Using WordPress and ACF To Modernize Spaghetti Code

wordpress

Older codebases can become too complex to manage efficiently. A combination of WordPress and Advanced Custom Fields gives companies more control over their sites while lowering maintenance costs.

Successful websites all face one unavoidable hurdle: maintaining their code without losing the audience they’ve worked hard to build.

Too often companies choose to keep working with a chaotic code base rather than risk everything on a new system.

That’s a dangerous gamble. Older programs tend to heavily rely on poorly structured, hard-to-maintain spaghetti code, and adding modern features on top of it only makes things worse. It’s a house of cards that will inevitably collapse.

Instead of overspending on maintenance, consider reworking the entire system into something which is easy to run and cost-effective to maintain.

Depending on Spaghetti Code

As a company grows, they accumulate SEO-ranked content and backlinks that drive traffic to the page. This web of connections generates new leads, conversions, and advertising revenue.

Content has the added benefit of boosting a company’s reputations, positioning them as knowledge leaders in their industry.

SEO and content represent a valuable asset. Under business models that rely on income from advertising, connections are a company’s main source of revenue.

They can be worth a surprising amount – literally millions in many cases.

It takes time to build that kind of interconnectedness, though. That means these sites were often built before the modern era of website architecture.

Programming philosophies weren’t designed with scaling in mind, so as websites grow their code base becomes impossibly complicated. New features are added using jury-rigged solutions that impact performance.

Even routine updates involve a delicate balancing act. Developers call this tangled web of logic “spaghetti code”.

Eventually the codebase becomes so convoluted and arcane that making changes is a high-stress event. There’s a constant risk of damaging the site or losing content (and SEO rankings) during an update.

IT teams are frustrated, the company spends increasingly large amounts for maintenance, and the problem keeps getting worse.

Time for A Change

Despite fears about losing content and damaging SEO, there comes a point when companies can’t keep using their old spaghetti code and still meet business goals.

Companies reach their limit for a lot of reasons, including:

The site isn’t mobile-friendly.

Under Google’s new “mobile-first” algorithms every company that wants to rank needs to prioritize mobile platforms.

The site looks outdated

Tired sites make the company look equally tired, and that’s not a great way to win new customers.

Team members have to go to IT for updates

Tech talent is in short supply these days, and low value tasks like updating content wastes their time.

New features can’t easily be added to the spaghetti code

Never underestimate the opportunity cost of not being able to use modern tools, such as analytics.

Foundational tools are no longer supported

Most businesses switch to a modern website before this point, but even the most hesitant need to act when foundational tools are no longer supported by their creators.

Once the need for a new website is realized, some companies try to rush into the most advanced or cutting-edge solution they can find. The idea is that newer tools last longer.

However, like any tech investment it’s important to choose based on business needs. Look for tools that have a modern look, are mobile friendly, and can be updated by regular staff without a developer’s help.

Most importantly, there should be no risk of losing valuable content or SEO connections.

To WordPress or not to WordPress?

One of the best, most reliable platforms around is WordPress. It’s built on the LAMP stack, which is entirely open source, so the startup investment is very low.

Employees can learn to navigate the content management system (CMS) easily, letting them be more responsive to customers. There are thousands of themes at all price points, and custom themes are simple to build thanks to CSS frameworks.

It’s not a perfect solution for every need. Once built WordPress themes are hard to customize to a company’s exact specifications.

Most basic themes are built “burger style”, with the header and footer as the “bread” and content sandwiched in between as the “burger”.

Some themes do have pages with multiple columns that are built on a “responsive” framework. However, these often don’t allow a user to customize things separately for mobile and large-screen users.

Security can be a risk, too. WordPress is enormously popular, which means it’s a large target for malicious actors. Developers need to pay special attention to ensure proper maintenance and security measures are taken.

Finally, it’s a simple truth that giving users a CMS gives them license to make an ugly site. Less restrictive themes allow more freedom, but they also let team members destroy an attractive theme while trying to add new content.

ACF To the Rescue

Despite its limitations, WordPress is a good solution. It’s popular for a reason; even out of the box it outperforms competitors like Joomla and Drupal. The trick is to get around WordPress’s limitations using tools that add functionality.

A great option for enterprise purposes is Advanced Custom Fields (ACF). This plugin turbocharges WordPress by creating a complex user interface for customizing fields without using code.

