WordPress is a content management system that powers 34% of all websites on the internet and 60% of the entire CMS market. But what does that mean for web developers and web design & development as a whole? In this article I’m going to outline why I think it’s good, why it can be bad and how you can use WordPress to its full potential without any of the negatives.
So, what’s good about WordPress?
Gutenberg (Wait, what?!)
Gutenberg is the new content editor within WordPress, it was launched over a year ago. If you wanted to edit page content pre-Gutenberg you would use a basic content entry editor which meant that if you wanted to do anything more than adding some text or an image to a page you’d need to have HTML coding knowledge.
This has now changed thanks to Gutenberg, which makes it easy to create great-looking pages with no coding knowledge at all. As Gutenberg is new to the scene and completely changes the entire process of working with content, it was originally met with negative feedback from WordPress users (The Gutenberg project currently has a 2 out of 5 stars rating based on nearly 3000 reviews at the time of writing). However, over the past 6 months we have noticed huge optimism from users and developers alike which can be seen in the more recent reviews. As the project grows, it’s almost inevitable Gutenberg will cover full editing of the website design as opposed to just page content.
WordPress’ rise to 34% market share is mostly down to its extensibility through plugins. Plugins allow you to add additional functions to your WordPress website with a simple installation process. There are thousands of WordPress plugins available, the majority of which are free.
WordPress plugins are written by WordPress directly or third parties. For example, want to add an eCommerce store to your website? This is easily done by installing the WooCommerce plugin.
You can transform the design of your website in seconds using the endless amount of free and paid themes available. This means you can setup the basics of a great looking website in minutes. Also, due to WordPress’s theme customisation options, you can often edit the design visually, giving you way more autonomy over the design of your site.
Easy to Use
The WordPress dashboard has been consistently developed and refined for over the last 10 years. This refinement allows you to easily manage your website, ensuring each area is laid out in a structured manner with a clean design, works on the majority of platforms and is easily accessible.
As WordPress originally started out as a blogging platform, it has a blog functionality which is second to none. It means you can easily set up a standalone blog or add a blog to your website easily. As most blogs online are powered by WordPress, your readers will be used to the overall design and functionality.
WordPress is an open-source project and is maintained by its contributors and users, it is backed up by a brilliant community of users who help develop and support it. Due to its popularity, no other platform has a community following like WordPress and if you have any issues it’s usually quick to find solutions.
Easy to Develop
There are endless developer documents, guides, articles, code snippets, frameworks, APIs and repositories online. All of these tools allow developers to easily extend WordPress to do anything you want it to do. The possibilities are endless. What’s more, due to the popularity of WordPress, most service providers generally offer some form integration or guidelines.
Most content management systems have some form of built-in basic SEO functionality. WordPress does, however, there are various WordPress specific SEO plugins and tools (e.g. Yoast SEO) which allow you to quickly and easily structure your website to be more SEO friendly. Yoast for example, allows you to work on keyword optimisation, amend page meta, check for duplicate content, check internal/external linking and more. Due to its ability to provide such things, Yoast has become somewhat of a standard for online marketing companies.
WordPress is free software and it costs you nothing, you just need some form of hosting to install it on.
What’s bad about WordPress?
Poorly Coded Plugins & Themes
While plugins and themes are a good thing, you need to be careful when choosing which plugins and themes to install on your beloved website. Other than the official WordPress/WooCommerce ones, plugins and themes are written by third parties. If they are added to the WordPress.org repository, they have gone through some basic checks for security and integrity but there is no guarantee that these plugins and themes will remain up to date, including security updates. So, you need to be sure that what you’re installing is future proof.
We always recommend reading up on plugins and themes before installing, check the plugin/theme is being updated regularly, read the reviews, ensure the developers are active and backup your site before installing updates.
Cost (wait, isn’t it free?!)
