The Real Difference between Business Catalyst and WordPress

My short answer: who cares?

But this is a blog post, so I probably should give you the long answer. ;)

I know this is a topic that has come up a thousand times, and will come up a thousand more. Occasionally, it’s pretty informative and helpful for both sides, but often it’s heated, and quite biased one way or the other. Regardless, there’s no question which camp people belong to once they get talking.

Why do people care?

Here’s a ‘no duh’ statement: people have a tendency to make future decisions based on past ones. That’s fine, and even logical. There is safety in assessing a past experience for merit or flaws, and acting accordingly. But sometimes we approach that tendency with more of a religious fervor. This can present itself in several ways. I brought up religion, so I’ll use it as the analogy for this article.

I’m religious. I served as a full-time missionary for my church for two years beginning shortly after high school. Now, when I say full-time, I mean full time. I didn’t have a job, girlfriend, social outings, college, or pizza. Wait...I actually had a lot of pizza. And sushi. I had a lot of sushi…

Anyway, I saw and interacted with a lot of different religious attitudes:

  • Some people approached religion from the standpoint of tradition. “My family has always been _______.” (you thought I was going to start something there, didn’t you?)
  • With others, it filled a need. Some of these people hopped around a lot. (between churches. I never met a single person who hopped around town because their pastor told them to.)
  • And then with others, they defended their religious beliefs with passion.
  • And then...there were the truth-seekers. People who only seemed to care about finding what is good and right, and acting accordingly.

I’m sure you can tell which attitude I think most highly of. I’m not even suggesting they all converted (or that they didn’t ;). I just like them. Regardless of what we are doing in life, whether it be in religious service or education or work or family, we will go the farthest if we let go of attitudes that hamper our progress and hinder our vision.

The arguments between web platforms is often comparable to that of arguing sects of religion, so I decided to move along that vein. Following are four “religious” attitudes we exhibit, and how they affect the way we see Business Catalyst, and react to its competitors.

Because it’s what I’ve always done.

Well, what if you’re wrong? Truth is, regardless of which platform you are on, if you have this attitude, you aren’t doing them much of a favor. You aren’t moving the platform along. You aren’t learning or benefitting. And when the time comes that you decide to write a blog post about the platform, your lack of conviction in its genuine benefits or failings is going to make it fall flat.

It fills a need...for now.

Never digging in. Excited and happy at first, but jumping ship at the first sign of discomfort or imperfection. Jumps on a negative forum post and quickly agrees.

An example of this attitude can be seen in the partner who gets sold on Business Catalyst’s salespeak, but fails to take a deeper look at the true benefits of the platform. Later, when something changes, their world falls apart. All of a sudden, the argument they have made on forum posts and with their clients seems invalid. Open Platform, anyone? Haven’t we heard the argument that Adobe removed one of the key differentiators between Business Catalyst and WordPress when it introduced the concept of apps?

If anything, they helped us close the gap. Plugins aren’t bad. And they aren’t the end to security and consistency on BC. Business Catalyst is a proprietary platform that has opened its doors to 3rd party apps. Sound familiar? Apple did the same thing with iOS, and everybody said it would fail. They said open was the only way to succeed. The past several years have shown us that iOS has avoided many of the security and monetary pitfalls that Android has endured. In this case, WordPress is a good comparison to Android, with many of the same pros and cons. We can look at the comparison with these two successful mobile platforms, and see that both models work. But that kind of seeing requires a willingness to broaden our view, and a refusal to pigeonhole a platform’s benefits into one or two features.

Fight or flight.

In some people, this is born of a need to contend or win, but often it is fear-based. Deep down, afraid that we might be wrong, so we put up our defences.

There is a stronger natural tendency in ourselves towards this attitude than we might want to believe. Have you ever been so adamant about something that you emphatically stated it as fact, only to find out later that you were wrong? It’s embarrassing. It’s in those moments that we realize how imperfect our perspective is, and that another piece of the puzzle can completely dash our paradigm. When we seek to “defend” Business Catalyst through arguing our pros and their cons, we are most certainly setting ourselves up for embarrassment.

There are several examples of this, including forum bashing, blog sniping, and even listing out reasons to our clients as to why Business Catalyst is better than WordPress. When we bash another platform, we show fear and ignorance. On the other hand, if you are confident in Business Catalyst’s ability to help your client, you will probably have so much positive to say that you won’t have the time or need to mention the others. Better yet, you will look past the platform itself, and simply talk about fulfilling your client’s needs.

On that note, we really should stop selling on the differences between the platforms. In fact, we should stop “selling the platform” altogether. Do you really think it will make or break your client if they are on one platform or the other? If you’re selling the platform, you are selling nothing at all. Sell solutions.

Open mind.

The final attitude finds the good in everything. When we have an open mind, we are not focused on Business Catalyst or WordPress, but on benefits and helping things move forward. We see the advantages that are presented to us, and focus on those. Open-minded partners recognize that WordPress does good too, and has its place in the market.

Speaking of market, WordPress and Business Catalyst have different market segments. There’s certainly overlap, but WordPress (for full sites not blogs) reaches a lower dollar value client with less experience in business. But this is only partly because of features. A lot of it has to do with community culture. Attitude, skill, and innovation of a developer/designer community are more important in determining viability of a platform for a particular client than the platform itself. WordPress is WordPress because its community largely wants it that way. Over time, they have molded the platform into the way they want it, reaching the customers they want to reach, and they will continue doing so because the platform is determined by its members. A platform is the sum of its community, not its parts.

With an open mind, we can stop the fight and focus on what matters: bettering the platform for the clients we want on it. We can look at WordPress and see innovations that inspire us. We can learn from Shopify and build a better e-commerce system in Business Catalyst.

It’s culture, not competition that sets customer expectations, drives price/value perception, and determines the types of innovation we experience. What culture do I want to see in the BC community? I want to see tailored solutions, skilled delivery, higher prices, and successful clients.

The future of Business Catalyst is not about feature comparison. It’s about you.

Adam Cook

Post Date:
Tuesday, April 22, 2014

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Blog posts, discounts and updates. Oh my!

Note: If you are not a Business Catalyst partner who wants to build better websites faster, you should reconsider subscribing. Because that's all I do and write about. Otherwise, this is going to rock!