Squiz Matrix vs WordPress: Choosing Your CMS
One of the common questions we receive when clients contact us looking for a CMS implementation is for us to explain the difference between an entry-level CMS such as WordPress, and an enterprise CMS such as Squiz Matrix.
Both CMS’ have their strengths and are excellent products in their own right, but are also uniquely different. With each product consisting of a very different set of capabilities and methods for delivering content on the web, understanding which CMS is right for you requires a thorough analysis of each product.
In this article we’ll take a look at the key differences between Squiz Matrix and WordPress. In doing so you'll b be able to make an informed decision about which platform is right for you and your organisation, with the aim of selecting a CMS that will suit your requirements both today and in the future.
So let's answer the question; Squiz Matrix vs WordPress. Which CMS suits you?
The history and goals of WordPress
When WordPress was first released to the market in 2003, the original goal as it stands today, was to offer the best possible blogging platform under a GPL Licence (i.e. free use). Today, thanks to regular version updates, wide-spread support from the open-source community and continued no-cost availability, WordPress remains the most widely used blogging software platform in the world which is to be applauded.
Over the years as WordPress’ popularity has grown, a culture of using the service to implement brochure-style websites has evolved, as with the number of WordPress web design professionals. With this in mind it’s important to understand that WordPress as a CMS was originally designed primarily for blogging, not enterprise content marketing, so some users have found limitations in using the service to achieve more technical goals online.
For many organisations, using WordPress to deliver their website and content marketing strategy has been an extremely cost effective exercise. Although more advanced functionality is required to be built by professional web developers that does not come with the standard WordPress install, agencies with experience in PHP and WordPress will be more than capable of delivering these services. That being said if you're blessed with PHP development skills or are confident using the free plugins provided by the WordPress developer community, you'll be able to add rich database driven content into your WordPress site.
Transitioning from WordPress to an enterprise CMS
For many organisations, when they reach a ceiling in the functionality they can develop or manage themselves, they begin to look to transition to a platform that will support their ongoing technical goals (i.e. an enterprise CMS such as Squiz Matrix).
This includes weighing up the following elements as part of making an informed business decision around upgrading their CMS:
- Is the cost of developing custom technologies for WordPress higher than what it would be to start utilising an enterprise CMS?
- Are there things that custom WordPress development simply can’t deliver?
- Would I prefer to have access to advanced functionality all the time and not have to build it myself?
- Has my organisation outgrown WordPress and are we ready to move to the next level of content management?
If the answer is “yes” to the above questions, you're most likely ready to change the way you publish content online. The good news is that many organisations reach this point and decide to expand their publishing capabilities the same way Government agencies, Universities and a vast array SME's are already doing with extremely positive results.
Enter Squiz Matrix.
The key differences between Squiz Matrix and WordPress
If you’re looking for a CMS which offers unlimited developer capability combined with a simple to use drag and drop style interface; then Squiz Matrix is for you.
Whether it’s a brochure-style website, scalable enterprise site, search engine, blog, e-commerce store or any other type of application; you can implement this with Squiz Matrix without requiring extensive programming expertise.
Because Squiz was designed to provide a vast array of plug-and-play functionality, you can be sure that when you’re configuring your next site using Matrix, the content that you’re building will be 100% secure, tested, reusable, and supported by extensive documentation on the Squiz Matrix Manuals site.
WordPress on the other hand has been designed with a set array of functional capabilities in mind, with the option to extend this capability with plugins provided by the open source community. Where Matrix has been designed to offer out-of-the-box functionality to suit all scenarios common to modern-day websites and Intranet’s, WordPress has been designed to extend it’s successful blogging platform to achieve this level of service which is worth noting.
With this in mind, when you begin to push the boundaries of standard content editing by implementing dynamic functionality (especially if your team is not particularly technical), enterprise products such as Squiz Matrix which are designed to support wide-scale content publishing, workflow, and website development using technologies such as Asset Listings offer very little resistance.
When it comes to content marketing and publication, as fantastic a product as WordPress is, if you want a product that is purpose-built to deliver more than a basic brochure site, you will need to step up to an enterprise service such as Matrix to deliver custom technical capabilities. In this instance it's really about choosing a product to match your ongoing solution requirements.
Side-by-side feature comparison
Side-by-side it’s difficult to compare Squiz Matrix to WordPress because each have a very different set of features, and Matrix is a CMS pitched at the enterprise market having vastly more in-built features. Never-the-less, below we’ve provided a table summarising the key features of each CMS ‘out-of-the-box’ which will help give you a snapshot of what you’re getting when you install WordPress or Matrix on your server to gauge which solution may be right for you at present and in the future.
|Bulk Import Tool||No||Yes|
|Web Service Connectors||No||Various|
|Layout, URL's and Themes|
|Theme support||Themes||Paint Layouts and Design Customisations|
|Custom Page and Folder Structure||Yes||Yes|
As mentioned it’s hard to make a direct comparison without having used each service, but it’s important to note that where both WordPress and Matrix include similar features, the level of functionality of those features differs greatly in some cases.
