Here’s the skinny on WordPress as the Content Management System (CMS) of choice for most rural organizations and businesses. It’s the best. It’s proven. It’s the most user-friendly. And it’s being developed at lightning pace on all fronts (design, functionality, security, modules, etc).

Whenever I see a small web agency trying to tell potential clients that WordPress sucks (hey, that’s pretty much the gist of what some say) I shudder! And I worry about the clients who buy into the grossly misleading statements that WordPress “sucks.”

Agencies that diss WordPress and instead push their own custom proprietary solution are putting their own interests ahead of you. They want to lock you into going with the agency’s own proprietary CMS for one simple reason: you will be forever handcuffed to them. That means your long term dollars will keep flowing in.

Think in terms of buying a car from a dealership, and that dealership then custom programs the car so no maintenance or servicing can EVER be performed by any other dealership or mechanic. Pretty scary, eh? It’s all about restricting commerce in order to charge clients whatever you wish. The clients are screwed ~ as they will see over time ~ because they have to pay what the dealership says. The client can’t go anywhere else.

What’s unfortunate is that after just a few years of having their inferior proprietary website, the frustrated client flees to another agency to have an entirely new website built with an open-source CMS system like WordPress. WorkCabin Communications has dealt with multiple examples of this exact scenario.

Agencies are successful in pushing proprietary CMS systems in rural markets because clients are often unfamiliar with the subject of website management systems. Uneducated clients are easy prey. The agency uses ‘convincing’ lingo, telling the client they will receive a website that is “unique to them” as the reason to go with a proprietary CMS.

Open-source CMS website systems (Joomla, WordPress and Drupal) are recognized as outstanding. WorkCabin Communications has built, managed and administered small to large-scale websites using all three platforms. In fact, we run a spinoff web-based eCommerce business that is the largest of its kind in Canada, and has hundreds of national brand name nonprofit clients. We run this business using an open-source platform. So, we speak from credible experience about the subject of open-source.

WorkCabin Communications also has experience working on multiple clients’ existing custom proprietary websites. I make more money with clients who stick with their existing proprietary CMS websites. That’s because they have to call me for every little thing they want changed. The verdict: all the systems are exceedingly archaic nightmares from everything to coding, to design and administration panels. Clients were exceptionally frustrated.

When I switch my clients to WordPress sites and train them how to manage their sites, they save money. I lose money because they need me less often. That’s fine. Because it’s about delivering web solutions that are the best interests of my rural clients, and not my wallet.

There’s a reason that almost every nonprofit, small business, medium business and Fortune 500 company (and even the White House. Yes! That White House!) chooses open-source platforms today:

They stand the test of time. And there is a global community of recognized website development experts that is constantly improving what is hailed as an incredibly rich and versatile set of features. Um, and then there’s that proprietary website system that the other agency is trying to convince you to choose. Well, it’s supported by a few guys ~ or maybe even one guy who built it ~ in a loft who may or may not have time to update website modules and security features. Sure, he/she may be a great guy/gal. But a lone person is no match for the massive team of inhouse senior developers employed by the open-source platforms themselves, or the global community of award-winning designers and website coders. (P.S. If the lone guy/gal’s custom CMS is that spectacular as the agency would lead you to believe, we’d imagine the developer would have bags full of money, be famous in the IT world, and be on a Forbes list. Just saying.)

WordPress is THE most powerful and effective platform available for a majority of content-managed websites. It’s easy to use, performs magnificently in terms of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), offers flexibility and scalability, and it can easily handle advanced implementations including eCommerce. It also fits with mobile devices. Um, the other agency’s proprietary system? Good luck.

WordPress’s backend site administration control panel makes management of your website by you a breeze. That’s what counts. It’s about you. WordPress has been built and refined with 100% of you in mind. Um, the other agency’s proprietary CMS? Well, it’s built by a single programmer and is user-friendly to, perhaps, a NASA engineer.

Why am I down on agencies pitching proprietary website systems in rural communities? In my professional view, it is blatant client manipulation for an agency’s own interests — or what we communications professionals in the business call “handcuffing” clients. That’s not the down-to-earth, rural way of doing business.

Your proprietary website will be deliberately locked down by the originating agency. This is called ‘vendor lock-in’. Don’t believe me? When the agency finishes building your website, tell them you want full access to the complete source code, FTP information, and the username/password they use to access your site for all the work they do. They’ll immediately get defensive like a rattlesnake surprised in a grass. That’s because they don’t want you to have that kind of access to your site. By the way, the agency privately calls it their site. (Don’t buy their argument that other agencies don’t know their agency’s ‘custom’ coding. Web coding is web coding. End of story.)

Am I a big fan of WordPress? Obviously. I built my own site using it. It’s mobile friendly. It’s responsive (it automatically adjusts to whatever device is being used by my visitor). And it’s a website that looks like it belongs in 2013, not 1993.

The other agency’s proprietary website system? Um, yeah, it will give you a website that looks like it belongs in 1993 the minute it launches in 2013. The proof is widely visible. Because, no matter what the agency tells you, its proprietary web system is behind the times and always will be when compared to the global force of developers, award-winning designers web coding experts constantly working on improving WordPress.

Let’s stop the nonsense that a proprietary CMS developed by, say, a lone person working at a small agency, is better than the massive international recognized experience and development expertise behind open-source CMS like WordPress. Open-source will always be here. Um, the lone guy/gal at the small agency who developed his/her own proprietary CMS? Well, he/she could leave tomorrow. And then you’ll really be screwed. Just wait and see, if you dare.

Or go ahead and gamble your $4000 to $10,000 on a new website built on a custom proprietary web system and see what happens.

For rural organizations and businesses where every dollar counts, open-source CMS like WordPress is a better value by a country mile.

When you’re told otherwise, we should talk. The coffee is on me.