WordPress used to be my Kool-Aid. Every website project I was involved with started off with heading to ThemeForest.net to pick out a new template for my company or client.
After five years of being a loyal WordPress advocate and fan, I am ready to break up with the content management system. So, why the split? WordPress is getting too high-maintenance for a guy like me. Here are some of the reasons why I am recommending other options like Wix.com and SquareSpace.com:
Just like all kinds of software, the WordPress platform constantly needs to be updated to improve the platform, fix bugs, and resolve security issues. Since WordPress is made up of several components (e.g. core platform, site theme, plugins, etc.), a simple update of the platform requires separate updates of each component. If one of the components is not compatible with another, the website can crash or display incorrectly. If you’re looking for a website that can run on its own and does not require monitoring, this platform might not be for you.
One of the positives of WordPress is the ability to pick your own hosting provider and your hosting package (see below). However, this is also a double-edged sword. Only the top hosting services offer “Wordpress Hosting”, which assists with the installation, maintenance, and backup of the WordPress platform. Even then, if you are not tech-savvy or familiar with the setup process, it can be a daunting task to connect your website to your domain, email server, and third-party integrations.
Each website can be customized by installing a theme from the WordPress directory or from a third-party marketplace like ThemeForest.net. Although there are thousands of themes to pick from, once you install one you are stuck with that theme and its capabilities, which can limit some design elements like layouts, color schemes, and fonts.
In 2000, you needed a knowledge of HTML or have access to expensive website design software to build your own functioning website. Just 15 years later, website platforms like Wix and SquareSpace offer all-in-one packages that feature drag-and-drop website design, domain registration, website hosting, email setup, and payment processing. You get all of this for less than $200.00 per year!
I know what you are thinking: “But, Justin – there are 75 million WordPress websites in the world today. It can’t be all the bad!?!”
You’re right – WordPress is a great website platform, but it is not the best solution for those who are not tech-savvy or do not have the time or resources to manage their own website. IF you are someone who is comfortable with installing and managing a website you might consider WordPress for the following reasons:
Content Creation and Management
WordPress was originally developed to be a personal publishing platform (i.e. blog) with a focus on aesthetics, web standards, and usability. Instead of creating new pages for every blog post by hand, the user would create a new blog post in the WordPress dashboard and fill out content fields, which would then be published on the site. As the WordPress platform was developed further, more content types were created, turning what was originally a blogging platform into an all-in-one website builder.
Websites built with WordPress can be as robust as an eCommerce store or simple like a one-page business website. The user is able to control how many features are installed and loaded when someone visits their website; giving them the ability to have a website that is feature-rich or minimalist. In addition, most themes are coded to be mobile-ready and responsive, meaning the published website will be viewable on a desktop computer, smartphone, or tablet.
WordPress is an open-sourced platform, which means it is free to use as long as you have your own source of hosting. There are also a lot of themes and plugins that do not cost anything to use and can easily be installed and activated directly through the user’s dashboard. If you are a company that has basic needs, you can have a functioning website for less than $50 per year. Quick note: WordPress.com offers free and paid hosting plans.
Another reason why WordPress a great platform is the ability to use plugins that can optimize your website for search engines and performance, both important factors for search engine optimization (SEO). Specialty plugins like Yoast help users build content and pages that will are favorable to search engines; other plugins like W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache can optimize your website code to make the website load faster. Because the WordPress platform can be customized with a variety of themes and plugins the user can decide to have a “light” website that loads essential modules, making it a fast and nimble website.
“Wait, Justin, there are almost more positives about WordPress than negatives! Are you trying to convince us TO use it or not to use it?”
I cannot completely dismiss WordPress as a valuable website platform; as I mentioned at the top of this post, it was my go-to platform for years. Unfortunately, I will no longer be recommending it to my clients since there are plenty of affordable options that are as good (if not better) for their needs.
(BTW – Before it is pointed out, I do see the irony of publishing this post on a WordPress site. I still use it because I am regularly updating the site and making sure that it is functioning correctly. However, for new client projects, I make sure people know what goes into maintaining a site on a regular basis. Almost 9 out of 10, they pick Wix or SquareSpace.)
If you need help deciding what website platform is best for you, send me a message and we’ll get you right on track.