WordPress vs Bootstrap: what to use for building a website?

When building a website, there are several technology options. WordPress (short WP) and Bootstrap (BT) are two options.

In this post a help in making a decision which way to go.

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Introduction

WordPress is one of the most widely used content management systems (CMS). It is used by bloggers, one-man-armies and also small companies with up to 50 employees.

Bootstrap is a CSS framework, which makes it easier to build websites. A lot of responsive design best practices are already incorporated.

The differences between the two

WordPress has an elaborate backend system, where users can be added and also additional plugins can be used, to extend its functionalities. Some plugins are Yoast SEO (to improve the SEO functionalities of WP), W3 Total Cache (to improve site loading speed), etc. The list of plugins goes on and on.

Apart from that, there are also free and premium (paid) themes available. Those are templates, which makes it easy to build a website or even a small internet portal.

When it comes to Bootstrap, it is more about the design part. From responsive design functionalities, which consider the different browsers and different devices (mobile, tablet, laptop, desktop) to ready-made icons, which can be used.

So the main difference is, that BT is more about design and WP is more about backend functionalities.

When to use Bootstrap?

In some website projects, it is more about building a brand. The design is important and that it should display on all devices correctly.

Also Bootstrap does not have that much overhead or a huge number of functionalities. This is different in WordPress, where there is user management in the backend and other things, which might not be needed for a brand website.

So BT is a very straight forward implementation, where the focus is on design.

Also, it loads faster, as it does not have all the other functionalities, like in WP.

When to use WP?

In some cases, many different people will be working on a website. For example, to update blog articles, or to add some information, or to upload edited pictures, etc.

In that case, some backend admin panel is needed, where it is easy, even for beginners, to add information. For this used case, WordPress is ideal, because even a beginner can learn it fast.

Also for running a blog, it can be the best solution.

Only for bigger content management system implementations for medium-sized companies, it might be a good idea to look at CMS like TYPO3 or Drupal, which bring more power and security.

But when it is a smaller website, then WP is the best choice.

How to combine the two?

It is actually possible to combine WordPress and Bootstrap.

A webdesigner can use HTML and CSS to create a Bootstrap template and integrate it into WordPress.

This combines the advantages of both systems. WordPress gives the backend functionalities and BT makes it easier for the web designer to create a good looking responsive design, which works on a lot of devices and browsers.

In fact, a lot of websites, which need a custom touch, are created that way nowadays.

What are some alternatives?

HTML, CSS

Instead of WP or BT, you could also use pure HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to create an internet page. But for that more time and effort are needed. On the other side, there will be more flexibility in building the solution. Because even in BT there are some pre-given functionalities in CSS which you might need to use. By using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript you are free to build according to how you would like it.

Those HTML sites are usually even faster when it comes to loading in the browser. And they usually also look great.

But, for building with this approach, a very good webdesigner is needed, who is able to build according to responsive design best practices.

PHP

For building the backend functionalities, you would need to use PHP or another web technology such as ASP.NET, Python, Ruby on Rails or similar.

But PHP is the technology of choice for building these backend functionalities, like managing users and having other custom functionalities.

Why use PHP? Because sometimes you need custom functionalities, which WordPress does not provide. Sometimes WP has some plugins which can be used, but maybe they are not fulfilling the exact need for the project. This is especially the case in bigger projects, where a client needs a system to improve the efficiency of the work process or to help their different departments (IT, HR, accounting, sales, marketing, etc.) to perform better.

Laravel, Zend, Symfony

For building the backend functionalities faster, you could also use a PHP framework like Laravel (or Zend, or Symfony). These frameworks are similar to BT, when it comes to the fact, that they have some pre-built functionalities. They offer pre-built modules, which can be used, thereby reducing the need to build it from scratch.

Whether to use PHP or a framework depends on the project.

What is the best practice?

When building a website, the cost, and the time duration matter. In 90 percent of the projects, there is some specific time frame to build it.

Also, there is not that much time for bug fixing.

Therefore the best solution would be to use WordPress in the backend (for managing users, SEO functionalities, etc.) and Bootstrap in the frontend (so that a lot of things like responsive design, icons, etc. are covered).

This standardized approach, brings on the one side a lot of flexibility (because BT leaves the web designer with a lot of choices on how to build the site) on the other side it reduces the necessity for bug fixing, because WP already brings functionalities, which are tested by the WP community (the same goes for BT).

Conclusion

If the website stays static for most of the time and you have an in-house web designer, who can make changes from time to time. Then Bootstrap can be the right choice.

If you need to make changes often and need some standard backend functionalities, then use WordPress.

If you have the budget for a custom design, then ask a webdesigner to create a WP template based on BT.

If the need for custom functionalities, including very custom design, then use PHP (or Laravel/ Zend/ Symfony) and HTML, CSS, JavaScript.

What is your experience?

Further reading:

A comparison of Bootstrap and WP

A Youtube video showing the differences

About the author: Sascha Thattil works at YUHIRO. YUHIRO builds software development teams in India for web agencies, software companies and IT departments worldwide.

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