WordPress for Sport: A Word from the Wise

This is a guest article by Jonathan McConnell Head of Digital Operations at Sotic

In 2016, Sotic made a strategic business decision to move our Content Management System to WordPress. It may have surprised some, I can’t think of another major digital sports agency developing on the platform for blue riband clients, but WordPress is long past the days of being a simple blogging tool – it’s now a platform used by major publishers such as The Sun and Metro News, as well as the likes of Serena Williams, Bloomberg, and Mercedes-Benz.

WordPress is an ideal CMS solution for us. Not only is it very intuitive and easy for our clients – the content creators – to use, it also offers us something that a bespoke CMS can’t and that’s the ability to be flexible, adding new features and functionality quickly and without the sometimes eye-wateringly-high development costs associated with adapting a bespoke system. This isn’t to say that some elbow grease isn’t required however. Sotic has worked to cultivate a skilled team that are dedicated to finding the best way to make the most of the platform for sports clients, creating our own customisable Sotic Sports Template.

Being an opensource platform, WordPress encourages community collaboration. ‘Meetups’ of developers, designers, users, and communities gather and share the knowledge and experience they have gained on the platform – there are always things to learn and as innovators within the sports market, Sotic are actively involved in this Community, sharing our development steps and learnings along the way.

The issue that naysayers come back to though is security. How can an opensource platform be equipped to protect major sporting brands? WordPress’ rise in popularity has made it more of a target, yes, but since its inception in 2003, it has undergone continual hardening, and as the most popular CMS in the world, has a regular programme of security and maintenance releases to stay on top of the latest countermeasures. However, it isn’t sensible to put all the onus on WordPress to do the heavy lifting – sports clients need either to have their own measures in place or to charge their agencies with this responsibility. At Sotic, we have a dedicated Platform Team to monitor clients’ sites, to ensure that they are ready to cope with huge and at times, unexpected, spikes in traffic, and that the latest software, firewalls, and early warning systems are operating.

Innovative, fresh, and modern site-design is key to keeping fans and audiences returning to a website and WordPress is a system that recognises and embraces that. Being able to adapt that system to a range of different clients’ needs is why Sotic have set out to utilise it as fully as possible. We’ve had great success within its framework and would encourage other brands in sport to consider WordPress – and of course Sotic (!) – as options the next time they are reviewing their digital requirements.

Jonathan McConnell is Sotic’s Head of Digital Operations. Sotic is a specialist provider of digital services, websites and software applications to the sports industry. Based in the UK, since 2002 they’ve been working with clubs, league, tournament and event organisers, developing innovative but practical solutions which meet sport’s unique day to day needs.

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