Data security issues and uptime
If you ask any developer who’s been in the web development game for a while, chances are they’ve heard of someone who’s experienced a WordPress security issue. This doesn’t mean that each and every user of WordPress will experience a security issue, but it’s a well-known problem that hackers with expertise in SQL injection attacks and the like have been able to expose holes in WordPress over time.
Of course where there’s security issues, there’s usually issues of uptime and/or data loss. For organisations who are not used to supporting a website or are unfamiliar with routine backup procedures this can be challenging. Without content backups, regardless of the CMS you’re using, you are reliant upon contacting your website hosting company to try and salvage a copy of your site if you’re not running concurrent instances in the cloud using services such as AWS. So even though the WordPress platform has had problems in the past, this should be a consideration for you regardless of platform.
When utilising an enterprise CMS such as Squiz Matrix, the chances of these sorts of issues occurring are significantly decreased due to the optional Squiz Plus support agreement. In many respects one of the major benefits of using an enterprise CMS is the ability to take advantage of licensed vendor agreements inclusive of a Service Level Agreement (SLA). Although there is no such thing as a 100% guarantee your site will never experience any down-time, having an SLA in place is a great way to minimise outages if they occur.
Enterprise vs Open Source CMS support services
Regardless of your organisation’s size or technical capability; it’s logical to assume that a CMS with access to support services is a smart choice. The good news is that both Squiz Matrix and WordPress have support you can rely upon; they just work differently.
For example, if you’re a Matrix user you can choose to purchase a Squiz Plus agreement which we’ll discuss in more detail later. This gives you access over the phone, in person, or via support channels to Squiz staff, and is not something WordPress offer.
WordPress sites are generally supported by digital agencies. OSE support both Squiz Matrix and WordPress sites in this way offering pre-paid support hours with an annual expiry period as well as monthly support plans giving you the flexibility to support your CMS as needed.
In terms of online support, both WordPress and Squiz have extensive communities where you can troubleshoot issues via forums. Both communities have fantastic resources, are well moderated, and provide you with the opportunity to interact with users of varying expertise. However, where you really start to notice a difference between enterprise and open source CMS support is in the available services you can purchase to assist you to maintain your CMS.
In the case of WordPress you’re solely reliant upon online documentation unless you have an agreement with an agency, whereas Squiz offer an extensive SLA (Service Level Agreement) called Squiz Plus giving you access to the following services:
- Exclusive features such as Matrix’s Edit+ interface
- Design, strategy and UX services
- Training packages
- 24/7 monitoring and support
- Performance and uptime guarantees
- Software and implementation warranties
- Maintenance and security patching
- Automatic upgrades
- Tickets to the annual Squiz Summit, and
- Extensive online resources and tools
For many organisations a Squiz Plus Agreement can be a saving grace and is a major reason why enterprise CMS SLA’s are a deciding factor when choosing a CMS. However, in addition to the value of an SLA, the price of ongoing support should be a major consideration as supporting a CMS is where the real cost of service lies.
Pricing and features: Pros and Cons
When choosing between an enterprise CMS and an open source CMS your decision will likely come down to assessing the value proposition of each service. To help you decide which service best suits your organisation, we’ve compiled a shortlist of the pros and cons for each service to assist you in your decision making process:
- It’s free to download and install
- Free upgrades
- Is a fantastic blogging platform
- Can be used as a basic brochure-style website
- Has an extensive open source support community
- Somewhat vulnerable to security issues
- Lacks dedicated support services without an agency agreement
- Relies upon a gamut of ‘untested’ developer implementations to extend WordPress beyond the out-of-the-box offering
- Can become slow-loading due to poorly-tested third party plugins and templates
Squiz Matrix Pros:
- Extensive feature set eliminating the requirement for development time
- Exceptional custom-built WYSIWYG editor for content authors
- Capable of delivering almost any application type and multiple sites from the same instance
- Is extensively tested and supported
- Squiz Plus Agreement which includes account management
- Dedicated team behind product development and security
Squiz Matrix Cons:
It’s not free if you choose to sign up for a Squiz Plus Agreement, but you definitely receive fantastic value as part of this agreement
Deciding between Squiz Matrix and WordPress
When choosing a CMS there are a number of important factors you need to consider before making your decision. As mentioned, both products are widely regarded in the development and publishing communities, but it’s the capabilities of each service that will undoubtedly shape your decision. When choosing between Squiz Matrix and WordPress ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I ready for an enterprise CMS?
- If so, what does the content migration process look like?
- Do I have the expertise to move forward and support a larger platform?
- If not, should I talk to an agency to help deliver my requirements?
Choosing a CMS can be tricky, but if you’re honest about the cost, risk and capability analysis you undertake prior to making your choice you should be well on your way to delivering a much-loved product your user base will enjoy for many years to come. Whether you decide to move forward with an enterprise CMS such as Squiz Matrix or continue with WordPress, we recommend talking to an agency with expertise in both platforms for an honest assessment of your needs.