WordPress is a free platform initially developed to build blogs, used nowadays as a content management system for websites. A large number of media managers choose WordPress as a solution when setting up a website due to perceived advantages of the platform; these advantages, however, are not always correctly understood. Therefore, the objective of this article is to outline and review all the pros and cons of building a website using WordPress – and ultimately to discuss in which cases it is recommended to choose WordPress to build your next website, and in which cases a different solution may be preferable.
There are many benefits, but also quite a few drawbacks related to the use of the platform. The benefits of WordPress include things such as:
- Its open source structure – many programmers openly share their code online, which results in the ability of users to save developing time and costs by using existing code already written
- Its simplicity – WordPress is a simple system to operate. The Webmaster hardly needs to spend time learning the system before he/she can begin to work with and edit the site content. In addition, the system is simple to install – which means there’s no need for a high-level programmer for the basic setup
- Its fast construction – one of the main advantages of the system is its ability to be easily installed on a hosting server so the Webmaster can start working with it within a short timespan
- It is SEO friendly – the basic system is not particularly SEO friendly, but a number of plugins can be installed to make up for it. It is relatively easy to find and apply those plugins to achieve better SEO results
- Convenient use – the system is made for the mass market, so the admin interface is convenient and friendly towards non-professionals within technology
- The lack of need for prior characterization – since construction costs are low, there is no need for a prior in-depth characterization of the entire project – the user can start from the basic needs of the project and add additional features when needed
- Price – the most significant advantage of WordPress is its low cost due to the reasons stated above
Many of these advantages of the use of WordPress are also reasons for its popularity. Before deciding to embark on the low-cost journey of content management, however, there are some important disadvantages to take into consideration:
- Its open source structure – since all of your system’s code is available online, it is also easy for hackers to find security holes. Moreover, every programmer having engaged in prior usage of this code can intentionally plant malicious code into the published code. For example, you may have a plugin installed that allows you to easily send out newsletters. What can happen, however, with the circumvention of your knowledge, is that it will transfer your entire mailing list to the plugin developer.
- Lack of flexibility – WordPress is designed for small content websites. If you want to develop a more sophisticated site such as an e-commerce site, or even a large corporate website that is not completely “standard”, this will require you to make several systematic changes. Although these changes are mostly possible, they will considerably raise your costs
- Suboptimal for SEO – the name of the game in SEO today is appropriate characterization of the website, so the search engines are able to read the message you want to convey merely through the structure of the site. With WordPress, while you can install plugins that helps the SEO, due to the lack of flexibility in the system it cannot reach the level of performance of SEO that can be reached with a specifically characterized website
- Updates – updating the system is critical to close security holes that may pop up. However, since each WordPress site includes countless different plugins, updating the system can damage certain plugins not adapted to the new system. Basically, the site will then be at the mercy of the programmer who wrote the plugin – and will show in a suboptimal way until repaired
- Control – WordPress releases system updates that are good for WordPress and not for you. If your needs are the same as those that WordPress try to address, you are lucky. Otherwise you might get updates that harm rather than improve the website
- You’re no different– WordPress sites tend to look similar to each other, even after theme and color adjustments. The question is whether a company that invests a large amount of time and effort in PR, wants its website to look like many others’ (as many large companies cannot afford that its customers will associate its design with another brand)
- Speed – WordPress sites contain lots of generic code unnecessary for every specific website, so the loading times of the webpages become slower. Page loading speed is critical for both good user experience and good search engine ranking
- Copyright – copyright protection in the internet is a delicate issue. While the law protects the content of a website, it doesn’t protect concepts or ideas. A custom-made website will give you a better copyright protection than a website built using a template. For further reading on the matter, click here.
- It’s easy to build a bad WordPress site - it is easy to install a WordPress site, but when changes and adjustments are needed, a trained professional is required. It is hard to find good WordPress professionals since many of the people that work with WordPress are not programmers, but instead make changes in the system settings. Essentially, this means that they cannot make changes that require plugins not already written
To sum up all this information, there are various advantages and disadvantages with WordPress as with many other platforms. Following are therefore a few examples to provide an understanding of when to choose to adapt WordPress and when it is ideal to avoid it:
- Small businesses – businesses with a low budget that do not concentrate on their online marketing, or to whom their website is not the main tool of this, might prefer to use WordPress.
- Immediate market entry – one of the great advantages of WordPress lies in its installation and operation simplicity. This makes a fast market entry possible, since it doesn’t require considerable forethought and thorough characterization of the site. However, after initial market entry the marketer may want to invest the resources required to set up a custom made, secure, branded website with optimal SEO
- A new website for an existing company - a medium/large company that wants to upgrade its website is recommended to establish a custom made website and thus ensure the best online representation of the company. Furthermore, this choice will insure better branding, will give exclusive control on the website and will be optimal for search engines.
Jun 2015 update:
Nowadays there is a big shift from "one system for all needs" towards more industry dedicated solutions. The biggest advantage of more dedicated systems is that often, you will achieve better results with less effort, as these systems are built with your needs in mind.
Here's a few examples of such systems:
- For creative individuals: Artly - Build a portfolio website within less than 10 minutes, with no coding at all.
- For online sales: Shopify - Open a simple online store with minimal effort.
- For online CV: Branded.me - Turn your LinkedIn profile into a website in one click.
Whatever your need, with recent developments taken into consideration I would recommend you to find a dedicated system for your need before trying Wordpress. It might save you a tremendous amount of time and headache.