Communication Styles and the Future of phpWebSite

I have been pondering for some time whether to convert existing web sites from phpWebSite to WordPress. It is difficult for me to think about these things since I quickly jump to the implementation details. So I decided to back off and look at the problem from the viewpoint of communication styles. For this quick analysis I am going to compare the diary, magazine, and product brochure formats to their Internet counterparts. These communication styles have existed for a long time in printed form. I think a little pondering on where these formats came from and where the web site versions of these formats are going will give me a better strategic view.

Diary Format

  • History – The diary format is the model that blogs originally copied.
  • Frequent Updates – One of its characteristics is that it generally involves short posts on a daily basis. This feature of blogs was quickly adopted by news organizations for syndicating news over the Internet.
  • Conversational tone – A key characteristic of both diaries and blogs is that they have a conversational tone.

Magazine Format

  • History – The magazine format came about as printed magazines established a presence on the Internet.
  • Monthly Updates – Originally the web sites mimicked the printed version and were updated on a monthly basis. As magazine publishers adapted to the positive and negative impacts of the Internet on their business, they eventually adopted RSS syndication for more frequent news updates(daily) and email newsletters for less frequent updates(weekly).
  • Both formal and conversational tones – The magazine format has traditionally had a mixture of both a formal tone and a conversational tone. The articles had a professional/formal tone while the editorials has a more personal tone.

Product Brochure Format

  • History – The product brochure format came about as businesses wanted a web presence to support their sales operation. Originally these sites were fairly static web sites that reproduced the sales information that already existed in brochure form.
  • Infrequent Updating – Most of these sites were static sites. It was commonly understood that if you wanted current information you need to call them on the phone. Many business site have since migrated to dynamic content. FAQs became an easy and quick way to support customers after the sale.
  • Primarily a formal tone – For the most part the tone used by these sites can be described as professional.

So how does WordPress and phpWebSite stack up in these areas?

  1. WordPress
    • The origin of WordPress is as a blog and it is one of the best blogs out there. It has a great development community out there.
    • WordPress has shown a lot of versatility and has expanded into the magazine format. Here is an example of the magazine format, Darren Hoyt Dot Com » Blog Archive » Mimbo v1.1 Released.
    • Although you can use WordPress as a simple product brochure or Internet sales site, it does not scale up as well as other packages. A few months ago I wrote a post in which I said that a nonprofit with a “product brochure” styled site might be better served by going to a more conversational format.
  2. phpWebSite
    • The blog portion of phpWebSite was originally called Announcements. phpWebSite can function as a blog but WordPress is free and a better blog.
    • The magazine format is probably the best use for phpWebSite. The “What’s Related” feature is a great feature. Similar features can be added in WordPress via plugins. I think that articles and calendars are the areas of with the greatest potential over WordPress but the phpWebSite development community is more limited.
    • Like WordPress you can use phpWebSite as a simple product brochure site but it does not scale up as well as other packages. Using the template system for product brochures is tempting because it may integrate the key data while allowing it a bit more scalability.

So there you have it. Both WordPress and phpWebSite are pursuing the magazine formats but phpWebSite is a more natural fit for the magazine format at this time. WordPress has a much larger development community but it has many diverse interests. The primary interests for WordPress is the blog format so it is hard to tell who has the better development community in the magazine format area.