Leaving WordPress Behind?

WordPress has given millions of individuals, companies, and organizations a means for getting heard, for advertising and selling their products, or promoting their ideas on the web, no question. It works, and, initially, it’s free – so why care about alternatives? Do you wish for an easier, more secure, more flexible and faster solution? Let us show you.

Website construction kit vs. CMS as a service

There are many ways to obtain a WordPress-based site: you can have it professionally hosted, install and host it yourself, or anything in between. In all cases, the website production tools (the user interface), the code that generates the pages and provides the business logic, and the assets (e.g. images) are stored on a server. With WordPress, you require a database for organizing your content, managing users, and keeping track of comments, links, etc. You also need to take care of monitoring, performance and availability optimization, security, etc.

Scrivito, on the other hand, is a CMS service that is transparently made available through a JavaScript library (the SDK) you plug into your single-page web application. Of course, the Scrivito SDK as well as third-party libraries need to be updated occasionally for your app to stay secure and provide the latest features, but there are no database backup and repair hassles, no server maintenance, optimization or scaling, no plugins to be installed and set up for resolving issues, detecting intrusion attempts, and the like. Just concentrate on developing your website.

Technology Server-based (PHP + MySQL) all-in-one website builder. The system as well as the content require hosting. Client-based (JavaScript + React) single-page web application. Uses the serverless JAMstack principle, includes a headless CMS API, and pre-renders pages on Netlify.
Database MySQL required.
None. Content is managed by the CMS service.
Maintenance Software upgrades, security updates and patches, failover handling, monitoring, performance optimization, database backups, etc.
Only for upgrading the Scrivito SDK and third-party libraries included in the app.
Rendering All pages are generated (dynamically and on demand) on the server and then delivered.
The client-based single-page app renders all pages in the browser, resulting in instant page display.
CDN usage Plugin available
Built-in, transparently handled by the CMS service
Security Potentially vulnerable due to the various sources (plugins) and the outdated server-based technologies used.
Serverless setups offer the smallest possible target to attacks.
Pricing The core is free. Hosting, themes and plugins may be subject to charges.
Free trial.
Basic plan: USD 5.99 / month;
Team plan: USD 99 / month. Details

Content configuration vs. comfortable editing

Admittedly, WordPress is highly configurable. The WordPress ecosystem provides an enormous number of plugins and themes for customizing the appearance, the layout and the functionality of the website built with it. Next to common page elements such as styled text, images, etc., special-purpose widgets exist that can be added to predefined widget areas like the header or the sidebar. At first glance, the multitude of offerings to choose from is enticing, but many users sooner or later get lost.

Next to having to spend a lot of time with patching and updating plugins, finding the screen on which a specific page element can be configured too often resembles a steeplechase. Switching back and forth between various menus and view modes quickly becomes obstructive.

Even though drag and drop is available when adding or arranging page elements, there is no consistent in-place or WYSIWYG editing for instantly getting an impression of what your changes effect.

With Scrivito, there’s the layout, page types with widget areas anywhere you want them, and many widgets to choose from as well as the ability to build your own custom widgets.

Scrivito’s working copies, which are virtual copies of your site, let you edit all visible content directly on the pages, and arrange it using drag and drop.

Navigating to a different page works as expected; just continue editing on the chosen page. Meta information or styling options can be accessed and edited in one place, on the page properties dialog; there is no need to switch to a different UI for this.

Editing Page by page in a separate UI; drag and drop for adding or moving elements. Detailed CSS, layout, and content editing, but inconsistent and cluttered, largely form-based UI. No in-place editing.
In-place editing with drag and drop in a lean, easy-to-use UI. 
Auto-saving Every 60 seconds, may collide with “Post revisioning”.
All changes are instantly saved to the selected working copy.
Workflow Editing and publishing is done on a per-page basis.
Editing and publishing via working copies. Any number of pages, images, etc. can be edited and then published in one go.
The built-in “Post revisioning” is considered useless and error-prone by many users. Several plugins available.
Publishing history for reusing (or republishing) superseded versions of the published content.
User management
Supports users and (fixed, system-wide) roles.
Supports users and roles for collaborating (viewing, editing, publishing, inviting) on a working copy level. Coming soon: customizable roles. 
WordPress-specific themes and plugins
All third-party services and libraries supporting or written in JavaScript

Media handling

There are several aspects of media handling. Editors want images and other binary files to be easily uploadable and selectable when composing pages. Also, for organizing and finding media, having categories or filters and tags as well as a search is a must. At least a basic set of image editing tools should be available, too. Website visitors want images to be loaded as fast as possible, responsively adapted to the screen size of their devices. Website developers, finally, require an API for programmatically generating overviews and galleries, etc., not only of images but of all kinds of content.

Of course, both WordPress and Scrivito let users upload and manage binary content. Out of the box, the WordPress user interface for selecting the image to use on a page is rather basic but can be extended with plugins to allow filtering by category or tag, or better searching. The properties of an image (title, “alt” text, description, etc.) can be edited after clicking its thumbnail in the library.

With Scrivito, asset management and selection is truly comprehensive. The built in Content Browser lets you manage all your content, not only binary assets, but also pages of all types. It combines several sorting and fine-grained filtering options, a thumbnail or list panel, and a properties inspector into one view that can be opened with a single click. As a developer, you can customize not only the thumbnail captions but also the filters to have them search for objects that match specific criteria, for example. Despite its richness, working with the Content Browser feels like a breeze. 

Responsive images Starting at version 4.4, WordPress supports the srcset and sizes HTML tag attributes and provides a set of scaled versions for every image.
Scrivito generates, stores and maintains scaled versions of images and automatically delivers the version that fits best.
Image transformations Various image processing plugins exist. 
Built-in API for resizing and cropping images for customized display, e.g. in widgets. Transformed images are automatically stored in Scrivito’s CDN for faster delivery.
Image editing Built-in basic image editing functionality (scale, crop, rotate, mirror). Plugins available.
Built-in sophisticated, yet easy to use image editing tool based on the PhotoEditor SDK by Img.ly.

Summarized ...

Originally designed as a blogging platform, WordPress has evolved over decades into an all-in-one publishing platform. Like many other open source CMSs (e.g. Drupal and Joomla), it is based on PHP and MySQL and requires hosting, demanding considerable maintenance, protection and optimization efforts. Web pages are generated on and delivered by the server. Scrivito, on the other hand, is a maintenance-free CMS service for building serverless JavaScript-based web apps. They are fast and secure by nature.

While WordPress offers good editing support including drag and drop, the currently concocted user interface feels inconsistent and ramified. Compared with Scrivito’s unmatched WYSIWYG in-place editing, intuitive working copies, auto-save, and user management, the difference is clear.

Regarding media handling, especially when it comes to images, WordPress has basic support for categorizing and searching, which can be extended with various plugins. Scrivito’s Content Browser offers the full spectrum, including custom filtering, searching, sorting and tagging.

Give Scrivito a try and you will find it easier, more secure, more flexible and a faster solution.

More great blog posts from Andreas Viebke

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