Here at Oangle, about 70% of the websites that we work on are WordPress-based. We consider ourselves to be WordPress experts, from the development process to using it as an administrator. Working with WordPress on a daily basis for the past 7 years, we've learnt a lot about WordPress. At times, we have even dissuaded clients from using WordPress as a solution.
Yes — we believe that while WordPress is an awesome tool for website creation, it is not suitable for any and every website. In this article, we will explain what WordPress is and why you should use it for your website, or why you shouldn't in some cases.
What is WordPress?
WordPress was first released in 2003. It is a free & open source Content Management System (CMS). It is based on PHP & MySQL and is a web creation and blogging tool. It has to be installed on a webserver to function. It is used by 63.6% of all CMS websites and 37.6% of all websites ("Market share trends for content management systems", 2020). Below is a chart that shows how CMSes work.
Before we go further to explore the pros and cons of WordPress, we'll first need to look into what is a CMS and whether you really require one. If you don't need a CMS, then it should be clear that you do not need to use WordPress.
What is a CMS?
A Content Management System (CMS) is a web application that simplifies content authoring & content delivery, enabling non-technical users to efficiently build and manage a website without any programming knowledge.
What are the main considerations behind choosing a CMS?
The assumption behind the usage of all CMSes is that administrator should be able to CRUD (Create, Read, Update and Delete) content from the website (i.e. maintain and manage the website) without programming knowledge. Therefore, the usability of the CMS platform becomes crucial, as the CMS serves as the intermediary between the admin user and the code.
2) Features and customisability
How many features are there in this CMS? How customisable are these features in achieving what you want? Proprietary CMSes, especially on platforms that host and serve a large number of users, will have a lot more restrictions to the features and how much you are able to customise. Open-source CMSes, on the other hand, tend to have a lot more features in the form of plugins, addons and modules.
3) Scalability (think long-term)
Perhaps right now on your website, there are only two Unique Selling Points on the About page. The CMS should cater for the possibility of those two content points reducing or expanding. Will the admin be able to delete a point, and easily add new ones in? Will the design of the site be broken?
Pros of CMS
The administrator of the website can manage content without any coding or technical knowledge.
Ability to add new features via modules, extensions, plugins and widgets that are readily available.
Community and support for the major CMSes are readily available.
Cons of CMS
Performance — because a CMS comes with an admin panel and certain default features that may not be required by your website, there will be certain performance implications as compared to a pure frontend website.
Security — as most CMSes include third-party modules and extensions that were created by various developers, it is not unusual to have one of these extensions poorly coded or outdated, and hence become a security vulnerability. However, CMSes also offer security features that a self-coded website without a security expert to upkeep cannot offer.
So, should you use a CMS?
If you are familiar with web programming and web security, and are very concerned about the security and performance of your own website, then it is best that you do not use a CMS, but instead code and maintain your own website. However, if you need the website to be managed by a non-technical person, or do not have the time to constantly upkeep your website's code and security, then it is best that you rely on a CMS instead.
WordPress.org vs WordPress.com
One should note that WordPress.org differs from WordPress.com — one is a software, while the other is a hosting platform that uses WordPress.org as the CMS software of its hosting. We will not go further into detail into the differences between the two in this article and will assume that you are hosting your own website, i.e. considering WordPress.org.
Pros of using Wordpress
Strong support community (with such a high percentage of the world using WordPress, the entire internet is your WordPress FAQ)
Modular — there are lots of free and premium plugins and themes that can assist you in building your ideal website without needing to start from scratch.
Highly customisable compared to proprietary CMSes
WordPress' architecture is easy to understand — compared to Joomla's MVC architecture or Drupal's node concept, WordPress' architecture may be less robust for developers, but far easier for lay users to understand.
(a) Posts & Post-Types
Cons of using WordPress
WordPress is very frequently updated, which is a good thing. However, it also means that you will need to monitor these updates to ensure that your site is not broken by the updates, especially themes and plugins compatibility.
Speed — WordPress is a CMS, which means the core files include standard features of a CMS, which you may or may not require, and thus may bulk up your site. The use of plugins can also slow down your site. Some plugins are also not written in the most optimised way. Ultimately, if speed and performance is very important to you, you might be better off without a CMS — try building a reactJS website instead.
Vulnerability — WordPress is open source, which means hackers also have free reign to the source code. WordPress keeps itself updated very frequently to counter this, and there are many security tips you can take to improve your website's security. If this is very very critical to you, you might be better off build your own custom CMS with improved security features.
Customisation — The ability to customise a lot also means that you have to spend more effort on testing and fixing bugs.
Think you need WordPress for your website?
Wordpress is an extremely powerful and widely used CMS that is easy to use. If you feel that it is suitable for your website needs, we would be happy to assist you. You can count on us to develop a website that best suits your needs via Wordpress. Contact us to find out more about Wordpress development and our creative design services!