I’ve had a static website bare-bones website for the past 2 years. It’s literally been a splash page with links to my GitHub, LinkedIn, and Twitter. And while it’s been nice to have that low maintenance aspect, I’m finally coming back around to creating content - which leads me into the biggest conundrum of my week: Wordpress or…. Something else. So let’s talk about the thought process behind choosing a blog platform:
1. Wordpress is easy
Who doesn’t know Wordpress, right? It’s most likely one of the first things you learn when you get into web content or development. It’s powering nearly 30% of websites last time I checked, and there’s a reason for that. The vast amount of plugins, the fairly simple editor, combined with drag and drop functionality - these all make it an easy choice for content creators.
2. Wordpress is everywhere
Any medium to large web host will support and encourage the use of Wordpress. In fact, almost every major host I see offers some sort of one-click install and generally some optimization specific to their servers.
I could get a Wordpress install up and running in about 5 minutes on most major hosting providers. What other blogging platforms can you say that about?
3 - Great Plugins
There are some really nice plugins I’ve used over the years that have made things incredibly simple. A few of the top contenders would be Yoast SEO, Wordfence, and IThemes Security. The reason for mentioning these three, in particular, is that they provide a feature set that I would consider “out of my wheelhouse” in terms of development on my own. For example, Wordfence has a built-in firewall, malware scan, and password auditing. It would take me an incredible amount of time to build out these features myself on a custom website or CMS if they weren’t already included.
4 - Documentation and Community Involvement
Ah, sweet Wordpress Codex… you’ve saved my ass too many times. If you can’t say the same or aren’t familiar with the Codex, it’s basically a big repository for WP documentation. It’s absolutely essential if you are new to learning or developing for Wordpress.
Oh, and do you have a unique issue with Wordpress that you assume no one has thought of? GOOGLE IT….. Seriously, just google that shit and you’ll get about 20 - 50 answers. You could say that about a lot of web technology, but more so with Wordpress than many of the others. Since WP has been around so long, everyone has had EVERY problem under the sun, and that’s actually a good thing at the end of the day when you are fixing bugs.
5 - People know it
For the sake of this article, I’m mostly talking about using Wordpress for a personal blog. However, it’s not unreasonable to consider using it for even more in the future, which brings me to my final PRO for Wordpress. If I ever started up a major blog with niche content, maybe I’d want to have multiple people posting. Maybe I’d want to have guest contributors. Hell, maybe I’d even want someone else to take over management content, development, etc…
In this case, it sort of circles back to #1 and #2. Because Wordpress is so easy and commonplace, I could find other people who can jump right into the Wordpress architecture with little to no onboarding. That is a huge win if multiple people are involved, and I can’t think of another CMS that could boast about this more.
Why Not Wordpress?
1 - Bloat
Wordpress has a bloated codebase out of the box. It includes many features, functions, fixes, etc... that many users will probably never touch. This makes sense because Wordpress has transformed over time to meet the needs of full-blown commerce websites, blogs, and web apps. For the average user, they probably do not know or even care about this bloat, and if you are a developer, you can likely remove most of it anyway. However, why even start with bloat to begin with if there could be better alternatives for your blog or web app?
2 - Speed
Again, because Wordpress includes so much out of the box, it can be slow depending on what you are doing. There are many plugins which try to help with this problem, such as minification and caching solutions, but why start with an unoptimized solution if you don't have to?
3 - Security Risk
Having a Wordpress site immediately puts you at a larger risk from the start. This is because hackers specifically search for and target Wordpress sites more than most other platforms.
Wordpress exploits can attack the primary codebase, or more likely, poorly designed plugins or changes to the site. Many of the known exploits are patched fairly quickly with an update, but you will always have people who either don't update at all or update too late.
4 - Dodgy Plugins
As mentioned in #3, you are putting yourself at risk if you are installing plugins from any unknown developer. Even expert developers make mistakes, and if you are installing 5 - 10 plugins on your website, your risk for a successful exploit goes up and up.
Don't get me wrong, any code on any website could be dangerous or poorly designed, but it's especially a problem on Wordpress because many admins or users don't have the time to scan every plugin update or don't even know how.
5 - Developer Satisfaction
There are happy Wordpress developers out there, there is no doubt about that. There are also Wordpress developers who will make more than I ever will. However, just go talk to developers about Wordpress. I highly doubt the majority of devs would say they LOVE working in Wordpress. If they could pick any technology to work in, would they still pick Wordpress as #1 on their list? Doubtful.
If you don't HAVE to work in Wordpress, it's often worth it to consider NOT working in Wordpress.
What I picked for my new blog...
Ultimately, I decided not to start my new blog based on Wordpress. The factors above definitely had an impact, and I ultimately decided to move to October CMS. I'll be writing about that in my next post.