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Do we recommend WordPress?If you have ever spoken to me at a networking event, it may come across that I dislike WordPress. This isn't correct. WordPress is a good Content Management System (CMS), which makes it very easy for website owners to control and edit the content of their website.

While I have no problem with WordPress itself, I do have a problem with what I can only describe as a cult following of people and organisations who seem to think WordPress is the only solution anyone ever needs when it comes to websites.

WordPress is a tool and one of many available; sometimes, it's the right tool for the job, but other times, it's the worst possible.

Like any tool, WordPress has its strengths and its weaknesses. One of its most regularly touted and perceived strengths, I'd argue, also gives rise to its most significant weakness; the ability to install plug-ins to add new features and functionality to your WordPress site.

WordPress is the most widely used CMS on the internet today, so there is no short supply of plug-ins to choose from to add functionality to your sites. There will be a plug-in for nearly everything you can think of, and an awful lot of these plug-ins are free.

Sounds great, doesn't it. You can keep adding and adding plug-ins to your site to add new and exciting functionality to your site, giving you endless scope to expand.....well, no.

WordPress is written in PHP, a prevalent server-side coding language that is one of the easiest to learn and get started with. Being as easy as it is, plus the popularity of WordPress (and other CMS built using the same language), WordPress attracts a significant number of 'enthusiastic amateurs' deciding to take up the challenge of writing their own plug-ins and then making them available to the wider community, resulting in a vast range of available plug-ins which vary widely in quality. Many are written to modern development principles and best practices, with the developer actively maintaining their code with regular bug fixes and security updates, but many more are not!

Unless you use (or are) an experienced PHP developer who can review the source code (or you purchased a plug-in from a reputable software house committed to ongoing maintenance of their plugs-ins), you are taking a gamble with each plug-in you install.

A poorly written and/or non-maintained plug-in often have a detrimental effect on your site, which can introduce security vulnerabilities, severe performance issues or could outright break your site altogether.

Even if you find a plug-in that's well-reviewed and appears to work fine today, it doesn't mean it will work tomorrow. WordPress CMS itself is updated very regularly (sometimes several times within a month). There is no guarantee that the plug-ins you have installed and rely on will continue to work after each update.

Then there is performance, as with each plug-in you have installed, the slower your site will get. I have talked previously about how important speed is for good SEO and user experience (see Need for Speed).

So to answer the question, would we recommend you use WordPress?

WordPress powers nearly 40% of all websites on the internet because it ticks the boxes of what most organisations want, a simple and easy way to create and manage a website. Provided you stick to what WordPress is good at and keep the number of plug-ins low, then it's a good choice. 

If you have ambitions to grow your website and want to add additional functionality later on down the line, there may well be other platforms that are a better fit for you. Unless you speak to a good web developer to discuss your options, you could end up trying to bang a nail in with a spanner.

James

James Edwards
LinkedIn

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