An Easy Choice? WordPress and ExpressionEngine Compared
In a world full of multiple options, picking the right CMS can be quite a task at times. Each CMS comes with its own share of good and bad points, thus making the selection process even more difficult. How does one pick the ideal CMS? Which features does one require? These are only some of the questions that every user asks before he or she decides to use a particular CMS.
Two of the most talked-about CMSs in the current computing scenario are WordPress and ExpressionEngine. Each has its own loyal user base, multitudes of extensions and features, as well as drawbacks. Both WP and EE are often compared, debated and discussed all across the internet.
So, among WordPress and ExpressionEngine, which one beats the other? We shall attempt to answer this question in this article.
However, before we go any further with the actual comparison, let me first take a moment to clarify my reasoning behind each category or sub-category of comparison.
WordPress and ExpressionEngine: The Comparison
What And How?
In writing this article, I have attempted to compare the two wonderful CMSs under the following heads:
- Usability and User Experience
- Community and User Base
- Support and Documentation
Note that, however, the free versus paid rhetoric has not been considered. Why? Simply because you will consider a paid EE over a free WP only if you can afford it. Now, since you can already afford to pay for your CMS, you should definitely shell out money if you think the said CMS can bring an additional edge to your website, and you should not if you feel that the said CMS will not be worth the investment — in this case, this article might prove useful for you. On the other hand, if one cannot afford to pay for EE, he or she will likely settle with a free option such as WordPress anyway, and there will not be much need for such a comparison.
Furthermore, the first point, usability and user experience is by no means an absolute answer: what is usable for you may not be usable for me. I have tried to provide an exhaustive opinion on this point, because most likely, you will not use either EE or WP just for your website, but will also be passing it on to your clientbase.
Lastly, it must also be noted that in this article, I have refrained from citing any concrete technical examples. Bluntly put, both WP and EE are not competing entities and thus, a purely technical comparison (such as doing this on that) will not be fruitful (if it were WordPress vs Drupal, the story would’ve been the opposite).
With that said, let us see how each CMS fares!
1. Usability and User Experience
Let’s take up WordPress first. Is the CMS usable? Definitely yes. However, what sort of user experience does it provide?
Ideally speaking, usability need not simply refer to the interface and appearance, though a good interface is almost always a preliminary requirement. WordPress brings to its users a great level of simplification and abstraction: no matter where and what I write about WP, this is one point I often find myself repeating: WordPress deserves a pat on its back for bringing simplicity to the end users’ lives. Agreed, I am openly biased in favor of something light-weight such as Habari or something more refined, such as Concrete5. However, the abstraction that WordPress offers is in a league of its own! Yet, what about the advanced users? What if you wish to migrate domains or change the URL of your blog? What if you ‘like’ tweaking the database? In its crude form (sans plugins and extensions), can WP serve your purpose in that case? This is where the simplification of WordPress acts against it: Concrete5 gives me a sitemap editor and SEO settings without installing any plugins or playing around with the code; WordPress does not.
2. Community and User Base
WordPress is the world’s most popular CMS — make no mistake about it, this piece of software has its own loyal following. You have the official forum, along with the plethora of websites all across the internet that offer your content related to WordPress. Basically, if you are looking for fellow WP users to share some knowledge and a cup of coffee, you will not have to look long and hard: there are just too many of them out there!
This is one area where ExpressionEngine lags slightly behind. That said, it must be clarified that EE has its own loyal user base and a decent community. However, in terms of numbers, the community is less populated as compared to that of WP. Furthermore, you will not be able to find many blogs related solely to EE. Perhaps the biggest reason for the smaller community is the fact that EE is a paid software, as compared to the totally free WP. Lastly, before you fall prey to the numbers’ game, it must also be pointed out that some of the biggest names in the industry use and trust EE, so just in case you decide to use it simply for the sake of good company, you won’t be a loner!
3. Support and Documentation
Again, WordPress has its own Codex, coupled with the third-party blogs. There isn’t much to talk about here beyond that.
Coming to ExpressionEngine.
Ellis Lab have a user guide at your service: however, the biggest plus is the support. Now, expecting such support from WordPress will be unfair, because all said and done, WP is not a paid software. However, irrespective of that, ExpressionEngine has a support desk, specialized paid support (starting at $49 per month, paid in addition to the $299 CMS pricing), and other related sections. To sum up EE’s performance in this section, just two words: professional support.
Let us now try to sum it all up.
WordPress is ideal for end users and PHP developers. ExpressionEngine, on the other hand, seems apt for designers and front-end developers.
If you wish to just play around and create a blog, or wish to extend its functionality by means of tweaking, look no further than WordPress. If, however, you’d like extensive control right from the beginning and are not the type who’d employ PHP skills simply to extend a CMS, ExpressionEngine is definitely worth the money.
Here is something I used to repeatedly ask myself, years ago when I was still experimenting with CMSs: WordPress lets you install themes at will; why can’t ExpressionEngine do that?
Later on, as I got accustomed to EE and other CMSs, I realized that at times, WP needs to be tweaked to get a certain task done, whereas EE does that very task in a comparatively lesser amount of time. Naturally, both CMSs have their own pros and cons, and the more I used both of them, the more I fell in love with their respective strengths and weaknesses.
Anyway, nostalgia apart, what do you think of WordPress and ExpressionEngine? Which of these two tools do you use and prefer? Have your say in the comments!
Sufyan bin Uzayr writes for various magazine and blogs, and is the author of "Sufism: A Brief History". He blogs about technology, Linux and open source, mobile, web design and development, typography, and Content Management Systems at Code Carbon. You can learn more about him, follow him on Twitter or friend him on Facebook and Google+.