If you’ve been present in the online space for a while, you’ve most likely heard of WordPress before. If you haven’t, here’s a quick breakdown – it’s a CMS (content management system), and one that happens to be very popular. In short, wordpress.org is a website builder (not to be confused with wordpress.com, which is a hosting service), but does its popularity mean it’s the best one available?
What most people use isn’t always the best option for you, and like all other options, using WordPress is going to come with some pros and cons that you need to take into account, depending on what you’re going to use it for. Let’s take a look at what they are.
The PROs of using WordPress
Good news for: a personal blog, small website
The first point that needs to be made when it comes to WordPress, is that it’s open-source, which means that no one owns it and it is very much community-based. It also means it’s free of charge.
For an established company that can afford to pay for a full hosting service, this may not necessarily be an advantage. However, for someone who is just starting out, this free resource can be invaluable.
Other similar hosting services will require a monthly or yearly subscription, so from that point of view, the lack of charge for WordPress is a clear advantage.
It makes SEO easier
Good news for: affiliate blogs, personal blogs
If you’re running a website that benefits from use of SEO, then WordPress is actually a great choice, because it’s very SEO-friendly. There are even plug-ins that can help you out, and you know it’ll make a massive difference. Great SEO means that you get a better search engine ranking, which can make or break your site.
Especially when you’re trying to lift a blog off the ground, SEO becomes paramount to your success. A platform that supports that can contribute significantly to that success.
It supports eCommerce
Good news for: eCommerce sites
One of the major advantages of WordPress is that it supports a wide variety of website types and the plug-ins to make them possible. That includes eCommerce sites, so if you’re looking to sell products off your site, WordPress is a good choice for it.
There is a variety of eCommerce plug-ins that can help you build the site you need, facilitating payment, product presentation, adding to cart, etc. Basically, everything that needs to be done to complete an online transaction can be made possible with a plug-in.
There is a wide variety of plugins
Good news for: brand pages, eCommerce sites
One of the advantages that attract users to WordPress is the fact that it has a lot of free plug-ins available, that anyone can use. So, let’s say you’re putting together a website for your business and you need the contact form, for example, for your Contact page. That’s a plug-in that WordPress makes available for free and that you can easily install. You also have SEO plug-ins, security plug-ins, analytics plug-ins, email marketing plug-ins, and others.
The WordPress community is massive
Good news for: any kind of site
The thing with WordPress is that you’re in charge of your own maintenance, which can be tricky. However, the good news is that there’s an entire community out there to help you out with anything you need. Generally speaking, any issue you encounter can easily be solved with some online troubleshooting.
All you have to do is search online for a solution and there will be well-meaning people with the necessary knowledge who will be able to share their expertise.
The CONs of using WordPress
The features are a bit basic
Bad news for: personal blogs, affiliate blogs
It’s bad form to complain when you get something for free, but the truth is that the features that WordPress comes with can be a little bit basic. That includes design and actions. That can be more or less of a disadvantage, depending on the kind of site you’ve got.
But especially if you have a blog you are trying to popularize (particularly an affiliate one), these limits can definitely work against you, because they don’t allow you to create a site that is as attractive and well-developed as you’d like. That can drive users away and impact your conversion rates.
There’s definitely a learning curve involved
Bad news for: any kind of site
Perhaps the biggest and most unsurmountable problem you may encounter with WordPress is that there is a learning curve involved, and it can be a pretty steep one, depending on your skills.
The reason why WordPress is free is because it’s not owned by anyone; it’s a self-hosting tool. But that means that you need to do all the work to actually “build” the website from scratch. There are no site experts, tech support, or people to teach you, so you’ve got to learn to fend for yourself – or with the help of the online community.
You need to stay on top of updates
Bad news for: brand pages, affiliate blogs, eCommerce sites
There’s also the small matter of updates, and how falling behind on these can leave you exposed to hackers. Unlike your regular software, which gets updated automatically (like Windows 10, as much as we complain about it), you need to stay on top of WordPress updates yourself.
And if you don’t, you may just miss something important and inadvertently leave your site open to hackers to break into. It won’t even be difficult for them to wreak havoc on your page.
You’re in charge of security
Bad news for: eCommerce sites
And speaking of hackers, security is another one that you’re solely responsible for. You need to protect your site from attacks, and that’s no easy feat. This is particularly important when you have an eCommerce site, because there will be a lot of customer information that simply cannot be leaked, otherwise you’re in big trouble. GDPR is no joke.
Just think about all the data breaches that have been going on over the last couple of years and all the problems that attracted for major companies. You can’t afford that kind of headache.
Plug-ins are not always high-quality
Bad news for: brand pages, eCommerce sites
The downside with WordPress plug-ins is that while they’re free, they are not guaranteed to be high-quality. You might find that they often have bugs, they crash, or they just don’t work. Especially if you’re running an e-commerce site, the last thing you want is for something vital to crash, because that can cause sales to falter.
Yeah, they can be patched, fixed, and improved, but that takes time, effort, and a great deal of knowledge that you may not possess. Sometimes, the fact that something is free does not outweigh the possible drawbacks.
All in all, WordPress is definitely a contender when it comes to building and hosting your own site, whether that’s a blog, a brand site, or an eCommerce site. However, it certainly comes with advantages and disadvantages, all of which will become apparent, depending on the type of site you are running.
Some of its advantages will apply to everyone (like the fact that it’s free), but so will the drawbacks (such as the fact that there’s a steep learning curve). In the end, it’s a matter of weighing advantages against disadvantages and taking your specific needs into consideration to figure out whether WordPress is your ideal tool, or if you’re better off looking for something else.