Why WordPress isn’t always the answer

Clients often start their conversation with us like this: “We’d like a website that can do such and such… and we’d like it built on WordPress.” After which we say, “Why WordPress?” The reply is often along the lines of, “Well, we’ve heard it’s good.”

And it is good. Very good even, if it’s right for the project. The trouble is that its popularity and reputation have grown larger than its suitability. Just as stone isn’t always the right choice for constructing a wall, WordPress is not appropriate for building every website.

The pitfalls of WordPress

WordPress’s popularity gives rise to its largest problem: most hackers have it in their sights. To protect itself, WordPress has to be constantly updated. In theory, this should be a good thing, except that 3rd party providers of WordPress’s plugins do not always update in time. This might just mean coping with a few annoying bugs, or even breaking the site, but it could also risk sensitive data being compromised.

Another issue is that WordPress is bloated with features, its attempt of being able to cope with a wide range of web site projects mean that it is now impractical for certain simpler tasks. The large amounts of code behind the WordPress system require more hardware power to run - this can lead to longer page-load times, higher hosting costs and poor user experience. Perhaps your web application does need a lot of the features it offers, but there’s no point wasting fuel on a cumbersome freighter when a nimble hatchback is all you need.

WordPress was originally created as a blogging platform, not as a universal builder for any and all websites. The format can constrain developers, leaving you with fewer options for how your website will appear and function.

Research your other options

Before you rush into a decision, you need to ask some important questions: “What is the goal of this website”, “Are you going to update it regularly?”, “Are you selling products online?”, “Do you require advanced searching?”.

If your website will receive minimal updates, you may not need a content management system (CMS) like WordPress at all. A hosted solution like Squarespace or Wix offer a slimmed down set of options that can look very professional for smaller websites. Because the supplier is responsible for maintaining the system and keeping it secure, hacks are less likely and, most importantly, are not your responsibility.

If the focus of your website is selling, check out the systems that are specifically designed for this like Shopify or Prestashop. Or if you want something similar to WordPress, there are other CMS systems like Concrete5 or TYPO3, which each offer their own pros and cons. If you want more flexibility or Wordpress doesn’t meet all your requirements, there are further options. Web application frameworks like Symfony or Laravel provide a powerful alternative that empowers the developer with the building blocks to decide how to put it all together - and what bespoke extras to build. This method typically speeds up development but does require someone with the necessary skills. It’s like providing a builder with the materials they need to construct a house. You’ll almost certainly need to work with a developer on this one, but it offers much more powerful customisation potential compared with WordPress.

Our team like to select the best solution for the task and we work with several of the above solutions including Wordpress. It might be that WordPress is the right choice for your website, but before you dive in and invest your time and money, we recommend discussing what the alternatives might be with a friendly expert.

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2 years ago | Education

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