Content Management System for web/intranet

Alnisa Allgood alnisa at NONPROFIT-TECH.ORG
Mon Oct 15 11:21:48 EDT 2012

Actually, my statements come from direct experience with more than fifty or
so nonprofits who have chosen primarily Drupal, secondarily WordPress as
their content management system. We are frequently brought in to help them
access on-going cost, security issues (my sites been hacked), adding new
features and functionality etc.

My statement isn't a blanket statement, it's a reminder statement, 'free is
rarely free'. If you don't have a Drupal or WordPress person (someone who
knows more than just how to install a theme and make minor modifications to
it) on staff and if you are using typical hosting, then the issue isn't is
the system problematic to keep up to date; *it's the frequency of updates
and care*. With WordPress and Drupal, we recommend either you select a host
that automatically applies updates for the software for you or you invest
in having someone on staff dedicated to doing so.

The problem is most organizations don't do either. Someone came in,
suggested the software, installed a few themes, then left the organization
to manage and maintain it themselves. This eventually results in chaos.
Yes, a good developer can update WordPress, Drupal, and ExpressionEngine
pretty rapidly, and not consider it much of an issue. They can ssh in, do
database backups, apply security updates and more. But typically that
means, paying for a good developer to maintain the system or having an
in-house staff person do it.

People seem to overlook the cost involved, and end up in situations that
end up costing them more. We've worked with organizations who had no one to
apply security updates to organizations who've hired part-time staff to
maintain their Drupal installation. We've had to rescue organizations who
worked with developers who not only insisted that Drupal or WordPress would
be free, but the organization could run it on the computer under their
desk. Good hosting and good developers can take care of that for you, but
both communities have more than their share of individuals who just install
themes and make minor CSS modifications. They suck at recommending proper
hosting and proper on-going maintenance. The problem is most people don't
know command line and don't understand that a good web host can reduce
security and maintenance costs.

I only mentioned ExpressionEngine as a comparison on that front, because we
literally have installs, where they receive not a single update for more
than a year-- and we aren't worried about security or other issues even in
shared hosting situations. With WordPress and Drupal, I typically recommend
the installation of security updates pretty immediately, and someone needs
to do them. That's not an insult to Drupal or WordPress (it's true for a
lot of things), they need regular care and feeding. EE works better with it
as well, but it can be left starving for sometime, if need be.

There are always 'ideal' situations—you got a good host, you had an awesome
developer, and you have someone how can run updates, patches, etc. But most
organizations end up in less than ideal situations, because they didn't

That's my statement, not that Drupal and Wordpress are by their nature


Alnisa Allgood
Executive Director
Nonprofit Tech
t. 608.241.3616
e. alnisa at


On Mon, Oct 15, 2012 at 9:35 AM, Cary Gordon <listuser at> wrote:

