Here at SilverStripe, we work with a network of talented digital agencies and developers who advocate our technology as the best of breed when it comes to choosing a high performing CMS. Agencies are on the front line when it comes to engaging in conversations with clients, helping them to make the right decisions with every step of their digital journey. The folks at about how SilverStripe stacks up against WordPress. In this post we pick the Devmac team’s brains about how they go about selling clients on SilverStripe.
Framing client conversations
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us about how the team at Devmac navigate conversations with clients when it comes to choosing a CMS.
How do you and your clients decide between SilverStripe, WordPress and other CMS platforms?
It’s a common question we get asked here at Devmac and without prior knowledge about all the options that are available, it can be quite difficult for clients to know what is the best choice for their business, something we empathise with clients over. The world of Content Management Systems and web frameworks is vastly becoming denser by the day with new systems appearing on the market each year.
WordPress is a system that clients have definitely heard of, after all, it runs 28.9% of the entire internet. But something we have to remind clients of is, does popularity equal quality? In our minds, not always. Our client driven approach is always using bespoke design, focusing on what the customer’s customer needs, rather than using themes or having to compromise the design because of CMS restraints. This leaves Wordpress as the less appealing system the majority of the time.
Why is SilverStripe your CMS of choice?
When it comes to customisability, reliability and quality, SilverStripe wins every time. We find SilverStripe easy to use from both a development and CMS user perspective, which paired with its flexibility as a framework, makes it a clear winner for the type of work we do. We’re also big believers in SilverStripe’s separation of CMS content authors from developers. We are experts in managing the inner workings of the website with the client being experts in the marketing and content for the site. The moment those lines are blurred by giving non developers, developer permissions, is the moment things can go really wrong.
Could you categorise the types of projects you work on and how that impacts your CMS choice?
We work on anything from basic brochure websites to complex development projects. It is very important to understand what each CMS offers. Whilst we recommend SilverStripe 95% of the time for those types of projects, WordPress can sometimes be the better choice depending on the clients circumstance. At the end of the day we want to make the client happy, and if that means building with a tool requested by the client, then we’ll take that in our stride.
A solution fit for purpose
What do clients typically care about most about when it comes to choosing the right CMS?
Any website has a certain purpose to fit. We remind clients that although they might be the ones updating the information, their customers are the ones who have to navigate the website. It's critical that the website is visually pleasing but also that it functions as intended for the end user. This is primarily what will impact a choice of system for clients.
SilverStripe's Framework allows for a highly customisable platform. This enables adept PHP developers to create something to a direct requirement. The framework itself offers substantial flexibility to the developer. Similarly to WordPress, SilverStripe uses plugins, called modules. However, unlike WordPress, these modules act as a starting point for developers to mould into what is actually needed, opposed to being box standard.
As developers and professionals who will be maintaining the site, what do you care about most in a CMS?
Think of SilverStripe as your go to if you need something highly customisable. A good developer can build the custom functionality required at a far quicker pace than if you were to use WordPress. This essentially boils down to the code used in SilverStripe. Being formatted and structured allows changes to be made and tested easier without the fear of breaking functionality elsewhere.
WordPress on the other hand is hindered by limited customisation. Yes it's true that there are hundreds upon hundreds of plugins, but your requirements still have to directly match what the plugin offers. This is the common dissatisfaction that is expressed from WordPress users. Essentially, your site will be using themes and plugins that countless other sites are currently using; meaning your website is never truly unique.
Using the CMS
When it comes to usability, what do you see as the big differentiators between SilverStripe and WordPress?
SilverStripe has one of the cleanest user interfaces(UI) out of the many CMS options. In our experience, fewer panels mean easier navigation. For those inexperienced, SilverStripe includes a help panel that can be used at any time.
After we have built a site, a clients experience with the CMS is really important for us to get right. We always arrange a training session with the client, this allows us to show them exactly how everything works, how to access the relevant sections for our modified plugins and in essence: what changes what. This normally takes no more than an hour.
WordPress, in some respects, has a slightly more complex layout that SilverStripe. With WordPress starting solely as a blogging platform and now transitioning into a CMS, their UI hints at a less coherent design.
Security and upgrades
What do you consider to be the biggest differences between SilverStripe and WordPress when it comes to security?
Security will always be one of the most important considerations when deciding on any system.
We tell clients that with WordPress, it’s really important to stay up to date. It's almost guaranteed that any custom plugins developed for a site will not be compatible when WordPress pushes out updates. This can be costly for clients as it forces those that are managing the site to keep plugins up to date and regularly tested. Clients can always choose not to go through with updates but then this leaves themselves wide open to attacks.
SilverStripe also updates to newer versions, although less frequently, with the current being . SilverStripe as a platform is at low risk of attack from the outset, making the need to upgrade less essential, although upgrades give clients access to better features and APIs. We believe that SilverStripe is more secure due to its separation of developers from CMS users as well as the high coding standards demanded from SilverStripe developers.
Making the right decision
Any final words on what agencies and clients need to consider when choosing a CMS?
The two main factors that determine a technology choice should be available budget and requirements. If a client requires a unique website that has very specific functionality, we recommend SilverStripe. If you have a more limited budget and simple requirements and/or are willing to do it yourself, WordPress is probably for the best.
A website is one of the strongest and most impactful assets a business can own, making it worth spending the time and money on getting the right technology. If you have a client that is looking for a website for personal reasons, such as a personal blog, then you may not have the need for a bespoke design. But for most agencies, for whom clients are high performing businesses and organisations, they will require custom solutions to their unique problems.
If you are a growing business, it's important to look at the bigger picture and not tunnel vision on "what you need right now". A developer can add additional functionality into a SilverStripe website with ease in comparison to WordPress.
How does SilverStripe stack up against WordPress? Download our handy comparison grid outlining the differences.