WordPress and the majority of its plugins and themes are free but some are paid, this can be a one-off cost or a subscription. Depending on what you want to achieve with your website, it’s wise to plan out which plugins and themes you will need to purchase to get a feel for how much this will cost, especially if you are considering a plugin or theme which has subscription-based pricing. In addition, you will need some way of hosting the website, which has a cost.
Potential Security Issues
As WordPress is the most popular CMS platform, it’s attractive to hackers who will look for exploits in WordPress itself but more often, in plugins and themes. As plugins and themes are mostly written by third parties, ensuring they avoid exploits is down to the third-party developer. You can read more about this and how to counter it in our myth buster section below.
Needs Frequent Updates
Similarly to above and mostly to prevent potential security issues, WordPress and its plugins/themes need updating frequently, this can be achieved through the admin dashboard and is a one-click process – however, it’s wise to make backups of your site before doing this.
Speed Issues At Scale
WordPress can be installed and run on a basic hosting package (free or a few pounds per month). However, as WordPress can be easily extended with plugins and themes it’s likely that these place additional strain on the resources available to your hosting package. This is then multiplied by the amount of traffic your website receives. For eCommerce websites, it’s important to take into consideration how many orders you get, staff managing products/content, etc.
As your website grows in popularity you may notice your website starts to slow. There are several methods to deal with this; from optimising development, improving your hosting platform and more.
WordPress Myth Busting
“WordPress is only used by small sites”
Incorrect – Kinsta, a leading provider of WordPress hosting, recently reviewed the top 10,000 and 100,000 most trafficked websites online and found that WordPress powered 37% of the top 10k and 34% of the top 100k.
“WordPress websites are slow”
Incorrect – Speed of a WordPress website is down to how the additional development/plugins/themes sat on top of standard WordPress are optimised and the hosting the website lives on.
“WordPress is just a blogging platform”
Incorrect – WordPress started out as a blogging platform way back in 2003, true. Since then, WordPress has grown into a full blown CMS platform and has the back end structure to easily allow management of content whether that be pages and blog posts or even (with a plugin like WooCommerce) eCommerce order/product management.
“WordPress is Not Secure”
Incorrect (kinda) – Generally speaking, if you keep WordPress and its plugins/themes up to date and you have some form of security plugin installed to stop exploits, your WordPress website will remain secure.
The myth that WordPress websites are insecure generally comes from website owners who install a WordPress website on low-cost hosting, don’t keep the platform up to date and install plugins/themes which don’t get updates or lack good security. This why it’s vital we review the integrity of plugins before using them on our client’s websites.
“WordPress has limited support”
Correct (sorta) – As WordPress is an open-source community-based project, you don’t get support through the traditional routes as if you were buying a piece of software, for example. However, there are numerous companies, including ourselves who offer support when needed or you can request help via the community. The WordPress website features extremely detailed guides, developer documentation, codex and support channels where you can ask other WordPress users (and contributors) for help.
Why use Boom for a WordPress Website?
From the above, it’s clear that you can gain all the advantages of using WordPress as long as you/your web developer is aware of the potential negatives and can stop these happening.
We have a huge amount of experience with WordPress (and specialise in WooCommerce), building various websites from small blogs to large eCommerce stores for major national retailers.
With our in-depth knowledge of WordPress and hosting you can be sure we’ll build and maintain your website to the stringent WordPress recommended coding standards. We’ll ensure your site is secure, future proof, fast, uses the relevant hosting and help you achieve all your online goals. If you’d like to find out more about our web development and design services, don’t hesitate to contact us.
- Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2019: Most Loved, Dreaded and Wanted Platforms
- Interview with Matt Mullenweg on Gutenberg, WordPress, and the future
- Automattic (WordPress parent company)
- What are the Best Enterprise-Level Hosting Plans for WordPress?
- Top 10 Popular CMS by Market Share
- 2019’s Most Surprising WordPress Statistics
- WordPress Current Version Download Counter
- W3 Techs: Usage of content management systems
- The WordPress Foundation
- WordCamp Central