WordPress and why you should be using it

First let me declare an interest – We like WordPress, and without exception, every site we have built in the last 12 months is based on the platform, including a number were we have converted sites into WordPress from other platforms like Joomla and OS Commerce.

WordPress has come a long way since its birth as a blogging platform back in 2004 when v1.0 was released, Partially thanks to the fact that there are over 70 developers working on and contributing to the core WordPress code, and probably hundreds of thousands of developers working on and developing the platform more widely..

The result is that 14 years later (give or take a month) WordPress is now the leading CMS on the internet. If you like stats, here are just a few for the platform which is now estimated to power over 25% of the world.s websites.

Why should I use WordPress for my website?

If going with the crowd is not a good enough reason to use it, and often it is not!  Let’s have a look at some good reasons for using WordPress. And some of the things you need to be aware of if you do!

Here are 6 reasons to use WordPress:

1. WordPress is Open Source

Yes, WordPress is FREE! You can install it and build your own website for zero cost! You can download it here. or use it on the free wordpress.com platform without even having to worry about hosting. Though the latter ceases to be free very quickly if you want to do anything other than run a very basic site.

OK, most SME business will work with a specialist to build their company website but managing costs is always important and an open source programme offers significant savings.

2. WordPress has a Huge User base

Perhaps as a consequence of being open source, millions of businesses have adopted WordPress and a large user base has encouraged the growth of WordPress specialists who:

  • Offer support to users – With a wide support base you aren’t tied to a particular developer
  • Develop Themes and Design Templates – Templates offer a low cost alternative to expensive bespoke web design. Increasingly, even web-design companies are using templates when they build sites for clients.
  • Create add-on functionality through dedicated plug-ins – many of which have free versions to encourage use.

3. There’s a Plugin for that!

WordPress is powerful ‘straight out of the box’ but you may find there is particular functionality that you need but isn’t immediately available. Chances are that you aren’t the first to want that extra functionality. There is every likelihood that someone has developed a plugin to add what you are looking for.

WordPress has literally 1000s of Plugins (44,000 at the last count) many of which have free versions that add functionality which could cost £100s or £1000s to code from scratch. Even the paid-for plugins often cost less than £50 and offer full technical support

Some examples of plugin functionality include:

  • Image and Video Galleries
  • E-Commerce Systems
  • Enhanced Security
  • Bespoke administration and back-end functions
  • SEO and Analytics
  • Email, Social Media and Marketing

The fact is there are very few unique requirements in a website In most cases requirements from company to company are similar, so more often than not, a plugin exists to give required functionality with only limited need for additional coding.

4. WordPress has a huge developer community

Because WordPress is effectively a standard with a huge user base a corresponding developer base has grown up. From Freelancers to major businesses there are thousands of people out there who really understand WordPress.

In 2015 there were over 20,000 attendees at WordPress developer conferences across the globe. Given that only a fraction of developers attend these, its not unreasonable to estimate that there are hundreds of thousands of developers across the globe.

As an WordPress user, you may well choose to work with a specialist but if you find that your chosen supplier isn’t delivering, you shouldn’t find yourself handcuffed to them with a site based on proprietary systems or developed in a way that no one else understands.

You will always have the option to move to someone who better understands and meets your needs.

5. WordPress Content Management really works

WordPress is very usable, and as a web-based platform you can use it from anywhere you can access the internet. OK, there is a learning curve but, depending on how involved you want to get, you can be using WordPress in about half an hour and, in my experience, the more you use it, the more intuitive it gets.

WordPress works in the real world – maybe this is why it is so successful.

6. WordPress has a solution for a wide range of budgets

Whilst you can spend £1000’s on a WordPress website if you want are specify exact look and functionality, you can get a WordPress site for free, and every price point in between is also catered for.  Whatever the price point, WordPress delivers excellent value and the knowledge that it will be developed & updated into the foreseeable future.

Don’t use WordPress because…

There are certainly people who don’t use and don’t like WordPress – do I really want to develop a website that my customer can update in-house rather than paying me to do it for them?!

There are also people who quote technical reasons why WordPress should be avoided. Whilst there is no doubt that being a “Jack of all trades” does give the platform some limitations, for most mainstream company websites it does an excellent job of delivering. That said I think it is only fair that we look at the Cons as well as the Pros…..

Here are 4 things to consider when taking the decision to use WordPress.

1. WordPress is vulnerable

Any high profile software can attract the attention of hackers. There are regular news stories about the impact of the latest security breach.

WordPress is no different and does get targeted but this is another area where the WordPress developer community comes into its own.

As fast as hackers are looking for security weaknesses to exploit, WordPress developer are looking for those same weaknesses and blocking them. WordPress gets regular update releases and sites can even be set to automatically update themselves.

In my experience, problems tend to arise where sites are not kept technically up to date. Almost all security issues are introduced by plugins.  This is one reason we favour commercial, professionally supported ones. Whilst this does add to the cost, it increases the chance that issues will be identified & fixed quickly.

We make sure all our clients’ sites are kept up to date and also regularly backed up so we have 2 layers of protection in the unlikely even that there may be a problem.

2. All WP sites look the same

There is no reason that they have to!

As I mentioned, there are thousands of high quality templates available to give your site the look you want. Take a look here or here for just some examples of what is available.

And if you want something truly bespoke you can create any design in WordPress take a look at these great examples of what is possible

The other reason sites tend to look the same is more to do with user experience & functionality. The fact is many websites tend to look the same, not because of the platform they are built on, but because of fashion & what works. Most sites are designed to fulfill the same basic function (communicating information) so it is no real surprise that there is a lot of similarity across the web!

3. WordPress can be server resource hungry

OK this can be true, but is it really an issue?

A standard installation of WordPress is designed to work efficiently and most web servers will run it no problem. Every plugin you add to your site requires additional server resources and if you start to add a lot of plugins, you can start to see your site slowing down.

However there is a modest-cost solution. The cost of web hosting is coming down and standard server specifications are going up. If you do need a more powerful server, it is inexpensive to get server upgrades to keep your site flying.  In any event, I believe the benefit of WordPress with lower development and maintenance costs balances out any modest increase in hosting costs as your site evolves.

4. WordPress isn’t ideal for E-Commerce sites

If I was building a dedicated, high traffic e-commerce site, I would maybe think twice about using using WordPress. There are other (also Open Source) platforms such as Magento which are designed from the ground up for E-Commerce but they can be quite expensive to implement

If you are looking for e-commerce as just an element of your site then WordPress offers several e-commerce plugin options. One of the most popular is WooCommerce. Here are some examples of WooCommerce stores

Finally…

You want your website to be at the heart of your business the best design/functionality at the lowest cost with straightforward updating to keep your messages current – and without getting handcuffed to the wrong website company – take a look at WordPress – here are some impressive WordPress stats.

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