5 reasons why WordPress is a bad choice for your web portal project

There are about 70 million WordPress websites on the Internet – spawning 47 million new content pages each month. And, there are hundreds of thousands of developers and web development companies offering WordPress only services. The WordPress eco system is so massive and wide spread that it is considered a web development platform in itself. But, is WordPress truly capable of powering a full-fledged web portal?

If you ask this to a WordPress developer, he’ll have you believe that WordPress is like potter’s clay which can be shaped into any imaginable object. And sure enough, people have built business websites, community websites, online stores and more on WordPress.

From ground up, WordPress was designed for blogging. So on a basic installation of WordPress, all you can do is add posts, create static pages and activate built-in widgets for social media feeds. The native functionality of WordPress is good enough for publishing blogs and business websites. But, if you are looking at a robust content intensive website with portal like functionality, then native functionality will only take you so far.

For heavy duty applications, developers integrate custom built or third party plug-ins which enhance the functionality of WordPress. And, notable online publishers have spent thousands and millions of dollars on customizing WordPress. Now, this is comparable to hitching a trailer to a small car, when a small truck can serve the purpose more effectively. Any WordPress developer will tell you that WordPress offers great performance no matter what you use it for, but here are 5 points which prove that WordPress is incapable of powering web portals.

1. Not optimized for revenue generation

Web portals are driven by revenue, and they require an infrastructure which allows paid content, ads and affiliate marketing. Additionally, they require a dedicated backend for managing revenue channels and a self-service system for managing transactions.

Officially, you can’t run ads on a WordPress website unless it receives moderate to high traffic. Some WordPress plug-ins provides limited monetization capabilities, but you don’t get an extensive revenue infrastructure which is required for a web portal. What web portals really need is a revenue engine with a CMS built into it, and WordPress is nowhere in the league.

2. Plug-ins work but they don’t collaborate with each other

Most WordPress projects utilize a mix of third party plug-ins, which may have been developed by different vendors. You can imbibe the desired functionality by getting the right plug-in, but how do you make them collaborate? For instance, if you have installed events plug-in and an ad manager plug-in, how do you create ad zones on the events section of your website? The problem with plug-ins is that they integrate well with native functionalities of WordPress, but if you want your third party plug-ins to collaborate with each other then it calls for expensive customizations.

3. Unfriendly back-end for managing add-on functionality

WordPress offers a friendly backend UI for managing native functionalities and creating content. However, third party plug-ins gets limited backend real estate for housing the controls, so usability is often compromised. This results in tedious workflow for people who add content and manage the website.

4. Unavailability of unified end-user dashboard

Web portals thrive on user generated content, and most web portals allow end-users to contribute articles, event listings, classified entries etc. So, it makes sense to have a centralized user management system, and an end-user dashboard through which end-users can manage their contributions.

With third party plug-ins sourced from different vendors, you can’t have a unified end-user dashboard for managing content contributions across different modules. And, content moderation becomes a tedious chore for site administrators.

5. Insecure and vulnerable to hacking

WordPress is by far the most widely used CMS, which makes it an easy target to hacking attacks. In December 2012, over 600,000 WordPress users reported blocked log-in attempts, and by the end of the first quarter of 2013, 3 million plus blocked log-in attempts were reported. It has also been reported that an unknown group of people is attempting to create a botnet of infected servers by creating a vast network of infected WordPress installations.

For web portals, security is of paramount importance, because service failure can affect thousands of users. Considering the security issues, running a web portal on WordPress is a high risk proposal, because it will have a negative impact on credibility of the web portal.

Here is an alternative to wordpress, for building web portals: http://www.blackmonk.com/


Why WordPress for Web Portals is like Lego Bricks for High-rise Towers

WHAT EXACTLY IS A WEB PORTAL?

The primary idea behind web portals is to aggregate information from diverse sources and then present it in a uniform manner. Web portals can be visualized like a well assorted library which categorizes, updates content and grants access.

