Roughly 25 percent of websites in the world uses WordPress as a platform, which is equivalent to approximately 76.5 million websites. WordPress is content management software (CMS), which is basically a set of programs that work together to create and manage websites. A big reason for its popularity is it is free and open-source, which means you don’t need to pay anything at all to make a website. However, WordPress is not the only platform that is free to use, so why should you use it? Here are the pros and cons of WordPress to help you decide if this is the best CMS for your website.
A look at WordPress as software
Most business owners know they need an online presence, but don’t actually bother to know the mechanics behind the creation of websites. WordPress is not the first CMS platform, but it became very popular after launching in 2003. It is based on PHP and MySQL, widely used server scripting languages for communicating on the Web. It started out as a blogging platform and it is still widely used for that. However, it has also become one of the most flexible, versatile, and easy-to-use self-publishing platform for all types of Web applications, and since it is open source, community involvement drives its continuous evolution. Currently, WordPress 4.6 is in beta testing.
How to work with it
Creating a site with WordPress is as simple as downloading the latest version of the WordPress software and installing it on your hard disk. You have to upload the database on your Web server. Here is a quick guide to WordPress installation.
If you are simply setting up a blog site, you can also choose to create a free website directly on the WordPress server by creating a free account. You just have to follow the step-by-step instructions to create your website in five minutes. You will be asked to choose a free WordPress.com address or input a custom domain name if you have one. If you choose a WordPress address, you just need to provide an e-mail address and password, and you are ready to create a website. However, it is important to understand that such free websites are not suitable for business because you cannot monetize them.
Why we recommend it
The basic package of WordPress is completely open source and free, with no limitations on its use and distribution. It is very easy to use, and most hosting companies include one-click installation for WordPress. This makes it very attractive for many website owners because it extends beyond blogging. It has plugins and templates for all kinds of platforms, including eCommerce, membership, and knowledgebase sites.
Another major plus for WordPress sites is the platform is optimized for search engines. It qualifies for many parameters required by search engines for high ranking including:
- Quick loading;
- Good coding;
- Good site mapping;
- Easy navigation using tags, categories, widgets, and menu functionality;
- Image optimization, titles and tags for ranking;
- Integration with social media;
- Compatible with all devices, browsers, and systems.
Easy to use
WordPress is highly intuitive. Even people with no experience with website creation or coding will be able to create, edit and publish any type of website on the WordPress platform in literally minutes. It is as simple as choosing from among the free themes that come with downloading the WordPress software.
WordPress uses a WYSIWYG or what you see is what you get editor. This makes it easy to integrate all types of media such as images, videos, and audio on your website.
Easy to customize
WordPress templates are high customizable. You can choose different colors and designs to make a website using the same templates as other websites distinct. You can use the dashboard panel to customize a website, or if you have some coding experience, you can edit the codes of the template themselves. Even those new to CMS can eventually figure out how to customize a website by studying the style.css and theme styles.
WordPress is a community-supported platform, which means there is a lot of support available out there when you run into any kind of problem when using WordPress. Having this kind of support is always a good thing for a newbie Web publisher or site owner. It doesn’t really matter what kind of website you have, you will still be able to find somebody online to answer any questions you might have. Another good thing is that the platform is being improved constantly, so it gives you an incentive to stick with it. If you have problems with making your WordPress site work in some way, it is likely some developer will fix it.
WordPress has rich features built into each template, but you can also choose to activate both free and paid plugins to add functionality. There are about 41,000 WordPress plugins available, so you are sure to find what you need to work with your website. It also integrates easily with the better hosting services, so you can design and create a WordPress site with impunity without worrying about compatibility with a host’s server.
WordPress currently controls about 65 percent of all CMS sites in the world. It has driven some of the best innovations in the market. However, it is not without its drawbacks. Here are some things you need to know about the limitations of WordPress.
