Why we use MODX instead of Wordpress.

2 July 2020
Read time: 7 mins

Written by:
Graeme Leighfield.

I want to start this blog post off, by stating that I personally think Wordpress is an amazing tool. Now, that might come as a shock to some of you that know me, and my views on it, however that's the point of this article. To explain why we at GEL Studios, prefer to use another system.

Wordpress's accessibility has led to millions of websites being made - and provided a platform from which many businesses large and small, have scaled their online presence. This in itself is a great fact, and a testament to Wordpress - however I ask you - at what cost?

Making something popular draws attention, in terms of Wordpress, it draws in developers to make rich extension (plugins) to further add to the tools available to use as a website owner. In a business capacity, it would make much more sense for a developer to create an application that has the potential to be used on more websites that any other right? Even more so if it's a paid plugin - your audience is much larger - hence, the potential to make more money, is greater.

Another angle to look at is that due to its easy to use API, and method of creating plugins, it's a great way to learn something new, and if others were to benefit from the free plugin you made - well then, thats great right?

Well, for the most part - yes! However when we're talking about hundreds of thousands of plugins, with some being paid, and some being free - we have to pay attention to the minority of cases (in this case, the hundreds of thousands) that this doesn't sit well with, and right there - this is why we don't use Wordpress.

One appealing factor about using Wordpress is that to get a site up and running, you don't need to hire any one special - you can do it yourself, which in turn, keeps the costs down. When you then look to add a piece of functionality, and you find 10 plugins that do the same thing, some are free, some are paid, what is the default mind set. It's to navigate to the free ones.

The pros and cons of free vs paid software.

Let me take a moment here to tell you my thoughts on paid, and free plugins, now this is generic, not just for Wordpress, but in fact, for software in general!

Free - Pros: No cost! It might work... and typically open source, so you can edit/change it to suit your needs.

Free - Cons: Could be old and out of date. Finding the right one that suits your needs - may take up time and It might interfere with other things on your website.

Paid - Pros: Typically has some level of support should you need it, and typically of a higher quality, with more care and attention taken.

Paid - Cons: There is an actual monetary cost and it may not be able to edit the source code to suit your specific needs.

Now, as you can see, there are pros and cons for each, and only you can make the decision about what to use and when - however earlier I posed a question "at what cost". Let's look into that next.

Vulnerabilities, and the capability to react.

Let's first of all agree on something. Making a piece of software, and supporting a piece of software, are two completely different things.

Depending on the life cycle of a piece of software (product), supporting it can involve more time and energy than making it in the first place. It's this principle that is often overlooked when releasing a plugin into the public arena for it to be used.

Software does go wrong - or things change - and vulnerabilities/exploits are found. Some, with minor/no impact. Some, with great consequences.

Heres a link to an Engadget article, about how an exploit was found in a Wordpress Plugin, that led to scammers being able to digitally skim credit card information. I'm sure you'll agree - this specific example is serious. Very serious.

Now the exploit being found is one thing - fixing it (and in a timely manner) - is another.

If you were a developer, who released this software into the market for free - will you have the time and resource to fix this issue quickly? If it was paid - would you be prepared to be potentially held accountable for this error? Not to mention dealing with all the correspondence from people that have bought your software demanding answers and/or updates? Would you want that responsibility?

Chances are, that all these thoughts would have never even crossed that developers mind when they released the plugin, and then it was seemingly downloaded by hundreds of thousands of users all around the world - that depended upon it for their website and potentially business to operate.

And that right there - is why we use MODX. As at its core, extendable features (extras) work in a completely different way. They provide developers with the tools to develop - not the end to end solution.

At the time of writing this article, accordingly to the National Vulnerability Database - Wordpress has 2956 reported vulnerabilities. MODX, has just 39.

Our ideal client, has website pains.

Now that we've spoken about the ease of getting a website up and running with Wordpress, and how its plugins work - let's now wrap this up with why we don't use Wordpress.

For us, as a digital agency, coupled with the rich experiences that we produce and have become known for - Wordpress (for us) is just the wrong tool for the job.

We work with SME's all over the country that come to us for guidance. They've had their first, and maybe their second website, and they come to GEL Studios to help solve their website pains.

These pains are not just how the website looks, functions, and performs - they go much deeper. Much, much deeper. Some common things that we deal with, for every project regardless of size are:

MODX allows us to cater for all of these examples, and many many more - with ease.

In closing.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Mine (documented here) have been based upon real working experience over the past 15 years.

MODX for us is a great tool. It's flexible, extendable, secure, and it's a pleasure to develop in. However it does have its downsides. It's not as easy to pick up as others - typically, as a customer, you would need to hire a specialist to build your website in it, meaning extra cost.

Our ideal client has had their first website - and they've learnt from it. This learning is a fundamental reason why the websites we make in MODX are so successful. They answer the needs of the business obtained through real working practice, without compromise on how it needs to be administered or automated.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article - and that it hasn't ruffled too many feathers. Remember, everything has a time, and a place.


Written by:
Graeme Leighfield.

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