To WordPress or not to WordPress? This is a question that I’m often asked when working with companies, marketing and IT departments and especially agencies. There is an overriding concern about their credibility.
The simple answer is no.
However, let me preface that with the statement that I’m not touting WordPress as the be-all-end-all in web development, but there are applications where WordPress is perfectly-suited. In fact, I would say, the majority of website development projects can be completed effectively and professionally using WordPress (thank you very much!).
There are some situations for which WordPress may not be an ideal candidate. And I’ll cover those later.
First, let’s address the advantages of WordPress (many of which you’ve already heard, no doubt):
Free, open source platform
Since it’s an open-source platform, developed by the community, it’s well-supported and updated. (However, making sure you continually update your installation of WordPress is important for security and compatibility). It’s a ready-to-go framework, so your development team can install it and build a website on top of it much faster and more efficiently than coding a new website from the ground up.
As you know, there’s an almost unlimited supply of predesigned themes available online that can be used as a foundation for your website development needs. If you’re lucky, you may find one that fits your requirements out-of-the box with no customizations necessary. However, 99% of the time, you’ll use a WordPress theme as a starting-point on which to build the various elements of your proposed website. This type of theme customization should always be done by a qualified developer.
WordPress plugins are like lego-bricks of functionality that can be added to any WordPress theme. If the theme you’ve chosen doesn’t do something…there’s a plugin for that! Ok, well almost. The truth is that plugins can be very useful for adding features and functionality to your website, and make it very scalable. But you should be prudent as to which plugins you use. Make sure they’re coded by reputable developers. Also, test them first as they may not be compatible with other plugins your theme uses. And always keep your plugins updated. As you can see, these precautions are best taken by a professional web developer.
An off-the-shelf WordPress theme, if you pick the right one, is responsive (designed to display optimally on all devices) and compatible with all major browsers. Of course, if you were to have a custom website developed from scratch, you would expect mobile and cross-browser compatibility too. But why reinvent the wheel? If there’s a framework that already exists, why waste the time and money to recreate from scratch? The chances are that your custom responsive functionality will be built on a framework such as Bootstrap – which is what most responsive WordPress themes are built on anyway.
Great for blogs
If you plan on having a blog section on your website (and any business serious about inbound marketing should!), WordPress lends itself perfectly to this. After all, it was originally created as a blogging platform.
WordPress is its own content management system that allows the creation of users based on role and duties. Delegating users with either administrator, editor, author, contributor or subscriber privileges (as well as custom roles that you can create) allows for a hierarchical structure within the content management organization. This is already part of the default WordPress installation so, again, why reinvent the wheel?
Good for SEO
This one’s really a red herring as a website’s SEO is only as good as its HTML, URLs, meta-tags, content and structure. Saying that a WordPress website has superior SEO than a non-Wordpress website is baloney.
Arguments against using WordPress (debunked)
This is the number one objection. Some Wordpress skeptics advise against using it for any professional website stating that WordPress is a vulnerable platform and has become a target for hackers because of its success and popularity. This is only a partially true statement. Yes, like any successful CMS, WordPress has had its fair share of haters (hackers). But if the correct security precautions are taken –
- best-in-class hosting service
- using strong passwords
- not using Admin as an administrator user name
- installing firewalls
- limiting login attempts
- malware scanning
– then a WordPress website is no more vulnerable to brute force attacks than any other website. These are all standard precautions that any web developer worth their salt takes.
Another argument sometimes used against WordPress websites is that they are slow. This is not the case. It depends on how you customize the site, what plugins you add, how you optimize your media and whether you use file minification, caching and CDN. Websites developed using WordPress should always be tested and optimized for load speed and performance, just as any other site developed using other technologies.
I’ve had tech company executives ask me if building a corporate website in WordPress casts an unprofessional impression:
“Anyone can figure out what platform a website is coded on these days. By using WordPress, aren’t we undermining our technical competence?”
My answer to this is always a resounding “NO”. My argument goes on something like this:
- visually engaging
- search engine optimized
Whether it’s built with Wordpress or not is irrelevant. (highlight to tweet)
When WordPress really isn’t a good fit
- If you’re developing a simple landing page or microsite that doesn’t require a CMS or any advanced functionality, coding it from scratch may be the way to go to cut down on overhead.
- If you need an eCommerce website with complex requirements (multi-currency, multi-sourcing, multi-payment, etc) or if innovations in online retailing are core to your success, WordPress is not for you. Wordpress can be suitable for a basic online store, but anything more would warrant a non-Wordpress solution.
- If you need an enterprise-level intranet solution, don’t use WordPress.
- If your application requires complex content management capabilities across a very large enterprise, WordPress may not be suitable.
- If you’re building a highly-collaborative website such as a complex discussion forum or a social site, I wouldn’t recommend WordPress.
At the end of the day it’s about using the best tool for the job! (highlight to tweet)