If you’re in the market for a website then no doubt you’ve come across many recommendations and tools. These days, users are spoiled for choice by the many great platforms available to help with website creations.
Options range from simple drag and drop website builders catering to people doing it themselves, to more powerful CMS (content management system) software. At SMEspree we use WordPress. It’s a great platform, and this article is dedicated to why we use and recommend WordPress.
Fun fact: the official website for the US White House recently (late 2017) made the change to WordPress (source). Their reasoning behind the change includes new opportunities for scalability, security and reliability that WordPress offers.
> WordPress Is Open-Source Software
> WordPress is Free
> WordPress Offers the Most Flexibility
> WordPress Is Secure and Built to a High Standard
> WordPress Is Extremely Popular
> Pros & Cons of WordPress
> WordPress.org Versus WordPress.com
> WordPress Optimised Web Hosting
Why We Use and Recommend WordPress
Firstly, it’s important to understand what WordPress is in relation to other website builders available. WordPress is a content management system (CSM) which is fancy speak for describing a software package that’s used to create and manage digital content online (ie, websites and their associated media & content). A CMS like WordPress comes with a powerful and flexible administrative panel (usually referred to as the ‘backend’ of a website).
A CMS like this is different to website builders such as Wix, Weebly, Shopify and so on. There’s no doubt that these website builders are good at what they do (simple drag and drop editing, see Should I Build My Website Myself), but they lack the power and flexibility that a CMS platform like WordPress offers.
WordPress Is Open-Source Software
This is the underlying foundation of why WordPress is so good. Open-source software is a term used to describe software that is available to the public. It’s ‘open’ in the sense that anyone can view the code behind the scenes – it’s available to everyone and anyone who cares to look into it.
Furthermore, been open-source means that anyone can contribute to the ongoing development of WordPress. Any software developer in the world can approach the core WordPress development team and help contribute to the WordPress project.
People sometimes find this hard to grasp because software (and the code that makes it work) is typically considered sensitive intellectual property. It’s fairly normal for businesses to guard their software and code, and to do everything in their power to keep it from becoming accessible to their competitors or the public in general.
WordPress is Free
Because WordPress is open-source software it’s free to download, install and use. While a fresh WordPress installation doesn’t offer a massive amount of functionality (just blogging, basically), it’s easy to add the plugins and theme you need to give your website the functionality it requires.
A plugin is basically like an ‘add-on module’ that adds certain functionality. A theme is a visual design that changes how your website looks and feels. Both plugins and themes are available for free, some are paid, while others offer a free component with optional paid upgrades (the developer decides their own pricing model).
You’ve probably heard of some of the most popular plugins. For example, WooCommerce is a plugin developed by the creators of WordPress. It integrates perfectly and turns your website into an eCommerce shop without paying anything.
Though, even though the WordPress software itself is free, you still need to rent a web server to install WordPress and host your website. It’s also important to understand that some plugins and themes are pay-to-use.
WordPress Offers the Most Flexibility
Being open-source means that anyone can contribute to the growth and development of WordPress. This is true for the core software itself, but it also means that any developer can create plugins and themes to offer to the WordPress community. This means that there are thousands upon thousands of plugins and themes available to use on WordPress.
The obvious result of this is that there is just a massive amount of flexibility and options available to use with WordPress. Do you need your site to sell physical goods? There’s a plugin for that. Need it to sell digital goods? There’s a plugin for that. Need to create a membership site and put your premium content behind a paywall? There’s a plugin for that.
There’s basically a plugin for almost every possible need that you could think of. And if there isn’t, then you can hire a developer to build one for you.
However, before you go crazy with plugins, please see our guide What to Know Before Installing a WordPress Plugin.
WordPress Is Secure and Built to a High Standard
Because WordPress is open-source software, this means that IT security experts from all over the world are able to inspect the code and highlight any flaws that pop up. The code behind WordPress is constantly been critiqued by industry-leading online security experts.
This means that any exploits are quickly discovered, and the team behind WordPress have a great reputation for pushing out security updates and fixes regularly.
However, this is a double-edged sword. Being open-source also means that nefarious individuals are also able to inspect the code. Bad people are constantly looking for weaknesses and exploits in WordPress which they intend to use for villainous purposes. It’s not hard at all to find stories across the internet about people who had a WordPress website that got hacked.
Don’t let these stories put you off WordPress. Hacks can happen regardless of what platform you use. Even the largest and most supported websites in the world fall victim to hacking (just keep an eye on the news for examples).
WordPress websites don’t get hacked due to inherent security issues with WordPress itself. They get hacked because many website administrators simply don’t take basic and industry standards steps to ensure their website is secure.
Another key reason is that administrators don’t keep up with required ongoing maintenance tasks or they fail to keep their WordPress software up to date.
If you’re thinking about hiring us to build your website for you then we take care of all security and maintenance stuff for you.
WordPress Is Extremely Popular
Somewhere around 30% – 60% of all websites on the planet are built with WordPress. This figure ranges depending on the source you’re reading. That’s mindboggling when you think about it. It means that there’s somewhere in the region of 74.6 million websites running on WordPress.