> I love hearing great stuff and good results that you and others get with
> ExpressionEngine and other systems. What I find tiresome are blanket
> statements about the difficulty and cost of maintaining a WordPress or
> Drupal site. These are, for the most part, nonsense coming from folks who
> know little, if anything about the systems they are berating. I installed
> and played with ExpressionEngine two years ago, and that qualifies me to
> say that I don't know enough about it to offer any criticism, comparison or
> advice.
> Working from the command line with Linux or Windows, I can perform all
> updates on a Drupal system with two words: "drush up". This command makes a
> backup of everything it replaces, loads the new code and runs the update
> scripts. It takes two commands to load and install a new module or theme.
> Drupal, in particular, is frequently tarred with a lable of being
> difficult that goes back over seven years ago, when the Drupal community
> had a very strict and largely whacky interpretation of its GPLv2 license,
> and required folks to setup and configure the database in a separate, and
> poorly documented operation. At that time there were about 300 modules and
> themes available for Drupal. Now, there is a streamlined install process
> and there are over 10,000 contributed modules, themes, profiles and
> translation sets available, all of them free. There are another 13,000
> modules and themes available as sandbox projects. Few of the public
> libraries using Drupal (or Wordpress) have programmers on staff, nor do
> they need them.
> Drupal requires no special maintenance or monitoring in library usage, and
> has relatively modest hosting requirements. We recommend that libraries do
> not use commodity shared hosting — the $6/month variety — but that leaves
> many inexpensive options like LISHost starting at about $140/year. We
> provide fully managed hosting starting at $900/year including unlimited
> support.
> As I said in an earlier post, community is important. You should check out
> the software and the community as part of your evaluation.
> Thanks,
> Cary
> On Mon, Oct 15, 2012 at 6:51 AM, Alnisa Allgood <alnisa at
> > wrote:
>> I vote for ExpressionEngine
>> I've yet to use a more flexible CMS, and that includes Drupal and
>> WordPress. You'll need a website developer/design to properly sketch out
>> and get the project up and running for you. While ExpressionEngine (EE) is
>> template driven (separated content from design), it was also designed more
>> so for developers, which means unlike Drupal and WordPress, there aren't a
>> lot of free standing templates for it. The reason is two-fold: (1) the
>> community prides itself on its design and development skills, and (2)
>> technically any design can be placed inside an EE CMS, so long as you have
>> access to the HTML, CSS, and other related files.
>> Content re-use, version control, relational data, distributed publishers,
>> workflow management, etc are all available and can be configured (another
>> reason to have a developer work with you is publishing permissions and
>> workflow management), version control, relations, and permissions are all
>> built-in, but the best combination of who has access to what, when, and who
>> get's notified of what when, generally requires some plotting out if the
>> structure is more complicated than group A can publish to section's A and
>> B. This is probably true of all complicated permission and workflow
>> structures, having someone help you plat out degrees and levels of access
>> is good practice, especially if you want to increase the number of people
>> who can directly publish content using the system (great for removing
>> content road blocks, where only 1 or 2 people can official publish to the
>> site).
>> Polls, forums, feedback this would all be third-party add-ons. EE2 comes
>> with a forums module, but I know a number of developers who work
>> intensively with forums typically use a third party forum module. I believe
>> there are more than a few of them, but none of our clients use forums, so I
>> can't really discuss pros and cons of individual ones in-depth. But there
>> are polling modules, survey, analytics (though Google Analytics is
>> frequently used and then integrated into the system, other services and
>> systems can be used).
>> I'm not certain if you were primarily using ShadoCMS due to the
>> translation services offered by Stalker, but EE can handle multi-lingual
>> sites very well. The handling can simple or complicated depending on your
>> needs. We set-up a system for a few clients that is what we call just a
>> step above simple. They needed the ability to add translations of
>> particular publications, say an English, Spanish, Chinese and Korean
>> version of the same publication. Our goal was to just allow each version to
>> be published, related back to each other, and then when ever someone pulls
>> the document, it always links to the alternative languages.
>> That's not super complicated, but isn't as simple as pure one to one
>> translation, either. EE handled the situation very well, the complication
>> is more in the planning it out first, and making sure language handling is
>> added for end users in a very simple manner. Drupal and WordPress can also
>> handle multi-language requirements, as I said it's more about the
>> designer/developer than the system itself, though Drupal/WordPress do
>> present some complications for full on translations versus just partial
>> content translations.
>> Drupal/WordPress start free. ExpressionEngine starts $150 (there's a
>> freelancer's version that's cheaper, but I wouldn't recommend it for a
>> library usage). The $150 non-commercial license is probably best starting
>> point or the $300 commercial license. If you plan on a lot of e-commerce go
>> for the commercial license, but basic commerce stuff, accepting donations,
>> processing memberships, or selling things can be handled under either
>> license. The software is the same for both licenses, its more about intent.
>> Now that said third party add-ons can add more costs to basic
>> ownership/license. I believe most of the Drupal modules, I've heard of are
>> free; WordPress has free and paid module; as well as ExpressionEngine.
>> I tend to use a number of paid ExpressionEngine modules, developer
>> companies I like are Pixel & Tonic:, Solspace:
>>, Exp-resso:, Andrew
>> Weaver: ExpressionEngine provides a great deal
>> of flexibility for handling issues or needs internally. You can do custom
>> queries, add php directly to the template, create a plug-in, extension, or
>> module, etc. All these options are free. But sometime you want to think
>> about, will you need more functionality for that feature in the future and
>> do you want to be in-charged of doing it.
>> There are also a number of free modules and add-ons for EE, as well.
>> Cost wise, I'd probably say everything mentioned will be less expensive
>> than ShadoCMS, my memory could be wrong, but it use to start around
>> $3-$5,000. There are far more free to under $1,000 CMS solutions available
>> these days and many are very good. If you plan on getting or have already
>> have an in-house web developer, then going with Drupal or WordPress can be
>> a good option, but the cost of maintenance and management exist and can
>> require a full-time staff member for some organizations.
>> An internal web developer can learn EE just as well as WordPress or
>> Drupal, and EE generally require far less on-going maintenance and
>> management issues. If you're constantly modifying the structure, you want
>> someone around continuously, but for many of our clients, once the projects
>> done, it's done. We come around once a year, and offer to do a version
>> update for free. But security updates aren't nearly as much of an issue.
>> .....................
>> Alnisa Allgood
>> Executive Director
>> Nonprofit Tech
>> t. 608.241.3616
>> e. alnisa at
>> ..................................................................................
>> On Sun, Oct 14, 2012 at 6:24 PM, Anna Wheeler <awheeler at>wrote:
>>>  Hi
>>> Just a quick question. We are helping our institution  find a new
>>> Content Management System CMS to manage both their website and intranet.
>>> Currently they use Shado
>>> What CMS do you think are worth considering?
>>> They would like to use system for intranet and website
>>> and it will have ability to integrate discussion forums, polls, feedback
>>> forums - with voting eg like uservoice
>>> and it will have some kind of alerting or reporting system to remind us
>>> to update information and manage distributed publishers
>>> good analytics, reporting, content re-use, version control etc
>>> Any light shed would be appreciated
>>> many thanks
>>> Anna
>>>  Anna Wheeler, LLB, DipLibr
>>> Manager, Electronic Library Services
>>> Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand
>>> email: awheeler at
>>> ph:    +64 9 8154321 ext 8601
>>> web:
>>>  twitter:
>>>  <>
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> --
> Cary Gordon
> The Cherry Hill Company
>  ============================
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