The Pros and Cons of Developing Your Site on WordPressPosted: December 20, 2011
Having been involved in web development off and on for the past 13 years, it’s been interesting to see how things have changed since the late 90’s.
I got started with web development on the webpage editor Microsoft Frontpage. I had also learned Adobe Pagemill before inevitably switching to Dreamweaver. Then I learned about this interesting online software to develop and manage a website called WordPress.
WordPress is all the rage today. Their stats page indicates they power nearly 70 million websites, about half of which are on WordPress.com. It is the most prevalent content management system on the web and one of the most popular ways to build a site.
I’ve worked with WordPress on many sites now and know a lot about how it really works. There are many reasons why it’s gotten popular but it’s not necessarily for everyone.
Pros of developing with WordPress
1. Easy to make sitewide changes to common elements
This is one of the major reasons WordPress is chosen over developing with Dreamweaver. With WordPress, you would typically have the same header, sidebar and footer across your whole site. To make a change sitewide, you’d only have to make a single change in the WordPress admin area.
2. Easy to make new pages or blog posts
Since many of the elements stay the same, building a new page or blog post on WordPress is pretty simple. You generally only need to worry about the main content going on the page. Menus, sidebar/widgets and footer get created automatically to match the rest of the site.
3. Thousands of premade free and paid layouts/designs
With WordPress, you don’t need to know anything about design except how to browse through premade “themes”. There’s still a benefit to knowing design, and some themes are intended for designers to customize them further. If you’re not a web designer though, building a site in Dreamweaver or a similar webpage editor would be much more difficult than in WordPress.
Even if you need something advanced that is more robust than what free themes offer, paid themes cost very little compared to paying a designer. Many of them are insanely customizable and even make some web programming steps easier. Which brings me to…
4. Can insert nearly any functionality with plugins (many of which are free)
It’s nice enough not to need to know web design to use WordPress, but what about programming? The beauty of WordPress being open source is that over the years, thousands of plugins have been developed for WordPress, most of them freely available. Nearly any functionality you can think of is available in a plugin. It’s like simply clicking a button to develop a script for your site.
5. Always updating and remaining fresh/cutting edge
Unlike webpage editors that you would have to buy new versions for, the freely available WordPress constantly comes out with new improved versions. Chances are, if a certain web development trend is starting, it will be a part of WordPress soon enough.
6. Google likes it
At some point, it became apparent that Google likes WordPress sites. Some of it may be that SEO plugins many people use help make the site SEO friendly and keyword-targeted. Some of it may simply be that many blogs use WordPress and Google likes sites that update with fresh content periodically. Regardless, it’s been a big reason why web marketers like WordPress too.
Cons of developing and using WordPress
1. Its prevalence makes it a target for hacking
Hacking is not something most sites have to worry about, but it’s still important to maintain a secure site. With so many sites on WordPress, hackers are constantly looking at ways to exploit weaknesses in it. Sometimes sites on older WordPress versions can be at risk if a security flaw was found that was fixed in a later version.
Additionally, many people configure many of the settings on WordPress using the defaults. So things that a hacker may not be able to find out for a normal website, like the location of certain files or scripts, would be more apparent on most WordPress sites. Using different settings can solve that issue.
2. Certain themes or plugins may cease working with new versions
This is an issue with regular sites too – doing any significant update may cause issues with certain scripts. This issue is highlighted with WordPress however since many plugin developers stop supporting their plugins eventually. A significant change in WordPress could cause them to have certain errors or stop working entirely.
Additionally, with themes and plugins constantly needing updates to work with new versions of WordPress, they may start to cause issues for each other. Thankfully it’s easy to add and remove themes and plugins, so troubleshooting is not always a pain, but it still adds something to worry about.
3. A lot of little things to know/learn
While learning WordPress isn’t quite as difficult as learning a programming language, it has almost become a similar process. Because of how advanced it has become, there’s a lot of little things to know. Many people still hire a web developer even if they know the basics of WordPress because of how much they don’t know.
I would highly recommend someone developing their first website to take a look at using WordPress. It’s a great way to be able to build a nice looking highly functional website without needing years of experience in web programming and design. It lets you harness the creativity and expertise of others and in many cases can cost nothing for the privilege (except for hosting and domain of course!).