WordPress is one of the most well-known content management systems out there, and for a good reason – it’s user-friendly, affordable, and easy to manage. However, when it comes to the realm of higher education, most institutions opt for Drupal, often under the impression that it is a more secure and scalable CMS. We’ve had the privilege of working with several higher education institutions on WordPress sites, and they’ve been very happy with its performance. Contrary to popular belief, WordPress is every bit as good as Drupal for a higher education website.
Like Drupal, WordPress is free and open-source, meaning anyone can access the code and modify it. This instantly cuts down the cost, and if you want to implement custom themes or page templates, you can do that too, often quicker and cheaper than with Drupal. Premium (purchased) plugins are probably what you would be spending most of your money on to maintain your site’s design and functionality. With WordPress, you pay just a fraction of the cost of most other CMS platforms. Another great thing about WordPress is that it’s really easy to keep up to date, whereas a site built on Drupal typically requires a complete overhaul.
When it comes to higher education, most institutions have a main website as well as sub-sites that are specific to certain programs or departments. WordPress has the functionality to host all your subsites, allowing for different departments to manage their respective site. In addition to multi-site functionality (managing several sites on a single WordPress install), the backend of WordPress is multilingual and available in over 70 languages. For content to be posted in different languages, you can write language conversions or translate automatically with a plugin.
Speaking of plugins, they are what makes WordPress so flexible. Over 50,000 free and premium plugins are available, and more are being developed every day. Through themes and plugins, you can modify WordPress to become basically anything – from a student portal or campus map to an employee directory or ePortfolio.
While the cost and functionality are key factors to consider, what it really comes down to is ease of management. Luckily, WordPress is one of the simplest CMS’s out there. You don’t need your IT department to help you make updates – anyone, even those with little to no experience with a CMS, can figure out WordPress in a matter of minutes.
This is especially helpful for higher education, as often times there are several content contributors across different departments. Any staff member, even if they aren’t particularly tech savvy, can learn and navigate WordPress.
Alongside easy management, WordPress has convenient publishing tools and allows managers to set user roles. You can save drafts, schedule posts, and revert to a previous edition of a post or page with a few clicks. As for user roles, you can set up custom roles to only give users permission to manage and/or edit specific components of the website.
Colleges using WordPress
Many higher education institutions use WordPress as their content management system of choice. Lafayette College, University of Rhode Island, Maryville University, and Maine College of Art are just a few schools that use WordPress. Larger schools like University of Florida and Boise State University use WordPress for their top-level site and departmental sites, while schools like Boston University and Vanderbilt University use it to present news. More locally, Becker College of Worcester and Leicester runs on WordPress too.
These are just a few reasons why WordPress is a great platform for higher education sites. It’s also responsive (mobile friendly), supportive of different media types, and built for search engine optimization (SEO), which is critical for any website, not just websites in higher education. If you’re still not sold, check out our blog post that debunks the most common myths associated with WordPress.