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MODX vs. Wordpress - Battle of the CMS

March 04, 2015 by Mike Lannen
Tags: MODX

On at least a weekly basis, we here at Eternity Web Development answer the question: "Why do you recommend MODX over WordPress?".  

Folks know about WordPress. They've heard of it, because it's the most popular content management system (CMS) (nearly 1 in 8 websites launched on the Internet in the past year was built on the WordPress platform). Their nephew / niece / daughter / son recommends WordPress because it's easy to use and inexpensive. So, when they shop around for a new website developer, they think they're looking for a WordPress developer. And WordPress developers will frequently tell you they wont use any other system. (Note: The same holds true for Drupal: its developer base is both avid and evangelical, much like WordPress developers). 

The truth is, though, that no single content management system is perfect for all websites. Each widely-available CMS has its core strengths and recognizable weaknesses. WordPress is by far the most popular CMS platform available today, but the truth is that the CMS is only as good as the developers working with it. While ubiquitous, WordPress is not necessarily the most robust, secure, or appropriate CMS for your needs. 

The criteria for CMS decision-making typically comes down to a few key factors: Ease of use, customizability, security, and cost.  We examine those four factors comparing MODX to WordPress briefly below. 

EASE OF USE

When asking the question, “Which CMS is easier to use?” , the real question is “Easier to use for whom?” Non-technical people can easily choose a WordPress theme, install it, and make minor customizations to personalize the site.  There is no question in our mind that if you are not a web developer and you want to want to build a blog site or a standard brochure-ware website, WordPress is a great resource. You can be up-and-running with WordPress in minutes. 

But for developers, WordPress can be painful to program. The underlying PHP framework of WordPress is highly complex and easy to break. MODX, on the other hand, is designed from the ground up with a full-featured template system and powerful add-on architecture that makes creating new features much easier than in WordPress. So, if you want any custom features, or anything unusual out of your website, developers will find MODX far easier to customize than WordPress. 

There is some debate about the ease of use of both WordPress and MODX, but while WordPress's workflow is standard and easy to use for bloggers, MODX is preferred for establishing custom workflows, and the user interface is a simple PC-like document menu tree that our clients find easy and intuitive to use. 

CUSTOMIZABILITY

Most of our clients need a web developer to help them build their sites. And most of them come to us thinking they need more than just a blog site or a "standard" company website.  In short, the client should not really care which CMS they use, as long as it's easy for them to make updates.  Our programmers are specially trained in PHP and MODX, and we have found that  MODX is capable of supporting almost any type of site you could imagine.
 
WordPress has a huge community of developers who have filled the WordPress plugin repository with plugins to fit almost any possible need -- in fact, there are multiple plugins for almost any need, and it's up to developers to decide which to use in which cases, and to test them for widely-known security vulnerabilities.  Many of the plugins in the WordPress repository are are only useful to a tiny number of people or because they have been badly coded and designed.  MODX also relies on plugins and add-ons developed by its community, and adept programmers can add new plugins to the MODX library as they are developed. 

SECURITY

MODX developers are quick to point out that far fewer MODX sites have been exploited than WordPress sites. That’s true, but to be expected: WordPress is much more popular and hackers focus their effort where there is the most to be gained. The two systems are probably equally secure at their bases. But as mentioned above, the plugins offered through WordPress expose it to security vulnerabilities the more well-tested applications for MODX won't be exposed to. 

COST

Both WordPress and MODX are open-source CMSes, and offered for free through General Public License (GPL). Developers may charge fees to maintain the installation of either CMS for you.  But we have found that the costs we save with the total creative freedom promised by MODX provide long-term savings over WordPress. We can design the exact layout our designer (or your designer, or a design partner) creates for you.  The biggest complain for WordPress users is that the design limitations mean the site doesn't look quite as good as it did in a static design. 

You can get a great-looking site with WordPress, but it will require more hacks and more compromises than with MODX. And why compromise? 

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