WordPress is such a popular content management system for websites that it’s practically a household word. More than 30% of the websites in the world use WordPress as of this writing. Next year it will be significantly more. Given its wide acceptance, there are obviously some real benefits to using WordPress for your website. However, like all software, it’s not perfect. Here are some of the pros and cons as well as when to use WordPress and when not to.
Pros Of WordPress
Due to its wide use, you’ll find plenty of support. Not only will most web developers today know about WordPress, but many of those being hired for in-house marketing positions are likely to be familiar with the software. This brings down the cost and increases the ease of obtaining help, developer resources, training and support.
Because of the incredibly large third party marketplace for WordPress add-ons, you can add many features and functions to your website at very little cost.
Do you want a calendar of events? That’s easy though a free plugin. Or buy the pro version for $49 and get online registration for your events.
Do you want to sell products online? No problem, that plugin is free though you will have to pay a modest cost for certain add-ons like real-time credit card transactions or FedEx shipping calculations.
Designing a website from scratch can be one of the more time-consuming and costly approaches to building a new site. In the WordPress world, there are thousands of “themes” that enable you to have an instant site design. You just have to add your logo, text and pictures. While this is not a perfect solution, since these themes are not really custom-designed for your business, they can still be a quick and cost-effective way to build a professional looking website.
One of the reasons WordPress has become so popular is because it’s very easy to upgrade. The software and its associated plugins and themes are upgraded frequently to add new features, fix bugs and plug security holes. Each time an update comes out, it’s a simple matter of pressing the “update” button and the latest versions come down to your website.
Comparatively, WordPress is fairly easy to use. While not everyone likes the interface, most agree that it’s relatively easy to get basic tasks done, like updating pictures or text.
For the above reasons and others, WordPress is a great platform for building your website on. However, there are downsides…
Cons of WordPress
Because of its popularity, WordPress is a target for hackers. Much like virus writers prefer to target Microsoft Windows due to its large user base, hackers tend to target WordPress because finding a security hole can enable them to compromise many more sites than virtually any other web building platform. It is possible to keep WordPress secure, you just have to know what you are dong or have an experienced vendor caring for your site. Just like you wouldn’t use a Windows computer these days without a virus checker running in the background, you also shouldn’t leave a WordPress website unpatched or unsecured.
While updating WordPress is relatively easy, at any time, an update might break your website in some way. If you don’t update your site, you run the risk of falling behind, having an insecure site, and getting hacked. But if you do keep up with updates, it places a greater burden on the site owner or their developer to maintain the site.
WordPress was originally a blogging platform and its roots still show in the way that its administrative interface looks and functions. While it’s arguably better than systems that have come before it, there is still much room for improvement in the user interface. This likely won’t affect visitors to your site, but it may affect how much you enjoy making changes to the site.
WordPress is still in its infancy and there are platforms that are more mature for certain types of websites. For example, while its ecommerce module is very full-featured, there are many enterprise level features that it doesn’t yet possess. Very large ecommerce companies wouldn’t yet consider WordPress as a platform for their store and rightly so.
Some types of websites are so specialized that they just don’t make sense trying to build in WordPress. For example, a startup company that is trying to build the next great social network or other type of online service, will likely need to write their web application from scratch because WordPress has a lot of features they wouldn’t need and lacks many of the very specialized types of features they would likely be inventing for their new startup.
If you have a small or medium sized business and you are considering building a new website, WordPress is definitely worth looking into as the platform for that site. While it’s by no means perfect, it offers tremendous value in terms of its functionality, design options, upgrade path and industry support.
Masen Yaffee founded NDIC in 1994 to assist companies in building their businesses through the Internet. He has taught classes for UCSB Extension, Apple Computer, Adobe Systems and Women’s Economic Ventures. He provides instruction and consultation for individuals and businesses in all aspects of web site creation and development including strategy, planning, implementation, marketing, and business development. Lean more at http://www.ndic.com