System

Pick the right tool for the job.


Most sites are now run by content management systems (CMS) which allow pages to be edited via an admin area, while functionality is added by plugins, add ons, extensions (each system has its own terminology) or third party services. Selection of the platform should be based on requirements, but in reality most modern CMS are very capable (though some are better than others in certain aspects) so it often comes down to your developers’ preferred approach.


WordPress

I’ve used many different CMS, my preference is now self hosted* WordPress:

  • Clients find the editor easy to use
  • The new Guttenberg editor is excellent
  • Flexibility for handling different content types
  • There are many plugins to extend functionality
  • Scalable for large sites with high traffic volumes
  • Use as an application framework via REST API
  • It’s Open Source and widely supported
  • Can be hosted on your own server
  • Themes are easy to customise
  • Good multilingual support
  • It is constantly evolving – see roadmap

* there are hosted and self hosted versions of WordPress, theself hosted version allows for greater control.

I’ll come out and say it… I’m a big fan of WordPress”

When not to use WordPress

  • If you want to do it yourself consider Squarespace or hosted WordPress
  • If you just need e-commerce consider Shopify
  • If you need an enterprise level CMS consider Drupal
  • If you need a .NET environment consider Umbraco

You’ll get the best results if you use a developer who knows their preferred platform inside out”

Security

WordPress is secure when actively managed:

  • Keep core version and all plugins updated
  • Valid security certificate (SSL)
  • Use strong passwords and 2FA
  • Add plugins for enhanced security
  • Latest version of PHP and MySQL
  • Use good hosting

WordPress had a reputation for being insecure, but problems are usually down to poor implementation or not it not being updated”

Content Management

Multiple ways to manage content:

  • Page – display in a structure
  • Post – appear in sequence
  • Custom Post Type – behave like a page or post
  • Taxonomy – categories / tags
  • Media – images / documents
  • Blocks – individual page elements
  • Reusable Blocks / Widgets – global elements
  • Short Codes – easy way include functionality
  • Include – pull in content from other pages
  • Custom Fields – set up as required

With creative use of posts, categories and tags content can be structured in many different ways”

Themes

Global styles are set by editable themes:

  • Parent theme – framework
  • Child theme – keep customisation separate from parent theme
  • Responsive – layout adapts to suit desktop, tablet or mobile

Plugins

Plugins add functionality i.e e-commerce, events:

  • Use best in class plugins with good reviews
  • Make sure the plugin is updated regularly
  • Using lots of plugins can slow the site down
  • Many plugins offer a basic free version with paid enhancements

Users

Various user level restrict editing permissions:

  • Admin – access all settings
  • Editor – publish posts and pages
  • Author – write (but not publish) posts and pages
  • Shop Manager – manage items / process orders
  • Custom – bespoke user settings

Updates

  • Core- three main updates per year
  • Minor releases – throughout the year
  • Plugins – update as new versions become available