Non-technical team members can create, edit, and arrange fields in more detail while still having style limitations that keep the site attractive and mobile friendly.

ACF reduces the downsides of WordPress while keeping the benefits. In short, it gives WordPress “superpowers”.

Making the Leap

Leaving spaghetti code behind is the only way to protect SEO connections and content in the long run. There are risks to reworking an entire website, but reliable solutions like WordPress mitigate those risks. Now is the time to consider a change- before that tangled codebase collapses in on itself.

Ready to throw your spaghetti code in the trash? Set up a free consultation to find out how Concepta can lower your IT budget and increase agility with a dynamic new WordPress site!

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CMS Showdown: WordPress Vs Joomla [INFOGRAPHIC]

wordpress vs joomla

WordPress and Joomla are both content management systems (CMS) that allow users to manage their digital content without needing to write new code. They’re the two most popular CMS in use today, though WordPress holds the lion’s share of the market with 58.8% to Joomla’s 6.5%. What gives WordPress the edge?

Similarities

These tools are very similar. Both are open source and written mainly in PHP. They each have a wide catalogue of free plugins to add features. WordPress has significantly more: 45,000 to Joomla’s 7,000. Likewise, WordPress has four times more free themes than Joomla.

Differences

The answer lies in complexity. Beginners who want to choose a preset theme can download WordPress in five minutes and be ready to add content. Most enterprise sites feature custom themes which do take more work, but once set up even these custom sites are simple for users to update. WordPress features a built-in mobile administrator app, something that requires a third party app to do in Joomla.

Joomla isn’t so user-friendly. Settings are still controlled through drag and drop menus, but there is a level of detail that’s not approachable for technophobes. Its plugins aren’t the same high quality as those for WordPress. Also, it’s rather unwieldy for simple websites. It does support more complex websites, though, and it’s well-suited to giant e-commerce sites. Because it isn’t as popular, Joomla is less often the target of hackers.

WordPress vs Joomla Infographic

Check out this infographic for a breakdown between WordPress vs Joomla:

wordpress vs joomla infographic

Which CMS is right for you?

The answer depends on your needs, but WordPress is popular for a reason. It creates beautiful sites, updating is simple, the plugins are almost universally quality, the support community is active and readily accessible, and there are plenty of security features to counteract the increased risk. For everything up through medium sized e-commerce site, WordPress has proven its functionality.

We prefer working with WordPress for those reasons and have developers who specialize in it. However, Joomla has a superior organizational system buried under its complexity. Users can customize almost any feature through drag and drop menus. This means it’s a great choice for sites with paid subscriptions, restricted content, and varied membership levels. Joomla can power very large online stores (IKEA and EBAY are both users) with ease.

For advice on which CMS suits your enterprise needs, talk to a Concepta representative today.

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WordPress: The Most Powerful Content Management System [REVIEW]

wordpress

What is WordPress?

WordPress is the leading content management system (CMS), powering more than a quarter of active websites. It’s used for creating, organizing, and maintaining various types of content through a single interface. While WordPress is most commonly associated with blogs, it supports other types of websites as well as mobile applications.

History of WordPress

French programmer Michel Valdrighi created a news and blogging tool called b2/cafelog in 2001. It was a new approach to websites; instead of static content, the site displayed content from databases which could be updated to change the site. A year later he dropped out of the active online community, causing b2/cafelog users Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little to join forces to continue development. Valdrighi reappeared in 2003 to give his blessing to the new “heir to the throne”, WordPress.

The following year, WordPress introduced plug-ins and began working on themes. Around the same time, their biggest competitor made a licensing change that caused users to drop it in favor of WordPress. The new support let WordPress grow quickly, and within a few years it achieved dominance in the CMS market.

Features

  • Open source
  • WYSIWYG simplified editing
  • SEO Optimization
  • Extensive library of plugins available
  • Built-in commenting
  • Allows for custom user management classes
  • Easy to update
  • Multilingual

Strengths

WordPress is a solid foundation for a website. It comes standard with a bundle of plugins with thousands of others available. Many themes are mobile responsive.

Once it’s set up, WordPress is simple for non-programmers to use. It’s the most popular choice for clients who want to retain the ability to perform updates themselves should the need arise. Every new page is generated in line with the overall theme, so as long as end users don’t modify that they can add new content without involving IT.

Weaknesses

Because so many websites use WordPress, choosing an existing theme and using it unmodified can result in a boring site. This can be avoided with a custom (or at least modified) theme.

