March 25

College Websites and WordPress

Choosing the right Content Management System (CMS) for your college or university is never an easy task. A simple Google search for CMS choices comes up with thousands of results: more blog posts than you’d ever care to read, forum posts of varying age arguing over which CMS is the best, and development jargon that leaves you with more questions than answers.

At the end of the day, what I would say is: there is no wrong answer.

Okay, I take that back. There are some very wrong answers. But this argument generally comes down between the three major players in the CMS world: WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal. Each of these options, when customized, can result in beautiful website. And when implemented correctly, you would not be disappointed in any of these choices.

But is there a more correct answer?

9 times out of 10, we choose WordPress for a university website. Why?

  • Ease of use: WordPress has by far the best documentation and easiest user interface. This means that individuals with little to no experience can easily jump in and manage the content.
  • Scalability: With the option of a multi-site and a huge library of plugins, a WordPress site can easily grow with you.
  • Updates: Seamless automatic updates and bug fixes to keep your website up-to-date and free of even the most recent security threats.
  • Organization: WordPress has the best content organization that we’ve used, especially for sites with hundreds or thousands of pages worth of content.
  • Version Control: WordPress will allow you to revert back to prior versions, or see what changes were made and by whom.
  • Integrations: Seamlessly integrate third-party course catalog or calendar software with a custom plugin.
  • SEO: We always keep SEO in mind, and WordPress is our favorite CMS for search engine optimization.

With any CMS, there are some caveats. It’s just as important when choosing a CMS to understand its weaknesses and how to deal with them:

  • User Access: Without the proper plugins, limiting user access can be a chore. When you begin and create a basic WordPress site, you cannot limit a user to edit only certain pages. One way around this is by having a multi-site installation.
  • Speed: WordPress plugins have the habit of slowing down your website. There are a ton of resources to fix this issue, however, and the right web developer should be able to implement a WordPress site without compromising your page speed.
  • eCommerce: WordPress’ “Achilles Heel.” If you’re looking to sell products online, this may  not be the platform for you. However, building a eCommerce platform on a sub-domain and running your main website through WordPress is becoming a more popular solution.

We recently launched an award-winning site for Crown College that was built in WordPress. By building the site in WordPress, Crown has much more control over their site and content. They are thrilled with the result and have received a lot of great feedback from students regarding its ease of use and beautiful design.

Let us know what you think!