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Considering Switching – ExpressionEngine versus WordPress

In one of my new projects, Thy Old XBOX, I have used WordPress and had a chance to look at its numerous blogging-friendly features. That, and EllisLab’s rather horrid way of handling ExpressionEngine 2.0’s release and the fuss around it, has got me thinking. I am in all honestly wondering whether WordPress would suit me better than ExpressionEngine does. However, I still strongly believe ExpressionEngine is the way to go, and I still love it and everything about it. So what has suddenly arisen my thoughts about WordPress? I’ll try to outline a few points.

Advantages with WordPress

  • Blogger-friendliness – feature-wise, WordPress beats ExpressionEngine when it comes to catering bloggers. The ease of instaling plug-ins, the ability to save drafts, the simple way to add tags and categories, the robust way to incorporate images into posts – all this makes WordPress stand out.
  • Style and styling – face it – WordPress is very sleek. Everything about it is very Web2.0, shiny, simple and stylish. That alone, and the broad range of themes available to further make it sleeker puts WordPress ahead of many platforms; especially ExpressionEngine as it has very few downloadable themes.
  • Price and license – WordPress is free and open-source. ExpressionEngine is also free if a personal license is used, but it’s not open-source. Open-source not only usually produce great software, but it also conveys a message of trustworthiness to the users – increasing WordPress’s popularity.
  • Add-on functionality – this is a big one. WordPress is more popular and wide-spread than ExpressionEngine and this shows; plug-ins, scripts, tutorials, articles and other material related to WordPress is much easier to find and is so vast that as a regular blogger one will never face a problem without a solution or lack of functionality.

There is still a lot of things holding me back, though. ExpressionEngine is a wonderful engine for people who build and maintain websites for many reasons – here are a few.

Advantages with ExpressionEngine

  • The Template-way of building a site – the way ExpressionEngine handles templates is absolutely wonderful. It is incredibly straight-forward and requires no tutoring before-hand – the basics structure and function is so easy and logic to understand that even a novice, regular blogger might be attracted!
  • Control – what I mean by this is the extensive control ExpressionEngine gives you when building a site. You know exactly what you display and how much resources this takes – and as you’re the one writing the code that displays you know exactly what you’re looking at. WordPress, being very simple and easy-to-use, gives you a complete and ready-to-use template and you’re never really sure how many database requests are made, how much resources are allocated and what scripts are loaded – and if you’re in need of control you’ll have to go through every bit of code by yourself. Now this doesn’t apply to most regular bloggers, which are those WordPress caters to, but it is nonetheless an issue that ExpressionEngine overcomes.
  • Userbase – as ExpressionEngine is used by numerous professional website-agencies and consultants, its community forums is frequented by people who know what they’re talking about – people who give the right advice at the right time. Not only with coding issues but with general questions concerning websites and everything around it. WordPress has an amazing userbase too, and of course numerous web agencies use their engine too – but you’ll never get the closeness and the same warm helping hand as you get with ExpressionEngine.

That covers only three advantages, yes, but they are three major advantages and do actually outweigh WordPress’s. I love the way ExpressionEngine works and it just plain suits me, that’s why I will stick with it in the future too. Here’s a little comment I wrote on Joshua Wood’s site Distance to Here.

I’m considering switching to WordPress too, mainly because (as you mentioned) the blogging features outrun ExpressionEngine completely. I love ExpressionEngine too, I love everything about it – the templates system and overall the simplicity and the closeness to how one would develop a site completely in PHP…
Is WordPress easy to skin? Is the template engine as straight-forward as ExpressionEngine’s?

Oh and I read you were talking about EE2.0 and its release coming up soon. With all due respect, EE2.0 has had a scheduled release the past 1.5 years (although it seems to have a final release-date set now, actually), and I think a lot of people (including me) have waited way too long for it and are getting tired.

Hopefully EE2.0 brings some blogger-friendly features along – otherwise I doubt EE can keep attracting customers other than purely developers and/or consultants. What are your ideas?

5 replies on “Considering Switching – ExpressionEngine versus WordPress”

Personally, I find WordPress painful.

I’m a front-end only kind of guy and its templating system is a nightmare compared to EE/Textpatterns.

Widgets are fine, but they also seem limited – 15 post limit for the “Recent Posts” widget for example. I’m guessing you’ll have to mess with PHP to edit that. Also, it’ll automatically stick them in unordered lists whether you like it or not.

I always check out WP now and again because of all the great plugins/widgets I would like to use, but then I try to port my site design over and fail every time.

Interesting, so what do you currently use? WP or EE?

Although I wrote this a month or two ago I am still very undecided concerning whether to stay with EE or go to WP. I guess we’ll all have to see what EE2.0 brings, right?

ExpressionEngine not being Open Source was the main reason why I decided to go with WordPress.
I’ve now been several years working with WordPress and am proud of my decission: started just blogging with default themes and little by little I’ve been learning how WP worked (without any books, just reading blogs and the WordPress Codex is enough).
During these past years I’ve coded several themes, pluguins and extended WP converting it into a powerful CMS full of features (i.e. communicating with private company APIs, some features that appeared recently in version 3.0, AJAX functionality, etc.) and automatizations like thumbnail image creation, custom RSS feeds, intelligent 404 error handling, automatic resizing and labeling of images, SEO…
So WordPress may require some PHP expertise but it is very well documented in the WP Codex and there’s a very huge community around. Also, it has a great support and upgrades are available surprisingly fast.
My advice is to go for WordPress. Very easy installation and management while keeping everything SEO and clear plus the flexibility to build anything you can ever think of upon it.

I agree with the above sentiment. I used EE for a couple of years but got frustrated a) by the 2.0 drama and b) by the increasing cost of extensions that in many cases should be basic functionality of the CMS.

The only thing that held me back was all the talk of “you have to know PHP to use WP”, and I’m very much a front-end kind of gal, whose experience with PHP was includes and date formatting.

Nudged by an IT coworker who loved WP, I made the switch and it’s been great! WP is always improving and a heck of a lot cheaper. It’s so much easier to find resources and if there isn’t a plugin for something, just wait a month, or learn to write on yourself.
What I also appreciate is how using WP has given me the need to learn some PHP, a lot of it copy-pasted, but not always. I have a far greater understanding of it after a year of using WP which seems valuable for the long-term, more so than knowing a bunch of EE tags.
EE was OK but I never really got all the hype. WP gets slagged more than it deserves by naysayers … it’s impressive and so nice to use.

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