If you’ve worked with technology or museums online, you’ll know very well that there is no “one size fits all”. Every museum is different, and their needs online are also different. Blanket statements like “you should use WordPress, no matter what” just aren’t helpful or sensible. Having said that, it is generally recognised in the museum community that there are some extremely good reasons for choosing WordPress.
Here are some of these reasons:
1. WordPress is easy to use
Almost anyone can be handed the login details to a WordPress site and begin editing pretty much straight away. There’s a familiar “Word-like” editing interface which means that non-technical editorial and content people can get straight down to doing what they need to do.
2. WordPress is flexible
WordPress can be almost anything you want it to be: a simple 3 page “how to find us” website for small museums, all the way up to something which includes online exhibitions, collections pages, blog, ticketing and so on.
3. WordPress can look like anything
It’s a common misperception that WordPress looks a particular way. WordPress can in fact look like anything – you can use off-the-shelf themes to build a site quickly, or you can develop your own bespoke theme to match your museum branding.
4. WordPress can be “good bespoke”
“Bespoke” can be a good thing, and it can be a bad thing. It’s good if it means you get what you want from your software and it fits your organisational needs really well. It’s bad if this bespokeness means that your museum becomes a slave to a bigger commercial entity such as your tech company.
5. WordPress is Open Source
We left what is possibly the most important thing until last. Being “Open Source” means lots of things to geeky people and not much to others – but from a museum point of view, the important things about open-sourceness are these:
- WordPress is free software. It is free to download, and there are no license fees to use it. Yes, you may well have to pay an agency or individual in order to help you build and develop a site – but the software itself is free.
- The core code isn’t owned by anyone. This in turn means there can’t be a moment when software company X gets bought out and “sunsets” the software behind your museum website, rendering it obselete.
- The WordPress community is huge, alive and vibrant. There are thousands of WordPress designers and developers, 50,000 plugins on the official repo and hundreds of thousands of themes. And – perhaps more importantly to you – there is now a strong and growing community of museum WordPress people who are willing to share their thoughts and ideas about how they use WordPress in our sector.
In fact, with all this in mind we’d argue that museums should start their decision making process by assuming that WordPress is the right tool for the job – and only use something else if they can come up with good reasons why it isn’t the right tool.