August 27, 2013

MODx Versus WordPress

MODx Versus WordPress

We don’t generally do a ton of techno-blogging, for the simple reason that it’s far more fun to riff on client headaches, stupid design choices and ill-conceived packaging decisions. However, our front end development sister company SmashStack has been getting a lot of questions about their content management system of choice, namely: “What is your content management system of choice?”

As far as blogging sites go, we humbly bow before the mighty alter of WordPress. It’s the most widely used blogging platform, and it has no equal … yet. However, we prefer MODx. Why, you ask? Oh, too many reasons to count. But let’s talk about the top three main reasons we choose MODx.


This is, by far, the main reason we use MODx rather than WordPress. We are a Web design firm, after all; we tend to want to design websites based upon what our clients want and what is best for their brand and not what a software template allows us to do. Call us demanding.

In order to customize the layout for a website using WordPress, you have to circumvent all of the many, many restrictions built into the WordPress framework. This mainly involves hacking, and can take up a ridiculous amount of valuable, highly monetized time. Because the majority of the clients for which we design want to integrate numerous features into their websites, not just blogs, we choose MODx. It’s easier for everyone.

Go Big, Include Apps

We’re always thinking big over here at SmashBrand. Large websites want flexibility and sophistication. Even though WordPress is a good blogging platform, many of their sites look like, well, blogs, which is why news organizations and magazines use it so heavily. There is really no kind of Web site, page or app that MODx can’t handle extremely well and with almost infinite variety, and a lot of the Web’s future is going to be in the realm of apps.


WordPress-powered sites are more vulnerable to hackers than MODx sites, in large part because such a huge percentage of websites are powered by WordPress. However, MODx was designed with security in mind; it’s aggressively filtered and also prevents the corruption of SQL injections. Also, the MODx core files can be scrambled and moved outside of the Web root, so that hackers can’t just bombard the website and code isn’t potentially exposed.

Giving WordPress its due

Don’t get us wrong; WordPress has its champions for good reason. It is one of the most widely used platforms available, and someone who wants to get a website up and running lickety-split without any headaches or even technical ability could use WordPress quite happily.

MODx isn’t for the faint of heart; designers have to be fairly sophisticated in order to navigate all of the features effectively. The great thing about WordPress is that it offers the casual user the opportunity to create pretty darned sophisticated websites and portfolios with minimal practical knowledge. For example, if you were going to try to publish your glossy CV online and don’t have a huge amount of experience with Web design and aren’t interested in customizing every single detail, WordPress would be your best bet.

WordPress is also easier for the layperson to figure out without a ton of assistance or research. Because it doesn’t offer a world of customizable features, the interface and dashboard are comparatively pared down and don’t have a lot of potentially confusing options. However, whether or not you’ll find WordPress or MODx easier depends entirely on your own level of experience and adaptability; a totally raw recruit with no experience of the back end may find both platforms equally confusing. Who knows?

We aren’t on the MODx payroll, so we aren’t trying to sell their features at the expense of WordPress (not that we wouldn’t accept a check, if MODx feels inclined to write one). However, for Web designers, it is extremely important to become familiar with appropriate platforms that offer the user the ability to create the best websites for their clients and for their own portfolios, whether they choose to use MODx, WordPress, Drupal, Joomla! or whatever.

Quick Summary

WordPress Pros

  • It’s ready out of the box without needing much customization.
  • It’s an easy install with tons of ready made themes for beginners.
  • Fantastic for blogs, personal, news and content based websites.

WordPress Cons

  • It’s bloated and buggy due to the massive amount of plugins that sites run.
  • Security issues are very common.
  • Lacks easy customization that advanced CMS users and web development firms need.


  • This CMS is built to be customized.
  • Great for websites of any scale, small to large.
  • Less security issues than WordPress.

MODx Cons

  • Like we said above, this CMS is built to be customized. That can be a daunting task if you are a beginner.
  • Third party plugins are not widely developed yet.
  • If you need extra support there is very little beyond the official docs and MODx forums.

Which system do you prefer? WordPress or MODX? Tell us what you think and comment below.


by Kevin Smith
SmashBrand helps brands create, optimize, and launch successful products, services, and customer experiences. Our data-driven process is the key to accelerating sales and minimizing risks.

We use a strategic combination of market research, design, and consumer testing to solve complex brand problems more effectively, create differentiation, and forge more meaningful connections with customers.

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