If you haven’t heard of WordPress, you’ve presumably been living under a rock somewhere. It’s the most popular CMS (or content management system) in the world, serving as the foundation for everything from hobbyist blogs to major business websites. It’s so dominant that it holds the position of default recommendation for most people. Not sure what to use? Go with WordPress.
So the question that must be asked is this: does it warrant that position, or was it simply in the right place at the right time, ultimately becoming a trendsetter through fortune? Before we can come up with a useful answer, we need to look at the pros and cons of choosing WordPress to underpin your website — so let’s get to it (after an important preamble):
What are your needs?
Before we delve into the positives and negatives, we need to get something firmly established: not only is there no perfect CMS, but there’s also no CMS that will serve the needs of every website owner. You may look at a system that’s spectacular across the board, but realise that it’s missing that one feature you really need and have to compromise by using a system that’s generally inferior but can fulfill that specific requirement.
Here’s the main takeaway of this part: regardless of the conclusions, we reach from this piece, you’ll need to decide for yourself if WordPress is right for you. Don’t simply go by my assertions, as things just aren’t that simple. It would be easier if they were, of course! Now that we’ve covered that, we can move on to the assessment.
The pros of WordPress
In a nutshell, here’s what makes WordPress such a solid choice:
- It’s essentially free. WordPress is 100% free to use with no caveats. You do need to pay for hosting, any monetized plugins you want, and any development you require to get everything set up, but those costs are unavoidable — and taking the WordPress route gives you the freedom to choose which services you use.
- It’s extremely flexible. WP might be best known for its astonishing range of plugins, most of which are either free or very cheap to buy. And since it’s an open-source system, if you find something you can’t achieve with an existing plugin, you can either develop it yourself or hire a WordPress developer to do it for you.
- It has huge support. Due to its design and immense popularity, there’s a great number of WordPress developers worldwide, as well as a vast community of users ranging from hobbyist bloggers to business owners. Quite simply, this means that there’s always a way to get assistance if you run into issues.
- It’s fairly secure. It gets criticised sometimes for its security on the basis that it’s hacked more than any other CMS, but that’s hardly surprising since it’s the most widely-used CMS by a wide margin. In truth, a WordPress installation that’s kept updated and maintained sensibly is respectably secure (being attacked so frequently ensures that vulnerabilities get flagged up and patched just as frequently).
The cons of WordPress
It isn’t flawless, naturally, so here’s what’s bad about WordPress:
- It isn’t very intuitive. The UI of WordPress isn’t daunting, necessarily — it doesn’t have a horribly dated design like some systems do — but it certainly isn’t easy for beginners to use. A reluctance to deal with complex systems is why slick hosted solutions like Wix (or Shopify for eCommerce) have caught on with some users. If you’re absolutely determined to avoid anything technical, then it might not be for you.
- It can get bloated. Plugins are key for turning WordPress into a powerhouse, but every added plugin adds weight to an installation. Not only does security become an issue with numerous plugins given system-wide permissions, but so does performance. To keep loading times down and response times up, you need to be very careful with plugins.
Why it’s almost always viable
So, having looked at the pros and cons of using WordPress for your website, what’s the verdict? Is it something you should seriously consider? Well, to put very simply, yes. WordPress is almost always a viable option. It might have a learning curve for new users, but there are so many guides and supportive communities out there that it’s really not a big issue.
And it doesn’t really matter what type of site you’re going for. Want to make a blog? It was designed for that. A business homepage? It’s certainly sufficiently customisable. An eCommerce store? Use a free retail plugin like WooCommerce, choose a high-performance host, and you’ll be able to compete with stores using expensive hosted solutions. You can also choose various other eCommerce solutions with WordPress.
WordPress isn’t a perfect system, but perfect systems don’t exist, so that isn’t a mark against it. Being free, secure, flexible, and ably backed by vast quantities of resources and supporters, it’s about as safe a CMS option as you’ll find. If you choose to use it, it’s very unlikely that you’ll regret it.