Why we choose an alternative to Wordpress

August 23, 2016

The comfort of never having to do an upgrade

As the founder of Northern Village - a web company based in Guelph, Ontario, Canada - I am regularly asked why I prefer not to use WordPress. It is a good question. 

WordPress is an awesome product. It is by far the most popular CMS in the world today (60% of websites using a CMS use WordPress). There are lots of different modules that allow you to do just about anything you would want to do. With enormous community support, WordPress specific hosting companies, and dedicated conferences, prospective clients will often ask for it, or even require it.

Instead, I use a CMS that is powered by YikeSite. It allows me to create highly effective websites that give clients a greater degree of control without having to worry about the nuts and bolts of keeping a website going. We choose YikeSite over WordPress because:

  • Websites are easily updated
  • We specialize in building websites (as opposed to blogs)
  • We can use a content-driven approach
  • Support for clients is minimal
  • Our many websites are easily managed
  • We appreciate a flexible development environment
  • There are no upgrades ever

All in all, it helps us build better websites faster. Let me go into a bit more detail.

Websites Are Easily Updated

Creating websites is all about getting things done as quickly and easily as possible. WordPress has some fantastic modules available for websites, and there are more being created all the time. As an experienced web developer, you can do just about anything. However, the flexibility of adding modules compromises the simplicity of editing websites, placing less technically savvy customers in difficult positions when looking to update content on their site.

I prefer giving my clients as much control over their website as possible. With YikeSite, you only have to click the edit button on a webpage to go into the editor where you can make changes, hit save, and in seconds your site is updated. This lets us focus on the content of the website rather than struggle with the editor, and our clients love that they can update their own websites with ease.

Building Websites As Opposed To Blogs

WordPress started out as a blogging platform and this is still considered one of its greatest strengths today. With features like categories, comments and more, Wordpress is a great tool for creating blogs, however, it does not translate as well to a website format. Whereas a blog is a long list of posts, a website is hierarchical. A long list of articles is replaced with a separate menu system pointing to the "Pages" of the website. This makes creating website navigation more cumbersome than it has to be.

YikeSite is built as a tool that makes it is easy to add, delete, and move pages within the website with changes automatically reflected in the menu system. This makes it easy to organize the website during the build phase, as well as maintain it after it is live.

Build websites using a content-driven approach

Getting the right organization of a website is hard. You start with good planning to understand the goals of your website. Then, once you are getting the content in place you can see what the flow of the website is like. Having a CMS that makes it easy to update and reorganize content simplifies this process.

WordPress will give you the modules you want for different parts of the website, however, if you want to organize them differently, the separate menu system will not be easy to work with.

YikeSite provides a simple way of adding, deleting, and moving pages where all the changes are immediately reflected in the navigation. This is an invaluable tool when setting up a website. Start by arranging the content as identified in the goals. Then review the website to see if it is at an optimal level. If the organization is found to be less than ideal, you can change it to try and find a better one. This provides a practical way of testing your website as opposed to discussing it in the abstract. This helps to create much more focused and effective websites.

Support for clients

One of the biggest costs of running a web business is supporting the clients after a website has been completed. With WordPress’s popularity, there are many instructional videos on how to edit a website. These take a step-by-step approach that can be easy to follow. However, clients will often want a quick answer, rather than having to go through a series of instructional videos.

As a Web Professional, I strongly believe that it should be easy to support clients maintaining their websites. However, with WordPress, the many modules and different requirements make this job harder and potentially quite time intensive. This means allocating additional resources to handle client inquiries.

YikeSite is built under the philosophy of “easily trainable”. Features that are added are easy for the end client to comprehend, and each webpage comes with edit instructions that appear above the editor explaining how to make changes to that page. For example, an FAQ page will provide instructions for how to add a new question to the list, and a Gallery page will give instructions on how to upload, edit and organize the images. If you want to customize a page type, you can also customize the instructions with that page so your customers have the necessary information to make updates ie. the gallery requires that the images be uploaded with certain dimensions. This results in less time allocated to training clients and more time spent acquiring new ones.

Easily manage many websites

Another significant cost in creating websites is the management of websites – especially as the number of sites you are maintaining grows.

WordPress on the most basic level runs as a single website. If you are a web professional with customers that operate many different sites, keeping track of all the logins and websites can be very time consuming.

WordPress Multisite and Managed WordPress sites provide a way of selecting different sites from a dropdown to go from one site to the next. However, the management of each site is still done on an individual basis.

YikeSite provides a dashboard for all your sites with just one login from which you are able to perform management functions. This includes editing any site, managing users, duplicating sites, creating new sites from templates and/or creating new templates. We strive to turn 5 minute tasks into 1 minute tasks so that your website management process becomes much more efficient.

Flexible development

The many integration possibilities with WordPress are a result of its PHP-based development environment. Having a good understanding of PHP is important to run and customize a WordPress site. The reward for knowing PHP is that all WordPress modules are available to you for integration. On the other hand, if you are not technically savvy or are reluctant to learn PHP, trying to add modules or getting modules to work together can be a very frustrating experience.

Now, if the website you are creating is not overly complex, you may not need the overhead of WordPress.

YikeSite uses Shopify’s flexible liquid-based HTML template language written in Ruby. As such, Liquid is simpler than a full programming language. Someone with knowledge of HTML, CSS and Javascript, as well as basic computing concepts such as loops, and if statements can easily learn the Liquid syntax and the YikeSite functions to be able to customize websites.

Further, additional functionality can be added to a site while retaining the simplicity of the CMS for the end user. YikeSite uses Page Types and Modules to customize a website. This allows the end user to turn any page into a Blog, Calendar, FAQ, Site Map, Gallery and more, knowing that they will not conflict with each other. It is also possible to string these components together on a single page. The Page Types and Modules can be customized or new ones can be created.

No upgrades ever

Performing upgrades on WordPress is a fact of life. As a Webmaster, you can take this on and charge for your services or bundle it with hosting. There are also a number of excellent Managed WordPress services that take care of all the upgrades for you. Some customers tell us that their website provider has them responsible for their own upgrades.

As YikeSite is built on the liquid templating language, it means that all users only have access to HTML templates, CSS, and JavaScript, and not the underlying code (written in Ruby on Rails). The Ruby Functions are called from liquid and enhancements to the functions are backwards compatible. This is why we say you will never need to upgrade a website, unless it becomes old and tired.

Summary

At Northern Village, we choose to use YikeSite over WordPress because we can easily manage many websites without ever having to worry about upgrades.

Being able to create easily updated websites saves us time, but more importantly, gives our customers full control over their own websites. We use a content-driven approach to creating websites, which we find saves time and makes it easier to stay on message.

We also appreciate how we can customize our websites using the Liquid template language, knowing our websites will never have to be upgraded.

Arni Mikelsons, founder of Northern Village, co-founder of YikeSite and creator of easily updated websites based in Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

 

 

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