Word Press or Rapidweaver?

I am a long-term user of Rapidweaver, and have created several portfolio and small business sites using it over the years.

Several weeks ago a group of us got together to plan a new site which will list a growing number of accommodation offerings. It’s really a simple concept: a good looking attractive banner with slideshow, a welcome text below and alongside that a space for an HMTL booking widget. Below that there will a simple listing of thumbnails and text which initially will link directly to individual websites, together with a “latest news” type sidebar blog. Over time we will certainly add pages such as information about the area, a google map showing the locations of the properties and probably individual pages for people who don’t want or need a whole website.

At the time the decision was taken to make it in WordPress so that it could be managed by other members of the group, rather than just me. However I’m reading about new CMS capabilities and hoping that some developers, experts and users can tell me whether this would work for our group?

I have been really struggling with the theme we bought for WordPress and frustrated because I know how simple it would be to do it in Rapidweaver! So if I were to establish the structure as described above, would the CMS allow other non RW users to update text and images, add new content and perhaps add new pages (based on existing models?) The site must be fully responsive and ideally allow me to use my existing considerable suite of plugins such as Stacks.

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I’d say your site would be a perfect fit for Joe workman’s Total CMS which now includes a load of blogging features which - according to some - offer many of the kinds of layout and organisational features that WordPress users have become used to.

While I know there are some beautiful WordPress themes out there and a range of fabulous plugins, I still think it’s a dog’s backside of a system in terms of usability. If you already know RW and it sounds like you do, then I’d absolutely spend a bit of time getting to know Total CMS. I’m pretty sure there’s a free trial for a month as well.

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Thanks Rob: that’s what I’m hoping. I’ve been doing some reading and it does look promising. I’ve been struggling with the WordPress system for several weeks, and it’s so counterintuitive! So “dog’s backside” is the very mildest of terms I’d use…

Trots off to the JW site to download the trial…

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I would also recommend looking at
http://rapidweavercommunity.com/addons/stacks/pulse-cms-stack to incorporate @yuzool 's flat file Pulse CMS
http://rapidweavercommunity.com/addons/stacks/blog-stack to integrate http://typed.com

Armadillo is a good choice of you want to add additional pages freely without RapidWeaver, but that needs a database.


I’ve also been looking at the Bridge theme, which looks as if it delivers pretty much exactly the look and feel that I need for the site - it’s very similar indeed to the theme I bought for WP and have been struggling with. If I go with that then I’ll have to buy Total CMS, as far as I can see, but that’s fine as I do have a small budget which would cover this. If it cuts the learning curve to a minimum it’s worth it for me.

I’d be really interested in hearing from anyone who has used this to allow other people to modify the site, because that’s the crucial element for me. There will be two or three people who will be willing to update and add blogs and news stuff, and I want them to do that without any help from me! Are your users finding it easy to use?

@Ben1 I don’t know if this is important for you, but some CMS systems allow you to designate “roles” for various users. One of the things I really like about Armadillo is I can assign one of 4 roles to my users (with varying levels of capability for editing/changing). In addition, another great feature is when a user/editor logs in they only see those “areas” they can edit or post to: they don’t see everything that is possibly editable.

I’ve done a website in which there were about 16 contributors besides me. They were all students and they learned how to use it within 20-30 minutes max. However this may, or may not, be a feature that is important to you. And it also may be a feature that Total CMS offers: I just don’t know for sure.

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Yes, this is easily set up with TCMS as well

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Well, I would go for WordPress, if you need CMS features and a site that can be extended in future in several ways (e.g. on-site booking, social media integration, blog, …). While I love RW, sometimes it isn’t the best solution for every website.

Chris, I don’t have the skills to do what I need on Word Press in a timely fashion. I have paid a friend some cash to help because she said she was a fluent WP user, but she appears to be stuck as well. The site needs to look stylish and professional but it’s actually very simple with probably just a couple of layers. We do want a “latest news” type blog in the sidebar, but that’s the only thing I haven’t done several times before using Rapidweaver.

So my options are (a) to commission a professional to modify the theme I’ve already bought and paid for (my budget won’t stretch to that) or (b) to make a fairly simple site using RW and then once the group has grown as we expect to commission a professional Word Press one.

Making a fully functioning site using RW is the © option. I had decided myself that WP was the better way to go, but the agonising process of learning how to use it is defeating me. It was while I was considering slinging a temporary one together that I read up on the CMS options offered by Joe Workman, and started to wonder whether this might work after all. (Just between ourselves, if I haven’t sorted out a clear way forward soon it’s likely to end up in the hands of people who know considerably less than I do about building a decent user friendly website, and that really would be a mistake. I know how much I don’t know, but there are some voices i the group who really don’t have that insight!)

The thing is that we all already use a third party booking system, and the widgets are easy to install - I have one on my own site and also on the several B&B sites I’ve built for other people. So I know that’s not a concern. I’m grateful for the clarification about assigning roles for other users, because while I’m happy for people to add content I don’t want them messing around with the structure and settings. As for things like social media, this is effectively a directory/listing site and I can’t imagine that social media would have much application - that is managed by individual property owners. The news function will be to announce new members or awards won and so on.

