Some Issues With Whitehouse.gov

The final issue is the switch to WordPress. I was actually surprised by this move, as I consider Drupal to be better about security – but both Content Management Systems (CMS) have had problems with security. WordPress is the most popular content management system. That’s mainly because it’s “Open Source” software. Anyone can download it and contribute code. The problem is that if a security issue arises, the software needs to be updated immediately – as soon as an update is available. Because the code is public, that means the vulnerabilities are usually public knowledge too. But what happens if an update is not available? What happens if an update breaks the website? It’s a delicate balance of usability vs functionality. Update too quickly, you’re bleeding edge. Update too slowly, you’re an old gazelle on the Serengeti.

So, if you’re using WordPress, the trick is to minimize the number of plugins. That way, you limit the potential for security risks and upgrade collisions. The new White House website doesn’t use a lot plugins, but it’s not plugin-free. Here’s a line from the HTML code…

This site is optimized with the Yoast SEO Premium plugin v5.9.4 - https://yoast.com/wordpress/plugins/seo/

SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization. I’m surprised that’s even a concern for the Whitehouse. If Trump needs more attention, he just tweets a message out on Twitter. The “Premium” version of Yoast SEO is $89. That’s not going to break the bank, but that’s why I’m surprised. This isn’t exactly alien-level technology from the CIA. This is the kind of setup for the neighborhood coffee shop or a fashion blog.

You can spin that left or right… Trump is using common blogging software for the highest website in the land… Trump’s a man of the people that saves the tax payers money.

Even though I like Trump, one of the few things I liked about Obama’s presidency was the choice of website tech. Drupal seems more appropriate. Yet, Drupal has a serious downside right now. The upgrade from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 is awful. (Whitehouse.gov was previously running on Drupal 7.) Trump and friends dodge that bullet by moving to a much easier platform, but is WordPress the wrong tool for the job?

Photics.com runs on WordPress, so I can’t exactly criticize this choice. While I believe that Drupal has a lot more power than WordPress, Drupal also has a lot more maintenance. That makes Drupal more expensive. Additionally, I find WordPress is better for content creation. It’s easier to write and upload content with WordPress, but Drupal is catching up in this area – especially with Drupal 8.

Websites are easy to criticize, but also easy to forget. With Trump, this isn’t anywhere near the most controversial topic. Hopefully it stays that way. WordPress could work, but the team might want to double-check their security policy and accessibility.

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