DNN and WordPress are two of the largest CMSs out there. According to buildwith.com, WordPress powers a colossal 45.97% of the top 10,000 sites. DNN boasts a more modest 0.55%, although is still in the running as one of the top 10 CMSs in the world.
The difference in market share might indicate that the systems have very different uses – although WordPress dominates the market perhaps there are limitations where the more heavy-weight DNN software can step in. This post compares and contrasts the various features of DNN and WordPress, trying to shed some light on when one might be more appropriate than the other.
Use for business
DNN is seen as a more ‘enterprise’ level application – having greater capabilities than other frameworks that suit large, complex websites. Conversely, WordPress for a long time has been seen as a mere blogging platform, suitable for small and simple sites. However, in recent years the popularity of WordPress has grown along with its capabilities. It’s now not uncommon to see large and complicated sites run from WordPress – perhaps the argument of DNN being more ‘enterprise’ is fading?
Of course, DNN does have some advantages over WordPress for some. One is that it’s written in ASP.NET – if your infrastructure is already .NET based this can make hosting and integration easier. Also, as we will discuss, there are perhaps advantages in UI and permissions, depending on your requirements.
It’s no secret that DNN 6 can be clunky. Despite an Ajax-y looking UI it does actually post back for almost every click, even for simple events such as closing the edit setting dialog box. WordPress is a little slicker, with a good looking admin interface and an uncluttered admin bar when viewing the public site.
A big difference between the two platforms is how content is edited. DNN takes a more integrated approach by allowing users to see modules on the page and click through to an edit screen on the same page. WordPress segregates content editing from the front end – the user navigates to an edit screen in the admin area. There’s no best way to do this. Some prefer the WYSIWYG approach of DNN, whereas others will enjoy the more categorised entities of WordPress.
In our experience, CMS users trying to edit pages are less intimidated by the WordPress approach to page editing, while the HTML editor in WordPress also shades it in terms of the ease of actually allowing users to create unstructured page content.
Users and permissions
Out of the box, DNN has more granular permissions than WordPress. Administrators are able to grant permissions to a user role on a per-module basis, allowing different content to be displayed on a page depending on the user viewing it. WordPress also has the concept of user roles, however the capabilities of the roles are not as granular as DNN (capabilities include things like “edit_themes” and “publish_pages”). However, there are plugins available that provide more granular permissions for user roles. For example, the user role editor plugin allows per-post/page access management and provides shortcodes that allows enclosed content in posts/pages to be shown only to specific roles.
Both systems have a directory of plugins. WordPress has an impressive 30,000+ plugins available, whereas the DNN store currently lists just over 1,000 modules. For developers, both systems are built to be extended. WordPress is event driven, meaning that extending the framework involves hooking into actions and filters and running your own code. This means small functionality changes can be implemented very quickly. DNN plugins are more complex – the documentation isn’t great and the lack of event hooks makes it difficult to apply small changes to existing logic. Essentially, all you get is the ability to create new controls.
Ownership and community
DNN, although open source (the community addition), has a closed development process. It is owned and maintained by DNN Corp who offer paid versions of the software (professional and enterprise). These editions give you access to support and various other features.
WordPress is an open source application – anyone can contribute bug fixes and new features. WordPress is ‘owned’ by the WordPress foundation, a charity. Their mission is to “ensure free access, in perpetuity, to the software projects we support”. This includes WordPress.
Auditing and workflow
One of the reasons DNN might be seen as more enterprise is the workflow capabilities offered in the paid versions. This is valuable for very large sites where it’s hard to keep track of content and who’s editing what. In addition to this, there is also more logging in DNN, providing an audit trail. WordPress can be extended to provide more logging, and there are some plugins that allow workflows to be applied. However, none of this is out-of-the-box.
We think that DNN and WordPress are great systems to use in the right context. Using either of the systems in an inappropriate situation can lead to frustrated users and developers. There is no doubt that DNN is a bit overkill for very small sites, whereas WordPress can offer more of a “quick start”. However, when talking about larger and more complex sites there is a lot more to think about when selecting a platform.
If you’d like some advice on what might be best for your business, please get in touch!