I’ve been a web developer for many years, and through all the ups and downs that come with working within an ever-changing industry such as web design, I’ve learned to really appreciate quite a few of the many benefits that come from creating all my sites using the most popular content management system in the world, WordPress. As the owner of Penner Web Design in Durham North Carolina, I have a responsibility to my clients to build them a website that is simple to scale without my intervention, and should also be able to compete well on the search engines against their competition. WordPress delivers on these promises, but it’s not without understanding the inherent gives and takes that WordPress is known for, and how to alleviate the disadvantages with simple solutions.
The Advantages of WordPress
The structural code is open source (free) – Since WordPress is 100% free to the public, site development costs can be offset toward customizing the aesthetics of the website along with setting up any functional needs (contact forms, polls, social share buttons, etc.)
Almost 50,000 free plugins – Since WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world, there are thousands of 3rd party developers that provide free add-ons and support for functions that range from security to site speed, to image galleries and full featured forums.
User friendly administration – WordPress is probably best known for how even the least tech savvy person can easily add pages, write interactive posts where visitors can leave comments, and upload images to illustrate every page. The learning curve for WordPress is so shallow that even after a 15 minute tutorial most people can easily work with it.
Thousand of free themes – Plugins aren’t the only thing that 3rd party developers provide for WordPress, with thousands of themes are available that come pre-designed where all you have to do is switch out your content for the content in the template.
The Disadvantages of WordPress
Most WordPress sites look exactly alike – Since WordPress has thousands of free themes that are only a click away from giving your site a whole new look, there comes the issue that thousands of others have done the exact same thing so your website is identical to those that have chosen the same theme.
Hackers love WordPress– Hackers understand that 27% of the internet (almost 16 million websites and growing) uses WordPress, and so they are always looking for vulnerabilities so they can inject SPAM ads or use the site as a relay for conducting other types of illegal activity.
WordPress can become slow – With all the free plugins to choose from, many people tend to use plugins for everything imaginable, and as a result too many plugins can slow a website down quite considerably.
Plugin conflicts – Once a WordPress site starts to include a multitude of free plugins, there are sometimes conflicts that occur between these add-ons which can render the site as broken.
WordPress needs to be updated regularly – As hacking vulnerabilities are discovered, the WordPress core developers and 3rd party developers are constantly updating everything in order to close any security holes.
Solutions for the Disadvantages of WordPress
Get a custom theme – Since you’re saving a ton of money on the website structure by going with WordPress, divert your web design money toward making your website completely unique. With a custom theme you also don’t have to worry about constant theme updates since there’s only one copy of it, plus a custom theme can make sure your website works perfectly no matter whether the visitor is on a desktop computer, a tablet, or a phone.
Keep your plugins down to a minimum – Just because you can download as many free plugins as you choose, doesn’t mean you Select only the most important plugins that will provide you with security against hackers, a caching plugin to help with speed, a plugin for SEO, and maybe even something to make user functions easier for creating additional pages. Always remember, once you have deactivated a plugin, delete it.
Get a security plugin – The absolute most important plugin you can get is a security plugin that will protect you against hackers. I highly advise that you have your web developer help you with setting this up since it will mean the difference between going years free from being hacked, or watching your business get hacked by a third world country.
Keep everything updated – Staying on top of daily and weekly updates should always be a priority, and if you don’t have the time to do it then you should make sure you’re on a WordPress maintenance plan that will do it for you.
If done correctly, WordPress can be without a doubt your very best option for having a website that is fast, feature rich and user friendly to not only you as the owner, but also to visitors that come to you seeking your products, services, or ideas.