Enterprise websites mean business: they need to be able to perform tasks such as handling heavy traffic, managing large volumes of data, supporting a large number of contributors, and serving as an e-commerce platform. Often times, they have to perform all of these tasks. In order to accomplish their mission, enterprise websites must be stable, versatile, secure, and scalable.
Up until a few years ago, it was believed that such systems were not found in the open source community, and instead required expensive systems from software vendors. That is no longer the case. Today open source platforms such as Drupal and WordPress power websites for large corporations, government agencies, and other organizations and have elbowed out more expensive systems out of a substantial segment of the market. This can be explained by factors such as cost, ease of use, and overall quality.
Designing, developing and deploying an enterprise website can be an expensive project, regardless of the system you choose. Its architecture and overall functionality – caching, query handling, media requests, etc – must be optimized over several months and even years of tests and feedback. When handling large volumes of traffic and data, even milliseconds count.
Achieving this requires skilled programmers and developers, whose salaries or fees are usually the biggest expenses in a software development project. Using an open source platform can help keep costs in check while delivering reliable performance.
One of the milestones in the coming of age of open source content management systems was the implementation of Drupal for the White House website. Federal Agencies followed suit, and for a while Drupal was considered the CMS for enterprise sites, while WordPress was considered to be just for small to medium websites. But Drupal lacked WordPress’ ease of use and development, and as WordPress’ popularity grew, it was only a matter of time for it to enter the competition for enterprise websites.
Two early examples illustrate WordPress’ capacity for handling enterprise websites and serve as proof that this early perception of it as not robust or secure was not entirely accurate. The first one is Smashing Magazine, perhaps the number one website for design news and trends. Run by WordPress, it consists of thousands of posts on UX/UI, web design, WordPress tutorials, free resources, and an e-commerce section for books, among others.
The second example is the WordPress Codex itself, which serves as the official knowledge base for WP developers. With millions and millions of users, from beginner coders to professional developers, the WP Codex is constantly handling thousands, if not millions, of queries, forum debates, and updates, literally 24/7.
One of the main qualms developers and administrators had regarding the use of WordPress for the enterprise is the existence of potential security vulnerabilities. But with millions of users and contributors, WP’s core code is constantly maintained and patched for any bugs or security breaches. WordPress itself has provided guidance on how to secure its sites, and developers have figured out ways to deploy WP sites that deliver in terms of security, flexibility, and ease of use.
This has led enterprise managers to realize that they, too, can enjoy the advantages that have made WordPress the most popular content management system in the world while delivering enterprise scale websites. These include the ability to do multi-site installations and allow consistent branding over different properties. They also include the ability to enable managers to easily add and remove users and to determine their roles with a few clicks, and in general, the functionality afforded by the WordPress dashboard and a wide variety of popular, reliable plugins.
Additionally, the WordPress multisite feature allows administrators to create multiple sites from a single installation. These sites can share themes and plugins, and their creation is centrally managed. If your organization has multiple departments, or regional and local branches, or if your company has multiple brands and services that require their own websites, WordPress multisite will allow you to create as many sites as needed, with very little effort. The list of corporations, websites, organizations and artists using WordPress for enterprise sites is an impressive collection of leaders and trendsetters. It includes the NFL, Mashable, Mozilla Firefox, The Wall Street Journal, Star Wars, Nikon, Sony, People Magazine, and CNN, among others.
Materiell is experienced with developing WordPress for the enterprise. As we explained in a previous post, the government of Arlington County in Northern Virginia chose our team to develop a multi-site WP installation that delivers information and services to a population of close to a quarter million citizens. This installation includes thirty subdomains, payment and contact forms, multimedia, and document libraries for several service areas.
The uses of WordPress multisite installations are many, limited, or multiplied, only by the needs of organizations and individuals. Universities can easily create sites for different departments and events. Restaurants and retail chains can allow branches, or regions, to have their own sites. Event planners and consultants can add and remove events and project specific sites and still have their own main websites untouched.
Take a look at the needs of your business, agency, organization, or institution. Are your staff members spending too much time updating content on your website? Is the launch of your projects delayed by the deployment of the companion sites? Would you benefit from setting up temporary sites for ad hoc purposes? Materiell can guide you in the design, development, and deployment of WordPress Enterprise and/or multisite installations. Call or email our Alexandria, VA office today.