Movable Type vs. WordPress

I have a great deal of respect for Mike Rundle, one of the founders of 9rules design network; so when I found out he was waxing eloquent about Movable Type and WordPress, I was interested. After reading his level-headed discussion at BusinessLogs, I thought I’d share some of my own opinions about the contrasts between these two hotly contested blogging platforms:

I climbed aboard the MT boat about a year and a half ago, so I’m a bit of a latecomer to all of this. A few thoughts from an avid MT supporter who hangs out with avid WP supporters:

First, there will always (?) be the divide between MT’s and WP’s pricing. I completely understand Six Apart’s reasoning behind charging for the business platform: investment capital. Companies support a team that in turn supports a product and enhances that product. The drawback however is that as all our web design younglings get their hands on free copies of WP, they become familiar with it and–you know the drill–you often use (and suggest to customers) what you know.

Second, I agree that MT’s install is difficult. I can do it now in about 7 minutes flat, but most people I know could not do it on their own. We throw around ‘chmod’ and ‘set up databases’ like they’re out of a children’s book. But remember from whence we came; we were not always so smart. So we realize that MT requires a bit more know how, but is the payoff worth it?

It has been in my case. Typical scenario: Client A asks me to design a site. I suggest MT to power it. I install, I customize, I tweak until updating the site is easier than spitting watermelon seeds and the client never has to look at the templates. Thus PROGRAM INTERFACE takes precedence, and thus the native hue of WordPress is sicklied o’er with a pale cast of difficulty. In fact, despite that the MT interface is much easier to get around in, I still think there’s much further to go towards making it easier, especially with the current explosion of Ajax-rich apps. If they can do it with TypePad, they should at least offer plugins to do it with MT.

Finally, there’s the Six Apart factor. If a problem comes up with a WordPress installation, Company A rants to Web Designer Jones, the guy who installed it. Jones then turns to the WordPress community for answers. Now, in a perfect world, we’d all hold hands, dance naked with flowers in our hair and respond to a community need at the drop of a hat. But in the real world, a company is more likely to look for support from a company that gets paid to do what they need, rather than from a volunteer effort. Most decent sized companies don’t mind throwing down a few hundred bucks for the peace of mind that comes with a company-backed product. (e.g. MS Office vs. OpenOffice)

I have not sworn allegience to any side, but I’ve really been satisfied with MT’s community as well as the company. I guess I’d sum it up like this: WP may be easier to slip on and get comfortable in, like a pair of jeans you wear around the house; but when it’s time for the business meeting, you take the extra time to shine the shoes, iron the shirt, knot the tie…