While they can both be used to create a photography website, WordPress and PhotoDeck are radically different solutions: WordPress is a popular and flexible generic website builder, while PhotoDeck is an integrated platform designed for professional photographers and media libraries.
In this article, we cover the main differences and show why, in most cases, PhotoDeck is a vastly better tool for professional photographers.
WordPress vs PhotoDeck: what are their purposes?
WordPress is a great general-purpose website builder. It lets you build a website with a limited number of pages, and includes a full-featured blog. It is not specifically designed for photography and can be used to create very different types of website.
Many templates are created and sold by independent third-parties, and additional features can be added with plugins, which are modules that work as extra layers on top of WordPress.
PhotoDeck also lets you create and manage a website, but is fully optimized for photography and large volumes of images or videos.
More than a tool to build websites for photographers, PhotoDeck is a complete platform to organize, manage, deliver and sell media content. It is best used by photographers, agencies and media library for brands.
Ease of use and effectiveness for photographers
WordPress requires the user to know how to update the software and install themes and scripts. It is an effective general publishing and blogging platform, but not designed for the workflow of professional photographers and media libraries.
For photographers, WordPress can work well to display simple online portfolios but is not suited for photo proofing or client galleries, for example.
On the other hand, PhotoDeck lets members focus entirely and effectively on their content and their professional workflow, without technical knowledge required.
Its interface is designed to help easily create fully customized websites as part of its feature set, but is primarily optimized for managing and sharing (or selling) images and videos, even millions of them, on a daily basis. It is a tool designed from the ground up for photographers and one that helps save time.
How do they work?
WordPress and PhotoDeck work in very different ways, and the implications are far-reaching.
WordPress is a a series of scripts that can be installed on virtually any generic file-based web server. Each setup is unique, the website owner (the photographer) generally manages themselves these scripts, and can add new scripts / plugins on top of them, which provides great freedom.
On the opposite, PhotoDeck is a fully integrated cloud solution. It only runs on our servers, and there is no accessible storage space where members could install scripts nor upload files: the media files are stored in the cloud, the rest is in a single central database. This way, everything can be tightly integrated and optimized as a whole.
WordPress provides freedom at the code level, PhotoDeck provides flexibility in supporting different photographer business models and workflows.
A consequence of this architectural difference is speed, both in the administration space and on the created website, and a WordPress website is usually much slower.
On most WordPress installation, the combination of slow shared file-based storage, low allocated server resources, and non-optimized scripts (and plugins) makes for a very slow response time.
On PhotoDeck, the architecture allows everything to be optimized for speed, both at the individual component level, and as a whole system.
As a result, response time is usually dozens of times faster than a typical WordPress site, and that is important both for the website’s human visitors and for search engine optimization.
To be fair, WordPress photography websites can be made faster with the use of additional caching technologies and by using a fast - or even dedicated - web server, but this often requires at least some technical knowledge, has a significant cost (some hosting providers offer a service better optimized for WordPress at a premium), and will still be slower than a PhotoDeck website.
As someone who also manages my own WordPress site, I’m astonished at the page load speed on PhotoDeck and the resolution of images shown across all devices.Steven Kennedy
The modular and open architecture used by WordPress also makes it inherently much less secure.
Since it is based on an disk space directly accessible by the user and by external plugins that might have been added, it is not rare that attackers can also install their own nefarious scripts, usually automatically via robots hacking out-of-date installations.
And since WordPress runs on generic servers that don’t discriminate, these nefarious scripts can then freely run as part of the photographer’s website, access its data, and further attack visitors. Needless to say, this is disastrous for anyone concerned with their image and reputation.
Security on WordPress relies on the user (in this case, the photographer) constantly keeping everything up-to-date and not installing insecure third-party plugins.
In addition, security updates are applied behind the scenes, so the photographer doesn’t have to worry about them.
WordPress lets you easily install anything on your website, and it is again a case of “with freedom comes responsibility”. Indeed, it is all too easy to install a third-party script that runs afoul of privacy laws, especially in Europe.
With PhotoDeck, scripts and tracking services can only be embedded via the administration interface, if they are officially supported, and in this case they are also automatically integrated with the cookies acceptance policy you choose.
It makes it easy to comply with the law without headaches.
To be clear, it is absolutely possible to run a law-compliant WordPress website, and it is certainly possible to break the law with a PhotoDeck website. But like for security, WordPress leans much more on the website owners knowing what they’re doing.
Photographers using both WordPress and PhotoDeck
For photographers, WordPress can’t effectively replace PhotoDeck when it comes to client galleries or selling digital files.
But if you can deal with the slowness and security issues, WordPress offers a full-featured blogging feature, a little more flexibility regarding layouts and themes, and lets you install custom scripts if you really need them.
It therefore sometimes make sense for photographers to use both, where WordPress handles a part of the website (for example a blog) and PhotoDeck another (for example, the client or sales galleries).
Technically, they will be independent photography websites, but they can be both placed under your own domain, and if they share a common visual identity (logo, colors, fonts), their integration can be fairly seamless.
I found PhotoDeck flexible enough that I could create my photo site to match my Wordpress one and integrate the two via the menus on each site, making one .com and the other .co.uk. People don’t even notice!Nico Morgan
This approach is also sometimes used by new PhotoDeck members who have already invested in a WordPress photography website but need the power of PhotoDeck for their galleries and daily work. It is not rare they fully switch to PhotoDeck later on…
To learn more, see how to create a website for photographer with PhotoDeck!