Is WordPress still a good choice?

I get asked this question often, so I thought it would be a good idea to have it written down.

Like anything it has it’s pros and cons, so deciding if it’s a good fit boils down to your use case. Here are some points to help you decide.

The Good

  • Well established – WordPress powers over 33% of all websites
  • Rich ecosystem – because of its popularity it already caters for most use cases, in the form of plugins
  • Hosting solutions – again because of its popularity, you can find a decent hosting at relatively cheap price.
  • A good editor – at the heart of WordPress is the content Editor. It makes it very easy for content creators to add or edit content. Whether it’s a blog or some custom post type.
  • Plenty of developers – you’ll find plenty of developers familiar with WordPress.
  • Plenty of help and tutorials – both as a develop and as a content editor if you feel unsure on how to perform a task, a Google search will most often provide you with an answer.
  • Great for SEO – If you’re creating content probably you want it to rank on search engines. WordPress is SEO friendly out of the box. You can also supercharge it with a plugin like Yoast.
  • Free – free in like you won’t pay a cent for using WordPress.
  • Open source – you own all your data. You can move to another host. I’ll expand more on this later.

The Bad

  • Compatibility Issues – plugins which are meant to make your life easier can cause compatibility headaches. Especially when an absurd number of plugins is used.
  • Security Issues – not with WordPress itself. Most of the security issues discovered in recent years, have nothing to do with WordPress itself, but badly coded plugins. It’s why it’s recommended to keep the WordPress Core and Plugins up to date.
  • Not Fast out of the box – I’m not saying it cannot be optimized for speed. It simply isn’t out of the box. Many of off-the-shelf themes contain huge bloat which are a perfect recipe for slow loading sites.

So, should I use WordPress?

The short answer is yes. The longer answer is it depends what you’re using it for. If it’s to manage content, like news, a blog, a portfolio. Go for it. If on the other hand you’ll try to transform it into a project management app, a booking system (things that it’s not intended to do), there are better alternatives.

Why it matters that it’s open source

When choosing a CMS you have to think long term. While the look of the site will change from time to time, the content will remain the same. Think of a news website. When a website redesign is done, all the articles, whether written 5 years ago or yesterday are still there.

This doesn’t mean you can’t change the CMS down the road. But transferring content from one CMS to another is not always easy and straight forward.

All privately owned CMSs rely on profit generated to keep designing and developing new features. If you decide to go with a private CMS, and there are plenty of good ones. Contentful, Ghost, Butter CMS just to name a few.

You’re basically betting on their existence for at least the next 10 years.

Let’s say the company goes bust. what will happen to your content?

What if the company decides to double their subscription fee (most operate on subscription model)? Would it still make business sense?

On the other hand, if development of WordPress was halted (and I’m sure it won’t anytime soon) I’m sure the opensource community will keep patching and developing new features for the coming years.

For some businesses it might make perfect sense to go the route of a privately-owned CMS. For others no. You know what’s best for you.

Is WordPress the only option?

Definitely no. There’s October CMS. I haven’t played much with it, but it’s built on top of Laravel a very popular, robust php framework.

One that I’m really keeping an eye on is Strapi. Built on top of Node and looks very promising.

And I’m sure there are many more, which I’m not familiar with.

What got me to write this post wasn’t to make a CMS comparison of sorts. WordPress gets a lot of bad rep. Most of the times unfounded.

It is used by household names like BBC, Microsoft, Walt Disney, Tech Crunch and many more. If they don’t have issues using it, probably neither should you.