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Choosing the Right CMS for Your Business
Published by Martin Communications
September 29, 2020

DNN vs. WordPress

A Content Management System (CMS) allows businesses to create, design, host, edit, manage and track the performance of all their website content. But a system that’s too constrained or cumbersome for your needs, could result in a content management snafu. Choosing the right CMS is critical for your business success.

Simply defined, a CMS is a system or application, if you will, that manages content—a software platform that provides a collection of procedures used to manage workflow. A CMS enables almost anyone with a bit of technical proficiency to create a website, blog or online business. DNN and WordPress are two popular open source CMS platforms, each with its own advantages and limitations. This whitepaper compares the structure, authentication, security, theming, SEO factors and back-end integration capabilities of the two systems, to help you decide which may be right for you.

Overall Structure

A CMS typically has two major components: a content management application (CMA), as the front-end user interface that allows a user, even with limited expertise, to add, modify, and remove content from a website without the intervention of a webmaster. A content delivery application (CDA) works in the backend, compiling any content changes and publishing them to the site for visitors to see.

A good site structure will allow for the easy implementation of new content and management of updates with little impact to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts. It will also provide a sturdy foundation for the growth of the website.

WordPress, initially developed as a blogging platform, has evolved into a full CMS. Its open-source nature and third-party plugin capability has increased its functionality, but with roots still largely tied to blogging only, new features are rendered clunky. The system is also vulnerable to low quality, bug laden plugins and security flaws.

DNN was developed as a full CMS, with unlimited levels of built-in role-based authentication. As such, the ability to create custom features is native to the fundamental structure of DNN.

Authentication

Authentication is the process of recognizing a user’s identity and associating an incoming request with a set of identifying credentials. The credentials provided are compared to those on a file in a database of the authorized user’s information on a local operating system or within an authentication server.

WordPress authentication is limited to five roles: administrator, editor, author, contributor and subscriber. Because of these limitations, extensive web applications requiring multiple access levels becomes cumbersome at best, and impossible at worst. DNN provides limitless authenticate roles, including “per-user” assignments which offer an infinite number of access levels. Sites built on the DNN platform allow the potential for executive leaders to have to all intranet content, while managers might only have access to site content relative to their respective job functions. In this scenario, department engineers would only be assigned access to perform certain duties aligned with their specific unit, while writers would be granted access to perform other functions depending on their job responsibilities. DNN’s authenticity capabilities allow limitless flexibility for more robust management of a website.

Security

Content management systems are attractive targets for cybercriminals, with most exploits executed via a browser. Traditional browsers generate arbitrary code from the web locally, on the user’s device. Insecure overlays, popups, third-party plugins and add-ons running in users’ browsers put their endpoint and website security at additional risk. Broken authenticity can have many repercussions, from allowing the simple defacing of a website to gaining complete control of a server. Website vulnerabilities can negatively impact your credibility and business, and potentially spread viruses to your users.

While WordPress has made significant improvements to its security function over the years, the application remains subject to far more hacking attempts, and its core installation contains numerous security flaws. For instance, a WordPress 4.7 base install contains a security vulnerability that can allow hackers to access a list of all WordPress users. With no security analyzing features included in WordPress, a developer could add a risky plugin without knowledge of the potential issue. WordPress requires constant patching due to frequent newly discovered security issues, and while it is easy to patch WordPress when logged in, it is a manual process and some developers may not take the time to regularly log in to patch client web sites.

DNN, by contrast, has experienced only two security issues in its history. The application contains a built-in “security analyzer” to identify vulnerability issues, should any exist. As policy, Martin Communications will install no more than a couple of trusted third-party plug-ins to prevent the potential for outside security breaches. Web server vulnerabilities are continually evolving as cybercriminals continue to find new opportunities to exploit security weaknesses and web application security issues. The Martin Communications server environment is heavily protected and constantly monitored to ensure its safety and guard against vulnerabilities.

