WordPress – the Visual Basic of web portals

Why is WordPress so damn popular?  It’s a software architect’s nightmare but runs 25% of websites as of late 2015 and 30% of all ecommerce sites (March 16, 2016 figure for the wooCommerce WordPress tool).

One issue with these stats of course is they don’t take into account that people are moving away from websites. As today’s picture shows, in South Korea people are using their phones to scan barcodes, in China they’ll use Alipay and WeChat (within wechat alone >10million sites and 200million users making payments).

But sticking with old fashioned websites for now, for 2016 the CMS competition will be Wordpress and Drupal8.

    • Drupal8 was only released in November 2015 so hasn’t had an impact on the figures yet, and the marketplace for it is only just maturing.  Drupal8’s native RESTful webservices should allow for rapid integration with other applications. Drupal8’s usability overhaul and the complete implementation of multi-lingual localization functionality onto what was already a well-designed core make it a serious contender.
    • WordPress is like Visual Basic. Visual Basic [6] was a quite deficient but nonetheless outstanding tool that enabled truly rapid application development, and was supported by a remarkable add-on marketplace (going back before Microsoft more or less killed it off with a bodged move to .Net to try to keep up with the internet).  For example:
      • the core is functionally deficient
      • there is an enormous marketplace for add-on tools to remedy the first point
      • it’s really cheap and easy to use

      The last two points go together: it’s not cheap just in terms of purchasing/developing but in terms of speed of development and implementation.  The core is severely limited, including the security model, thanks to its origin as essentially a single-user blogging tool, but whatever the problem there is also a workaround or plugin to fix it.

There’s more coming on when to use WordPress vs Drupal and how to navigate the minefield of dubious quality WordPress add-ons, but this article is already too long so we’ll just close with an unfair summary of the rest of the competition.

Also ran:

Blogger:  this one is running in the opposite direction.  It’s just not fair to attempt a feature comparison:

  • Blogger lets you write a blog and connect it to Google+.
  • WordPress can do just about anything thanks to a marketplace of >40,000 plug-ins.

Joomla3:  hmm, how to put this, Joomla combines the design qualities of WordPress with the usability qualities of Drupal?  Just as an example, after following a 32 step guide to enable a second language, there is actually no way of managing which pages are translated and which are not.  Yes it does have proper drafting and versioning etc, but WordPress does all this all very well and is so easy to use there’s no selling point to move to Joomla.

Liferay Portal: a nicely architected award-winning java solution worthy of proper evaluation, which is not what it is going to get today:  thanks to the small marketplace support and relatively high cost and time to market, if you choose Liferay your competitors will have a good head start.


6 thoughts on “WordPress – the Visual Basic of web portals

  1. I enjoy reading your blog, mainly the technology part. I have just read this http://observer.com/2013/11/news-flash-tech-is-not-just-for-scrawny-male-virgins-anymore/
    which discusses the issue I have been thinking that if having a career in the IT department is to declare you are a geek/nerd. The stereotype of technology guys are unattractive and socially awkward (despite all Englishmen are somehow socially awkward) and even if indeed you are not, working with other nerds are very likely to make you become nothing but nerdy. Not even mention media enforces this embarrassing image in every way, such as the Big Bang Theory, Bill Gates hates taking a shower, Steve jobs wore weird jeans, Mark zuckerberg only has one kind of T-shirt and his baby face etc. You can’t find any sex god figures who are technology guys in the films or in your life. Besides, I’m afraid working with the codes instead of people do turn you as cold as the machine.

    I’m not saying I will choose a career based on how girls think of me. But it’s just awful and upset even if you work as hard as those guys do other more sophisticated jobs, you can’t be treated the same in your personal life. Have this ever bothered you? How did you handle it? Thanks for sharing.


    1. thanks – regarding your gender comments, generalisation is dangerous: in China where I currently live, the IT department may be mostly female. And even in the West, surely the popularity of shows like the Big Bang Theory also proves that geeks are the new cute.
      If still in doubt, play guitar.


      1. Right. Apparently you are not bothered, which is good. I know there are certainly female who did computer science at the university etc, but let’s talk about IT guys here. (I pictured Amy Fowler when you reminded me of women in the IT department…Please… even geeks don’t want her as a girlfriend and please don’t tell me you do. )

        Besides those Big Bang Theory type people make you laugh at them, not with them.
        Who wants to be cute? Every one goes for hottie.

        Playing the guitar is what the homeless pop singers do in the tube, which is totally an underdog image. Violin may sound better though. Yet IT + violin = Western raised Chinese (not stereotype, true stories) given you live in China.

        Sorry to say I peeked at your photo and you don’t seem very much like a geek or nerd. Lucky you but no offence you look like alpacas, which I’m not sure if you have noticed…


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