WordPress is a great blogging platform that has become the most popular content management system for more than 10 years. In fact, WordPress is still the platform that most freelance developers, designers, and agencies think of when they are creating a new website. This website is powered by WordPress since the moment of its inception in 2008 and I am very happy with my decision back then.
In most cases, I would recommend WordPress to my clients because it gives them control over their content. However, the time has passed and there are alternatives that could be considered when creating a new website. Here are the main pros and cons I consider in WordPress:
- Free and Open Source. You can install WordPress on your server at no cost. Also, you can review the code and suggest modifications to the core of the CMS.
- Backward compatible. Themes created years ago, can work with new versions of WP.
- A lot of resources online. If you have a problem, somebody might help you online on a forum, website, tutorial, article, etc. Also, WordPress has great forums and documentation.
- Extensible. There are a lot of plugins out there that can be used to extend the default functionality of WP. You can create plugins too.
- Easy to Use. People get used to the WP interface very quickly and there is no need for hours or days to learn WP.
- Customization options. Themes come with the customizer option so you can make changes to the look & feel without editing the actual code. Also, if the new interface is not preferred, WordPress gives you the option of going back to the classic editor and classic widget interfaces.
- Big market. For a small agency or a freelance, you can make a living out of creating plugins and themes to sell. The themes can be created for either direct customers or other agencies.
- External tools. There are services that allow you to update all your WordPress sites in one location like ManageWP, MainWP, InfinitiveWP, and JetPack. They make life easier when dealing with more than one installation.
- Swiss army knife for web design. WordPress can be a tool to use in a lot of scenarios including blogging, traditional business sites, online store, forum, social media, and other types.
- Based on PHP. Some developers don’t like PHP in general. But, PHP has changed over the years to a more mature language. Also, this is a pro considering that PHP and MySQL requirements are minimum which allows for finding cheaper hosting.
- Security. As WP is very popular and open source, hackers take advantage of vulnerabilities. For example, there were some vulnerabilities with the REST API in version 4.7.1 that needed to be patched in version 4.7.2.
- Quality of themes and plugins. As everybody can create a plugin or a theme, the quality of the code of those plugins and themes is very low. This can cause problems with security. For example, there are still hackers trying to break WP sites that use an old version of a popular carousel plugin. This happens with a lot of plugins and themes and you need to be sure about the company or developer behind it. Even very expensive themes and plugins are coded poorly and we need to be careful when activating them on production sites.
- Too many updates. Almost every day, there is a new update for a plugin, WP itself, or a theme. Those updates have the possibility of breaking your site. However, they are creating patches to solve security vulnerabilities that need to be applied. So, that is a dilemma that you need to deal with for each plugin.
- Performance. WP sites don’t perform very well and need to depend on plugins and extra settings so they run fast on the server. Some people use WP to create a simple website while they just needed just some plain HTML files. Not everything should be WordPress or any CMS. We need to know to use the right tool for the job. Static site generators are a good alternative to CMS-based sites if there is no need to update the site constantly.
In summary, WordPress is a very good solution for most projects that freelancers and small agencies face for creating solutions for customers. But, the cons need to be considered as the time to maintain those sites while keeping them secured as they are a target for hackers.