WordPress has been our Content Management System (CMS) since forever at ZEN Software. Why would we ever change a winning combination? We started to reconsider our position on WordPress after the founding and discontinuation of WaveScale in 2021.
The benefits of WordPress and the WordPress ecosystem are massive, its price is unbeatable. The ecosystem is vivid and there are plugins, themes and extensions for all thinkable workloads. With all these good parts. Are there any bad/ugly parts?
We found a couple of big challenges I’m afraid:
- Stability, Security and Maturity of WordPress plugins
- WordPress infrastructure architecture
- Mixing layout and content
the fun we had
With our WaveScale startup company, we provided a container platform for e-commerce workloads. A major player in this space is WordPress. This went well for a couple of customers/workloads but soon we saw that the maturity of the plugins varied a lot. Ranging from decent plugins to absolute nightmares.
Most of the plugins did not pose major challenges but we also noticed that some of the plugins were so ‘sub-optimal’ that they singlehandedly made the workload slow. Removing the bad plugin is not always possible and standardisation on ‘good’ plugins proved difficult. This plugin challenge combined with the single server architecture that is underneath WordPress makes challenge nr 2.
The final challenge we learned was that in ‘WordPress-land’ it's good practice to mix layout and content. (It’s a content management system after all 😉). Meanwhile, the global marketplace for Content Management Systems has been moving towards ‘Headless CMS’ for years now: a slow movement at first, accelerating since the start of 2022.
Headless CMS means that the Content Management System manage pictures, text and no layout. At no point should you be able to be creative inside the CMS and create a page like you’re creating a fancy PowerPoint or well-laid-out Word Document. When you go for a Headless solution you separate who handles the content from who handles the layout. The layout experts will create the layout, the content experts write all the content. This ensures focus on individual specialisms.
In the spring of 2022, we investigated alternatives for our WordPress workloads. We found some interesting alternatives and also managed to create a re-usable solution for our customers out of our transformation.
ZEN Software provides: Content and Commerce at any Scale!
We managed to fix all 3 of the mentioned WordPress problems (Plugin maturity, Infra architecture, Mix Layout & Content) by choosing the Open Source Headless CMS: Strapi.
the headless future
We made a side-by-side comparison of our WordPress setup next to the proposed Strapi Design.
- Server-side page rendering
- Caching to make it faster
- Page rendering using PHP plugins
- Database intensive for page rendering
- Server Oriented
- Manual Deployment
- Virtual Server based (VPS)
- Client-side rendering using React
- Content Delivery Network for hyper speed
- Build time page rendering
- Cloud Oriented
- Infrastructure as Code
- Docker Containers (PaaS)
The Strapi setup is headless, runs mainly client-side, is Cloud native and leverages CDN for Hyper speeds! Also migrating and implementing the Strapi site was pretty straightforward
We migrated the content (text, pictures) into the Strapi CMS and created an environment where the containers (Strapi, NextJS) run using Google Cloud Platform’s (GCP) Cloud Run.
GCP Cloud Run is a great Container PaaS service that requires little configuration and automatically scales to insane sizes. So site-wise ZEN Software is ready for an IPO 😎