This has been really helpful. I’ll spend a few hours experimenting and see how it goes. I’ll post a link if I do get it up and running, and you can tell me what you think!

Have you built many sites with Rapidweaver? I’d love to see some examples.

Many thanks!


This is mine: www.lewescornerhouse.co.uk

This is a site I built for a filmmaker friend: www.ollylambert.com

Several for people doing B&B:



There are several more, but they’re mostly portfolio sites which people aren’t keeping up, or call to action type sites which are no longer current. They’re all pretty simple, but they do the job and visitors like them.

Thanks. Always interesting to see RW sites. And it looks like you’re up the road in Lewes.

I was actually trying to draw our WordPress friend out to get a sense of how much experience they had of RW but I see the post has been flagged anyway now.

FWIW I think you’d do fine with Total CMS.



Total CMS, with the release of the blog feature, has eliminated any of the thoughts I’ve been carrying around about using Wordpress.

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I will, I’m sure, once I’ve persuaded my setup to install the two essential stacks!

The WordPress chappie hadn’t taken into account that I’ve already spent £200 on a theme and a friend “helping”. It’s taken weeks and I haven’t got past uploading some images to a nice whizzy banner. I’ve spent a happy ten years or more dabbling happily with RW, and WP is doing my head in. It really isn’t a user friendly system and I’ve given up.

PS: Are you in East Sussex too then?

Yep, I’m down the road in Hove. Just up from RealMac. We’ll have to gatecrash them one Friday night when they’re off guard!

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Wordpress does have some excellent themes available. Elegant Theme’s Divi theme is superb. You can literally drag and drop items to create your site. (http://www.elegantthemes.com/gallery/divi/)

I like Rapidweaver, but if you’re looking at an extensible site with many users and plugins to cover every eventuality, I’d say wordpress is your best bet. The downside to WP is that it’s popularity opens it up to a lot of attacks, but there are some excellent plugins such as Wordfence that can take care of that.

If you’re looking at getting a site up quick with all the trimmings, I reckon WP is hard to beat.

Every time I have used WP I have had an absolute nightmare. It takes twice as long to build a website than it does in RW. Not only that the amount of spam you get is unreal. Yes, there are some great themes on WP but you can easily create most of them with Foundation and Total CMS. RW also has a much cleaner UI… I could go on but you get the drift haha.

It depends on whether cost is a factor $99 per domain is not insignificant. Wordpress is free. the Divi theme will cost $69 per year, but you get all the Elegant Themes for that price on as many domains as you like.

Spam is not an issue if you use Disqus or add a Captcha.

I have not used Total CMS, although I do have Armadillo and Pulse. Armadillo requires a database whereas Pulse does not. Pulse is cheaper in terms of domain cost than Total CMS. For $99 you get five domains. Pulse doesn’t have different users so everyone signs in on the same user admin, but it’s about as simple as it gets. There are stacks and a template you can download to get you up and running.

I won’t hide the fact that I now make more money fixing hacked or corrupted Wordpress sites, than I do developing new Wordpress powered sites!

Unfortunately my love affair with Wordpress ended sometime ago. The Wordpress core has become massively bloated and complicated; as Wordpress has aspired towards becoming the ‘jack of all trades’. The emphasis of Wordpress is no longer solely as being an opensource blog platform - which was its original visionary.

Wordpress has become the Microsoft Windows equivalent in the web development sector - it can boast impressive usage figures, but usability and security have become sore points. From my own experiences, the security breaches are getting more sophisticated and harder to protect against or fix. Hackers love it because so many people use Wordpress and many often lack the basic knowledge of keeping sites properly secured.

The extra complexities introduced in recent versions of Wordpress means that theme, widget and plugin development is largely off-limits to all but the most experienced developers. The fun of using Wordpress has largely dried-up and @dylan’s views echo my own. Wordpress just doesn’t excite me any more.

RapidWeaver is still a great tool for simple, static websites and has the flexibility to beat anything you can build in Wix, GoDaddy, 1&1 or Squarespace. If you need something more advanced, a flat-file system like Statamic, Pulse or October are brilliant. For big enterprise-level / database-driven websites which demand complex functionality, concrete5 is my favourite and clients love it.


Well I’m pleased to have kicked off a discussion, if nothing else!

Until the announcement of Total CMS I had very reluctantly decided that WordPress was the weapon of choice because of its ubiquity and because it would allow others to modify elements of the site, such as contributing news and blog articles. I did feel reasonably confident that it wouldn’t be a huge stretch to learn how to use it, particularly if I gave myself a head start by buying a really good theme. Hah. Suffice it to say that I’ve really struggled.

That said, I’ve bought a beautiful looking RW theme which requires two stacks which my system won’t instal, so ironically I seem to be stuck there as well.