MODX — the Invisible CMS

November 24, 2015

I make a point of keeping up on MODX news, improvements, updates, and techniques, always seeking to expand my knowledge of this wonderful tool. Today I read this on a MODX developer’s blog, in a post exploring why MODX isn’t more widely known:

“When someone builds a website for a client, they are building a website, not a MODX website. The fact it uses MODX under the hood . . . is for the most part irrelevant and transparent. MODX is used as a tool to deliver a project, which is important, but not what defines the project. Many of the developers, designers and agencies that use MODX also recognise that MODX may not always be the best tool for the job, so aside from MODX they might also use WordPress, Drupal, Magento or something else completely, depending on the project. . . . A lot of WordPress developers are simply tapping into that brand recognition by explicitly providing WordPress services. They sell WordPress websites instead of websites.” — Mark Hamstra

It struck me that this is completely true. One of the great appeals of MODX is stated in its official slogan: “MODX Is Creative Freedom.” Yes, there is a certain structure to the site manager, but even that is extremely flexible; there are ways to customize almost everything about it. Every website I build has a different combination of features, and the site manager for these sites can be anything from slightly different to very different in terms of what appears where when a client is editing their site. On the front end of course, there is no evidence at all that a site built in MODX. It’s completely transparent. It’s more of a framework than a “system.” The sales tactic for software is usually to tout all the features it has. While that’s important, and there are many features that we love about MODX, there are also a lot of things that it doesn’t do (that other systems require you to do), and that’s just as important! But how do you sell a product (even if it’s free) based on what it isn’t?

I do think MODX is starting to get more of a buzz around it. I was reading a high-profile website recently that talked about what to look for when considering building a good website, and I was someone surprised that, in the section about content management system, the article said “make sure you use a good content management system, like Wordpress, Joomla, or MODX.” It used to be that Wordpress, Joomla, and Drupal were the big three that everyone associated with CMSs, so I was amazed that Drupal wasn’t mentioned at all, with MODX taking its place.

Our clients want great websites that are easy to manage. MODX happens to be the tool that most easily lets us provide that to them, and enables us to guarantee that their websites are future-proof; there is nothing that won’t be able to add, even web technologies that haven’t been invented yet.