Even if you’re new to the world of websites, chances are good that you’ve heard of WordPress.
Maybe you’ve worked with a developer who made their own case for why they do or don’t work with it. Maybe you know other organizations who’ve mentioned their own websites are built on WordPress. Or maybe you’ve heard that over 60 million websites use it — over a third of the top 1 million visited websites. That number is even more impressive considering the runner-up CMS, Drupal, is only used by ~3% of the top million websites. Other popular CMS solutions you might have heard of, Squarespace and Wix, hover around 1% each.
Then again, just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s good — just look at the latest Superman movies.
So let’s skip the stats and talk about why we choose to use WordPress when building websites.
First, What Exactly Is WordPress?
WordPress is a content management system (CMS) that runs on a programming language called PHP. First released in 2003, it’s exploded in popularity in recent years.
How WordPress works is simple: it stores content in a database, and lets users create and publish web pages displaying that content. Three key parts of WordPress come together to display the website you see:
- Content: The actual words and images you see on a website, stored in a database and server files respectively;
- Themes: The ‘skin’ of the website that you can easily swap in and out without affecting your website’s content;
- Plugins: Packages you can install to enhance WordPress with whatever the website needs, whether it’s a contact form or a full-blown e-commerce store.
When we build a custom WordPress website, we are doing three things: building the theme of the website based off an approved design, selecting from a curated list of plugins for the desired functionality, and inserting the content provided by the client. At the end of all that, you have a beautiful website that is tailor-made for you.
Why Do We Use WordPress?
It’s Highly Customizable
When people think of WordPress, the first thing they associate it with are bloggers. That’s so early 2000’s.
We’ve used WordPress to build websites for clients in…
- Food & Restaurants
- Realty & Developments
- Health & Wellness
…and a lot more, but you get the idea. The truth is, a lot of websites can be built on WordPress. If you’re powering a third of the web (sorry, stats again) then you’ve got to offer a customizable product.
It Has A Strong Community
It turns out that when you offer a free core product and give people limitless ways to tinker with it, you get quite the community backing.
As of this writing, WordPress has just over 54,000 free plugins available on their repository. This isn’t counting premium plugins available elsewhere, like Codecanyon. All these plugins — with a handful of exceptions — are developed and maintained by developers and teams across the world. Many of the plugins we recommend using with our websites, such as Formidable Forms What Is Formidable Forms? , Yoast SEO, and WordFence Security, are built by people at the top of their respective fields. Their expertise makes a difference on millions of WordPress websites. Many of them also help with development and testing of the WordPress core.
There are also over a thousand locally-organized conferences held across the world every year. These events are called WordCamps, and they connect developers and regular users together while covering everything related to WordPress. Check for a WordCamp near you! Look for upcoming WordCamps
It’s Easy For Users To Edit
You shouldn’t need to call up a developer every time you want to change a word on your website. When we build a website, our goal is to create something that you, the end user, can easily manage yourself. When it comes to user accessibility, WordPress reigns king. Their admin area takes only a few minutes to figure out, and if you ever get stuck, there’s dozens of tutorial videos available to help you along. That includes the videos we make ourselves! We provide clients with How-To videos for accomplishing common tasks inside their website, so you’re not left high and dry at the end of the project.
WordPress offers plenty of other advantages as well. With WordPress, we can create separate user accounts for everyone who needs access to the website, with different privileges depending on their role.
We also use page builders such as WPBakery to make editing pages easy. At the end of the day, a website is still made of code. But page builders display those strings of gobbledygook in a way you don’t need a certificate in web development to understand and work with.
What Are Common Concerns About WordPress?
Of course, everything in the world has its downsides. Toasted marshmallows are gooey and delicious, but give a toddler too many and you might have to pry them off the ceiling. Here are some of the arguments we’ve heard against WordPress, and how we work around them.
WordPress Is Slow
Website speed is everything. Research done by Google in 2017 show that 53% of visitors will leave if a page takes longer than 3 seconds to load. That’s a lot of potential conversions to lose!
PHP isn’t the fastest programming language out there, and that’s what WordPress is built on. But the latest iteration of PHP, PHP 7, processes code at twice the speed of its predecessor, PHP 5. Combined with some improvements in WordPress 5, that’s some significant speed increases just for keeping your website and server up to date.
There are other things you can do to keep your website running less like a tortoise and more like a hare:
- Get a good hosting plan. You’d be surprised at the difference it makes; 6 Things To Know Before Choosing The Best Website Hosting Plan shared hosting servers are notoriously slow.
- Vet your theme and plugins. A lot can be done at a code level to make sure your website stays fast. If we’re making you a custom website, we do all this for you.
- Use optimization plugins. There’s a plugin for everything on WordPress, and we’ve tested several optimization plugins on our quest to build fast websites.
- Get a CDN. If you really want to go ham, CDNs are a great way to see a speed increase. They work by serving your website’s content from servers located physically closer to the user requesting it.
WordPress Needs A Lot Of Updates
WordPress core updates, theme updates, and plugin updates, oh my!
Lots of updates might be intimidating to handle, but it’s actually a good thing. WordPress core updates are, more often than not, security updates. Hackers are getting smarter all the time, and it’s important to keep up. When you see an update notice, it’s always safer to let it run.
As things are updated, there is the possibility they might break. Seeing the dreaded White Screen Of Death is terrifying, but that’s what backups are for. Have you ever lost an important Word document because you accidentally overrode the one copy you had? Just like university students have had it drilled into their brains to backup, backup, backup, you should do the same for your website.
In the latest versions of WordPress, they’ve introduced a new recovery mode. If you were burned by a lack of backup, you might still be able to log into recovery mode and figure out what went wrong.
WordPress Isn’t Secure
Speaking of security updates.
Did you know Mac computers can be hacked just as easily as PCs? The main difference is that the majority of computer users have PCs, so it’s more profitable for hackers to target them.
At the end of the day, WordPress websites aren’t any easier to hack than other CMS solutions. The difference is that WordPress runs a third of the web, and other CMS can’t even break the 5% mark. That’s a big, dangling carrot to hackers.
But just like you can install an antivirus to safeguard your PC, there are things you can do to make hacks harder to pull off:
- Keep everything updated. Those security updates aren’t just for show. The reverse of this also holds true: if a plugin hasn’t been updated in five years, chances are good that it’s not secure anymore and should be swapped out with one that’s actively maintained.
- Backup, backup, backup. If your website does go down, backups are the fastest way to get it back.
- Use a security plugin. We trust WordFence to keep our websites safe. They block out brute force attacks, malicious IP addresses, and lock your website behind its very own firewall.
There are plenty of reasons to consider WordPress when you get a website. But those numbers don’t lie; when navigating the world of website content management systems, WordPress comes out on top.