As a free, open source website creation tool WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems in the world. According to the most recent research, up to 26% of websites worldwide use WordPress. Indeed, for public-facing websites and blogs, WordPress is an excellent choice. And it may seem like the logical platform for your company intranet. But how well does WordPress perform as an intranet software choice? In this post, we look in detail at WordPress intranets and examine some of the challenges.
1. The WordPress Intranet Resources Challenge
When it comes to developing an intranet one of the main challenges with WordPress is its sheer size and complexity. Here at MyHub, we’ve had many conversations with customers who have found WordPress to be agile and easy to use when it comes to blogging and developing a website. Try using it to create an intranet, however, and many customers have found that WordPress soon presents difficulties.
The central issue is that WordPress has not been designed as intranet software. WordPress’s core offering does not naturally lend itself to creating an intranet. This means that you will inevitably need to draw on plugins to supplement the functionality so that it meets your business requirements. And with over 40,000 plugins available this can be quite a task. Some of these plugins are free, but often they are not and so your intranet deployment budget could quickly get out of hand.
What’s more, setting permissions and site rules is not a straightforward process in WordPress once you stray outside its core blogging/web development purpose. To assign permissions at a page level that allows certain staff members to edit and add content, or setting up rules to restrict access to content, usually requires additional complex plugins.
The upshot is that to configure and administer a WordPress intranet often requires you to have an intimate level of knowledge and experience of WordPress together with general technical expertise in CSS. Often this kind of resource is not available in small to medium-sized enterprises. And while there are technical resources out there that you can contract to help you build your intranet, these obviously come at a cost.
2. The Buy Or Build Challenge
Is it better to buy or build your company intranet? For large companies that already have a company server on site and a dedicated IT team, building a bespoke WordPress intranet that is an exact match to your business requirements can seem like an attractive option. Aside from the disadvantages that we’ve considered above, before you go down that route make sure that you have fully considered the following additional potential pitfalls:
- Developing your own WordPress intranet can be both time and labor intensive.
- You will need to have the physical space to house a server.
- Ongoing security, management and maintenance of both the server and the intranet will be your sole responsibility.
Buying an off-the-shelf WordPress intranet now may seem like a better choice. They are usually cost-effective and are relatively easy to setup and manage, but you will also be required to host the solution on your own server. Another downside is that boxed WordPress intranet templates and plugins usually offer a very restrictive functionality limited by the development schedule of the provider. Instead of being responsive and easily adaptable, with an off-the-shelf solution you may find that you need to replace it after a few years because it has failed to keep pace with your changing business needs.
3. The Challenge Of WordPress Plugins & Themes
We’ve already touched on this aspect of WordPress intranets, but it’s so important that we need to consider it in more detail. Let’s say that the two key functions you want your intranet to feature are a staff directory and a company calendar. It’s likely that you will need a separate plugin for each function and it may well be that each WordPress intranet plugin is supplied by a different developer. Sometimes these are companies but often these developers are individuals. Dealing with so many suppliers can be frustrating and difficult, especially if they have different support policies.
What’s more, each plugin is likely to have a different schedule for updates, may not be mobile responsive and may have an entirely different look and feel, making for a disjointed experience for end users. Multiply this by the number of plugins your intranet is likely to require and you begin to get a feel for the inherent problems with plugins.
Furthermore, while some plugins may be free, often this is simply a hook to get you to consider the more premium paid-for plugins. It’s not hard to see, therefore, how the cost of plugins can easily get out of hand.
When trying to create functionality to deliver against different business requirements using plugins from various suppliers, there is no way to guarantee that all of your plugins will play nicely with your chosen WordPress theme. This is where you’ll need to in most cases have to customize the CSS. It’s also interesting that as of today searching for the term “intranet” under the themes section within WordPress displays “No themes found. Try a different search”. This just goes to show that WordPress may not be the best match for companies looking for a great intranet design to engage their users.
4. WordPress Intranet Site Responsiveness Challenge
For an intranet to be successful it must be quick and responsive otherwise you could find staff reverting to old paper- and email-based systems. Page loading and site speed is often an issue with WordPress intranets partly because of all the plugins. Setting up, caching and other types of optimization in WordPress can be quite a complex task, once again requiring considerable technical know-how.
5. Intranet Security Challenges
WordPress websites have been the subject of a number of security concerns. The sheer popularity of WordPress means that it has been vulnerable to hacking and SQL injections in particular. Some of these concerns have been addressed in updates. However, the responsibility to regularly update the software including any plugins lies firmly with you alone. And if you want to include the latest online security features such as SSL then you will have to set it up yourself.
Cloud Intranets – A Viable Alternative
As we’ve seen, WordPress may be an excellent platform for web development and blogging – even this blog is delivered to you via WordPress – but it has its limitations when it comes to intranets. What then is a viable alternative to a WordPress intranet? The answer is a cloud intranet solution. Cloud intranets have several advantages over their WordPress counterparts. These include:
- Easily customizable and pretested templates and features
- No specific technical knowledge is required
- Easy to setup with a five-step site builder process
- External secure hosting using the very latest online security features
- Mobile responsiveness
- High availability and uptime – typically 99.99%
- Responsibility for updates and backups remains with the provider
- Fully integrated platform with no need for additional plugins.
And so, if you want a fully functioning intranet that can be up and running in a matter of hours without any technical know-how, then a cloud intranet is the perfect choice. Indeed, it makes sense to choose a software solution that has been designed for the specific purpose you require rather than a hybrid platform originally designed for a completely different function.
If you would like to know more about cloud intranets, then get in touch with us at MyHub. MyHub is the premier choice for hundreds of businesses of different sizes and in different markets across the globe. Contact us today for a free intranet demo and to find out why.