Thursday, 01 January, 2015

Case Study: Building a Website with Wordpress.

Building a brochure website on LAMP infrastructure.

Preamble

Wordpress is a great Content Management System (CMS). It's free, open-source and based on PHP and uses MySQL. If you have a lightweight hosting package limiting you to a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) type stack then it can be the best, sometimes the only, option.

Overview

A hardware company came to me with a request for a basic brochure website for their products. They had an existing infrastructure they wanted to keep but felt a website refresh was overdue.

Available Options

The hosting for this project was fixed, it had to be a traditional LAMP stack.

The big decision was whether to building a static PHP based website or theme a for Content Management System (CMS) like Wordpress or Drupal.

The client being technology based had technical know how and experience with HTML and CSS, and had been maintaining their own static website for some years, so it was entirely feasible they could update their own content and manage a plain old fashioned static website.

The Solution

My first deliverable was a prototype website to show the client how the website would look and feel. I then demonstrated how it could be updated by code, Wordpress and Drupal. Following some discussion, it became clear, fairly quickly, that the client liked Wordpress.

Wordpress Website Image

We decided on Wordpress because of the it's simplicity, theme support, and lower ongoing maintenance costs.

Drupal is a fine alternative but it has a steeper learning curve for new users and higher ongoing maintenance costs (especially in regards to developer costs).

The prototype was upgraded to a Wordpress Theme and tested on Azure. Once the client was satisfied it was ported on to their infrastructure and went live.

Conclusions

The website has performed well over the years with few issues.  The customer's team adapted quickly to using Wordpress and learnt to create and upload new content quickly.

The Wordpress Plugin ecosystem also means they've been able to add extra features for SEO and Backups without the need to pay for additional development.

Today,  the only feature I would add is a CDN. Cloudflare offer a free service which would really speed up the website and provide a better global presence.

In hindsight, for a similar project, I would also consider Jekyll as a viable alternative too.