Is WordPress Ready for Enterprise Web Content Management?

September 5th, 2011 by Curtiss Grymala

A few days ago, I had someone ask me if I though WordPress was ready to be an enterprise-level Web content management system (WCMS). My initial response was basically “Yes, I should hope so.” My livelihood, at this point, depends on WordPress functioning as an enterprise WCMS.

However, I feel like I should qualify that affirmative answer a little bit. While WordPress is almost completely capable of being an enterprise WCMS, there are a few caveats that go with that.

First of all, WordPress will not be an enterprise-level system out-of-the-box. You’re not going to be able to use the famous 5-minute installation and leave it at that if you want it to do everything you need it to do. You are going to need to be intimately familiar with the WordPress APIs, and you are going to have to get your hands dirty with some custom code. There are definitely a lot of plugins that can help you along the way, but there are still going to be holes that you’ll need to patch yourself.

Secondly, you will need to establish a clear list of features that you need in your CMS. Probably about 80-90% of the time, you’ll be able to get WordPress to match that list of features, but there will be occasions when it simply won’t cut it.

What It Doesn’t Do

For instance, if you need deep, integral asset (images, documents, etc.) management, that’s not going to be easy to achieve with WordPress. Images, documents, etc. are handled on a post-by-post or page-by-page basis in WordPress right now, and there is no concept of revision management with attachments, either. For documents, you can certainly test Ron Rennick’s Document Repository plugin (which was developed initially for us at UMW), but that might not do everything you need in the way of asset management.

Likewise, if you require a standardized workflow setup, that’s going to be a little complicated with WordPress. There are a few plugins that can help along the way, but they might not do it all.

What It Does Do

The good news is, though, that WordPress can be integrated with LDAP or Active Directory pretty easily. There are a couple of plugins that will let you integrate your login/registration procedures (of course, if you’re using Active Directory, I’d recommend Active Directory Authentication Integration). You can even pull lists of Active Directory users and display them on your website with a plugin like Active Directory Employee List.

Apart from the plugins that can help you get WordPress where it needs to be; the WordPress core, itself, does a great deal of what needs to be done in content management. The system has made giant leaps in the field of content management over the last year or two. Pages are fleshed out better than they’ve ever been; custom fields are simpler to use; custom post types, custom navigation menus and post formats are major innovations; and much more.

Are you using WordPress as an enterprise-level content management system? What plugins are you using to make WordPress work better for you? Are you running a single-site WordPress, multisite or a multi-network setup?

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