Functionality and popularity lead to the trade-off of increased security risks. The risk can be mitigated through appropriate security measures and regular maintenance.

Real-life Applications

WordPress powers more than 75 million websites. Here’s a few high-profile examples:

CNN

WordPress serves as the platform for the number one source of digital news in America. Some critics of WordPress have found fault with its scalability, but CNN is a solid rebuttal. Their CNN Politics section alone sees about 33 million unique visitors per month.

Star Wars

The official Star Wars blog is built on WordPress. The platform is a popular choice for entertainment organizations because it’s easily integrated with social media services. Star Wars uses WordPress as the basis of an interactive cross-platform fan experience.

NASA

NASA has a lot on their plate, but they still want a vibrant and active digital presence. WordPress provides that without adding more work for their technicians. It’s easily adapted to their specific needs, and the simplified editor means nontechnical personnel can perform daily updates.

Future Outlook

WordPress is far and away the favorite choice for a CMS. It holds 59.1% of the market share. Its closest competitors are still in single digits (Joomla at 6.9% and Drupal at 4.7%). Mullenwag has been public with his intent to further its utility as an applications platform, which should sustain WordPress’s popularity.

If you need highly experienced WordPress developers, share with us your challenges and we’ll help come up with the right solution tailored to fit your needs.

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10 Features Your Employees Want in New Software

Last month, we asked you: “Are your employees frustrated with your company’s software?” Enterprise software tends to have a bad reputation, but things have been on the rise recently.

More and more companies see how frustrated their employees get and are now listening to and prioritizing feedback from their employees about what they want and need from their new software systems.

Of course, there’s nothing like sitting down with your potential user base and asking them for their opinions, but there are still some features that are pretty safe bets.

Whether you’re on the hunt for a new intranet or window shopping for your next customer management system, here are 10 of the top features that your employees will almost definitely love.

Mobile

Work doesn’t have to be confined within the four walls of a cubicle any longer.

Today’s employees want to be able to do their work from anywhere, with any device, at a time that’s most convenient for them.

Software with mobile-friendly features will go a long way in providing your employees with the flexibility and work-life balance they desire.

Social

Whether it’s through forums, instant messaging, or groups and workspaces, your employees will appreciate the ability to communicate with other people at your office or company who can provide advice and insights and help troubleshoot issues.

Conversations can be arranged by project, team, department or office, allowing for a variety of fruitful discussions.

Cloud-Based

Cloud computing is one of the hottest trends in software right now, and it shows no sign of slowing down.

The cloud has many benefits for both businesses and employees.

Users love the automatic document recovery in the case of disaster and the file access from anywhere, while businesses are attracted to the reduced software and hardware costs.

User-Friendly

The more intuitive software is to use, the more efficiently and successfully it can be used.

Not all your employees are tech geniuses, so any good software should be easy to install, update, troubleshoot and uninstall.

In addition, the user manual should be well-written and comprehensive, the user interface should be straightforward, and the software should be as self-reliant as possible, without the need for third-party applications.

Collaborative

Good software should enable employees to collaborate just as easily as if they were sitting next to each other, by setting up virtual workspaces for different teams, projects and topics.

Users should be able to share documents freely with other users and read, edit and comment on those documents when invited to.

Smart

Artificial intelligence and machine learning have transformed the world of computing, and their insights can be brought to your workplace as well.

Users will appreciate software that finds more relevant information and content for them and uses data science and predictive analytics to power their core business processes.

Compatible

Any new software you introduce must be able to fit in with your current workflow without breaking anything or disrupting employees’ efficiency.

In addition, it’s a major bonus if your new software can import and export data from other applications you’re using or if it provides integration in the form of an API.

Personalized

If there’s one thing that helps user adoption of new software, it’s the ability to add customizations.

Whether that means changing the color scheme or installing third-party extensions, your users should be able to customize the software with their own personal touches to make it feel like their own.

Beautiful

A software product that’s well-designed, with an attractive interface, is always preferable to software that looks like little thought was put into its appearance.

The better the software’s user interface looks, the more efficient and happy users will be while carrying out their tasks.

Real-Time

Rather than standing around the water cooler, employees today have new ways of catching up with their colleagues.

Real-time feeds that keep users up to date about goings-on at the company are tremendously beneficial for company collaboration, innovation and networking.
To learn more about these features and how to implement them, contact us today.