Theming

A CMS theme is a collection of code files and images that determine how a CMS website looks. In CMS terms, the words template and theme are used interchangeably as they refer to the same thing. Both WordPress and DNN use the word theme.

WordPress themes contain style, appearance and functionality. Regarding customization, WordPress comes with a friendly interface for tweaking the look of your site, changing the colors, backgrounds, and other visual elements at a superficial level. Further customization requires heavy programming knowledge on the developer for customizing the functionality, which can expose the theme to potential security issues.

DNN provides theme files for presentation, style and design, while separating functionality into appropriate modules. Martin Communications uses custom programming modules to manage complicated programming requirements, while leveraging the theme for design purposes only.

SEO Factors

Search Engine Optimization is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to a website through organic search engine results. Recently, Google incorporated Core Web Vitals as a ranking signal. Combined with existing user experience signals Core Web Vitals improves the evaluation of the overall experience provided by a page.

A 2019* independent analysis on factors impacting site speed, ranked DNN fourth in both desktop and mobile site speed (a core web vital metric) among all CMS’s, while WordPress ranked 15th in desktop and 14th in mobile. These rankings do not suggest that a WordPress site cannot rank well in site speed. It simply indicates that creation of WordPress sites requires heavy and intentional modification for speed optimization. Some web site developers without an SEO focus will not perform such modifications and therefore will leave the site in the default state, which is not as efficiently optimized as a DNN site.

Integrations with Back End Systems

Back-end integration is the process in which the front end of a system is fully connected to the technological infrastructure that stores a company’s information used by marketing, such as customer data management technology, campaign performance analytics, and interdepartmental data transfer. This allows for a flow of information between both sides that helps to continually strengthen campaigns by homing in on what works and eliminating what does not.

WordPress is built on the Linux and MySQL platform. However, most business today is conducted in Windows and SQL Server environments. While it is possible to share data between MySQL and SQL Server, it is not easy and can be subject to issues. DNN is built on the Windows and SQL Server environment, making integrations with third-party client systems seamless. A Martin Communications client stored all product information on its own private office network system which utilized a SQL Server. The company’s WordPress site required all product information to be manually entered, with pricing and product availability information manually updated daily. The total cost of (TCO) the site exceeded the development and hosting fee alone, resulting in an extensive labor overhead.

Martin Communications rebuilt the site in DNN and automated the data feed between the client’s backend SQL Server database and the web site through a secured connection. With DNN, the constraint of updating two systems with the same information was eliminated, reducing the overall labor costs.

Conclusion

WordPress is a great all-around CMS if you want a DIY website. It’s the easiest platform to use if you’re a beginner. However, with limitations on securing against vulnerabilities, it may not be the safest choice for protecting your content and servers. DNN’s principal advantages are numerous. As a user-friendly system, DNN can be built so that every item is editable based on user permission. A point-and-click configuration allows for familiar controls for manipulating text and graphics. And with new extensions such as Vanjaro by Mandeeps, ease of use and usability is constantly evolving and improving. Additionally, Martin Communications works with clients to understand their updating needs and provides custom management tools to allow for these upgrades to occur without negatively impacting SEO efforts or UX/UI goals.

DNN’s speed and stability make its websites perform better in search engine rankings and DNN provides exceptional security, with an architecture that is constantly maintained and improved. Its robust security makes the CMS a poor target for hackers.

With superb user management functionality, DNN allows you to assign different levels of permissions to users. This allows you to control the access to portions of a website, so a person could be responsible for maintaining as little as a single item on a single page. These permissions extend to administrator access, allowing maintenance to all areas of the website as well as user account maintenance.

No matter which CMS you ultimately choose to implement, the effectiveness of your web site is ultimately the responsible of the web team selected to create it. The team at Martin Communications is fluent in all aspects of web site development, including presentation, user experience (UX), search engine optimization (SEO), programming, data / CRM integration and lead optimization. Drop us an email at info@thinkmartinfirst.com and let us help you get more from your web site!

*Source: https://backlinko.com/page-speed-stats


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