In the 90’s, horizontal portals were popular. AOL, Excite.com & Yahoo! gained special attention because they were for many users, the gateway to the World Wide Web. In recent times vertical portals that provide a gateway to a particular industry such as health care, insurance, automobiles, or food manufacturing are getting all the attention (ex: Yelp, WebMD, SitePoint, etc.)

HOW IS IT MANAGED?

Web portals manage their content using a software system and each type of content is displayed in a dedicated area (portlet). There is also role-based privileges, granted by the PORTAL admin to the staff (and registered users) in order to manage these portlets. Common features of portals are directory listings, articles, latest news, events, classifieds, videos, image gallery, etc.

Web publishers today require a level of dynamic content and functionality that goes well beyond what a conventional content management solution can offer.

WHICH CMS TO CHOOSE FOR WEB PORTALS?

Almost everybody knows about WordPress - a simple publishing and blogging platform with a massive user-base. It also provides a very powerful framework for developing websites with its "themes" and "plugins" ecosystem. In fact, it has become the de facto platform for most digital agencies.

On the other side, there are lesser-known "specialized" CMS's like BlackMonk - a modern publishing platform for portals, media companies, business directories and online communities. The central idea behind BlackMonk CMS is to provide a platform with integrated suite of apps and features necessary for developing, managing and monetizing web portals.

Which solution is most suitable for building portals? Lets find out!

BlackMonk vs WordPress for Web Portals

APPLICATION BUNDLE

BlackMonk was developed from the ground up keeping in mind all the important components of a modern web portal.

It has 20+ unified apps compatible with both mobile and web browser. All of these apps are developed in-house to ensure seamless integration and standardization. Rigorous testing ensures that the deployed apps will neither be conflicting with each other nor crashing your portal.   

Out-of-the-box apps include: directory software, articles, photo & video gallery, events, polls, classifieds, attractions, deals, bookmarks, social media integration, Google map integration, advertising management, user management, payment processing, data migration and reporting. The list doesn't end here - click to explore the features.

While WordPress is hands down the go-to CMS for blogging, it was not originally built to to be a portal platform.

In order to build a portal using WordPress, you can either go for custom theme development and on top of this you would have to get these 20+ apps developed. Another way to do this is to purchase a premium directory theme, because the free theme won’t cut it in the long run. Then you would have to also buy all of the required apps in the form of WordPress plugins.

The downside of this approach is that the integration among these plugins won’t be solid (as they will be provided by different vendors). WordPress plugins are quite infamous for breaking the theme because of the incompatibility issue and bringing in security flaws. More number of plugins also means equally bloated portal. Check out the detailed article written by amazing folks from WooThemes about the dangers of WordPress plugins.

Key thing to understand here is that your portal is as secure and swift as the code that creates it. Thus, all the required plugins would have to come from professional developers, not amateur programmers.

SUPPORT

BlackMonk clients are entitled to dedicated email support, knowledgeable and video tutorials.

As a BlackMonk client, you get support directly from the developers who have built the product. Not from a third-party developer.

 

WordPress has a popular forum where people can ask questions and also search for solved issues. Many are able to solve the issue from the answers posted in the forum and many are not able to.
Reason behind this is that none really ‘owes’ anyone an answer.

You can argue that when we are paying to theme developers and plugin vendors, they are supposed to give us support. True, but here is the thing - one vendor would invariably blame the issue on the other plugin vendor or the theme developer whenever the issue would go out of hand. In that case you’ll have to try different plugin and use something that integrates well with other plugins & theme.

MAINTENANCE

All the updates related to new features, performance and security are managed by the BlackMonk team and automatically rolled out after multiple rounds of testing.

There is absolutely no need for you to keep on checking for new updates and applying them. All of the updates are well tested in our internal server before applying them on client’s portal.

This burden of maintaining the platform and keeping everything in sync is taken care of by our team.

WordPress frequently releases bug fixes and security updates. Owing to its popularity, hackers target websites running on this platform. This makes it all the more crucial to apply the released updates as soon as possible.

