and a WYSIWYG editor and our developers were not impressed.

Finally on Concrete5, do you have any specific experience? I contacted a few of the admins from the sites in the showcase but haven't heard anything back. I'd like to know what people think who've deployed a site. Our developers loved the editing interface, we're just having a hard time proving that big sites are actually based on this tool.

Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I'll be putting up test servers with all the suggestions over the weekend and next week.
posted by Eddie Mars at 4:01 PM on March 14, 2014

Best answer: I definitely second Mo Nickels comment - they're right on the money. Those sort of setups are actually quite straightforward for any Wordpress dev.

Auditing potential plugins is a part of good practice WP site ownership - it's definitely worth being aware of their potential for being too heavy, insecure, poorly built or out of date... but they're an essential part of the ecosystem. For instance, this plugin is (afaik) actually powering part of
posted by Magnakai at 4:05 PM on March 14, 2014

Sorry, didn't preview.

I've tested Concrete 5 but found it fussy and hard to customise. I may not have delved deep enough though.

Another strong option is to develop your own system with a decent framework like Laravel. It's a very powerful and flexible system, a bit like Rails for PHP. Obviously there's a lot more work involved here, but it would be exactly what you need.
posted by Magnakai at 4:07 PM on March 14, 2014

I've built a couple of sites with Concrete5, but not with the traffic you're expecting (although that shouldn't be a problem).

The easiest way to customize it is to do a custom theme:
Making a theme from start to finish
Turn HTML into a CMS site with concrete5

For more support, there's also Concrete5 Enterprise. I haven't used that myself.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:11 PM on March 14, 2014

I run a high-availability WordPress network for a local government - email me (in profile) if you want to talk shop.
posted by djb at 7:52 PM on March 14, 2014

Haven't used it at all, but my understanding is that SiteCore is big in this space. It's also stupid expensive. We considered DotNetNuke, but it seemed less functional than SharePoint 2013. It'd be great if you came back to the thread in three months and tell us what you came up with.
posted by cnc at 11:35 PM on March 14, 2014

On Drupal, do you have any specific recommendations? I've installed Panels and a WYSIWYG editor and our developers were not impressed.

Drupal is really a framework to build a great, customized CMS. Out of the box it's a little clunky. You'll need somebody skilled in Drupal to build something awesome. I don't think it's something you can do as you learn on your first try. You can definitely get a Drupal site up on your own, but building something complex and optimized to your specific needs is going to require somebody with experience.
posted by COD at 12:29 PM on March 15, 2014

Response by poster: Just wanted to provide a quick update.
We've decided to go with WordPress. Primarily for the relative cost and availability of 3rd party plugins and especially for finding people with development experience. Hiring is a constant challenge for us, so being able to fish from such a large pool has been very helpful.

We're still in early stages, but you can see the site in progress here.
posted by Eddie Mars at 12:14 PM on June 24, 2014

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