The fact that WordPress is open source and depends on a community of independent developers also means that anyone can put in a theme or plugin without it being monitored for security problems. Of course, you can always avoid using a particular plugin or theme if it proves to be vulnerable to hacking or security breaches, but how would you know until it is too late? Many of these themes use MySQL databases, which makes it vulnerable to injection attacks. Any website with any database is vulnerable to attacks. This could mean an infiltration of sensitive personal and financial information. Even when security is not a problem, bugs can be. A poorly designed plugin could bring a website down.
It is true that you can build and maintain a WordPress site in minutes and without paying anything. You can make a good blog site without paying anything more than the cost of your own domain name and server if you don’t want a name associated with WordPress.com. However, most commercial websites need more than the basic package. You are most likely to need to pay something for a premium theme or plugins to make the website secure, and otherwise make it commercially viable. In most cases, you will also need a professional web designer or developer to set it up for you, because most of these prime additions require coding knowledge and experience. Without the use of certain plugins, your website may also become resource-heavy, which can affect its speed. In other words, a commercial or business site on WordPress is not free.
One of the best things about WordPress is it is constantly evolving, so there is always a new feature available. However, if you already have a WordPress site up and running, this can pose a problem for you in terms of compatibility. You have to keep updating your site to avoid letting it become outdated, or not as functional as it needs to be. Unless you have someone professionally maintaining your site, it can take a lot of time and effort on your part to keep up with the latest developments to make sure it works as expected. This is especially true for sites that depend on user-contributed websites or requires complex search functionality, because WordPress by default gives all registered users administrative access. It is challenging to restrict access to what you want, such as the comment page, or uploading images and content. Combining search terms is also a problem without using paid plugins.
SEO is not exclusive to WordPress
SEO is going to require a lot of effort with any website no matter which CMS you use. While WordPress certainly has some things going for it to make it SEO-friendly as discussed above, using it as a platform is no sinecure to search engine ranking. With so many similar websites competing for the same slice of the readership pie, you need to have more than quick loading, tags, keywords and great content to help your site rank. SEO is a full-time occupation because of this, and relying on the basic features of WordPress for SEO is a mistake.
Even when considering the potential limitations of WordPress, it is easy to see why it is still a great favorite for many users. It is hard to argue with the ease of use and even with the additional costs of a premium theme and plugins, it is still cost-effective as a CMS for most website needs. Many of its limitations can be circumvented with a little effort and planning. You should consider the following plugins to address some of these issues:
If you are worried about SEO, this plugin can help you optimize your site. The premium will cost $69 for one site, but you get a complete SEO package. It shows you snippets of how it will look in a Google search when you add a post and meta description. It will also provide you with XML site maps, and allows you to control your RSS feed, even add a custom RSS footer for each post, so you can be sure to get backlinks when someone copies your post.
Our site speed depends on many factors. One of these is the quality of your Web host. Concerning your CMS, however, it depends on the caching and compression capability of your site. If you feel that your site is not loading as fast as you want, you can use this plugin to make your site load faster and more efficiently manage your static files. There is a free version, but the pro version will cost you $99 a year. Before you go for the paid version, check if you get the results you expect using the free version. You can follow this guide to walk you through its installation and setup.
Security hacks is one of the biggest problems of WordPress sites as mentioned earlier, and you can address that with this plugin. Sucuri is not just for WordPress, but protects any website for $299.99 a year. It seems a pretty steep price for website protection, but it protects your site from malware, Denial of Service (DoS) attacks, hackers and blacklists. Traffic courses through its firewall before it even gets to the host server.
A final note
Finally, you should know that there is a difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. For blogs and sites that are set up merely to provide information, you may use WordPress.com. You do not actually own the website, and you are hosting it on the WordPress.com server. You can have your own domain name, but you cannot choose to host it on another server. The upside is it is totally free and you will not have to do any server management.
However, if you have a commercial website that you intend to monetize, you need to download and install the software from WordPress.org, and pay for a domain name and host server. Since you are self-hosting, you have to manage your website, or at least have someone manage it for you. The upside is you have more flexibility and total control over your site.
If you are considering a platform for your website, you could do worse than WordPress. It is not the perfect platform, but the pros outweigh the cons. It does require some careful planning and professional help, but that is true for most platforms.