The difficult and most dreadful part of update process is getting the site messed up. This can happen when the theme/plugin loses its compatibility with the base WordPress. While most of the vendors would update their offerings to make them compatible with latest version WordPress, we can’t say for sure that the update won’t create conflicts.

REVENUE GENERATION

Generating revenues is the toughest part of the online publishing business. We understand this more than anyone else.

BlackMonk comes integrated with monetization opportunities like business listings, event listings, classified ads, eCommerce (deals), affiliate marketing, banner advertising, advertorials (paid stories), etc.

Most transactions are automated. Ex: an advertiser can directly purchase paid business listing from the portal. There is no need for you to validate the transaction and add the listing manually.

WordPress seriously lacks in providing a built in system for monetization of web portals.

Again usage of plugin and custom coding can bring in limited capability for revenue generation. But, it would always be deficient in terms integration with various avenues for generating revenue and providing uniform transaction management system.

EASE OF USE

Although there is a learning curve involved, BlackMonk is relatively easier to use in the long run.
Our comprehensive video and text based user guides can be used by the portal admin and staff members to get started without wasting much time.

WordPress is very easy to get started. It becomes harder once all the plugins are integrated.

 

TECHNOLOGY

BlackMonk uses Python with Django framework. Some of the hottest startups like Quora, Dropbox, Disqus use Python.

According to a research conducted by Udemy, performance of Python is better than php (the language used by WordPress).

PostgreSQL and Redis constitute the database of BlackMonk portals. Check out how SOOMLA boosted its performance by 7410X simply moving from MySQL to Redis. Here is a nice piece from software developer and technical writer David Bolton (from Dice.com) explaining why he chose PostgreSQL over MySQL.

WordPress was built 12 years back. The technology stack is PHP and MySQL. WordPress is stuck with PHP/MySQL for legacy reasons, not because they are the best options available currently.

 

PRICING

BlackcMonk SaaS plan, designed for small businesses has three options (standard $80/month, premium $160/month and professional $240/month).

No coding required - just choose your theme and activate the apps. Let us maintain the technology and provide you with dedicated support.

Think of BlackMonk as a full service package provider where you save time and piece of mind by paying a subscription fee.

$160 per month billed annually will amount to $1920.

For pricing of WordPress development, we’ll go with the article written by established premium theme developer - Elegant themes.

Option 1:
Custom WordPress site with design, development and custom plugin would cost $6,000 - $15,000.

Note that this price doesn’t include any hosting, support and maintenance charges.

Option 2:
Purchasing premium themes, plugins, hosting and hiring a cheap developer to make the site functional.

Hosting cost: $10/month (VPS by DigitalOcean)

Premium theme: $90 

Plugins: 15 (premium plugins) x $50 = $750

Support and Maintenance: 20$ (per hour fee) x 6 (hours per month) x 12 (months) = $1440

Total = 2400$

Note that 20$ per hour fee is charged by student programmers or hobbyists. Professionals can charge somewhere around $80 - $200 per hour. In addition to this hiring a decent developer is itself a mammoth task.

CONCLUSION:

If you choose WordPress for developing a portal you would have to move through heaps of unwanted objects to find out the right solution for making a functional and good site. Hosting, hiring, maintaining and paying for support are some of the factors that will surely take up most of your time. From the core business point of view, you would also have to deploy an integrated system for revenue generation. By choosing BlackMonk you’ll get integrated suite of apps, hosting, maintenance, security, superior technology and dedicated support at a lower cost ($500 less). In addition to this, BlackMonk comes optimized with revenue generation system and self-service transaction management system. Savings in terms of time and resources are two very critical factors that can help you go a long way with your business.

To sum it up developing a portal using WordPress is like plugging in bits and pieces of Lego bricks for building a high rise tower. You never know when it would collapse. What you need is precast concrete instead of lego bricks to be successful in the weird wild web (catch the drift?).

More than 200 publishers have chosen BlackMonk Enterprise Edition as the preferred web portal platform for their businesses. Now, the Small Business Edition makes the same power of BlackMonk accessible and affordable to small publishers. Visit our showcase page to learn more about how we have been adding value to the success of businesses.