This is pretty great for two key reasons:
- It means that, if you ever decide you don’t want to work with us anymore (which is highly unlikely, haha) then it’s really easy to take your website, move it somewhere else, and start working with a new developer or host. WordPress is super popular, making it easy to find professional advice anywhere in the world.
- It means that WordPress is very well supported by a massive online community. If you ever get stuck or can’t figure something out, there’s a 99% chance that someone has written an article about that exact issue, they have a solution, and it’s available with a simple Google search.
Pros & Cons of WordPress
- It’s free – WordPress is free to download and install.
- Strong development community – there are thousands of plugins and themes available and more coming all the time.
- Strong online community – it’s easy to find information and ‘how to’ guides.
- It’s easy to find a developer you’re comfortable working with – WordPress developers are available all over the world.
- Inherently secure and well built – it’s battle-hardened and proven over years of service.
- Easy to scale up as your business changes – you have the flexibility needed to make changes as your business grows.
- Offers complete control over your website look and functionality – you’re able to change anything and everything (though some changes require an advanced skill set).
- You need to organise your own server to host your website – this can be a challenge if you lack IT skills.
- Just like any new software, there is usually a learning curve involved. Though, overall WordPress is very userfriendly.
- You’re responsible for ongoing maintenance, software updates, backups and ensuring your site is secure – though we can point you in the right direction. For example, see Recommended Plugins for New WordPress Websites and How to Automatically Backup Your WordPress Site to Cloud Storage.
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WordPress.org Versus WordPress.com
It’s important to note that WordPress.org and WordPress.com are two different things. Understandably, this creates a lot of confusion.
WordPress.org is the WordPress that we’ve been discussing throughout this article. It’s the one that’s open-source and free. It comes with all of the associated pros and cons listed above.
WordPress.com is the commercial arm of WordPress. This is where WordPress as a business actually makes money. Both versions are very similar from a users perspective. But there are some major overall differences.
The main difference is that when you use WordPress.com you’re paying for a service. This means that your website will be hosted and run on WordPress.com servers. They will take care of ensuring your site runs well and remains secure.
There are some massive drawbacks with this though. The main downside is that the software isn’t anywhere as flexible as WordPress.org. This is because the team behind WordPress.com need to have much stricter controls in place in terms of what plugins and themes are and aren’t allowed by their users.
Think back to the fact that WordPress is open-source, and that anyone can write code and contribute to the software. This means that there are instances where plugins and themes are written by developers who use sloppy code, and their sloppy code (unintentionally) opens up security flaws in the software.
To counter this, the team behind WordPress.com only allow a small selection of plugins to run on their user accounts.
Furthermore, the WordPress.com service is quite expensive for what you actually have access to. While they offer a free plan, there are some fairly large limitations with this. For instance, you can’t use your own domain name, it only has limited customisation options, there are ads placed throughout your website and you’re stuck with “Proudly Powered by WordPress” displayed throughout your website.
Only their most expensive plan lifts these limitations, and even then they still limit what plugins and themes you can use. WordPress.com is great as a blogging platform but is very limited in other respects.
Table: WordPress.org Versus WordPrss.com
|It's like...||Owning your own home - you have total freedom but you're responsible if anything breaks.||Renting your home - less freedom, but your landlord helps if anything breaks.|
|Price||Depends on your host||Free - $732/y|
|Custom Domain||Yes||Available on paid plans|
|Available Storage||Depends on your host||3gb - unlimited|
|Available Bandwidth||Depends on host||Unlimited|
|Branding||Free to remove "Powered by WordPress"||Pay to remove "Powerd by WordPress"|
|Support||Support is provided by independent theme/plugin developers; plus, an army of experts is always available for hire||Support is included|
|Theme Availability||Use any custom or third-party themes||Limited to pre-approved themes|
|Plugin Availability||Use any custom or third-party plugins||Limited to pre-approved plugins|
|eCommerce Functionality||Yes||Enabled with the most expensive paid plan|
|Other Advanced Functionality (membership websites, etc)||Yes||No|
|Advanced SEO||Yes||Available on business plan ($408/y)|
|Google Analytics||Yes||Available on business plan ($408/y)|
|Maintenance (running theme and plugin updates)||You're responsible, though plugins and automation makes this easy||Automatically done|
|Security||You're responsible, though free plugins and automation makes this easy||Automatically done|
|Backups||You're responsible, though free plugins and automation makes this easy||Automatically done|
WordPress Optimised Web Hosting
We’re proud supports of WordPress.org – we love to pass on our skills and expertise to our customers. Plus, we’ve developed a special web hosting service specifically designed to make WordPress run really fast.
Our WordPress Optimised Web Hosting platform offers reliable tuned servers built specifically to make your WordPress applications run super fast.
While WordPress can also run just fine on our entry-level web hosting, if your website is generating revenue for your business or is otherwise mission-critical, then it’s important to give it a strong hosting foundation.
Final thoughts: it’s no secret why we use and recommend WordPress – it’s just great software that’s very flexible, it scales well with your business needs and it has a strong and tested development community.