It's a question we've heard from time to time, and occasionally we hear it with Drupal, Joomla, SilverStripe, or any number of free, open source Content Management Systems. Make no mistake, great websites can be made with any of these platforms; we've done so with WordPress, Joomla and SilverStripe, among others. But we've had the most success building great websites using our own, in-house CMS. In short, it's not what you have, but what you do with it that matters most.
What makes a great website? An eye-catching design certainly doesn't hurt. Intuitive navigation and practical page layout will undoubtedly increase the engagement of your visitors. Great content will sell your business like nothing else will on the web today. So, what does WordPress, or any other CMS you care to name have to do with these things? Nothing. WordPress will not write your content, structure your navigation or beautify your web pages. These things come from talented and experienced designers and developers, who use a CMS as one tool in our belt as we ply our trade on the web.
One benefit of having built as many websites as AYC Media is knowing that one size does not fit all. What works well for an Insurance Company may not be ideal for a Non-profit. What e-commerce platform sells for an automotive performance retailer may not maximize conversions for a Jewelry store. Our in-house CMS gives us enormous flexibility in creating a solution that fits you like a well-tailored suit. WordPress and other CMS's approach the process of web development from a different perspective, trying to be jacks-of-all-trades and master of none. More often than not, you're getting a lot more than your using, and what you're actually using is more cumbersome than you want, forcing you to shoehorn your workflow into a prebuilt system.
Popular content management systems can boast large communities of developers and a collection of extensions that add more functionality to already feature rich systems. What our CMS offers in comparison is a system that has developed and matured along side us and our process, one we know intimately as we know ourselves. The ability to converse with other developers may not bear any fruit if your problems are unique. If there is a bug somewhere in a specific plug-in you want to use, getting a hold of developers who can help you fix the problem can be a long and difficult process. Because an open source developer works for good will, often aside a day job, you may have to wait days or even weeks to get a fix if you're unable to do it yourself.
In some cases, using a prebuilt CMS like WordPress can be a time saver, but one area in which there is never a savings is hosting. With an open source CMS comes hackers who can pour over every detail of the source code looking for vulnerabilities. When hosting a WordPress site, a lot of care needs to be taken to "harden" your installation against hackers. CMS's like Drupal and SilverStripe consume a lot more server resources than our in-house CMS to run. If your website becomes very popular, the hosting costs for running a Drupal-based e-commerce solution are much greater, eating more of your profits and frustrating your visitors with longer page load times.
All of this aside, there isn't anything wrong with using WordPress or another open source CMS. Your choice in software ultimately won't be what makes your website a great one, but a bad choice can haunt you for years. Why we most often use our own in-house CMS is because it works for us and it works for our clients. If WordPress is a great fit for you, we'll absolutely say so! And we'll be happy to build it for you.